The French have been anti-globalization for a number of years, and there is a passionate support for artisans who are still producing fine goods and foods exclusively made in France. You can find beautifully handcrafted jewelry, leather goods, custom-fitted lingerie, and so many specialty food items such as foie gras, Provence black truffles, confections and chocolates. All of which make extraordinary gifts!
Many of the boutiques in France are independently owned and the owners pride themselves on carrying products of exceptional quality; some are by new creators and artists while others have been producing for generations. If you’re in the know you can come away with heirlooms and treasures of unsurpassed quality.
There are also many beautiful Christmas markets throughout France this time of year. There’s ‘Marches de Noël,’ which originated in the Alsace region of Northern France and has their roots in German tradition dating back to the 14th century. The focus is on artisanal-made products and gifts by local artists and craftsmen. With Christmas lights twinkling, mulled wine and chestnuts roasting on open fires, it makes a charming shopping experience.
In Saint Remy de Provence every year there is a lovely tradition where all of the boutiques, mostly independent, open on the second weekend of December in the evening from 7 to 10pm serving mulled wine and treats to create a festive shopping atmosphere. This is a fabulous event called ‘La Fête de Lumières,’ not to be missed if you’re in the area!
Some of my Favorite Christmas gifts from Provence:
Joël Durand Chocolats, Chocolatier extraordinaire in Saint Remy de Provence.
Joel is well known throughout France for his delicious truffle squares with flavors like Provence black olive, thyme and rosemary. Exclusively made in Saint Remy de Provence. And he ships internationally. joeldurand-chocolatier.fr
Le Petit Duc – Vintage sweets, confections and butter cookies in elegant packaging.
The owners of this fabulous sweet shop are dedicated to using all natural ingredients with recipes dating back for centuries. Petit-duc.com
Fresh Truffles and Olive Oil, foodie gift boxes shipped direct from the farm in Provence, Les Pastras. lespastras.com
Confiserie Lilamand, traditionally made candied fruits. Divinely delicious, beautiful packaging and preserved for months. confiserie-lilamand.com
Sophie Douence – Beautiful hand sewn bags made by Sophie in Saint Remy de Provence. Each one is original and made with vintage fabrics.
Les Olivades – Producing fine fabrics and designer wear since 1881. Gorgeously tailored clothing including a men’s and women’s collection all made in France. Olivades.fr
Fragonard Parfumeur – Famous perfume maker based in Grasse, producing lovely perfumes, soaps, beautiful gifts, hand embroidered clothing and linens. Fragonard.com
One of my favorite by-appointment-only boutiques in Provence is Belle Elegance. belle-elegance.com
The owner, Emmanuel Burneau, worked for Chanel as a buyer for many years and now has his own exclusive line where you can buy very affordable designer items – bags, shoes and jewelry made by artisans from all over France who have been working behind the scenes for Hermes, Chanel and others for years. One of my favorites in his collection, Augustine, based in Paris, Coco Chanel originally had this necklace commissioned and it is still being made at the Augustin studio in Paris.
Bonus recommendation: No time to choose something unique and special? Let the experts at Luxe Provence do it! They sell seasonal gift boxes with a collection of beautiful Provençal gifts inside. They also have a bonus holiday box and offer a subscription if you want to sign up for a year’s worth of gifts. They ship worldwide, too. luxe-provence.com
Visit these boutiques and more on one of my Cultural Provence excursions!
By: Jane Satow
Dec. 11, 2016
Provence Cultural Tours