Chantal Voisin-Simon is the 3rd generation of Simons to run their Paris umbrella boutique on the boulevard Saint Michel, and she’s been doing so since 1958, so she’s seen a few events go down for sure!
Almost 9 years ago I purchased an umbrella there, and have always marveled at the fact that this boutique remains, while everything else around it seems to change.
Her grandfather, Mr. Simon opened up shop over 100 years ago back in 1897. He had the whole corner of the street back then and dedicated it to what we now refer to as « accessesoires de mode » but back then they had a much more delightful term : « frivolités ». But the space proved to be too large and had to be parcelled off and sales space for the « frivolités » was greatly sized down. A café was put in on the corner and there used to be a butcher where there is now a place to get eyewear.
Chantal remembers in 1968 when the student protests were happening, how the windows of the butcher shop were broken and the pyramide of canned peas served as amunition for rebellious youngsters in those famous protests.
The boutique Simon sells « créateurs » umbrellas, some from Chantal Thomass, some from Jean Paul Gaultier, but 95% of their wares come from small altelier-workshops that have small productions. Chantal likes working with these small productions for the care and detailed attention they put into their work, trying to inovate in colors and designs every year. But there are a small amount of Simon-made umbrellas that are made by the house, stunning handmade pieces that are pure luxury.
But not only are the umbrellas charming, the shop is also as lovely as a picture, like a giant jewel box of sorts, for umbrellas. The boutique was used as a model in fact for the movie, Les Demoiselles de Rochefort.
The fourth generation of Simons is currently preparing to take of the running of the store, Chantal informed me proudly. Her son. I wish them many generations to come of parasols, parapluies and ombrelle sales to keep us all fashionable and happy in anyweather indeed.
56 boulevard Saint Michel
Tel : 0143541204