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Appropriate Gifts for French Hosts

Our family has been invited to the small town of Cierges France (Champagne country) on August 1st as they are having a town ceremony for my grandfather who was killed in action there exactly 100 years previous. I am honored and humbled by their gesture and a family in this small town is hosting my entire family for three days, during which time we will visit Reims and Champagne country. What is considered an appropriate gift for their hospitality?

Posted by
9429 posts

High quality chocolates (can be French ones bought there but before you see them) and taking them out to a good restaurant would be lovely.

Posted by
10297 posts

Small handmade craft bought from a craftsperson: wooden box, small pottery bowl, handblown glass plate, basket, utensiles for serving, etc. Small for carrying and in case it doesn't suit their style but individual, US made, and handmade.

Posted by
8293 posts

Bets’ suggestion is a good one, but dinner for all in the best restaurant in town would be nice in addition. How very kind of these people.

Posted by
1992 posts

If you live by a big city-perhaps a souvenir from city or some local candy/chocolates.

Posted by
8293 posts

Honestly, do you really think a box of candy shows sufficient gratitude to these people who will be hosting an entire family from America? I presume as hosts they will be providing not only beds but at least breakfast each day, if not other meals as well.

Posted by
8169 posts

I agree that in addition to taking them to dinner at a nice place in their town, and bringing an elegant box of chocolates, that an artistic piece of pottery, blown glass or other crafted artistic item would be a good idea. It should be something from the hometown region. Every town has local artisans who make beautiful things.

Posted by
2252 posts

Oh, my gosh.... what an awesome occasion and very special honor for your Grandfather and your whole family. I agree with others who said treating the host family to a special dinner and just by your demeanor, you will be thanking them. And of course, heartfelt follow up note saying just what this tribute means to you and you family. I understand the “honored and humbled” attitude you so rightfully have. Memories for your family- priceless!

Posted by
10297 posts

My US mother used to send 2# boxes of See’s to my French in-laws every year. They loved them even though they were cloyingly sweet compared to French chocolates.
I’d stick with a handmade artisan gift. I looked up the village and according to Wikipedia, the population is down to 78. But it’s only 30 kilometers to Epernay, so while you are visiting Champagne region is when you can treat them to a meal.

Please come back with a trip report about this special experience. Did that young man who lost his life one-hundred years ago ever dream his grandchildren, great grandchildren, and maybe even great great grandchildren would be invited bck by a grateful population. This is extremely moving.

Posted by
5941 posts

Ditto the idea of treating them to dinner, bringing a artisan made product from your area and follow up with a lovely note.

Posted by
8169 posts

This is a play it by ear idea, but when we were hosted for Christmas by in laws of a British SIL I of course brought local goodies like smoked salmon and PNW candies -- but best of all, I created a photo album from the Christmas festivities and sent it along afterwards. They loved having pictures of their relatives and their party efforts. You will probably be taking lots of pictures of these lovely event for your own family and your own album; it would be easy to do an album as a thank you gift that will honor this town and these people. It is easy to do these albums with on line sellers and you can tweak one for your family and a similar one for your hosts with only a little additional effort. I'll bet it would be something they show off for years.

Posted by
776 posts

The album idea is perfect and for sure, it won't go on the bottom shelf of the étager.

Posted by
8293 posts

Emma, the donation to a charity in the hosts' name is a good idea, if for any reason taking them out to dinner is not feasible. The host family may have a worthy cause to recommend.

Posted by
2466 posts

A dinner is a great idea. You would have to reserve for a family, however.

Posted by
8169 posts

I think it is lovely to donate to charities and a donation to a town that is doing so much to honor the OP's ancestor is charming. It is NOT hostess gift and I think a fair number of people would find it insulting to pretend that one's charitable contributions are expected to be perceived as such a gift.

Posted by
10297 posts

Since Janet has spoken up with what I believe is correct, and I've now conferred with my resident Frenchman, I'll add my 2-centimes. Ordinary French people do not live in a culture of making individual donations in someone's honor or memory. I've been married into a French family through births, deaths, marriages, 50th wedding anniversaries, and have never seen it done. People get very few mailings asking for money. They do donate to charities during television telethons, or the very rich give when squeezed by the taxman after death--ie the paintings for the Picasso Museum. So, I agree with Janet that the host family wouldn't understand but would find it very odd.

I understand what Emma means by an office filled with stuff from foreign visitors because I worked with foreign students for thirty years and also accumulated a lot of well-meant gifts. This situation is different, however. There are several layers of meaning going on. This visiting family is a symbol of an army that saved them and soldiers who sacrificed for them. I think the host family would appreciate something tangible and American to look back upon this event even if they keep it put away in a cabinet.
This is not an ordinary meet-up. And they'll appreciate a good meal in a restaurant--with lots of wine and spirits. And a follow-up album.

Posted by
3983 posts

I've been wondering if the OPs family has a picture of this grandfather that they could have especially framed with perhaps hand written thank yous by the family? I know in my family we have a picture of all of our WWI and WWII family members taken in their uniforms before they were shipped off. I think something like this since it directly ties into the occasion might be appreciated. I also agree that if a nice dinner can be arranged in whatever time they will be with their hosts, that would be a wonderful thank you too.

Posted by
11507 posts

This is a unique situation , a bit more formal than a hostess gift for friends or family one visits .

Very good chocolates or flowers on arrival , and most definitely anice dinner out .