The famous Charentaise slipper
- A bit of history
During the reign of Louis XIV in the 17th century, the Charentaise slipper was created as a way of using the leftover material from the uniforms of the Royal Marines, as well as the felt used in the paper mills around Angoulême. The original Charentaise slipper was designed for comfort. Inserted into clogs, there was no left or right foot. The slipper’s tongue was there to protect the top of your foot against the hard wood. In the 18th century domestic servants used the slippers to clean and polish wooden parquet floors. Known colloquially as ‘silencieuses’, servants used them to move around discreetly.
It wasn’t until 1907 that Théophile Rendinaud, shoemaker in La Rochefoucauld, created a more modern version of the slipper in its traditional tartan fabric.
- Le ‘cousu-retourné’?
This technique is what characterises the genuine Charentaise slipper with its original felt sole, which is sewn into the slipper inside out and is then turned the right way around. This method is still used today.
- The Charentaise slipper today
The famous slipper has managed to keep up with modern trends. The tartan fabric is still favoured, but the slipper has been redesigned, with brighter colours and patterns to suit a younger market. New shapes and fabrics have kept it modern but importantly the original slipper remains just as soft.
Where is the Charentaise slipper made?
Two local factories make the Charentaise slipper:
- Rondinaud in Rivières (Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant)
- Degorce factory in Marthon (certified as a genuine product of France).
Where to buy them?
La Rochefoucauld: Maison Rondinaud, 43 rue des Halles
open Tuesday to Saturday from 9.30am to 7pm (closed for lunch from 12pm to 2.30pm)
You can also buy online at www.rondinaud.com
Marthon : the Degorce factory shop, route de Grassac
open Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm (closed from 11.30am to 2pm)
You can also buy online at www.degorce.com
- Tours of the Degorce factory are available for groups of a minimum of 10 people. Tel: +33 (0)5 45 70 23 66.
- In the neighbouring Dordogne Department, just a few kilometres from Marthon, the château in Varaignes is a workshop and also a museum about the Charentaise slipper in particular, and weavers in general. For more information, please contact the tourist office in Varaignes on +33 (0)5 53 56 35 76.