From Scottish stocking stuffers to fabulous French foodstuffs, the Barge Ladies love to give gifts with authentic European flair to our dearest friends and barging family.
During this holiday season in which the act of giving is perhaps more meaningful than ever, we are delighted to share our fantastic online finds from five of our favorite European excursions! Et voila, here are the Barge Ladies’ suggestions for all the Europhiles on your gift list. Happy Holidays from all of the Barge Ladies!
FAIENCERIE DE GIEN
Since 1821, the Faïencerie de Gien has been the home to some of France’s most iconic pottery. Located in the riverside town of Gien in the Upper Loire, this thriving haven for handcrafted artisan tableware is one of the most fascinating stories of French ingenuity.
Gien began by producing simple clay plates in wood-fueled kilns leading, over time, to its heyday of designing exclusive table settings bearing the family insignias of Europe’s great dynasties.
Currently, Gien is celebrated for its boutique approach to traditional pottery production, focusing on practical pieces to use every day, special limited editions, and designer-driven collections. Fabulous French florals, whimsical animal motifs, and hand-painted color studies are just some of the designs now available from the Faïencerie, the perfect “cadeaux” for home chefs desiring to set their holiday tables with a delightful piece of French history.
CLIVEDEN’S GIFT SHOP AND PLANT CENTRE
England‘s historic castles and colorful gardens are always a treat to explore, and the extraordinary estate of Cliveden, at one time a stately home privately owned by the Astors (!), is no exception. Once the scene of family secrets and political scandals, Cliveden now welcomes the public.
Managed and maintained by Britain’s National Trust, Cliveden’s expansive grounds and manicured promenades are consistently cited as one of the most popular excursions in all of the United Kingdom.
For the gardeners and gourmands on your list, why not send them a bit of Britain from the National Trust’s online boutique? A seasonal Christmas shop currently showcases holiday-focused items, such as premium cosmetics, scented candles, and festive ornaments. Best of all, all purchases from the National Trust support its mission to preserve the parklands and properties of Great Britain, such as those found at Cliveden. Cheers to Cliveden and the British National Trust!
THE CHAUTEAU AT THE CLOS DE VOUGEOT
When it comes to savoring the essence of the French lifestyle at home, what could be better than a glass — or bottle — of Burgundy’s best wine? At the Chateau de Clos du Vougeot, located amidst the historic vineyards of the Cote d’or, the art and science of French winemaking is on delightful and delicious offer.
From preserving Medieval grape presses to awarding elite labels for today’s Burgundian vintages, the Chateau de Clos du Vougeot serves as a vibrant harbor for the past, present, and future of France’s signature wine production.
Thanks to the collectible coffee table books, sophisticated sipping accessories, and beautifully detailed wine maps, gift giving to the oenophiles and bon vivants on your list is a snap this holiday season, as the curated collection available through the Chateau’s online shop is, bien sur, “Barge Lady approved”. Chin-chin!
THE L’OULIBO OLIVE COOPERATIVE
With its legacy of traditional farming methods aligned to a temperate Mediterranean climate, the south of France is the proud producer of some of the world’s best olives. Located in the sundrenched Minervois region along the Canal du Midi, the L’Oulibo cooperative receives and processes olives from roughly 1,000 of the region’s passionate farmers and organic growers.
Every year, the L’Oulibo cooperative presses olives into roughly 100,000 liters of “French origin”, “extra virgin”, and “cold extracted” high quality oil — the good stuff!
Luckily for even the most fervent Francophiles on your list, purchasing these exceptional elixirs and other locally-produced products is a breeze on their charming online boutique. Items such as organic olive oils, regionally collected honey, and luxurious soaps await, making wonderful selections for stocking stuffers and hostess gifts.
CASTLE EILEAN DONAN
Located near the Isle of Skye, Castle Eilean Donan is reported to be the most photographed edifice in all of Scotland, and no wonder. Situated on its own island at the confluence of three major lochs, and connected to the mainland by a long bridge, the setting alone for this magnificent castle is akin to something from a romance novel!
With a storied heritage beginning in the 6th century, Eilean Donan’s centuries of historic glory has been sensitively restored, now welcoming visitors, photographers, and filmmakers alike.
Of course, such an imposing and important attraction offers an online range of gifts befitting of its sweep and scope. Holiday entertaining is a Ben Nevis breeze with playing cards featuring official images of the castle, while those on your list who are mad for plaid will thrill to the tartan prints on ties, totes, and tams. Best of all, Scotophiles can receive a handcrafted sterling silver charm of the castle, designed and produced by Scotland’s storied jeweller, Ortak. Sláinte to Castle Eilean Donan!