Take In Some Sea Air at L’Île o’Lutins French Children’s Clothing Boutique
On a bustling little street in a pretty little town in South West France, Valerie Gantois, owner of Lîle O’ Lutins French Children’s Clothing Boutique is far from her roots by the sea. Instead of sailing boats and seagulls on her doorstep, she now calls the green fields of La Charente home. It’s here, in the little market town of Ruffec that she’s finally realised her dream of selling her favourite French children’s clothing brands and accessories from her own, unique little shop.
Combining her passion for all-things-maritime with quality French brand children’s clothes, Valerie has created a beautiful boutique, so reminiscent of the seaside you can almost hear the waves. Come inside and meet her…
This is Valerie Gantois; effervescent, warm, stylish and a passionate expert in French brand children’s clothing. She’s a mother of four children herself and knows only too well how difficult it can be finding the right fitting clothes for your children when they’re all different shapes and sizes.
” When I first moved to the area in 2009 I was working as a temp and noticed that all my colleagues would travel really far to buy baby gifts and children’s clothing. It’s hard to shop for growing children online and I’ve always loved clothes. So, I started researching setting up a business, and with the help of the local Chambre de Commerce, I opened L’Île O’Lutins in 2012.”
” I grew up with brands like Petit Bateau and their infamous Milleraie vest tops so I’m really proud to sell them in my shop. I sell my favourite French brands for babies right up to teenagers.”
After completing a business start-up course in Angoûleme Valerie travelled to Paris to Playtime international trade show where she got to meet with some of her favourite French clothing representatives, from the very small and handmade to big, global brands. She started buying up stock for her new shop straight away.
The pull of the sea and nautical style is very much close to Valerie’s heart and a style she brings naturally to her tiny but perfectly formed shop. Originally from Normandy, Valerie left behind a career in exporting to come to the Charente with her husband’s new job. Her knowledge of French children’s clothes and her own maternal instinct has helped her choose the right stock for her store. Some of her most popular items are the classic red Petit Bateau Raincoats and boys striped polo shirts as well as French children’s accessories like bags, hats and toys.
Petit Bateau celebrates 121 years this year and Valerie is proud to sell their clothing as part of her collection. She feels close to this French brand in particular partly because of her own heritage but also because it is such an iconic, well-loved French clothing brand that people still want to continue wearing it as an adult. The classic French Breton tops we know and love have become a fashion staple all over the world and the same can be said for the tiny, pin stripe t-shirts that Petit Bateau are so famous for too. This classic, French look encapsulates all we love about French style – simplicity and practicality combined.
Valerie’s seaside inspired interior – a cheerful gull keeps an eye on the shop while nautical merchandising is the perfect backdrop to tiny, stripy socks.
Row upon row of beautiful navy stripes, straw hats, beach bags and teeny babygrows in divine powder blue and pink. Valerie currently only sells children’s clothes but hopes to have more adult lines in soon – great news for fans of the Petit Bateau Milleraie t-shirts!
A Real Gift For Gifts
Valerie specialises in children’s birthday presents and newborn gifts as well as everyday staples. It’s a real French tradition to splash out on baby gifts, especially when buying clothes and LÎle O’Lutins has become a real destination for people in the area. Each item is carefully folded and packaged to provide a stylish present for even the tiniest recipient.
Everything inside L’ïle O’Lutins is beautifully presented, in that classic French boutique style…with so many stripes! Heavenly…
Even Prince George is a fan of a cheeky French stripe!These tiny yellow fisherman’s wellingtons are a real eyecatcher…as are Valerie’s carefully selected wooden crafted toys.
And no French children’s shop wouldn’t be complete without Sophie La Girafe of course!
There’s something quite contagious about Valerie’s love of the sea that runs deeper than just a simple admiration of a smart stripe. She sells from the heart and that’s what makes shopping in her boutique such a joy. She’s passionate about small businesses and providing a face to face service but is also excited to launch her online French childrens clothing store with the help of the local Chamber of Commerce. She plans to help other businesses branch out in her role as Presidente on the local business council and encourages special offers between stores – she offers discounts of 5% to visitors coming from Livres et Vous, a local bookshop and vice versa. Visiting this lovely little French boutique, setting sail on Valerie’s undying wave of enthusiasm for all things nautical is both refreshing and uplifting. If you get the chance to pop in to her little shop, then do without hesitation – if you love stripes you will love it!
Thanks so much for showing us around Valerie!
Love all things nautical?