The Charentaise Rondinaud slipper
The Charentaise is the quintessential household shoe. It takes its name from its birthplace: The region of La Charente, located in the southwest of France between Rochefort, Angouleme and Cognac.
As far back as the the Middle Ages, the peasants of La Charente were slipping the predecessor to these iconic slippers into their clogs to keep their feet warm and enjoy a little comfort.
The Charentaise began to take what is now seen as their traditional shape at the beginning of the 17th century, while France was under the reign of Louis XIV. The felt for the soles was taken from Royal Marine capes -- the very same marines who were organising the colonisation of New France from their base in nearby Rochefort. Local sheep provided the virgin wool that lined the inside of the slippers.
By the 18th century, Charentaises had made their way into the homes of the French nobility. Valets were supplied with them to use as inside slippers, so as to not disturb their lords and ladies with the sound of their comings and goings. It was at this time and in this context that Charentaises became known as ‘les silencieuses’ -- the mufflers. In addition to preserving the silence, this uniform choice also helped preserve the houses’ hardwood floors. Thanks to the continual passage of valets in their felt soled Charentaises, the parquet stayed shiny all year long.
At the start of the 20th century in a little workshop in the small town of La Rochefoucauld, the Rondinaud began adding a little colour to the Charentaises slippers that they produced. Using Scottish inspired fabric, produced in Spain and Italy, they covered the top of the slippers, giving them a unique and iconic appearance.
Today, the Charentaises slipper, and the savoir-faire that they embody, is recognised around the world. The Charentaises that Port Franc offer are entirely handmade in the Rondinaud workshops of La Rochefoucauld. Whether you buy them for their history, their quality, or their style, you will wear them for a lifetime -- at home, in the chalet, or around the lodge.