Great Gifts for Bastille Day 2017

This is my second in a series of some posts leading up to Bastille Day, Friday, July 14th. But first, a history refresher:

What, Exactly, Is Bastille Day? Celebrated annually on July 14, Bastille Day is the national holiday of France.  It commemorates the start of the French Revolution, which began on July 14, 1789 as the Bastille, a national prison and symbol of King Louis XVI’s absolute monarchy and power, was overtaken.

Much like America’s Forth of July, the holiday celebrates freedom and the fight against repression. It also celebrates the beginning of France as a republic.

Alors, vive la république!

On to today’s post:

So….you’ve been invited to a Bastille Day Party, and you want to bring a host/hostess gift. Whether you want to go high or low, I’ve got you covered! Here are some of my favorite French and France-related items for your favorite Francophile (or perhaps, just for you).

1. A French Cheese Sampler

Sure, I love heading to a great local cheese-counter and tasting through a bunch of cheeses to find a great gift…but sometimes, I just don’t have the time. That’s why this pretty little package will come in very handy! It comes with some of my favorites: Comté and Tomme de Savoie, as well as ever-popular Camembert and less-known Buchette Nostalgie (a soft goat’s-milk cheese). It also comes with some fig jam, and who doesn’t love that?

Best of all, you don’t have to wrap it….and even better, you can send it after the party, as a thank-you gift.

I also appreciate this: Oftentimes, cheese packages are very expensive to ship. Shipping on this set is free. It currently costs $65.95 on Amazon.

2. Le Creuset Silicone Trivet

I’ve pretty much cracked or chipped all my china trivets, and think this one will last forever. As of today, the price is $15.95, but you know that could change!

3. Le Creuset Cast-Iron Trivet

So, if you’re a little more fancy-pants, why not go for the Le Creuset Cast Iron trivet? It will wear like….iron, of course. And it’s just so lovely, with that kind of belle epoque design that reminds me a bit of the iron railings on balconies all over France. It’s $74.95, but hey, Amazon Prime Day is coming up (July 10), so keep an eye on the price—you never know.

4. My Favorite French Memoir of the Past Year: Finding Fontainebleau (Now in Paperback!)

Released in paperback just last May, this irresistible memoir is must-read for anyone who loves France. What I appreciate most about this book is that it goes beyond the usual touchstones of our Francophilia (The food! The markets! French bakeries! Cafés!) and tells us about a France few of us know: France of the 1950s. The author’s father, an Air Force officer, was posted to the town of Fontainbleau after the war, and Carhart recounts, among other things, life as an American schoolboy in a French lycée, along with camping trips his family took in post-war Europe. Interspersed with these utterly charming stories of his expat American boyhood is the history of the Chateau Fontainbleau itself—intrigues of those who lived there and often made their own marks on art and architecture of the grand residence, from François I to the Bonapartes.

Surprisingly, the book didn’t make the huge splash that Anglophones-in-France memoirs often make, but for you, that’s a good thing: Chance are, the recipient hasn’t already received or read it—and they’ll love you for turning them onto it. Right now, it’s priced on Amazon at $11.29.

5. Spices, Spices, Spices—and Salt!

Bring (or ship) a goodie bag of some essential French spices, including:
Herbes de Provence: The quintessential South-of-France blend of dried spices, anchored by thyme and rosemary, but also with lavender, marjoram, basil, and/or oregano. Great for grilled beef and lamb this summer!
• Piment d’Espelette: The classic Basque seasoning for seafood, chicken, eggs, and pipérade.
Fines Herbes: Tarragon, parsley, chives and chervil in a blend that’s divine on fish, chicken, and seafood.
Fleur de Sel: That beautiful finishing salt that adds extra flavor and texture to food.

Any other great gift ideas for the French food-lover in your life? Please share!

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2 comments to Five Great Gifts for Bastille Day 2017

  • Nancy LoBalbo

    Read “Finding Fountainebleu” in ARC form last year. I thought it was delightful and a really different sort of take on the ‘growing up/expat in France genre” Don’t know why it didn’t take off, but glad to see you recommending it here!

    • Wini

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Nancy! I agree–the book should’ve taken off! It was so utterly charming and really fascinating (with both the author’s personal life as well as the life of Fontainbleau itself).

      I’m trying to do my part in getting the word of this great book out there!

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