Now Reading
10 Must-Have French Style Shoes Your Closet Needs

10 Must-Have French Style Shoes Your Closet Needs

french style shoes

Here are 10 French-style shoes you must have in your wardrobe! If you’re a faithful reader of L.C., you may already know how much I love to write about French girl style. That’s why, in today’s article, I wanted to share with you the list of the ten essential shoes that are found in every French wardrobe —and on every Parisian street.

French women don’t have a vast shoe collection, but instead, a minimalist collection of versatile, qualitative, and comfortable shoes that stand the test of passing fads. It includes shoes for fall (like ankle boots), for the spring season (ballet flats or loafers), but also summer shoes like espadrilles and other styles that can be worn all year round like sneakers.

So whether you’re looking to downsize your shoe closet to 10 essentials or add a few pairs to your shoe collection, keep scrolling to find out what the ten French-style shoes are and shop my picks for each. Also, check out my ultimate list of the 20 best French shoe brands you need to know.

1. Ballet Flats

Being French, ballet flats are one of my footwear of choice for the spring season. They are one of those classic French-style shoes that hardly ever feel dated. And this iconic Parisian style is a bit of a wardrobe icon and a staple that continues to be trendy.

It’s one of the perfect French-style shoes to look chic without sacrificing comfort. And they are so versatile that they can suit any look. Whether you’re wearing cropped jeans, a summer dress, or dress pants, ballet flats are always a good footwear option.

For iconic French ballet flats, opt for the or the . The , initially made for Brigitte Bardot by the Maison Repetto are also iconic. If your budget allows it, you can opt for the or the gorgeous .

2. Loafers

While still feminine and slim-fitting, the loafer is also a very chic flat-style footwear option for fall and spring. And they’re one of the most comfortable shoe options to wear too! What I love about loafers is they add a very polished vibe to any outfit and they will never really go out of style.

You can easily pair your favorite loafers with wide-leg dress pants for a casual-chic ensemble. For a slightly more masculine look, opt for lug sole loafers like these or . Whereas these classic look more feminine.

3. Block-Heel Mary Janes

If you’re favoring comfort over style, block-heel Mary Janes are one of the most comfortable shoe options you can walk for miles in. They are the perfect pair of shoes that provide the height to get that feminine allure while still being very walkable. There are two iconic pairs of Mary Janes French women love to wear: Roger Vivier Très Vivier babies pumps and the Carel Kina Mary Janes.

4. Slingback Pumps

For French women, slingback shoes —known as court shoes typically with kitten heels— are the perfect alternative to ballet flats. Slingback pumps are both stylish and comfortable and can be worn with absolutely anything.

Made with a strap that catches your heel, you get the comfort of a sandal without worrying about your shoes falling off as you’re walking. You can wear them with a pair of jeans as a simple switch from your regular sneakers or you can style them with a pretty summer dress.

If your budget allows it, I recommend investing in a chic and classic pair of slingback pumps like these or these iconic . These Aeyde Alessia beige & black slingback pumps are also a great (and cheaper) alternative.

5. White Sneakers

Sneakers no longer carry the casual, lazy day stigma they did in the past. And now, a simple pair of white trainers can look stylish whatever your look! One of my French style tips is to mix dressed-up pieces like a suit with more casual items like a pair of white sneakers. It’s the perfect balance to make your outfit look “chic-décontracté” (smart casual).

If you’re not sure which sneakers to choose, I would recommend opting for minimal plain white sneakers which will make your feet look thin, small, and classy. Consider these or these classics Nike Air Force 1 leather sneakers. Also, these Adidas Stan Smith are very popular among Parisians.

6. Classic Sandals

Sandals are definitely the go-to shoe style for the summer season. They are simple, stylish, comfortable, and easily packable and they basically go with everything! If you like the comfort of flat sandals (and without sacrificing style), consider opting for a pair of chunky/sporty sandals or leather sandals, which are both an elegant and comfortable alternative to flip-flops and other rubber options.

This summer, I love to wear and Birkenstock-style slides. If your budget allows it, you can opt for these gorgeous Roger Vivier’s Swarovski crystal-embellished buckles which are inspired by the original square-shaped ones created for Yves Saint Laurent’s 1965 Mondrian-inspired collection. Or a more affordable option would be this classic pair of A Emery leather sandals.

7. Espadrilles

Espadrilles are literally on the feet of nearly every French woman during the spring and summer seasons. These shoes are wedged soles designed from a rope-like material and they also usually have a tie closure that you can lace up around ankles for an eye-catching effect.

You can choose from two types of espadrilles: the ones with heels like these Castañer Chiara 80 canvas wedge espadrilles give you a little extra leg length, while the flat ones like Roger Vivier’s strass buckle espadrille mules are perfect to walk all day across uneven cobblestones in the South of France.

8. Ankle Boots

Ankle boots are definitely a staple of the French fall/winter wardrobe! There are so many ankle boot styles out there but suede, black leather, and block heel are the three boot styles French women are wearing on repeat in winter. If suede ankle boots are quite popular in the fall, black leather boots are best for rainy days in Paris.

Also, one of the best things about ankle boots is that they are super versatile. Those stylish shoes can suit many looks and can easily be dressed up or down. Here are a few pairs of ankle boots that are just timeless and iconic:

9. Knee-High Boots

Knee-high boots are the perfect shoes if you want to stay warm in the colder months but you still want to look stylish and pulled together! Versatile, knee-high boots can look fantastic with a variety of outfits. You can wear them with a long knit dress, a midi-skirt, or a pair of straight-leg jeans.

This season, consider opting for heel boots like these fabulous —as they offer a bit of height that helps elongate the legs— or flat ones like these Porte & Paire glossed-leather knee boots that are more practical and walkable.

10. Evening Shoes

For a special occasion or a soirée, French women like to look a little bit chicer than on a regular basis. Their overall look is very discreet, except for nonchalant touches, say a nice pair of evening shoes.

For a glamourous soirée, consider opting for a classic pair of black pumps like these Manolo Blahnik Hangisi embellished satin pumps that are perfect with a dress, suit, or tailored pants. Also, you can opt for pointed-toe pumps like these Christian Louboutin Kate 85 pumps as they tend to elongate your leg and work ideally with cropped pants, or any kind of dress. Finally, small kitten heels like these Roger Vivier Belle Vivier pumps are a more practical party option but are a good evening shoe option as well.

Et voilà! I hope this guide to the ten French-style shoes will help you curate your own shoe collection.

Disclaimer: I carefully select and personally love every product featured on Leonce Chenal. If you buy through my links, I may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Merci for your support <3

View Comments (14)
  • Love French fashion! Every time I go to Paris I notice I wear much prettier clothes.Thank you for posting these beautiful fashion pieces, for me to wear here in New York!

  • Thank you so much for these articles! Have traveled the world frequently over the past five years and planning a trip to Paris Sept. 20-27, 2021! I can’t wait! Planning to come with one of my fashionista girlfriends and it would be so special to meet you! If you know of any “must experience” things related to Coco Chanel please write back to let me know! I’d like to go places she has been that only the locals know about and have access to, and not just the obvious tourist attractions. Now I can come in style and might even dressing like a French lady here in America! I love fashion and missed my calling but getting back into it at this time in my life!

    • Bonjour Ema! Thank you very much for your comment! Lucky you, I hope you’ll have a wonderful time in Paris!
      Just in case you missed it, I’ve written a very detailed article on how to do Paris like a local, I hope it’ll help you! Also here are a few places to go if you love Coco Chanel:
      – The Chanel boutique 31 rue Cambon (obviously); Chanel’s flagship store where it all began in 1918
      – The Ritz Paris; where she lived for 34 years!
      – The Marché aux fleurs on the Île de la Cité (one of the oldest market in Paris)
      – The café Angelina on rue de Rivoli; one of Coco Chanel’s favorite cafés
      – The restaurant Le Grand Véfour; where Coco Chanel used to dine
      – Le théâtre des Champs-Elysées: Coco Chanel had created the costumes for the ballet Le Train Bleu
      – Le Grand Palais where all Chanel’s fashion shows happen every year.
      Et voilà! Have a great and safe trip to Paris 🙂 xo

  • J’adore votre blog , c’est tres utile et interessant ! Selon vous, qu’est-ce qu’ une bonne hauteur de talon? Merci : )

    • Bonjour Elina! Merci beaucoup pour votre commentaire. Personnellement, je pense qu’une bonne hauteur de talon se situe entre 3cm/1inch et 8cm/3inch (5cm/2inch étant l’idéal). Je marche beaucoup tout au long de la journée, j’ai donc besoin de chaussures à talons assez comfortable. Au delà de 8cm, je garde ces chaussures à talons pour une occasion spéciale ou pour une soirée/ un dîner. Voilà! En espérant que ma réponse puisse t’aider 🙂 xo

  • Hi!
    Great blog!
    Please help me with an outfit idea for nude loafers. I just got a pair that I love, from Jonak, but I dont know how to style it. Everywhere I see only black loafers…
    Thank you!

    • Bonjour Aida! Thank you very much for your comment! Nude loafers are a great shoe option for the fall and spring seasons! You can pair them with jeans (dark or light blue will be great), black denim or pants as well as a little black dress. I think the nude color works well with grey, camel/beige, black, olive, and bronze. I hope that’ll help 🙂

  • I have a question, it’s probably personal preference but do people generally wear something inside ballet flats and loafers? When it’s really hot (I live in a warm climate) I find it a bit uncomfortable to go without socks.

    • Bonjour Hannah! Thank you very much for your comment! Yes, I like to wear ultra low cut liner socks which are invisible with ballet flats and loafers. Also, during fall/winter I wear normal grey socks with loafers 🙂

  • Loving your site! Such chic options and helpful advice. Suggestion for a future article – which shoes to pair with different clothes, in particular, different styles of trousers/pants, and different lengths of skirt. I’ve heard something in the past that the longer the skirt, the higher the heels can be? So a mini-skirt is pretty much always paired with flats? Are flats ok with midi or long skirts? etc.

    • Bonjour Lindsey, thank you very much for your comment! Yes, I would recommend wearing high-heels with long dresses/skirts or pants. Mini skirts are chicer worn with flats (sneakers, loafers, ballet flats). Flats are always the safest options and can be paired with any type of dress or pants 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Copyright 2024 © Leonce Chenal. All rights reserved.

Léonce in your inbox

Get your weekly dose of Parisian style in your inbox, along with lovely surprises.