Unless you’re a Kardashian, you can’t just hop a plane anytime you want your fill of French fabulousness. Luckily, there’s this thing called the internet, and these great things called websites which are happy to ship you all kinds of wonderful things directly from the Mother Ship, aka, France. Here’s my rundown of the 10 best French products I love to love:
1.Huile Prodigieuse by Nuxe—This stuff feels amazing, and smells even more amazing. It’s an all-natural dry oil you can use on your skin or hair. I first discovered it years ago on a trip to Paris, and was delighted when I recently found it available on Amazon. I’m telling you, you’ll use this stuff every day. And if you’re like me and don’t like to wear perfume, this has a lovely, light scent that will make you smell nice without being overpowering. It also comes in a shimmery version that looks great in the summer sun!
2. “le sirop” OK, this isn’t really one thing, but it’s one of my favorite treats when I’m Stateside that reminds me of France. There, at every restaurant, you will find a selection of “sirops”, or syrups, that are mixed with sparkling water to create a delicious soda drink. Except unlike American sodas, which are way too sweet and only come in a few flavors, there are a myriad of sirop flavors, from lemon to strawberry to lavender to almond to mint, to grapefruit to peach to… well, you get the idea. You can even –gasp– mix flavors to create your own unique cocktail! Go crazy! Strawberry peach? Sure! Lemon lavender? Why not! Almond mint? Well, maybe not that one. The true French sirop brand is Teisseire, which you can order online. Or, you can hop over to your local World Market and buy their Torani brand, which technically is not French, but will give you the same French-y experience. Delicieux!
3. Clairefontaine classic stapled notebooks. Feel like a French schoolgirl with your brightly colored Clairefontaine notebook. The cover is durably laminated so it won’t tatter easily, but the best part is the pages: they are lined in a grid to make legible writing that much easier. Plus, I like that these are stapled rather than spiral bound, since I’m a lefty and spiral bound notebooks are the devil.
4. Salted butter from Normandy. You’ve had salted butter, but you’ve never had it like this. Normandy is known for it’s dairy, and especially its salted butter– big, crunchy salt crystals that melt in your mouth and turn a plain piece of toast into a culinary journey. Beurre d’Isigny is an amazing butter with coarse salt that is to die for. It’s ungodly expensive, but I’m telling you, it’s worth every penny. Treat yourself and buy one. You won’t be disappointed. Spread it on…
5.French bread. So, you remember my post about Poîlane bakery in Paris? Yes, you can order a loaf right from the bakery and it will run you about $50. Definitely a splurge. Or, you can head over to my 10 Minute Boule recipe and end up with a delicious, crusty loaf that is most definitely Beurre d’Isigny-worthy. No one makes Poîlane but Poiîlane, but every single person I’ve served that bread to has raved about it. It’s the closest thing I get to the real thing without shelling out the big bucks.
6. As long as we’re on a culinary theme here, I’ll tell you what I cannot live without: my Nespresso machine. That thing has saved me a ton on Starbucks because now I can make coffee that’s better than that in my own kitchen. I swear, in the three years that I’ve had my Nespresso, I’ve gone to Starbucks maybe five times. When I went to France last summer, every apartment we stayed in had a Nespresso. Everyone has one over there, it’s like underwear. Luckily, you don’t have to cross the pond to get one, there are more and more Nespresso shops popping up all the time. Heck, Target even sells them these days. You might be protesting because Nespressos are pod machines, and while that is true, please do not confuse them with those awful Keurigs. The Nespresso pods are 100% recyclable aluminum, and the company pays UPS shipping for you to send your spent pods to them for recycling. And I gotta admit, the pods really do deliver the freshest coffee flavor. I don’t mind paying a bit extra for their coffee, since I’m saving so much on ‘Bucks. In fact, it’s an affordable indulgence that makes me feel luxurious. Go to your nearest Nespresso store and ask them for a free coffee. You’ll understand.
7. Yogurt in glass. When I studied in France in the ‘90s, I was enamored with the French yogurt in glass cups that you could buy at every grocery store. To me, not only was it delicious, but it just embodied the quality that infuses everything French. Compared to the cheap, crappy plastic American yogurt cups, the French glass ones were everything that was superior about French culture (no pun intended). I brought a bunch of them home with me, and still have a few that I use for tea light candle holders. They’re perfect! When I went with my son this last summer, I stocked up on these beautiful blue-glazed terra cotta yogurt containers from La Fermière. I’ve used them to make my own lavender scented melt and pour candles; they’re beautiful! And, oh la la, I have found out that some Whole Foods Markets carry la Fermière here in the U.S.!! Genial!
8. Fleur de sel. Not all salts are created equal. Some are more “salty” than others. Really, vraiment! You’ve probably heard of pink Himalayan salt, which is quite popular, but have you heard of French fleur de sel? What makes the French fleur de sel so appealing is that it’s flaky and delicate, more salty than table salt, and gives one a taste of the complex flavor of the ocean. I won’t get into the nitty gritty, but if you really want to geek out on fleur de sel, check out this great write-up from Wonder How To. Fleur de sel is best used either on cold foods or as a final flourish. Think desserts sprinkled in salt (salted caramels and dark chocolates) or vegetables that need a little flavor enhancement. Fleur de sel is your best friend when you want flavors to explode in your mouth, or you just need to impress your date/boss/in-laws/clients. And the good news is, you can get it at most gourmet food stores here in the U.S., or at my favorite bastion of international goodness, World Market. Treat yourself to a little jar of Sel de Guerande and know you’re tasting some of the best salt on the planet.
9. French wine. I’ll be honest—I don’t drink French wine all the time. I like California wine, too. But sometimes, whether it’s because you’re having a French dinner, or you just want to have that taste of French wine, there’s nothing quite like a vin de France. I have a great write-up all about how to not be intimidated by French wines, and how to decode French wine labels here. But when you’re in the mood for a great French wine, I suggest either Trader Joe’s or Total Wine. Trader Joe’s has the best prices, hands down, and Total Wine has an unbeatable selection. Their prices are quite good, too. I am especially loving the French rosés. They’re dry, fruity, and oh so drinkable. Perfect to pair with a Spring brunch.
10. Le Petit Ecolier cookies. My mouth starts watering just thinking about these delicious cookies. You’ve probably seen them in your local grocery store: little rectangular butter cookies topped with a slab of chocolate embossed with a little school boy (le petit ecolier translates to “the little school boy”). These cookies aren’t just an American cookie made to look French. They really are a popular French cookie that we can get here in the U.S. in just about any grocery store, or at World Market. They’re perfect for a light dessert or as an accompaniment to a cup of coffee or tea. And they’re adorable!
And there you have it– my Top 10 Best French Products for when you’re feeling French-y but can’t just hop a plane to the Mother Land. What are your favorite French indulgences (or yummy things from other countries)? Share in the comments!