Now that I’m settled in France, I’m beginning to understand why I love it here. I’m a hopeless romantic.
It didn’t happen by accident that I live in a tower apartment. I’m a princess. Or at least, I always wanted to be one. If I had long hair, I’d wish to be Rapunzel, pining away in my tower prison, waiting on my prince to climb up the garden wall. Seriously, that will never happen. But living in the small town of Uzes, across from the palace of the Duke, it is pretty close to having my own castle. Better yet, if I walk only a few steps down the cobblestone street, I enter into a pure fantasy land where I am transported to the early 1800’s — the age of Romanticism — French fashion “bobo” style.
French Fashion Bobo Style: L’Atelier des Ours
There’s a little shop at the end of the road where I live named “L’Atelier des Ours“. You can’t miss the place because of the teddy bear outdoor decorations, and because there are usually crowds of tourists standing around the entrance taking photos.
When I first stepped inside the fairytale-like shop, L’Atelier des Ours, I immediately felt I’d walked into another world. First of all, there was literally “sand beneath your feet.” The floor of the entire first level of the shop was covered in several inches of pure white sand.
Second, the cozy store is filled with a vast collection of clothing, folk art and fond reminders of years ago — even centuries passed. Wherever you look, there are decorations and clothing items from an earlier age arranged in elegant, small vignettes.
Being a shopaholic, I’ve visited many stores attempting a “return to the past” theme. Never before have I experienced anything like this.
The “feeling” is achieved masterfully at L’Atelier des Ours, no doubt, because of the clever, topical store decorations, but also because of the artful selection of clothing and accessories — couture straight out of early 1800 France.
French Fashion Bobo Style: How do you describe the look?
There is a certain style in the south of France that is best described as “provençal“. As I travel around other towns near Uzes, the provençal style of dress is scarcely visible.
It is alive and well in Uzes.
When I discovered how much I admired the look, I tried to discern why some of the avant garde, provençal clothing at other shops around Uzes was so different from the distinctive style found at L’Atelier des Ours.
That’s when I discovered “Bobo”.
Here’s an example the clothing at one shop in Uzes that sells popular French “provençal” clothing.
Here’s a example of the style of clothing at L’Atelier des Ours
What is ” Bobo”?
David Brooks, the NY Times columnist, wrote a book about “Bobos” in the year 2000. Brooks’ book, “Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper-Class and How They Got There,” was subject of an interview with Gwen Ifill on NPR the year it was published. (Read the interview here)
Bottomline, Brooks describes “Bobos” as the cultural result of the “information age”. Quoting from his own review in the NY Times of his own book, Brooks says about Bobos: “These are highly educated folk who have one foot in the bohemian world of creativity and another foot in the bourgeois realm of ambition and worldly success. The members of the new information age elite are bourgeois bohemian. Or, to take the first two letters of each word, they are Bobos.”
According to Brooks, Bobos are identified by having “rebel attitudes and social-climbing attitudes all scrambled together.”
So what does Bobo have to do with fashion?
Bobo fashionistas are everywhere. You may describe the style as “bohemian”, but it’s not. It’s a higher grade of the 1960s “hippy” generation. Kate and Ashley Olsen probably would say they are Bobo. They’d probably enjoy shopping at L’Atelier des Ours. However, I would describe the true Bobo “look” as much more sophisticated than the Olsen twins’.
Personally, I like to think about Bobo as a look that was re-popularized in Paris at the beginning of this century. It is a true throwback to the early 19th century, with a uniqueness that makes it new. It’s a look that is flirty, yet puritan; dark, yet light; feminine, yet tight-laced; rich, yet peasant; fun; yet reserved; elegant, yet simple.
Such is the fashion you find at L’Atelier des Ours and I understand that wealthy Parisian women flock to the store and to its store online.
Expensive? Well, yes!
You can imitate “Bobo” by layering and stacking on clothes you find at the thrift store or in the back of your closet. If you want to go for the “real” Bobo, it’s going to cost you, big time. For a special occasion, it’s tempting to splurge.
It’s tempting! And here’s why …
A teddy bear’s delight
I hope you have enjoyed this visit to L’Atelier des Ours — translated, Teddy Bear Workshop. Be sure to stop and visit the store when you visit Uzes. It’s definitely a “must see”.
Meanwhile, visit L’Atelier des Ours on the web and Pinterest site. to see more.
Categories: Around France, Blog, Chapter 3: Life in France Part One, Loving Fashion, Uzès
Enjoyed reading this, you catch the style well – and your definition of “BoBo” is spot on!
Thank you, Deborah. I listened to the audio clip for your book and I’m in awe of your writing. Your compliment means a lot. I’ll look for your books, for sure.
You know I loved it! Can’t wait to come back and shop with you!
There’s always something irresistible at that shop. See you next year I hope!!
Also…it’s so cheeky of you to take a picture of a display where there’s a sign saying “Photos not allowed.” !!!
Bonjour Debbie, So glad you pointed out l’Atelier des Ours. I’ve walked by it so many times and not gone in, since I thought it was a toy store with all those teddies. Now I’m dying to go in there! With only a few days left in town, I’ll make it a priority to visit before going back to California. Thanks for the post…you have a way of writing that makes me drool…and you provide education as well. I love the bobo look here and have seen many women whose ruffled skirts sweep along as they walk…and I love all the layers. Hope to see you again soon. We’ll be back in December and look forward to experiencing the magic of the season. Bisous, Patty and Jack
Knew you’d like it! One of my favorites. Glad you’re coming back soon!
Always love to see what is happening in your part of the world.
We are going to be in l’isle sur la sorgue this Christmas, December 21 thru Jan 2. Any suggestions of special events, Christmas markets, etc that will be happening during this time. We have been to this area before but not during Christmas. As we will have a car, we planning to revisit some favourite places as well as find new spots. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
On Wed, Oct 5, 2016 at 2:19 PM, Barefoot Blogger wrote:
> Deborah posted: “Now that I’m settled in France, I’m beginning to > understand why I love it here. I’m a hopeless romantic. It didn’t happen by > accident that I live in a tower apartment. I’m a princess. Or at least, I > always wanted to be one. If I had long hair, I’d wish” >
Send me a note at Deborah@bfblogger.com and I send you some thoughts on holiday things to do.need to look for myself, too because I’ll be here this year. Thanks for getting me on it! I’ve been here til Dec. 22 before and it’s magical!
Please send me a note at email@example.com so I can sent you some thoughts on your visit in December. Glad you’re coming this way!