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Dijon French Mustard

On my last visit to the states, I engaged a bit in the all-American pastime of le shopping. Of course, I wasn’t looking for things made in France (although folks have a tendency to want to direct me to French-inspired bakeries, to buy macarons and croissants…), but I did see what was—and wasn’t, available from my adopted country.

Interestingly, I get a fair number of people coming to France and asking what they should bring their hosts. Generally speaking, the French aren’t especially interested in macaroni & cheese mix, backside-burning hot sauce, or jars of organic crunchy peanut butter. But I always recommend people bring things like bean-to-bar chocolate, Rancho Gordo beans, and a few bags of dried sour cherries, which I’ve only seen at a few places in Paris, and they sell for over €55 per kilo (2.2 pounds). Their hefty price reflects the fact that they’re imported from America. If your friends cook, they’ll probably be delighted to get a roll of heavy-duty aluminum foil since the foil in France is tissue-thin and wispy.)

In the reverse direction, outside of France, you’ll often pay hefty prices on French-made items; certain goods one can buy in France quite cheaply. Of course, shipping, exchange rates, taxes, and other costs figure into those prices when you see them in a store in New York City, but if you’re coming to France, here’s a few things you might want to check out. I didn’t include things like chocolates, macarons, or other obvious things simply because, well, they’re pretty obvious.

For bringing stuff back, although you can buy zip-top freezer bags in French supermarkets, the very heavy ones aren’t available so you might want to bring a few from home for securing whatever you schlep. Bubble wrap and packing tape are also not readily available, so you might want to pack a few sheets along and a small roll of tape if you plan on buying things in glass jars to carry home. I slip small jars into socks then put them into shoes in my suitcase, which cushions and protects breakables.

Wine and some cookware are cheaper in Paris, but they’re hard to carry, especially with luggage restrictions. Certain French companies manufacture their cookware in Asia so it’s not nececssarily a bargain to buy it France. (Plus you always pay a 19.6% tax on all purchases in France.) If you’re a wine or absinthe collector, perhaps it’s worth carrying bottles back; La Poste sells boxes specifically for shipping wine, with Styrofoam inserts for two bottles.

The rules are constantly changing about what you can and can’t bring back to your home country. So it’s always best to check the website of your government customs agency for the latest information. Few countries allow fresh fruits, vegetables, or meats to be brought in from other countries unless they’ve been heat-treated, which means sealed in a can. Jars are iffy and are sometimes confiscated.

At present, you can’t bring things like mustard or jam on the plane, and I’ve heard third-hand accounts of chocolates from La Maison du Chocolat and Ladurée macarons being taken away at security. The rumor is that they know what boxes to look for, take them away, and then eat them. I doubt that’s happening, but can’t say I blame them!

1. Mustard: I like Edmond Fallot mustard quite a bit (you can find it at swanky prices in gourmet stores like La Grande Épicerie, or at normal prices at G. Detou), although when I first moved to France, I had my groceries in a sack coming home from the supermarket, and I had a giant jar (think a quart) of Amora mustard in there, since it was so inexpensive. A woman sitting next to me, said, “Très bon…et très forte!” (“Very good…and very strong!”) If you don’t want to mess with jars, mustard is also sold in plastic squeeze bottles as well.

(And although I’ve never tried it, I know folks addicted to Savora, a spiced mustard-based spread from the same company. It fetches very high prices in the states, no doubt because folks are accro, or ‘hooked’. Which may be the reason I have yet to taste it.)

2. Salt: I’m a salt chauvinist and although it sounds elitist and annoying, I really do use exclusively French salt. And that’s not just because I live in France. I get salt whenever I travel. But no matter how many little bowls of white, gray, and whatever-colored crystals are lined up on my countertop, I always reach for the little bowl of French salt first.

Fleur de sel

The last few years, fleur de sel de Guérande has been in short supply because of untimely rains, when the salt was supposed to be harvested. But you can find it in certain shops and markets, as well as its cousins, fleur de sel de Noirmoutier, Île de Ré, and from the Camargue. Depending on where you shop, and the provenance, a 125g (4 ounces) container costs between €3-€5 in France. The price is about double elsewhere. Coarse gray salt is a bargain in France, too, and just about every supermarket sells it for roughly €1.25-€1.50 for a 500g (about a half-pound) bag. I buy it and grind it myself in a blender or mortar and pestle, and use it for cooking and baking.

3. Biogaze: When I worked in the restaurant business in San Francisco, I worked with quite a few French people. And in the restaurant business, as you can imagine, there were quite a few burns. After one of my French co-workers took a trip back to France, he returned with several packs of Biogaze, saying it was great for treating superficial minor burns. And sure enough, these pre-moistened layers of gauze are great for kitchen brush-ups with heat. A pack of ten costs approximately €9 and you can ask for them at any pharmacy. UPDATE: Biogaze is no longer being made, so it’s not available.

4. La Roche-Posay Sunscreen: For many years, the FDA would not allow these amazing sunscreens to be sold over-the-counter in the US. But I saw them on shelves on my last visit, selling for a whopping $29, plus tax. In France, my favorite sunscreen is the Anthelios XL (the ‘fluide’ one is for the face and has no perfums added; the others are thicker lotions) and costs about €11. It’s extremely liquidy and feels like water going on, so there’s no gunky, creamy feeling meaning that you can wear it without feeling like you’ve got a layer of pastry cream on your face.

Depending on the season, stores like Parashop, which are all over Paris, often discount it or put it en promotion. UPDATE: This is now available in the U.S. but it’s a lot cheaper in France. If you want to stock up on beauty supplies, Pharmacy Monge and Citypharma discount French lotions, creams, sunscreens, toothpastes, lip balm, and more.

5. Lentils from Puy: Until regular lentils, these compact, sharp-edged lentils are grown in volcanic soil and allowed to dry on the stalk. Their terroir gives them a minerally flavor. But what’s even nicer is that they don’t turn to mush when you cook them. About 25 minutes in boiling water with an onion half, a bay leave, some thyme, and maybe a few chunks of bacon. Drain, season, and serve. Or add tiny cubes of cooked carrots, celery, and fennel, let cool, and toss in some crumbled goat cheese and nuts—voilà, the perfect side dish or lunch in about half and hour. I always keep a bag on hand and they’re about one-quarter of the price in France than they are outside of France. Most well-stocked supermarkets sell green lentils and although you can find regular green lentils easily, if you see the lentilles de Puy, grab those.

6. Kitchen Gadgets: Although large cookware is unwieldy and not always a bargain in France, small gadgets and paring knives, especially those made in France, are. Outdoor markets always have stalls of people selling everything from Opinel knives to little tartlet molds. Yes, you can buy them at the specialty shops around Les Halles, but they’re not selling madeleine molds for €2 or wooden-handled Nogent paring knives for €5.

If you’re looking for white bistro plates, cups, café au lait bowls, onion soup tureens, and gratin dishes, MP Samie is an outlet store in the 14th that carries them, at a discount.

(Tip: The cutlery with the bee or fly on the handle may be labeled Laguiole, but is not the authentic, high-quality cutlery from that region. The name was never trademarked and a real Laguiole knife will not cost less than €50. Two reputable makers of Laguiole cutlery are Forge de Laguiole and Laguiole en Aubrac, among others.)

7. Christine Ferber Jam: Every American I know goes nuts over these jams and jellies from the famed Alsatian jam-maker Christine Ferber. I make my own, and as much as people want to quiz me about which one to buy, I’ve only tried one or two…but her flavors sure look tempting. And I know many a folk who’ve returned home from their trip with a lone jar, who write frantically wondering where they can get more in America. (You can’t.) The best selection is at La Grand Épicerie. The Galeries Lafayette food court may carry them now, too.

French butter

8. Salted Butter: Really great salted butter is available in every French supermarket (Tip: Look for one with a blue and white label and aux cristaux de sel de mer, or ‘with sea salt crystals’) and if your home country allows it, you can bring back blocks of this butter and store it in your home freezer for months. If traveling during non-summer months, I put blocks in zip-top bags and bring them to friends, too. Most butter will survive a several-hour trip just fine, but if you bring an insulated freezer bag and ‘ice bricks’ (ask a friend or your hotel to chill it overnight) over with you, you can make good use of them on the return trip.

If you want to bring back top-quality French butter, you can buy Bordier butter at La Grand Épicerie, Da Rosa and Breizh Café or Pascal Bellevaire butter, which is pretty great too, at any of their fromageries or La Grande Épicerie.

9. Speculoos Cream: I lugged a few jars of this spread back to the states to friends, and I got notes in my Inbox with expletives from them a few days later, saying I’ve ruined them for life. This gingersnap-like Speculoos cream is a bit of sweet-spicy heaven in a jar. It’s just a few euros in most supermarkets and can be found in the same aisle with the jams and chocolate-hazelnut spreads.

10. Valrhona Cocoa Powder: I hesitate to call for specific brands in recipes when I’m writing them up because 1) it’s frustrating when you want to make a cake and you need to mail-order for something, and 2), Not everyone can afford the same swanky products. However I do find that this French-made cocoa powder is much darker and more flavorful than any other and because it makes such a difference, I’ve found that the results are dramatically different (ie: less intense) if made without it. If you’re a dedicated home baker, you can buy a kilo bag at Detou for around €20. It’ll keep for a few years in your pantry if stored in a cool, dark place. If you’re not a dedicated baker, you’ll be happy to know that it comes packed in three individual bags, so you can split the booty with friends.

Bonus #11: Hazelnut Praline Paste—I had to add this one at the last minute because I brought some American friends into the shop of John-Charles Rochoux last week and after they were done swooning over the tiny spoonful offered, they picked up four jars of this spread made of darkly caramelized hazelnuts, using fresh nuts of the highest quality, then ground to a smooth paste. Words can’t describe how good this tastes—just make sure not to put it in your carry-on: it’d be a shame if the customs officers got to enjoy it, instead of you.

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    • Amy

    Oh lord! If only the butter could have made it back to LA with me. In my month in Paris, I’m pretty sure I polished off about 3 bricks of butter…not to mention whatever I ate in restaurants. My boyfriend threw our butter away at one point because he was so shocked at the amount of butter I could fit onto a tiny piece of bread. I definitely agree with French salt. I would say the hazelnut praline paste but I made sure to stay away because it just looked like one of those things that if you have once, you will never stop and I have never seen it in LA. Je m’ennuie de Paris :-(

    • Jasmine

    I totally agree on the Christine Ferber jams — I bought a jar from Pierre Herme the last time I was in Paris and told my friends to never tell anyone how much I spent on jam, but it was amazing. Fyi, though — she has a fantastic jam cookbook called Mes Confitures that’s been translated into English. I bought it a few years ago, and while her jams are probably better than the ones I make at home with her recipes, mine are pretty great. I wish there was a recipe for the raspberry, fig, and caramelized lemon jam that I bought in Paris, though.

    • Karin (an alien parisienne)

    These are great recommendations of inexpensive (for the most part) items to bring back to one’s home from France. I also learned about a couple of things I’d like to try out since I live here anyway (the hazelnut praline paste! Yum!).

    Something my 14-year-old son really liked a lot when he visited here, and which I try to send to him regularly as he lives in the States, is the espresso powder/espresso instant coffee that is sold in “sticks” to make one serving of instant espresso. Some might turn their nose up at it, but I, too, in a pinch when I have a jones but don’t want to make it on the stovetop (no espresso machine), drink the stuff. It makes a nice, hot flavorful mug of coffee when two sticks are used. I like the Carte Noire Divinement Arabica powder. It’s nice stuff for baking, too (it is also sold in larger jars).

    I know that if I were ever to move from France, I would regularly want to have a source for Haribo strawberry Tagada candies. :) I have no idea if places in the States sell them, but I would try to find some nice person to send them to me if not.

    • Lucie

    Oh, Speculoos cream–did you notice they now make it in a “crunchy” version? I haven’t tried yet because I’m not quite ready to gain a few kilos in a week. But the moment I am…

    I would definitely recommend Savora: my French mother has been bringing it back from France twice a year ever since I can remember, hidden between bags of Carambar caramels, chocolate-covered “guimauve” bears, and dishwasher odor removers!!

    I’m swooning, reading about the hazelnut paste: bringing home big bags of pralin, crushed almonds and hazelnuts, is also a great way to get your fix!

    • kat

    what a great list! thanks for sharing this.

    • Jane

    Thanks for the tip on the sunscreen. My search for a non-greasy, heavy sunscreen for le visage has been long & arduous! Lentils du Puy & salt are also on my must-have list.

    I stupidly packed a delicious jar of Onion Confit in my hand luggage last year which breezed through French customs, but the eagle-eyed chap in transit in Singapore pounced on it and threw it away. There was a slight tear in my eye, but that may have been from the kicking I gave myself for being so dumb!

    • meredith

    Hi…I live in France and I had to stop buying the Speculoos cream. No. Self. Control.

    • Krysalia

    I love the idea of the chili oil packed macarons at the airport security :D.

    While this is hilarious, I think this would not be possible because customs and security have a strict policy regarding eatables taken away from passengers : they destroy it in some way (soap for the dishes usually) in front of the passenger, and they crush it with the foot (the eatable item, not the passenger, but I’ve heard third hand stories about that though :D…). So it’s too bad, no funny steam out-of-the-ears of the security guy at the airport… unless they are gourmands enough to make an exception to their policies regarding ladurée macarons and such exceptional delicacies :D.

    I think you’d probably love Savora. it’s not as strong as mustard, but it keeps the mustardy flavor enhanced with a lot of spices, so the taste is quite round and pleasant (umami packed probably). It’s very good in the salad dressings. I love it with my boeuf carottes as a side dip for the tender and filamentous beef bites. It’s very nice in the cèleri rémoulade salad too !

    • Hannah

    Whoopsiedaisies, I certainly failed when I came back from France earlier this year! Though, to be fair, Paris was two weeks within four months of travelling… and I brought back crepes dentelles de quimper (I think you’d be proud), a few other cookies, and some basic chocolate (the cote d’or caramelised sesame chocolate is awesomeness).

    The thing I most regret from your list is speculaas cream. How did I miss that?!

    • Krysalia

    oh about the savora I forgot to say that it’s different and better than mustard in sandwitches, too : butter, ham and a little savora on the other side of the bread, it’s heaven :D. the only bémol I’d add : with salty items like raw ham savora taste doesn’t mix well, it’s at its best with soft tasting meats.

    • clbtx

    There really is something special about the butter in France, isn’t there? I’ve never had butter that tasted as good anywhere else.

    As for Savora, my family and I are definitely addicts! I travel quite often between Paris and the US for work and always have to take back more jars. I’ve even sent some to family in Latin America, as they no longer sell it there.

    One way we use it is to combine it with some soften butter then massaged it onto a chicken and roast it. Divine! (Yum?)

    • Meg

    Great post, David! I would add, however: honey (my brother is addicted to the sunflower variety sold by a guy at the Auteuil market) and a can of confit de canard. Not as nice as the fresh stuff sold in Monoprix, but it makes it past the ag people without a problem and is really a treat! My sister, who is a flight attendant, regularly gets trips to Paris solely to stock up on them.

    And now that we have moved to the UK, my husband and I have a stock of salt and mustard that we replenish whenever we go back to France!

    • Reg

    Please do the chili oil infused chocolates/macaroons. That is the best idea, I love it!
    Great list, thank you for sharing.

    • Anne

    With the growth of farmers’ markets and restrictions on use of plastic bags in a number of U.S. cities, visitors should also consider bags that can be used for groceries. These can also be used as beach bags or to tote pretty much anything. La Vaisellerie and many drogueries stock large plasticized bags with cute illustrations and sayings in French; the thin fabric type which fold into a little pouch are also nice gifts. Pack the large bags flat into the bottom of your suitcase.

    • Sophie

    For friends and family, I often bring: lavender honey, nougat, cheese (those little cabécou 3-packs from Franprix go over extremely well), pâtés (Comtesse du Barry has nice individual sized ones), calvados. Other fun things to bring are piment d’espelette, herbes de Provence. If you have a lot of cooks on your list, 1 kg bags at G Detou cost something ridiculous like 8 or 12 euro. Cake mixes are popular with some of our friends (Monoprix fondant au chocolat for example). Sounds silly but it’s a fun gift. I have a weakness for Nogadelli and Nougatti so I often bring those too.

    I agree with the person who mentioned the coffee sticks, they work surprisingly well in baking and desserts. I like Nescafé espresso. Wouldn’t drink it, but I’m told it’s actually OK in a pinch.

    • Tamsin

    Yippee! I’m off on a trip to Brussels, Champagne and hopefully a day in Paris in three weeks. Thankfully my husband and I are bringing our car on the ferry from Dover so I can fill the boot with goodies. The hazlenut praline paste sounds right up my street!

    I still have two jars of Speculoos spread, I have it on toasted crumpets as a Sunday breakfast treat. I prefer the smooth over the crunchy but both are scrumptious : )

    • Susan B.

    Thanks for the list, David! I wish I’d had it with me this summer when I was in France. The only food related item I brought home was a tube of harissa paste, which I bought at a little market in a very small town in the Alps for only 1 euro! I’ll print this list for my next visit.

    • Sandra

    LaRoche-Posay sunscreens are now sold in the US at CVS pharmacies–even the higher spfs. At first, they only had the spf 15, but I have seen it up to spf 40 and higher now. Not all stores may carry it. I think they might have to have beauty department. And if there is a beauty dept, they probably are also carrying other higher end French creams such as Vichy, and Lierac. The stuff is also on their website, which I checked as I started typing this.
    I have seen Valhrona products around, but in limited places. I am in the Boston area, so any one reading might want to check their local stores.
    Certainly buying interesting stuff in Paris is great. I originally bought my first bottle of LaRoche-Posay facial sunscreen in Paris with an spf 50. It had an ingredient, that, at the time did not as yet have FDA approval, but was in process. Now, again, sold here at CVS. David took me into that pharmacy back in early 2007 and I was instantly hooked.
    With the exchange rate of the dollar versus the euro getting much better, the only problem is the airlines and security.

    • Suzy (foodie in Berlin)

    Nice post! @ Meg who commented honey should be added, I am pretty sure you aren’t allowed to take honey abroad… It’s like cheese.
    I’ve probably written this before but your book, Just Desserts is pure genius! And Thank Younfor writing the measurements in cups AND metric! Making plum streusel next….

    • argone

    merci pour ces adresses, utiles même aux français !

    • Pam

    Under kitchen gadgets I would add jacquard towels/ linens. Great range of color/ pattern, lightweight and unbreakable, and great for gifts!

    • Abby

    I always come home with creme de marrons and a jar of breton caramel au beurre sale. My stock is almost out, which I think means it’s time to go back and get more.

    • Toni Rae

    What a useful post for a wanna be French foodie like me! Loved the suggestion for dried cherries for my French hosts. Time to save up for my next trip :)

    • Carole

    Great tips. I will have to pass up the hazelnut paste as I’m already a chocolate and hazelnut addict. : )

    • Gail Boisclair

    Fabulous list David and I will share it as well. If I had to move from Pairs one day, I would certainly need a solution to my addiction to ‘Grand Fermage’ salty butter !!

    • Hillary

    I was amazed in Paris at the variety of flavors of inexpensive supermarket jams — Bonne Maman, for example, which only comes in fairly pedestrian flavors in the US, offers a huge variety that kept me referring to the food section in my French-English dictionary. Great for cheap gifts if you don’t want to splash out on the Christine Ferber (except for yourself, of course…).

    • soozzie

    David, David, David! You couldn’t have posted this one day earlier! So many delights we could have explored…. But we are back in the US for another year, so my shopping will have to wait.

    I have given up on bringing soft cheeses back, although my track record with the feds is pretty good — their written guidelines prohibit “liquid” cheese, and most cheese, no matter how soft, is not liquid! This time I brought back Kusmi “love” tea that I had been served by a French friend — I swear it tasted as good as ice cream. With that revelation, I got a few other flavors and some novelty teas from Fauchon and Maxim to try. Nice for travel since they are sold in unbreakable tins and are light.

    I also love the inexpensive grocery store Le Petit Marseillais shower gel, in any of its interesting scents, which change every ear or so. I also stock up on L’Oreal sunscreen with Mexoryl that on the advice of a chemist friend I mix with skin cream daily. While it is supposed to be available in the US I have only found it only once at exorbitant prices. For the sunscreen, however, be prepared for a blank stare if you ask for it other than in summer — it is not kept in stock other times of the year.

    My real prize for things to bring back are not food related — I love the old linens found in antique shops or vide-greniers (garage sales). We have many old table clothes, napkins and bed linens that are useful as well as beautiful.They are often relatively inexpensive, pack well, and make wonderful gifts if I can bear to part with them once I get home. The very elaborate ones are expensive, and are usually from trousseaus — linens that were handmade in anticipation of marriage, that are then packed away for descendants, and often never used. I have gotten lovely square pillow cases with handmade lace and embroidery for a few euros — far less than a plain cotton version at your usual US discount store.

    We have had the great joy of being essentially adopted by French friends, and invited to meals or to stay with an ever-widening circle of their relatives and friends. So the hostess-gift issue comes up often. As residents of Hawaii I try to include a few iconic wooden bowls,tropical teas and Hawaiian-patterned kitchen towels in my bags for gifts, and we have found that if in doubt a bottle of good champagne from the local wine shop or grocery store is always appreciated — although don’t expect it will be opened for the meal to which you have been invited!

    This trip we spent 3 weeks in Brittany, and I am looking forward to trying David’s recipe for kouign amann cake. We find that when traveling from one region to another, our hosts at one destination appreciate a delicacy from our last destination — they appreciate knowing that we took the time to find out what the area is known for, and bringing them back some. So the eyes lit up when we arrived in the Vendee with Larnicol kouign amann cakes from Lacronan. (And thanks to David for that tip in a prior post!)

    • ault

    Don’t forget the cheese – most cheese-mongers have a vacuum pack machine.

    I always make a quick trip to Androuet the morning of my flight, then slip an Époisses and a couple goats cheeses into the clothing in my checked luggage. (I also say a special prayer to Saint Felicien that my luggage doesn’t get lost. I’m pretty sure my shirts are safe, it’s the formage I’m worried about.)

    Be sure to unpack the cheese from the plastic as soon as possible after arrival.

    • iztok

    hey, a great post. I am viewing it at my work PC as at home neither my shrook rss reader nor safari browser are unable to display this page. can something be done about it? it is really annoying. anyone else similar problems? or is it just me?

    btw Paris is great for not only for kitchen gadgets but also for special food items you find at g.detou and of course a box of your favorite macarons.

    • My Kitchen in the Rockies

    I would be very worried of having a lot of food taken away by customs. They are so bad every time we come back from Germany. I pretty much know what to bring and how to pack it by now, but still. Once watched the security person take an old Russian Ladies sandwiches away. She didn’t even understand him or why this was necessary. I would be very upset have them take away cheese or meat.

    • Sam (The Second Lunch)


    After yearning and pining for speculoos cream after you posted last year, I was ecstatic to find out that Biscoff is now selling Speculoos cream (relabeled slightly terribly as “Biscoff Spread”) not only online to Americans, but at their very own store on the Embarcadero!!! More details on my blog:
    (They also make a outrageously sweet latte like drink with Biscoff in it, but that’s another story altogether…

    PS: We’ll miss you at Omnivore. I was looking so forward to hosting you again;(

    • margie

    Oh, how I want to go to France again! My first experiences with Camargue salt, good Dijon mustard, saucisson … France played such an important role in my development as a cook & food lover.

    I have somewhat reasonably-priced sources of imported mustard, Valrhona & de Puy lentils (Surfas, in Los Angeles), but I nearly gagged at the price you listed for salt. I spend far too much on salt, but other than a box of Diamond kosher salt for boiling water, I just can’t abide the cheap stuff anymore!

    • Tami

    Fallot is my all time favourite mustard too and I first bought it in France years ago. But at least for me, and I live in Vancouver, Canada, it is readily available and inexpensive here – even Safeway carries it. Often I can find it at my local Italian grocer in the large size for around $5, so I wouldn’t bother lugging it back home. Give more of the luggage real estate to the Speculoos Cream.

    • Tami

    I always come home with honey I buy at markets, especially Chestnut, Foret and Tillieuil which are pretty unique and my favourites.

    • Tracey

    Great list! Thanks. We always bring back nut oils from Huilerie artisanale J. Leblanc
    6, rue Jacob as gifts and for us.

    • nina

    I’m glad to find out I’m not the only one bringing in all these foodstuff from Paris!
    So glad for the Speculoos Cream, hazelnut praline suggestions for my next trip.
    My husband and I are fans of Maille moutarde, the kind they serve from the siphon at the store. ( the pre-jarred stuff is too mild)
    I have brought macarrons many times with no problems. Same goes for cheeses, foie gras in cans from Lafite ( once I brought a jar from La petite Scerie in Ille St.Louis, but then I found out meat products in jars are not allowed.)
    All sorts of honey, teas, piment d’Espelette, nougat, creme de marrons…That’s the best part returning home and having all this stuff to remind me of Paris!

    • deborahinP.S.

    Great post…yet it came about a week late, boo hoo.
    A dear friend spends her summers in Paris and always asks what I’d like to be brought back…I only know to ask for something foodish, but nothing specific as I’ve only passed through your lovely city.
    She just presented me with a small container of Huiles A L’ Olivier Basil infused olive oil which I’m thrilled to have yet don’t know how I might use it.
    Do I use just a bit along with another mild oil in say a salad dressing? On pasta full strength?
    Yea for having a list of options for next year!

    • Andrea

    Great list – some of your suggestions I regularly bring back from France as my parents live there and they get their fixes from the UK and Germany in return.

    I like nothing better than raiding foreign supermarkets and drugstores and ‘smuggling’ my bounty back to the UK although some brands like La Roche-Posay and Spekuloos are at long last available in the UK.

    I’ve tried lots of salts from all over the world but the only one I use and couldn’t live without is Maldon sea salt flakes – don’t you like those?
    By the way, is IS okay to bring honey into many countries, just check the relevant customs website. For example, you can bring 1kg of honey per person back to the UK (but obviously not in hand luggage).

    One last thing: I had a glut of cherries from our rented cherry tree this summer and put about 8kg of pitted fruit in a dehydrator, resulting in 2kg of dried cherries. Considering that the fresh cherries would have cost around 60-80£ in a shop, paying 55$ for a kilo of dried ones doesn’t sound unreasonable. I use mine like gold dust now.

    • Jeffrey

    I’m fairly certain most people would want to bring you home with them from Paris, but apparently you’re not for sale :)

    • nina

    Iztok: I also experienced diffuculties like you trying to see this site’s page last week and early this week.
    deborahin: Use the basil flavored oil full strenght over tomatoes, pasta, grilled shrimp and whatever else you fancy. You’ll like it.

    • Brie

    When my husband and I returned home from our Paris honeymoon the only souvenirs in our suitcases were food products!

    We brought home huge crocks of mustard and (per your recommendation) bars and bars of chocolate from A l’Etoile d’Or! Denise really was as sweet as you said she would be.

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    Tami: I profiled a wonderful honey made in Paris however I’ve found that many visitors aren’t as interested in varietal honey as I am. Glad to meet another!

    Andrea: I like Maldon salt, but it’s from the Uk, so it’s not something I would buy in Paris if I didn’t live here.

    • Jean Marie

    I was on the hunt for French salted butter ever since your post about it and found it in my small local gourmet grocery store. It is amazingly delicious. I keep watching for speculoos cream but no luck so far (the one with crunchy bits would be the death of me). If you can’t get the burn treatment easily (#4), a piece of an aloe plant works wonders.

    • Carolyn

    A couple of years ago a client brought me a gift from France of fleur de sel from Camargue and told me that it was supposed to taste like violets. Of course never having tasted violets I didn’t know what this meant. What I have found is that it tastes like salt but has more of a punch because of the size and shape of the crystals.

    I also second your love of lentils de puy which I get here in Boston. I first tried them a few years ago when I found a recipe for lentil soup that called for them. I haven’t used anything else since. I love their meatiness.

    • Joanna

    Speculoos cream is available at two places in New York City. The Arcadia Gift Shop on 8th Ave. between W.21 and W22 st and at the South Street Seaport in the “Wafels and Dinges” truck. It’s a little hard to find but when wandering the area you’ll see it somewhere.
    I bought 4 jars of speculoos about 3 weeks ago. 2 left. It is hard not to devour at one sitting.

    • Sophia

    In addition to many of the items you list, we bring back jars of Albert Menes bouquet garnis and quatre epices, and Tarbais beans for cassoulet. And if you like Speculoos spread, try the Verquin speculoos caramels (they are not gourmet, but they will do in a pinch).

    • Oakjoan

    Hey! I can get Faillot mustard at Berkeley Bowl. It’s the only brand I buy. It’s not tremendously expensive either. Maybe they’ve started importing it on a large scale?

    • Jake Dear

    Nice list. I agree with some others — vacuum packed cheese. A few months ago we brought back, and loved, 2- and 4-year old comte from Dubois, at Pl. Maubert, in the 5th. We plan to do that again next month . . . .

    • Cyndy

    David, it has been such fun to read your and others’ bring-home list. I am so nostalgic for Paris now! Have you ever done a post on what you would miss most if you left Paris? It would be fun to read others’ lists on tha toot.

    I would start my list with Saint Marcellin and Saint Felicien. Sigh. The ones I’ve found over here in the US are too old and strong for my taste.

    • Stacy Ingber

    I was just in Paris last August and brought home both La Maison du Chocolat and Ladurée macarons and they were not confiscated.

    But I would add a set of first press green olive oils from Premiere Pression Provence. Sublime!

    • Claudia

    Planning a trip while trying to be realistic. Mustard yes? Chocolate powder? (Msybe for a 25th anniversary present?) Love the realism. Some of this to me is a film-worthy plot.

    • Amanda

    Oooh, now I’ll have to plan a trip back to Paris just to get the groceries!!
    Bit of a drive from Oz, though.
    I’d love to be able to get my hands on Valrhona cocoa in larger packets – instead of the over priced ones available here in Australia!

    • Mariangela

    I have brought all manner of things back from Paris, and especially love the gousses de vanille from G.Detou. They are so fragrant and with over 30 vanilla beans to the bag they will last me quite some time. A worthy investment.

    • shelleyorama

    That is so smart, your tip about butter. It would be hardy, wouldn’t it?

    I must say, Whole Foods and the like would be smart to start stalking + stocking: stalking your blog for products to stock. They do stock Puy lentils in bulk. :D

    WFM are you listening? I know you’re out there.

    • Teri

    J’aime La Grande Epicerie!!

    I had the privilege of going to Guerande and touring the salt beds!! It was fantastic & highly recommend it. I also dropped about €60 on salts from their store!!

    David, comment dit-on ribot en anglais? It was 1of 8 milks served at the breafast buffet at Hotel Lutetia.

    • Scott at Real Epicurean

    I can never understand the rules on what you are or aren’t allowed to bring back. Unless it’s obviously related to safety I think they’re just trying to annoy us…

    • Gina

    Savora mustard? The bland Maille brand seems to have taken over in Canada and it’s almost impossible to find even good old Grey Poupon in Montreal any more, but I did find a jar of Amora the last time I was there. Should have bought two!

    • astheroshe

    What a great post.. I was in Paris 2 years ago, and all the stuff i DID not bring home :( I love that you used the french word “” accro””…that is why i named my blog after it. Addicted!

    • Jane

    Really intrigued to read about speculoos spread and did a quick google to see if we could get it here in the UK. It came up on the quintessentially British site,, which is worth a look if you don’t know it already – an antidote to Parisian perfection and an homage to the (admittedly dubious) virtues of custard creams, Jaffa cakes and the like.

    I have just started reading The Sweet Life in Paris and absolutely love it. Brilliantly funny and makes me nostalgic for my time as a student in Paris in the 1980s. Thank you for reminding me of what it was like trying to live alongside Parisians and never quite making the grade!

    • Jessica

    There is nothing like those squeeze bottles of Amora – they’re perfect for manageable luggage. Just don’t open quickly upon a return to a high altitude location . . . David, if our next trip to France bypasses Paris and focuses on Nice, where do you recommend shopping besides the usual Monoprix? (Although having looked at the Vaissellerie website, I am reconsidering our itinerary!)

    • An

    It seems only fitting that you would know what it feels like to have pastry cream spread on your face.

    I’ve used the La Roche-Posay sunscreen for years, and outside of France, I buy them from for only $16.50 plus shipping, which isn’t bad.

    • Debbie B

    For anyone in the NY area you can get Valhrona cocoa powder at NY Cake and Baking Distr. It’s on 56 W 22nd Street. They also sell big blocks of Valhrona chocolate. For those of you not in the tri-state area they have a web-site

    • fmh

    Your recommendation of speculoos spread gives the impression that it’s French when it is actually Dutch (based on the biscuits of the same name). So something to look out for if you’re in Amsterdam but don’t make it to France.

    • Pelabel

    Oh David, you’re post makes me miss the Made in France warehouse near South San Francisco. They use to open to the public about 1 weekend a month. This warehouse was like a foodie’s paradise. Huge blocks of Valhrona chocolates, Valhrona cocoa powder, wheels of petite Basque cheese, pancetta, foie gras, all sorts of risotto rice, large cans of praline, and a ton of French yogurt and Petite Suisse. Alas, they closed their doors about two years ago (rumor has it, they were sold). The French ex-pats and I still mourn.

    • Gabriel Hummel

    No french women?

    The rumors of hairy frenchies must have proven congruent with the strong lack of waxing centers.

    At least the food rocks

    • Pelabel

    Jake Dear, Thank you! I never knew that they had opened another shop. Will have to check it out this weekend. I still miss the warehouse, in the freezing cold, missing carts…

    • soozzie

    These reports on speculoos spread are intriguing. I discover that the Biscoff cookies with the same flavor are the same cookies we are given on Hawaiian Airlines! The cookies and the spread are available through amazon, so perhaps I’ll try them there.

    The spread is Tamarin, and amazon says it is “based on” Speculoos in Europe — does anyone know if they are the same?

    • LuLu LoLo

    To add to the list of what to bring back: marrons glaces, marshmallows, caramel au beurre sale spread from Laduree, bottle of Creme de Cassis, Cassis flavored Ricola cough drops, and Laroscorbine brand effervescent Vitamin C. Also I have purchased natural cork stoppers for wine at Monoprix. Haven’t tried bringing back any of those wonderful flavoured yogurts in a jar yet. And yes our chocolates were opened and destroyed in front of our eyes–during a security check–but I had packed the macarons in our checked luggage so they were saved. And I always pack bubble wrap. LuLu LoLo

    • parisbreakfast

    I drink hot chocolate made with Valrhona Cocoa every morning.
    FYI: You can buy a kilo for about $32 from:
    I buy 3 kilos at a time and seem to go thru it all 2x a year…
    They are always having 10% off sales too…
    Love this list

    • AlG

    I love the Maille mustard shop across from the Madeleine. The first time I went there I bought a tan crock as a gift and was immediately astonished when they filled it up at a tap on the counter! I now have several of these at home to hold small utensils on my kitchen counters and keep one in reserve to be refilled on my trips to Paris. Heed David’s advice on not trying to get your mustard jar through security at CDG–I lost one of my crocks that way. I put them in a ziplock bag in my checked luggage and have no problems.

    • A Canadian Foodie

    I really appreciate you taking the time to think about this and write a post about it. I am sure your ideas change from time to time as the cuisine does… a little. I also enjoyed reading many of the conversations that followed. For me, piment d’espelette cannot be found in Canada, so that was a must. Also, the quality of the powdered colourings and essence flavourings found at G. Detou I have found no where else on the planet… Our week in Paris this summer was the first time I was there with my husband and not 30 students at Spring break, so I actually got into the grocery and specialty stores. It was a spiritual experience. I forget the name of the store, but there is apparently a place that buys antique silverware from all over America and then sells it for very reasonable prices in Paris. I will add the name if I can find it. You probably know what it is, David. This will be a “must stop” for my next trip as well as many of your other ideas. I really wanted to bring back a violette moustard which I had found before, but I could not find one anywhere. Suggestions? I also love the cassis moustard.

    • Margot

    Just a note that Trader Joe’s carries Valrhona Chocolate Bars, but not the cocoa powder.

    • Mary Beth Watson

    David, THIS is an excellent list. I’m just about to move back to Morocco from France with a quick month back state-side in between. I’ve been slowly gathering French goodies to take back to Texas with me for family and friends, and this list has added a few more things that must come with me (in the “il faut” sense :]). After having picked up several goodies at the wine and cheese festival in Antony a few weekends ago and reading your list, I tried to go to la Poste aujord’hui to mail back some of the stuff that I know I won’t have room for in my suitcase (in the handy boxes you told us about), and was surprised to hear that I was not allowed to send—by USDA rule—the wine or the confiture that I had intended to mail. The only alcohol that is allowed to be mailed is champagne, and any nourriture alimentaire cannot be sent. I’m not usually upset with American governmental systems, but I was irked about that! C’était triste! I just didn’t want anybody else to buy a good amount of wine with the intention of mailing it just to find that they would not be allowed to do so.

    • Jen the Catalyst

    Oh my god. I always come home with a box of “Sachets de Maalox” from the pharmacie. Cheap and the best indigestion cure ever known to man.
    Seriously, Maalox liquid packets are to my heartburn what French Salt is to Dav-eed’s cooking.

    • Sharon deRham

    Hi, David! I adore your blog! It is absolutely the best.
    I live in Vaison-la-Romaine (originally from Calistoga), and because I have many visiting friends who want to take local wine back to the US, I was interested in your comments about wine carriers with styrofoam being available at the Poste. I visited my Poste in Vaison, and they did have wine carriers but without styrofoam. They just have some additional cardboard padding. I did find authentic styrofoam wine shippers of various sizes at a winery supply store in Sablet. However I get them for visitors to use to carry wine back to the states, not to ship.
    Can’t wait to visit G. Detou on my next visit to Paris.

    • Andrew

    I was so intrigued when I read this post that I did a little searching and I can buy speculoos spread in Manhattan!!! Joy of joys I can’t wait to try it. The company that sells has a Belgian waffle truck that I occasionally see around the city so will have to stalk them and buy some. Sounds like heaven on a Liege waffle….

    • Dawn

    Great list, thank you! I’m surprised you didn’t include Bernachon on your list. I just brought back a Kalouga bar that I’m eating right now, thanks to you.

    • Judith in Umbria

    Do you know that Valrhona has stopped bringing their big cooking chocolate blocks to Eurochocolat? I am devastated. Now they only sell the little bars to eat out of your pocket and added up those cost almost double what the 1 kilo block costs! What’s the matter with them?

    I think I can make that toasted hazelnut stuff. Sounds worth a try, anyway.

    • Tanya

    Bringing home breakables or meltables from Paris always makes me nervous. I might have to try out your packing tips next time, as I would love to have a freezer stocked with delicious salted butter from France. I always try to bring home bags of candy that can’t be found here in the U.S. Carambars are a hit with my friends.

    • Leslie

    So sorry didn’t have this list before we left Paris last week but, just as well, we already had many great recommendations to seek and enjoy. On the way home we flew to Zurich and Zurich to San Francisco. The Lauduree macaroons, olive oils and cocoas arrived safely in my checked baggage. We were somewhat irritated/amused that our carry on luggage was ripped apart and sent through Xray three times and, for the first time, my 67 year old female self was wanded leaving Paris and in Zurich I was taken behind a curtain and searched. The couple traveling with us also had their carry on searched. Happily, we made it through to San Francisco with our goodies and look forward to our next trip to Paris.

    • Robin

    Hey David! Have you ever tried making pumpkin macarons? I’d love to know how if you have any suggestions. LOVE your chocolate ones I made!

    • Nari

    Ah, John-Charles Rochoux! I would die a happy woman if his ganache is the last thing I eat on this earth. But that spread sounds so wonderful that I would have to add it to my list, for sure.

    My Google search tells me that I can bring back butter into US (yay!!), which means I will need to take a rather large extra bag and ice bricks (or something) to bring an unimaginable amount of delicious salted French butter next time I am over there. What a happy thought!

    I do lot of Pharmacy shopping when I’m in Europe since they carry awesome stuff, like Caudalie skincare stuff, Phyto hair care stuff and pain killers that seem to work better on me than Advil or Tyrenol. :-) And I love that you can get some money back for tax if you spend enough (which is not hard to do).

    All this thinking about Paris, however, is really bad, David, because you are making me REALLY want to go to Paris right now!!!

    • cathy

    Love your site.Daughter in area for grad school. Told her about Salon Du Chocolate
    She is studying International Business. How do you find a schedule of events have checked main site with little success.? Like which day and what time ?

    What is open to public and how to get around. I know the dates just not able to find schedule of events ? Chocolate is an International business so thought good thing check out . Any suggestions for the first time visitor on their own???only knows a little French….Apples in Chicago area like the size of grapefruits this season–6th warmest summer in 140 years…I’ll never see my apples this big again. Thanks for the apple recipe……..sent her your site articles

    • David
    David Lebovitz

    Unfortunately often the websites here don’t give complete information, and it’s best just to go an event and figure it out from there. I do recommend going to the Salon during a less-crowded time, as it gets quite busy. Have fun!

    • Jane

    Oh mon Dieu! I went to G. Detou yesterday and found Salted Butter Caramel in an easy-squeezy bottle. This could be very very dangerous……..

    • Lilah

    Hi David,

    I was in Paris this summer and used your blog as a guide for all things food-related. If only this entry had come out before I returned: I so wish I had brought back just one block of salted butter! It is impossible to find here, and I’m not sure if it’s something I could make. Thoughts on that?

    Thanks for your great blog.

    Washington, D.C.


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