The Provence region in the south of France is a popular tourist destination, and for good reason. From the lovely countryside to the charming villages and cities, there’s so much to see and do here. And it is always fun to pick up a souvenir from each place that you visit to take back home with you.
With amazing food and culture, when it comes to unique souvenirs from Provence, there are a lot of options to choose from. Whether you’re looking for art or wine or any other gifts, this list of top souvenirs from Provence will give you plenty of ideas. Allons-y!
1. Lavender sachets
Known as “blue gold”, lavender is a flower that has been cultivated for centuries in Provence in the area called the Plateau of Valensole for its scent and its essential oils.
And not only does it smell and look wonderful, this ornamental plant also contributes ingredients to traditional medicines, cosmetics, and more.
The traditional sweet from Aix-en-Provence is usually always a favorite souvenir from Provence, because they are very good, and also because they are very easy to find all over the south of France.
3. Savon de Marseille
Savon de Marseille is a traditional hard soap has been made from vegetable oils for 100s of years. It is a protected trademark in Marseille, and only a handful of manufacturers remain in Provence.
The soap is made by mixing sea water from the Mediterranean with local olive oil, and the alkaline ash from seaweeds. It comes in a variety of fragrances and is one of the most sought after souvenirs in Provence. You can buy some savon de marseille here.
4. Herbs de Provence
Herbs de Provence is an mixture of several dried herbs which are traditionally used in provençale cuisine including thyme, basil, rosemary, tarragon, savory, marjoram, oregano, and bay leaf.
5. Provançale Wine
The Côtes du Rhône and Côtes de Provence are one of the top wine regions in France, and so there is plenty of excellent wine tasting to be had in the area.
The most popular wines in the area are reds and rosés, but there are some white wines in the region as well. The vineyards around the Rhône river have existed since Roman times, using age-old techniques that have existed since then.
The area uses a majority of Grenache rouge and Syrah grapes for red wines and Grenache blanc and Viognier grapes in white wines and rosés. One of the most popular is the Châteauneuf-du-Pape wines which date back to the times that the Catholic Popes were based in Avignon, instead of Rome.
6. Faience Pottery
Provence is famous for its faience pottery, with its trademark blue markings. The village of Moustier-Sainte-Marie (near the famed Gorges du Verdon) is particularly famous for its dinnerware, but you can find these traditional plates and earthenware all over Provence.
Several ateliers (workshops) accross the region produce these quintessential dishes and potteries with a creamy white background and cobalt blue (called “de moustiers” blue).
There are also tablecloths that you can buy as a souvenir in the same colors, which make for easier transport. You can buy a faience tablecloth here.
7. Fleur de sel de Camargue
You may not think of “salt” as being something to rave about, but French chefs place a lot of importance on the quality of this ubiquitous condiment in their dishes.
The Camargue in the east end of Provence is known for its sea salts that are produced by drawing seawater into marsh basins and allow the water to evaporate, leaving behind the salt. Some salt crystals float on the surface of the water, forming a delicate crust of crystals that is called fleur de sel.
8. Pastis de Marseille
The quintessential apéritif of France, Pastis de Marseille is an institution. With a fresh taste of anise seed and liquorice, it is somewhat similar to the Greek ouzo, which makes sense since both are on the Mediterranean.
With an alcohol strength of 45%, you then dilute with water, depending on how strong you want it and your preferred taste. You can read more about how to serve yourself a pastis here.
9. Art Posters
If you want a souvenir to remember your time in Provence and France, there is nothing like a poster on a wall. There are many art prints and posters that you can purchase to take home and frame to remind you of your holiday.
10. Pétanque balls
A variation of lawn bowls and the Italian game of bocce, pétanque originated in the early 20th century in La Ciotat (a beach city near Marseille), in Provence.
But that is not to say it is only prominent in the south of France. Pétanque has become so popular as a sport, there are leagues of players and competitions are carried live on sports tv channels.
Today, it is as well-loved in France as bowling in the U.S. or curling in Canada. You can buy a set of pétanque balls here.
The orangette is a French candy that is very popular in Provence. It is a candied orange peel coated with a thin layer of dark chocolate.
This artisanal confectionery is usually handmade by confisieurs and is also one of the 13 desserts that are served in Provence during Christmas. You can buy orangettes here.
12. Papalines d’Avignon
One French souvenir that is not meant for children is the papalines from Avignon. And that is because they are filled with liquor.
The candy consists of a couple of layers of chocolate, within which is the liquor d’Origan du Comtat. The alcohol is made from the oregano leaves grown near Mont Ventoux that is next to Avignon.
The papaline was named in memory of the popes of Avignon of the 13th century, but its creation actually only dates back to 1960. Papalines can usually be found in any artisan candy shop in Provence.
13. Liqueur de Farigoule
With an alcohol content of 40%, liqueur de farigoule is as strong as it comes. A traditional digestif from Provence, it has a rich sugary flavor, with a taste of wild thyme.
If you are looking for a palate cleanser, liqueur de Farigoule goes down smooth after a heavy meal.
14. Perfume from Grasse
In the heart of Provence, the small town of Grasse is considered the French capital of perfume. There are several perfume houses in the area, among them one of the oldest perfume houses being Galimard.
It was established in 1747 by Jean de Galimard who provided the French Royal Court with ointments and perfumes, before the Revolution. After the revolution, the Galimard Perfumery managed to pivot their business to promote their perfumes to the burgeoning bourgeoisie.
Other popular perfumes from Grasse include Molinard and Fragonard. You can buy a bottle of French perfume here.
15. Boules Fourrés au miel (honey)
If you have a sore throat and even if you don’t, you may enjoy a boule fourrés au miel de Lavande.
These sweet candy balls made of sugar, glucose syrup and honey and believed to date back to 1890. The honey is made from bees who have been feeding on the lavender fields or sunflower of Provence, giving the honey a light taste as well. You can buy boules fourrés au miel de lavande here.
16. Violet confectionary
The small village Tourrettes-sur-Loup in Provence is known for growing violets and making various souvenirs and products from them, such as perfume, candied violets, and even ice cream.
There are plenty of other items like confit and confectionaries made from violet that you can try as well. You can read more about local foods and drinks to try in Provence here.
17. Santons de Noël
An interesting Provençal Christmas tradition is the Santons de Noël. While most crèches (nativity scenes) usually only feature the Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and the animals, in Provence, they feature the whole village!
All sorts of folks from the typical French village, such as the butcher, milkman, postal worker, etc will be featured in the nativity scene as porcelain figurines. These figurines will be usually on sale at the Marché de Noël at Christmas time all across the region.
If you enjoyed that article, you may like to read more about other souvenirs from France. A bientôt!