Let’s face it: part of the fun of travel is gathering loads of souvenirs, little reminders of your travel adventures. And if you’re visiting Paris, it would be nigh-on criminal not to come home laden with Paris souvenirs!
Buuuut, there’s a fine balance to be had. It might be tempting to go large with the Paris shopping – maybe grab some gourmet food from the department stores, pop it into a brand-new Louis Vuitton bag, and generally live la vie belle – but that’s going to hit your travel budget hard. France isn’t a cheap country, Paris is even less cheap, and those luxury goods come at a premium.
So how about tracking down some Paris souvenirs which won’t break the bank, which won’t take up acres of room in your bag (ideal if you’re backpacking Europe, and don’t want to have to buy an extra suitcase to drag about), and which are easily available? Yup, as fun as digging around a Latin Quarter flea market may be, these are ideal if you’re tight on time – they’re about available right in the city center.
Let’s take a look!
Pssst! Are you a Paris first-timer? Check out some top travel tips in my guide to Paris for the first time! Or if you’re headed there in the colder months, check out everything you’ll need in this guide to visiting Paris in the winter!
What should I buy in Paris?
Before we get down to all those bargain, space-saving ideas, let’s have a look at some other Paris souvenirs which may take up a bit more of your luggage or cash, but which are bound to have your loved ones swooning!
You can’t go wrong with French chocolate, and you’ll see quite a few vendors throughout the city – they even sell it in the Louvre Museum store. If you want to go historic, pop along to Debauve & Gallais on Rue des Saints-Pères; it was the city’s first chocolate shop!
Want to burn off those calories in something Parisian, or got a sport fan back home? Buy a gift from Paris’ premier football team, Paris Saint-Germain (or PSG, as they’re more commonly known). There’s no need to head to the stadium; you can find a well-stocked PSG shop on the Champs-Élysées. Not into sport? There’s a world of gifts featuring your favourite characters at Disneyland Paris!
Perfume is practically synonymous with Paris, and at the Sillages Paris you can make your own! There’s no need to be an expert; you can just be an enthusiastic fragrance fan – the awesome staff will help you concoct something that’s unique and suited to your loved one. I’ve got my own custom fragrance from here, and I’m absolutely in love with it; it’s also super-easy to order online, if you’re worried about breakages when you’re travelling. Get a truly perfect custom fragrance for your BFF – or yourself, because let’s be honest: this is way too good to give away!
The best inexpensive things to buy in Paris!
Here we go: the best budget Paris souvenirs that you’ll treasure! They may be low on price, but they’re practically saturated in awesome.
Plus, because I like you, I’m even going to give you some links to buy these gifts online. If you missed out on them whilst you were in Paris, or if you just want to be sneaky and save some space in your bags, it’s the ideal solution! No FOMO here!
Eiffel Tower keyring
You’re visiting Paris! Great! Prepare to see the Eiffel Tower everywhere.
The makers of Paris souvenirs took the easy option when it came to merchandise, and the distinctive shape of the Iron Lady will adorn pretty much anything you care to mention – t-shirts, hats, cuddly toys; you name it. Add to that models of the Eiffel Tower itself, in every color of the rainbow (quite often in a rather violent neon shade), and a representation of Paris’s most famous landmark becomes a quintessential gift. It’s like the “I heart New York” t-shirts – you know it’s cliche, but you just have to have one.
Rather than cart around one of the heavy metal models, or take up room with a garish plastic one, grab a keyring instead. They’re cheaper, and generally a bit more tasteful (though we’re talking relative terms here). They come in a variety of styles and colors, and you can easily pop it on the outside of a handbag or backpack in order to give yourself that “I’ve visited Paris, don’t you know” hint of class once you’re back home.
An Eiffel Tower keyring is practically a Paris rite of passage. You’ll find them in pretty much every single souvenir shop in the city, especially the ones in the center!
Missed out on one whilst you were away? Grab a pretty Eiffel Tower keyring here!
Speaking of quintessential gifts, macarons must now rival the Eiffel Tower for visibility in Paris souvenirs. These delicious little cakes, beloved of the sweet-toothed and Instagrammers, are taking over!
Macarons are two adorable, pastel-colored cookies held together by a ganache filling, making a neat little sandwich which melts in the mouth. They were supposedly introduced to Paris by the chef of Queen Catherine de Medici during the Renaissance, who was probably quite unaware of the impact they’d make. Popular throughout the centuries, they’ve been taken up by Paris Instagrammers as a symbol of the city – the pastel colors match the scenery very nicely – and it’s not uncommon to see people posing with them.
If you’re more interested in eating them than photographing them (like me), you want the real thing, made in the city by expert bakers. Ladurée on the Champs- Élysées is the most famous producer, but you’ll pay an accordingly high price.
Consider taking the metro to Montmartre – an area of Paris well worth exploring! – and heading into Biscuiterie de Montmartre. It’s an adorable shop with a delectable range of macarons – you can even choose which flavors you’d rather have. I can certainly vouch for the taste, especially the fruit-flavored options!
Don’t miss out! Have a box of French macarons delivered to your door!
Come on – are there any Paris souvenirs more fun, and more French, than a beret?
It might seem terribly stereotypical – visions of onion sellers in stripy shirts are undoubtedly flitting through your mind right now – but trendy Parisian ladies do actually wear them. I visited Paris in October, just as it was starting to get chilly, and I saw plenty of locals keeping warm with a beret. So don’t feel like you’re going to commit some social faux-pas by buying and wearing one!
Berets have been around in France since the Bronze Age (not quite in their current form, but certainly recognizable), and they’ve become a symbol of French pride. The current firm has been popular since the 1920s, and shows no sign of becoming less fashionable – it’s still considered the epitome of chic, especially if paired up with a camel raincoat.
Predictably, berets are everywhere in Paris (the street vendors do a roaring trade, selling multiple berets on blankets), and are available in just about every colour imaginable. Including raspberry, Prince fans.
You can get a fancy, well-made beret from any good department store, and even in the Louvre gift shop, but if you’re just after something cheap and cheerful, you’ll find extremely reasonably priced berets in standard souvenir shops. I bought two in a place just around the corner from Notre Dame, for the bargain price of €3 each.
Got beret regret? Make up for by buying a beret online!
Le Chat Noir gifts
Got some cat-loving loved ones who need reminding that you’ve visited Paris? Good news: there’s a world of gifts available featuring the famous Le Chat Noir artwork!
Théophile Steinlen’s illustration can be seen all over Paris. It was originally a poster advertising a tour of the Le Chat Noir cabaret; a music hall-slash-hangout for bohemian types in the 1880s and 90s. The poster has actually lasted a lot longer than the club, which closed down in the 1890s after the death of its founder. The building which housed it is no longer there, but the image of a somewhat surly black cat has lived on!
These days, you’ll see the Le Chat Noir poster just about everywhere in the world – my local museum sells jigsaw puzzles with the image on – but there’s nothing like getting a gift from its spiritual home.
The best place to go kitty shopping is the Musée d’Orsay, which houses an exhibition all about the art of the cabaret and the journal it used to produce. The museum gift shop has an appropriate amount of cat-emblazoned wares, which make great Paris souvenirs for the cat worshipper in your life!
Need a black cat of your very own? Buy a whole smorgasbord of Le Chat Noir gifts here!
One of the very best travel tips for Paris is to go shopping in the city’s flea markets. You can pick up all kinds of goodies: vintage chic fashion, antique treasures, and artwork that’ll adorn your home. They’re pretty darn awesome, guys.
But what if you’re a bit tight on time, and don’t necessarily want to cart a full-size framed painting around Europe with you? What if you want to pick up some art-related souvenirs which won’t break the bank, yet still give you cultured, je ne sais quoi air?
Don’t despair, o artistic one! Paris feels your pain, and kisses it better by providing you with multiple opportunities to buy classy gifts on the cheap. Again, the Musée D’Orsay is a fantastic place to go shopping – the souvenir shop is huge, and generally quieter than the ones in the Louvre, whilst the gifts themselves have just the right amount of class without being insanely expensive. Check out the Musée D’Orsay online shop, and you’ll see everything from Van Gogh socks to Monet scarves.
The Musée de l’Orangerie has a lot of the same items, and is even quieter – if you’re shopping for a Monet fan, this is definitely the place to go!
Don’t fancy setting up a new account for the museum sites? You can get some very similar items on Amazon instead – shh, it’s a secret!
Okay okay, I totally picked this up with the intention of giving it to my nephew. But it’s awesome, so I’m keeping it. He got a toy car instead; he’s happy.
Paris Pop-Up is a completely adorable, little hardback book by Dominique Ehrhard which does exactly what it says in the cover. You turn each page, and one of the architectural treasures of Paris pops up at you, with some truly magical detail. It’s not often that I can say that I’ve been impressed by a pop-up book, but this one really does get you gasping in delight, no matter what your age.
Covering beloved buildings such as the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower (of course), the Louvre and the Pompidou Centre, you can bring home all of the sights you’ve fallen in love with, in one handy little book. It’s also got maps of the areas around them, and a couple of pages of the sites histories, turning it into something approaching a travel book. It’s not big or heavy, meaning that you can easily slip it into a backpack or hand luggage to transport home.
You can pick up Paris Pop-Up at various museum shops, including the Louvre, and booksellers around the city. I don’t often say “YOU MUST BUY THIS”, but I really do think that this book is a must for anyone who loves Paris. It brings back memories just by flipping a page – what more could you ask for!
Forgot to buy this one? No worries: find a copy of Paris Pop-Up on Amazon!
A Mona Lisa water bottle
Fact: you can’t visit Paris and go shopping for Paris souvenirs without buying at least one Mona Lisa-related item. You can’t. I’ve tried, guys; it’s impossible.
The Mona Lisa is synonymous with Paris and France, much to the regret of Italians everywhere (in fact, the painting was once stolen by an Italian who wanted to return it home – the theft in 1911 catapulted the painting to the level of fame it now enjoys). It’s now considered the property of the French Republic, and is the most valuable painting in the world. It’s so valuable that the Louvre Museum doesn’t even bother to insure it – they just use the money to improve security.
Whether you visit the Mona Lisa or not, you’re bound to fall under her spell. There’s an entire universe of gifts bearing her image around the city – some a bit more risque than others – but if you want to get a Mona Lisa souvenir and do the environment a favour at the same time, how about getting a water bottle?
These are available at the Louvre Museum shop (there’s a large one near the entrance/exit, and a couple of smaller ones dotted around the museum wings themselves), and they’re good quality items. They’re made of sturdy metal, and do a fantastic job of keeping cold drinks cold, and hot drinks hot. The stopper doesn’t leak, and I really love that there’s a carabiner clip for attaching it to a backpack. You won’t have to buy bottles of water for the rest of your stay!
Want some other Mona Lisa gifts? There’s a fantastic selection online!
As we’ve seen, arty gifts make perfect Paris souvenirs. It’s a very cultured, artistic city, after all.
It’s easy to visit the Parisian museums, fall in love with the art, and consider bringing back some very heavy art tomes. I almost made the mistake myself: I rather fell in love with a book detailing every single painting in the Louvre, until I realised that I really didn’t want something that heavy in my backpack. So how do you get around this problem?
Simple: buy postcards from the museum gift stores instead. They’re inexpensive, easy to pack, and you can just pick out your favourites instead of having to bring back vast books detailing stuff that you might not be that interested in. A good way to do it is to buy a bunch of postcards, bring them home, and then have them framed. All of your favourite artworks on your wall, and a fantastic Paris souvenir, all in one!
Tempted by the sound of that Louvre book? Get it here, and have it delivered!
There we have it! Some of the best Paris souvenirs which will allow you to keep to your budget, and not overload your bags. Knowing what to buy in Paris can be an overwhelming choice, so I hope that this has helped you to get some ideas, and narrow it down a bit!
If you’ve enjoyed this, how about giving it a share? It’ll help out some fellow shoppers, and you’ll gain that warm fuzzy glow of a good deed done well. If your super-savvy, pin the below image to Pinterest – it’ll still spread the word, but you’ll also have a saved bookmark back to this page; handy if you fancy buying some of those goodies later!
Psst! This article contains some affiliate links. These incur zero extra cost to you, should you decide to buy the products provided, but they give this blog a bit of commission which goes towards running costs. Any extra cash is spent on employing French chefs to live in my house, and create the perfect macaron.
HannaDecember 14, 2019 at 2:27 pm
How have I still never eaten a macaron?! Next time I go I’m definitely getting one! Great post 🙂
thatanxioustravellerDecember 14, 2019 at 2:55 pm
Thank you!! And YES, you have to try them – they’re sooo good!!
Vluchten volgen KLMDecember 18, 2019 at 2:42 pm
Great tips! I try to go for small local things to bring back, or adapt it to whoever I am buying the souvenir for. For example, I have friends who just love fridge magnets. When I have to stick to something specific, I try to pick one that best reflects the spirit of the place I am visiting.
Emily MadisonDecember 30, 2019 at 5:28 pm
Wow!Thanks..but may be helpful for the next trip to Paris.There was a big dent in my trip budget for purchases. The souvenirs were expensive and bargaining was tight.Anyway chocolates and macarons were absolutely delicious and worth it.Bought a lot of Eiffel tower chains.
Good tips. Let me check next time while visiting Paris….
Emily Madison recently posted…What to Do in a Lightning Storm While Hiking