Souvenir gift ideas from Europe
Contrary to what you might think, ‘souvenir’ isn’t French for ‘useless knickknack’. It means ‘memory’, and the best souvenirs will find a purpose in your home while reminding you of wonderful holidays you’ve enjoyed. Here are few original options from three corners of Europe.
In recent years, Scandinavia has become known for cool, clean, modern designs in home ware. Items of furniture may be a little too large to take home with you, but a kitchen accessory or a pair of matching mugs won’t break the bank. Denmark and Sweden also produce a variety of fun and stylish wooden toys, so it’s a great opportunity to buy something the kids will actually be encouraged to leave in the middle of the living-room floor.
Holland and Belgium
Dutch souvenirs needn’t be themed around windmills, clogs or even tulips. Children and adults alike love Miffy, the little cartoon rabbit created by Dutch illustrator Dick Bruna. You’ll find plenty of Miffy-themed souvenirs, especially in Bruna’s home town of Utrecht. Speculaas, thin, crunchy biscuits with a distinctive taste of spices, were originally a Christmas treat but can now be bought all year round. Chocolate letters are another typically Dutch confection. Bring a lucky child the first letter of their name, or, if you’re feeling especially generous, the whole name.
For a more adult gift, there’s jenever, the flavoured spirit from which our own gin is derived. Jenever is distilled in both Holland and Belgium, and, in its traditional stoneware bottle, makes a distinctive and memorable souvenir. Additionally, with fast and frequent ferries to Rotterdam to and from the UK, Holland is a popular destination for short breaks.
Buy clothes on holiday and you’ll be reminded of the good time you had whenever you wear your purchases. If you’re going to Brittany, why not buy a classic Breton top, the stripey jersey traditionally worn by fishermen but now available for men, women and children? French children’s clothes are as hard-wearing as they are elegant, so invest in something that will be worn and loved until it’s outgrown.
When you think of souvenirs from France, though, food and drink are likely to be uppermost in your mind. French cheeses are lovely but might not survive the journey home, so pick something in a jar or tin, pâté or olives, perhaps. Wine and champagne are the obvious bottles to bring home, but northern France is also famous for its cider, a light, sparkling drink very different to the English kind. Cider is also distilled to make calvados, or apple brandy, a warming treat.
French markets are a wonderful source of locally made produce, as well as more long-lasting items like wicker shopping baskets. Alternatively, visit a brocante, the French equivalent of a car boot sale, and you could come home with anything from a moped to a live hamster to remember your visit by!
What would be your souvenir gift ideas from Europe?