Creating semi-custom shoes in Paris is one of the traditional crafts still available for those looking for the finest footwear.
And George & Georges is among the very best.
We take a tour of this traditional artisan’s workshop, just down the block from the 56Paris office on rue de Verneuil in Paris' 7th arrondissement (district).
The craft of fine French footwear
In this modern age of shopping malls and designer stores, why are custom shoes still popular?
Simply put, they are a luxury enjoyed by those wanting something truly special and bespoke. A product that is not available off the rack.
At George & Georges, on this quiet and charming Left Bank street, master shoemaker Olivier Guyot designs, makes, and repairs fine French shoes. It’s something he’s been doing for 45 years.
If the shoe fits…
To make a pair of fine semi-custom shoes in Paris, you start with fine leather.
In this case, the highest quality French skins from the Tanneries du Puy. Here the leathers get tanned using traditional oak and chestnut bark, not modern chemicals.
But the craftsmanship of George & Georges truly begins with an expert fitting.
You then choose your preferred type of shoe, whether it’s a Derby, Richelieu, Balmoral, Moccasin, or a Pump.
Your semi-custom footwear is personally shaped, with high-end shoes personalized for both men and women. The processes are time-consuming and exact, from cutting out the leather and stitching the uppers, to creating the soles.
Because they’re just for your feet, these shoes have better weight distribution, better movement, and they allow your feet to breathe better too.
The final flourish
After the fitting and expert construction, the shoes are not complete.
Olivier’s partner Anne Garnier works by his side, having left a successful career in finance to pursue the art of shoe coloration, known as ‘patinage.’
This stage is where the shoes come to life with character and individuality. There are various styles that Anne can apply to the custom shoes.
She uses specific techniques using creams and natural pigments to give the shoes shades of sheerness and depth, resembling a patina born of time and wear. It’s a real art, and what makes these luxurious objects really stand out.
One request from a rather romantic customer, was for Anne to apply a patina to the shoes to match the blue of his fiancée’s eyes.
From the initial fitting through to the final flourish, the shoemaking process usually takes around two weeks. Like so many good things, this level of quality just can’t be rushed!
Semi-custom shoes in Paris at home
For the true authentic experience, most customers visit George & Georges in person. With the heady smells of the leather, polish, and glue, it’s almost like stepping back in time, and all part of the experience.
But busy Parisians can also have shoe fittings and repairs at their home or office anywhere in the city, with house calls available seven days a week.
Back in the workshop on rue de Verneuil, there is much more going on such as polishing in traditional shoe-shine seats, workshops, patina lessons, and of course, shoe repairs, and aftercare.
Customers can also buy hand-crafted leather accessories that perfectly complement their bespoke shoes, including matching belts, wallets, cardholders, and bags. Along with every other type of shoe paraphernalia from shoe horns and shoe trees to brushes, polishes, and laces.
A private visit to George & Georges
If you’re not sure about jumping in feet first, and ordering a pair of semi-custom shoes in Paris, you can still enter the workshop for a visit. It’s a fascinating experience.
To enter George & Georges and watch the shoemaking process in action, we recommend the tour organized by our friends at Secret Journeys.
During this unique experience you’ll enjoy a private trip to the boutique, before meeting Olivier and Anne and watching them at work in the studio.
They will personally guide you through the intricate processes. The experience ends by enjoying a glass of champagne with the artisans.
Get in touch with 56Paris
We hope you have enjoyed reading this article about George & Georges semi-custom shoes in Paris, just one of the age-old crafts still practiced in our city.
Or if you would like to talk to our team about our expert real estate services, feel free to get in touch.