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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Paris Couture Umbrellas from Alexandra Sojfer

So round 2 of my Paris holiday blog, and without wanting to sound to negative, it was a slight disappointment. My plans were to check out vintage stores, markets and fashion museums but they were all pretty much shut. No markets at all, one tiny fashion exhibit thing all in french in an out of way place and the only 2 open vintage fashion stores full of overpriced handmade stuff and the designer store near the Louvre Didier Ludot was incredibly rude and to be honest full of designer labels but lacking in the style stakes. It was not like I didn't have lots of fun with my mum but we both got a bit tired of dragging around to find things had closed, moved without notice or a bit of a let down.

 The French go on holiday for the end of July for most of August, we just didn't expect it would be THAT bad. Obviously the macarons and chocolate cheered me up enormously but there was one extra special highlight for me, the beautiful Parasol shop of Alexandra Sojfer.

'Alexandra Sojfer's grandfather, Georges Gaspard first started handcrafting umbrellas in Paris in 1937 after moving there from Hungary – incidentally he was the one who invented the “frou-frou”. It was close to Madeleine Gely, the oldest umbrella shop (founded 1834) in the heart of the district of Saint-Germain-des-Pres in Paris. Today the family business merged with Madeleine Gely, and workshops are at the same address as the store, at 218, boulevard Saint-Germain: "repair, restoration, rehabilitation of umbrellas, parasols and canes ; Sale of canes ancient and contemporary, umbrellas, parasols and to fashion accessories . "

The masts of umbrellas and parasols are made ​​of various fine woods, the handles are horn or natural silver. Crystal Swarovski hand sewn adorn the paintings. Alexandra Sojfer uses all types of fabrics for her creations: Silk natural cheese cloth, organza silk, twill fabrics, etc.. All creations "Alexandra Sojfer" are handmade in the Parisian workshop' -Thanks Wikipedia

Her service is second to none. Just so classy, something even the best stores around Paris could not match, in that French confident way that people talk when they know when they can answer every question 'is this real silk?' is this part handmade' with a simple 'Of course madame!' she enthusiastically told us about the history of the shop and the special construction of each handmade piece. Not having much luck with any other shopping plans I decided this was my treat. After all returning to the UK I need something to make me super excited about the rain (which I am!)

So this was my pick of a vast array. The second she opened it I knew it was the one, I love the bright colours.

Its has matching silk tassel, removable hook (which sits perfectly on ones arm!) and a double canopy make of bright purple tulle.

Not only that but it comes with its own snazzy ring to close. They are super strong, and if anything breaks, well just send it back to the store in Paris and it shall be repaired as if by magic! Now that is service, not to mention the little cafe set in the middle of the tiny store where my mum got to rest her feet and got offered Perrier!

Now as I said I was not being negative, other than the pointless walking that blistered my feet to limping status, just being surrounded by the wonderful building in Paris was great enough!

Everything was very big and impressive, you can tell its from and era when they tried to do that beat the Jones thing with the UK in the good ol' historic rivalry.

And although rather disappointed to see a huge lack (zero) fashionable folk in town I did have fun wearing all my favourite dresses!

Best thing about Paris? Seeing glimpses of these amazing buildings down little streets when your walking around, they just spring up from everywhere!

And finally! Not one to be beaten by a challenge this is my 3rd attempt at macarons, and they are FANTASTIC! I only just finished them tonight and you need to leave them filled for24 hours but I was naughty and tried one. The filling is a vanilla white chocolate ganache and is identical to the ones I had in Paris from Laduree. 

Vanilla Macarons

The macaron could be improved as a little grainy, I need to learn how to use my insane blender to grind the almond meal finer without turning it into butter, but the taste is great. I was working in 1/4 batches while I master the technique so not to be too wasteful (first 2 straight in the bin) so think working with larger amounts will also help. They look a little brown as using bean essence rather than waste money on real vanilla beans while still learning.


  1. It's a shame alot of the places were shut but that parisol is absolutley gorgeous!

    E :)

  2. Ooh check you out - you got the shine on the top and everything! (Have been watching the great British Bakeoff - macaroons foxed most of them)

    That parasol is a STUNNER! Hope you have a long and happy life together ;-)

  3. The macaroons look perfect, for a first timer you should be really proud of yourself :o)

  4. Its quite difficult to mange for first timers but you have done such as great job.


  5. It seems that you had an awesome trip, congrats.

  6. Somehow found your blog and loved the tips on Paris shopping. Love the parasol. Thanks! (November 2016)