Travelling, seeing new places and getting to know new cultures is an unarguably amazing experience, but we have all found ourselves in that dreadful position where we would like to take back some nice mementos for the loved ones we leave back at home - and the awful blank that comes when we realize we have no idea what to buy. This gift giving process, instead of being a joyful and exciting part of your trip, can often become a burden we dread.
So forget about the miniature eiffel towers or magnets saying “bonjour”, and
check out these great local products unique to each country that will make your friends and family jump for joy when they see them. Get aboard a Renfe-SNCF en Coopération high speed train to travel between destinations and you won’t even have to worry about excessively harsh luggage rules and restrictions!
Hand Held Fans
Hand Held Fans
Hand held fans have been a part of Spanish culture and tradition for centuries, and although it may seem slightly cliché or stereotypical, there is no denying the beauty of these objects, nor their incredibly usefulness on a hot Spanish day. You can find them being purchased and sold all over the country, ranging from the plainest made from wood and paper to exquisite masterpieces made of finest silk and decorated with gold and lace, embroidered or beautifully painted. Prices range from as little as 5 euros and can be bought on the streets or souvenir shops, but can also be worths several hundred euros when bought in specialized stores. They come in all sizes and colors, with different patterns and images. If you’d like to make your gift even more interesting and fun, throw in a little guide to the Language of the Hand Fan. History states that back in the 16th and 17th centuries, specific gestures and movements with the fans were used by women to communicate with potential suitors, either encouraging them to approach them, or turning them down.
Leather products (Jackets, shoes, bags, wallets)
Spain is known for its high quality leather, and small shops dedicated to precisely that can be found lining the streets of pretty much any city in Spain. Although slightly pricier than a fridge magnet or a keychain, the remarkable quality will guarantee your gift lasts for many years to come, and gives you the opportunity to give something truly useful that can be used in day-to-day life. Prices can vary greatly depending on brands and where they are purchased, but leather prices are significantly lower in Spain than in other countries. For cheaper (and yet equally high quality) try outdoor markets, outlets or even factory shops. Leather jackets, shoes, wallets or purses make excellent gifts that are not only beautiful and thoughtful, but will make for a great reminder of your trip every time you reach out to use them.
For those with sweet-toothed friends and family, there is no better Spanish gift than a lovely box of Turrón Candy. Made with only 3 ingredients, roasted almonds, honey and egg whites, Turrón is an age-old traditional crunchy Spanish treat which is absolutely heavenly. Buy a nicely wrapped box or two and take it on home to share a bit of Spanish tradition and palate with those you love. Being hard and crunchy, it is the perfect gift to take in your bag on the train home, as it won’t get crinkled or squashed, and is unlikely to break into pieces. Also called Turrón de Navidad (Christmas Turrón), it is an absolute must during Christmas time in Spain, but do not be fooled into thinking it is for the wintery seasons alone - it tastes just as scrumptious any other time of year! If you do happen to be visiting during Christmas time, be sure to check out these magical Christmas markets in Barcelona!
Kid with FC Barcelona t-shirt
As any avid soccer fan is sure to know (and have spent hours on end admiring the soccer sights) both Madrid and Barcelona are world renowned for their soccer teams, namely FC Barcelona, Real Madrid CF and Atlético Madrid. Whether you buy them just the jersey or the entire kit, the official version or an imitation that can be bought on pretty much any corner of either city, any soccer fan will be sure to love you forever if you go home bearing gifts with the badge of one of these teams. Be sure to find out which team they support first however, as rivalry can be quite strong between the three!
Even the words France and Fromage seem to go hand in hand. With kinds of cheese for every taste, a nice wedge or wheel of a typical French cheese can make the perfect gift to give back home or even keep for yourself. With endless variation available at any supermarket or specialized cheese shop, you will have more than enough to choose from. If you’re planning on transporting the cheese in your suitcase or amongst many items, consider opting for harder cheeses rather than softer or creamier ones that are more likely to get crushed. Many vendors also offer nicely wrapped and even airtight sealed cheeses especially to take as gift, so that the scent does not rub off on anything else you may have in your bag.
Crème or Purée de Marrons
Crème or Purée de Marrons
Chestnut Spread or Purée might sound and even look very strange to those unacquainted with this French delicacy, but once you have tasted it you will never want to go without it again. It has limitless amount of ways it can be used, and tastes absolutely delicious whether you eat it on toast or crepes, in a pastry recipe or even eat it out of the jar with a spoon. It can be purchased in tins or in the most lovely decorated jars and will last perfectly even if your travels take you to more destinations after France.
Paris is full of wistful romantics and misunderstood artists who, either as their day jobs or as a hobby, take to the paths of Paris to pursue their dreams of painting. While walking the marvelous streets of Paris, you are sure to come across more than your fair share of street artists with their easels out, paint palettes full and unleashing their imaginations onto paper or canvases while painting their unique views of the city of lights and love. Not only will you be funding incredibly talented, independent artists who will more than appreciate your purchase, you will be buying unique, one-of-a-kind works of art that you can pick out according to your friend’s or family member’s taste, and with some artists, you can even make special requests. There is nothing more charming, romantic, Paris-related and thoughtful than a beautiful work of art, which can come in all different sizes, shapes and themes, to take back home - and best of all, you don’t even have to go out of your way to buy it!
French Wine or Champagne
Cups of wine
Admittedly, this might seem cliché. If we think about it however, it must have become cliché for a reason. If you have friends or family back home who are wine connoisseurs, a nice French bottle of wine or even a bottle of true and original champagne may be very much appreciated. France is one of the largest wine producers in the entire world, and their skill in the matter goes back several centuries. The quality of their products is known in pretty much every corner of the world, and undergo ruthless quality control.
Pick a beautiful bottle (or more!) from the endless selection of regions, varieties, grape types, and years, are you are sure to not be left disappointed. To make it extra special, you can even choose a bottle from a specific region of France that you visited, a bottle from a year with special significance to you or the receiver of your gift, or even go the extra mile and have the bottle engraved or especially labeled. The wine may disappear once it has been drunk, but the bottle can always be kept as a wonderful decorative touch and souvenir. If you are a wine lover yourself, consider visiting the world’s wine capital - Bordeaux!