Picture this, you’re an American visiting Paris in summer, your friends have invited you to a French apéro in the
evening and you have absolutely no idea what to bring!
You’ve heard that certain items will offend your host, who you have never met and are terrified will judge your
accent in French, and all of the épiceries are closing within the next hour so you need to act fast. Here’s your
guide from someone who has been there on several occasions, and after four years in France still worries about what
I never attend any gathering hosted by a friend, or a friend of my partner’s without a fresh bouquet of flowers that
correspond with the given season though I always avoid roses as they can seem cliché and also because there are a
multitude of other beautiful blooms to bring. Irises, tulips, daffodils, and other wildflower variants combine a
bucolic aesthetic tinged with sophistication that is perfectly serious yet possibly informal and handpicked.
2. A BOTTLE OF CHABLIS OR ANY KIND OF NICE WINE
There is a stereotype that you should never bring wine to a French gathering because your host will inevitably know
better than you what wines and which brands pair best with their selected crudités, cheeses, and other appetizers
available. However, I would always bring a bottle out of courtesy, and, more often than not you will be asked to
bring one, as even the simplest French apéro can empty quite a few bottles. If you’re attending in the summer, you
can’t go wrong with a bottle of Chablis or Prosecco or, if you’re a bit of a Bobo - choose an independent wine
company with a unique Instagrammable label and pray that the flavor matches the appeal of the label.
3. ROASTED NUTS OF ANY KIND
Roasted or candied nuts are a super easy way to help out your host and are available in practically every grocery
store in a variety of forms! Grab a few boxes of almonds, pistachios, cashews, or any of the mixed bags from your
local épicerie, and you’ll be on your way. Always ask the group chat if anyone has any specific nut allergies
4. A VEGETABLE TRAY
Whether you prepare it yourself at home, pick it up from an épicerie, or even a carrefour, a vegetable tray, with an
accompanying hummus, tarama, or other additions, is an easy contribution to an apéro and your host might be quite
relieved to receive the extra food. Vegetable trays are also perfect for impromptu apéros and Seine-side picnics, or
rendez-vous in a park, such as my favourite Buttes Chaumont.
Unless you are going to a stoner apéro don’t bring doritos or any variety of American chips other than lays as the
French have the perfect apéro chip down to an exact science and there are plenty of options in practically any
store. As an American, take this opportunity to try a distinctly French flavor like the Bret’s fromage de Jura
chips, or Socca Romarin chips which are light and flaky and compliment any strong cheese.
Late spring, early summer is cantaloupe season in France and your host will definitely appreciate you lugging two
kilos of cantaloupes up their six flights of stairs to their unventilated, elevatorless apartment. This simple fruit
is an uncomplicated, healthy dessert or appetizer that everyone can enjoy.
If there is anything you need to buy at French open air markets in late spring, early summer, it is indubitably
those barquets of glistening strawberries that are as lusciously flavorful as they are beautiful. Bring a box or two
of these and watch as they disappear from the table in seconds!
Prosciutto is one of the most uncomplicated meats to contribute to a charcuterie board and is always a crowd pleaser
especially if paired with the aforementioned cantaloupe. It is also available in many markets and Italian épiceries,
of which there are many around Paris.
A similar cliché is true about cheese as it is about wines, that your host knows best and you shouldn’t dare second
guess their gastronomic judgment by bringing your own wine and cheese. For the sake of being polite as we Americans
(especially if you were raised by British people in the American south - a deadly combination for people pleasing)
always endeavor to do, even if superficially, bring an extra block of Comté aged 12 months at least for ultra
tanginess, as it will demonstrate that you have at least a basic knowledge of French cheeses, but also respect your
host’s judgment by bringing an essential they may already have and will certainly need more of.
10. A VARIETY OF PASTRIES
Some apéros are complete without any form of dessert, but if this is your first apéro and you would like to show
your hosts your appreciation at attending this occasion, the easiest way to do is by bringing either a box of a
small selection of pastries, eclairs, Paris brest, la religieuse, (etc.) or a tarte for several people, such as a
tarte aux framboise, or a tarte au citron. Avoid purchasing something as elaborate as a cake for several people as
the heaviness and formality of the cake might not be as suitable for an apéro.