A Biarritz Pop-Up Boutique That’s Curating Californie Français Cool
Many designers are now taking surf as inspiration and using many references from its culture and California roots in their collections. Last week I was in France’s surfing mecca of Biarritz and made contact with the lifestyle that (in its best form) feels very right-now.
While walking down to the beach, I found this shop called French California, which stands for all that I was feeling while in Biarritz. There’s a natural food bar, with smoothies, acai, and coconut water—not as common in France as it is in the U.S.—and further back, fashion, objects, and art from local designers. There is also a space for local Marty Dupont (above), who delivers surfboards to the hotels and houses of beachgoers from around the world from his kiosk, Marty Surf Delivery.
I met the Belgian girl who moved to Biarritz to make all this happen. Her name is Valentine Halloy, and here is our Q&A.
What’s the story behind French California?
It all started nine months ago. I was working by the beach here in Biarritz, and people always say that this is French
California—Californie Français in French—and it surely looked like it. And then I thought, That is a good name. I went online and searched to see if the name was still available, and it was, so I decided to do something. I went to California for three months to get inspired, write the project, and define the ideas and what I really wanted to do. I was so inspired while in California. When I got back to France, I thought I would never be able to do a concept store—it’s too much money—so I started a little collection, and then I was invited to have a pop-up store for one month in Paris, in Le Marais, where I mixed my brand with several local brands from southwest France, and this summer I was lucky enough to be able to do the pop-up store here in Biarritz. The store will be open until October 2014.
How do you curate the brands that you sell?
There is a bunch of creative people here because of the surfing industry. The whole southwest of France, from Hossegor, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, and other cities—all the surfing industry is here. So I picked friends who are doing cool stuff. There are clothes, beachwear, and photography. I also do one-of-a-kind T-shirts that I design and cut manually.
Wow! This is exciting.
It’s a dream come true. It’s for true surf spirits. I want to show people that you can look cool and eat healthy. This is the concept of the store. It’s California with a French touch.
French California, 59 Boulevard du General de Gaulle, 64200 Biarritz.
For more information, visit the shop’s Facebook page.
Photos: Courtesy of Jorge Grimberg