Christmas gifts from Toulouse

The Nutcracker, Repetto store front.

The Nutcracker, Repetto store front.


My annual holiday visit to the states is almost here and it’s time to stock up holiday gifts for the family before heading back home.
After all, what is the point of living in France if you don’t bring back souvenirs? Christmas shopping is always a stressful time. After living in France for a few years, I’m starting to run out of good ideas for Frenchy things to get for the family. Foie gras, Mariage Frères tea, opinel knives and t-shirts from assorted regions are just a few examples from previous years.

While I like cooking and staying on budget, making homemade edible gifts just isn’t possible when visiting from abroad. So, I’ve tried to challenge myself to find original gifts in the range of 15 to 20 euros per person. And I almost made it, except for my dad’s gift which cost 29 euros.

Here are this year’s Christmas present laureates:

1. 3-year old nice. A matching chef’s hat and apron set, so she can help daddy cook.
2. Brother. A Sud-Ouest brand apron that he probably won’t use, but it looks cute next to the one I got for my niece.
3. Maternal grandmother. Calendar. Classic, but effective. Also, if she doesn’t like it, she can recycle it in a year.
4. Paternal grandmother. A mini-calendar and mini gardening journal from Mucca. Again, I stayed with the classics.
5. Dad. You can’t go wrong with alcohol. Tariquet domaine Armagnac, aged 7-years (my budget didn’t allow for the 15-years).
6. Mom. A hog bristle brush, made in France. This may seem weird, but hog bristle is amazing for your hair. It detangles even fairly thick hair without ripping it out.
7. The hubby. La vie share by Anne-Sophie Novel and Asterix chez les Pictes. La vie share is about sharing and cooperative   economies – another great way to help with budgeting.

There you have it, for better or worse, the 2013 Broke in France Christmas gifts laureates.

What will you be getting your family and friends this year? Any wisdom for staying merry on a budget?  While you give it a think, take a look at these photos of store fronts and Christmas lights in Toulouse:

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Act 1 : scene 2 The Land of Snow  Choreography by Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa, music by Piotr Ilitch Tchaïkovski, performed for the first time in 1892.  Christmas eve, Clara dreams that her Nutcracker comes alive and turns into a prince. He takes her on a voyage through a snow-covered forest, where, together, they watch the swirling snowflakes. The couple then dances, with an allure of winter, lulled by the otherworldly movements of the snowflakes. At the end of this wonderful dream, Clara awakens underneath the Christmas tree with her Nutcracker.

Act 1 : scene 2
The Land of Snow
Choreography by Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa, music by Piotr Ilitch Tchaïkovski, performed for the first time in 1892.
Christmas eve, Clara dreams that her Nutcracker comes alive and turns into a prince. He takes her on a voyage through a snow-covered forest, where, together, they watch the swirling snowflakes. The couple then dances, with an allure of winter, lulled by the otherworldly movements of the snowflakes. At the end of this wonderful dream, Clara awakens underneath the Christmas tree with her Nutcracker.

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