International Valentine?
January 30, 2009 7:05 PM   Subscribe

How can I send flowers from the US to someone in France? Or, what should I send instead?

A friend of mine that I dated this past summer is studying in France this semester. We basically broke it off because she was going to be abroad for 9 months, and neither one of us wanted to be tied down. But, I'd like to send her something on Valentine's day, if for no other reason to be cute and spontaneous.

How would I, an American, send her flowers? I can't really call up a French florist, even if I knew where one was, since I don't speak *any* French, and to top it off, I have a mailing address for her, care of the university, but I don't have a physical address since she's not allowed to give it out for privacy's sake for her host family, so any flowers would have to stay fresh in a box for up to a couple of days until she gets her mail from the university.

So, should I send flowers? How? Or should I mail her something else?

What would *you* want for Valentine's day from a friend/slightly-more-than-that, if you were out of the country?

Oh, and do the French even celebrate Valentine's day? Maybe I should work that angle somehow?
posted by fvox13 to Shopping (14 answers total)
Try an FTD florist. Your order here, and the order is carried out and delivered on the French side.
posted by katillathehun at 7:18 PM on January 30, 2009

Go to a florist that is affiliated with FTD. I work for such a florist and we sent flowers to France just this past week.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:19 PM on January 30, 2009

My fallback answer for this sort of thing is always fancy-ass maple sugar cookies.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:08 PM on January 30, 2009

Send yourself.
posted by emhutchinson at 8:56 PM on January 30, 2009

For sending flowers to faraway cities, I have always just found a local (to the recipient) florist online, and ordered via the photos and forms on their website(s). No failures yet.
posted by rokusan at 8:57 PM on January 30, 2009

I don't have a physical address ... so any flowers would have to stay fresh in a box for up to a couple of days until she gets her mail from the university.

Unfortunately that pretty much rules out most flowers, especially any you might order through FTD or any retail florist. I think fancy-ass maple sugar cookies, or something else less perishable than fresh flowers might be the way to go. Maybe you could mail something special from your slightly-less-than-sweetheart's hometown, that can't be gotten in France?
posted by Balonious Assault at 9:19 PM on January 30, 2009

Yep, agree with Balonious. She can get flowers in France. There's a lot of stuff she can't get from the US, though.

What about sending her a birthday cake in a box? Cake mix, frosting, candles, little decorating doodads? Maybe a muffin tin and some cupcake papers as well? The cakes in France aren't like the cakes in the US, and though there is cake mix in the stores, it also isn't much like Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines. She could make her own American birthday cake in France, and share it with her flatmates or friends.

I'm a pretty dedicated "from scratch" cook, and I was surprised at just how happy I was to find that my local Sainsburys started stocking chocolate and white cake mix, and chocolate and vanilla icing. Cakey goodness! Those little flashes of home mean a lot when you're overseas, even when you're perfectly happy to be where you are now.
posted by Grrlscout at 12:17 AM on January 31, 2009

I spent a semester of school in Barcelona once, and it's amazing how the little differences in things you can get there really add up. If it were me I'd send a care package of stuff that's harder to get in Europe - and say that. Magazines she may be into, Kraft Dinner, various packs of candies etc.
posted by jimmythefish at 12:41 AM on January 31, 2009

Oh, and do the French even celebrate Valentine's day?

Yes we do. We give flowers, fine chocolates, jewellery, poems or lingerie.
posted by Jaloux Saboteur at 1:37 AM on January 31, 2009

Send her ingredients for chocolate chip cookies. France doesn't really understand or have chocolate chips (and to a lesser extent baking powder or baking soda or, really, cookies) so if she likes cookies she's probably missing them. Or mac&cheese in a box. Or herbal tea that isn't mint or vervaine. Or books/magazines in English.

If you're set on the idea of flowers, maybe you can send a packet of flower seeds and write a cute note/poem about how you couldn't send fresh flowers but, blah, blah, etc.
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 2:06 AM on January 31, 2009

I almost asked this exact question! My girlfriend is in France!

I was thinking of sending her something other than flowers. I like the chocolate chip cookie idea.

Sorry for the non-answer, I just got excited....
posted by jdlugo at 11:24 AM on January 31, 2009

Oh, and while on the topic-if any of you get inspired to send flowers to France (or anywhere for that matter) please for the love of all that is holy do it (at least the ordering part) THIS week and don't wait till next week (valentine's day week) because that is like the freaking Christmas season wrapped up into one week for florists. In other words, your local florist will be SWAMPED.

Order early, people, order early!!!!
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:29 PM on January 31, 2009

As an American living in France who knows other Americans here, I can tell you that it would be really nice if you just called/e-mailed her and asked if she misses anything from the US, and then send it to her. There are all kinds of things that I have asked friends to send, either because it's impossible to find here, or because it's 5+ times more expensive; for example: earphones, graham crackers, certain kinds of tea, real mouthwash, shampoo, batteries (often cheaper to ship overseas than buy locally), etc..
posted by helios at 6:13 AM on February 1, 2009

Seconding other people's comments and helios -- I'm also an American abroad and I agree that asking what to send is a good idea. Definitely add other things (to have some surprise to the ensemble) but have an idea of what she'd enjoy. I'd rather get some magazines and tea from home than flowers, especially if they are not-so-fresh at a uni address.

Also -- if you really want to do flowers, can you ask her program director for her host family's address? I find it highly strange that she can't give it out, and it's not like you're showing up on their doorstep. That way, they are more likely to be fresh and lovely than half-wilted in a uni box.
posted by fantine at 2:49 PM on February 2, 2009

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