Mini Eiffel Towers and shimmering City of Light snow globes are all good and lovely, but the Parisian souvenirs that might keep some of your favourite memories most vividly alive don’t come from the tourist shops or the bouquinistes’ sheds, but rather from the city’s best loved cafés and tea salons. Below are a few to add to your wishlist the next time you’re ordering a chocolat chaud or verre de rosé …
Café de Flore
At this legendary café you can buy much of the whimsically olde-worlde porcelain that the classic comfort food à la française is served in, such as the fruit salad’s ‘lotus cup’ or the ‘egg plate’ for your oeufs durs. The glassware is particularly appealing; especially the curvaceous vase-like ‘water carafe,’ and the petite ‘elegance wine glass,’ so that you can continue your afternoon rosé tradition chez vous. View the selection here.
Les Deux Magots
The city’s other iconic café also offers a slew of souvenirs, from the unexpected (branded umbrellas and USBs), to the delicious (bottles of champagne and mini jars of jam), to the same pots and jugs your favourite brew comes in, to the accessories (notebooks and pens) you need to lure out your inner Ernest Hemingway, the one-time fan of this literary haunt.
Shakespeare and Company The Café
You might not be able to pack George Whitman’s famous lemon pie in your suitcase, but savour a slice with a cup of creamy chai, and then buy yourself the mug as a memento of the taste epiphany. And if you squeeze some lemon into your homemade brew, you’ve concocted what the French would call une madeleine de Proust, a flavour and fragrance sensation that takes your senses back in time to this lovely moment.
There are numerous Mariage Frères salons de thé around town now, although those in the Marais and Saint-Germain best serve as a portal back into a time when taking tea was a serious and stylish affair. There are literally hundreds of blends to choose from, and a sommelier will guide you to your perfect pick. If it happens to also come in a tea caddy, you would be remiss not to buy it on the way out (along with a bag of green tea madeleines … because, pourquoi pas?!).
The prettily packaged jams and teas make for delightful take-away treats — and unlike a coffret of macarons last well beyond the flight home — but a candle is the most enduring way to keep your Ladurée sensory memories burning. Highly recommended: Marie Antoinette, to match back to the delicately fragranced, oh-so-feminine tea of the same regal name.
The porcelain jug that pours the decadently thick chocolat chaud à l’ancienne, for which Angelina is revered, is not for sale — but it’s what’s inside that counts, right? And happily, you can pick up a bottle or two of ready-made chocolate drink on the way out.