What’s the next best thing to travel to Provence? The souvenirs that help you remember your trip. Here’s a list of the top items to remember and share the flavour of the south of France. Some are inexpensive and fabulous, some are a real travel splurge you’ll need to budget for! High or Low, we include some shopping tips to help you make the best of countless choices.
The characteristically sunny tones and regional prints of Provencal kitchen linens are an ideal gift to yourself or anyone in your life. They instantly brighten up your kitchen or bring the taste of the Mediterranean to outdoor entertaining in the summer. The aprons look cute, but does anyone really wear them?? Tip: Instead, opt for napkins you can offer guests with Mediterranean canapes and frosty Provencal rose wine, or, my favourite, a quilted square with ties at each corner that, once tied, create a fabric basket for French bread or fruit.
High/Lo rating: not pocket change, but won’t break the bank. In the tens of euros. But they weigh virtually nothing, so it won’t put you in the excess luggage fee range.
Every guest bathroom should be honoured with the iconic Savon de Marseille in the scents of Provence. Marseille soap has set the benchmark of pure, gentle, and delectable soaps since its creation. Buying it is such fun, it’s like following the yellow brick road! Shopkeepers must feel like they’re kids with Lego again, setting up displays of bars, with different colours for different scents: lavender for lavender (!), delicate pink for rose, mossy green for pure olive oil. Tip: you don’t have to buy them in Marseille, they’re all over Provence; I bought some recently in Avignon’s market.
High/Lo rating: LO! Pocket change! You’ll be tempted to fill a whole suitcase.
Soap isn’t the only way to bring home Provencal olive oil! If you’re visiting Provence in the cooler autumn, see if you can visit an olive grove to see the harvest and the pressing first hand. Our production crew was lucky enough to be given a tour and then a tasting of the grassy oil right out of the first press, then properly aged variations. You realize you don’t really know what olive oil is supposed to taste like until you’ve tasted it at the source! Tip: Opt for tin containers, they’re lighter than glass and will make the trip home better. And indulge in skin care products made from olive oil, you’ll never find a better hand cream or a more soothing bath oil!
High/Lo rating: The oil itself is higher quality and less expensive for the quality than you can get at home. But some of the skin care products can be pretty pricey, even so, they’re worth the splurge!
Fleur de Sel
Is really just a fancy pants way of saying ‘sea salts’. Sea salts from the south of France are justifiably famous, and any foodie friend will be tickled if you remember them with a flavoured local salt. Rose scented, lavender scented, the options are countless, and equally colourful. I bought test tubes of various flavours; you can see the delicate colours and bits of rose, lavender, jasmine in the salts. Tip: Use them where the flavour can really shine: Sprinkled over a pan-fried or gently grilled piece of fresh fish or chicken when they’re done cooking, or to scent rice or eggs.
High/Lo rating: Lo! Small gift packets or the test tubes are very affordable. Save, and enjoy!
Truffles may rise out of the category of ‘souvenir’ and into the category ‘investment’. If you’re a gourmet, truffles from the source are worth the splurge; and visiting a truffle farm and going out with the (highly trained!) and adorable dogs to find the truffles really puts the ‘fun’ in ‘fungus’!
High/Lo rating: High! This will be the big splurge souvenir of your trip.