La Botte Gardiane: Searching for my perfect black boot

Monday, June 24th 2024
||- Begin Content -||

By Lucas Nicholson.

The idea of black boots has been obsessing me for much of the past year. It must be a fairly common menswear preoccupation, given the inspiration: Marlon Brando in his black leather and bad-boy persona, most obviously. Which as a middle-class white boy who grew up on the beaches of Bournemouth, and then moved to south-west London, I obviously identify with.

But was that the kind of boot I wanted? I certainly didn’t want a smart one - I can see the appeal of a balmoral, but not when it would be the optimal choice for me. I’d always prefer a loafer or lace up.

But an engineer boot like Brando’s didn’t seem right either. That thick leather, sole and strap wasn’t my speed. Yes I have a motorbike licence, but I haven’t ridden one since I passed my test at 21 - except that one time in Ibiza when I hired a Vespa and I don’t think that counts. 

How about something sexy and sleek, like a Beatle boot? I’ve tried to do this look before with a couple of pairs of RM Williams, but it never quite worked. I was aiming for the Husbands Parisian look, but ended up divorced from reality! 

I’ve also had some ‘interesting’ experiments via eBay. There were slightly cringy side-zip boots with an oddly sharp, square toe that I wore once and then left under the bed. And some ostrich roper boots from the now defunct Larry Mahan.

Thankfully, success seems to have finally come with a boot that combines parts of all these styles, but in a rather subtle manner - from the French brand La Botte Gardiane

I’m sure some readers will be familiar with the maker but equally sure many won’t, given the low profile they generally maintain. 

La Botte Gardiane was established in 1958 in La Calmette, in the Gard region of south-west France. It began by producing work boots for the Camargue herders (basically French cowboys) as well as sandals and belts, mainly for men. It was then purchased by the current owners in 1995 and they built the modern brand. 

There are four stores in France: two in Paris and two in the south, directly at the workshop and in Saintes Maries de la Mer. There are some stockists globally, from Korea to the USA, but the main offering is online.

La Botte Gardiane makes everything on site and to order, but it takes only two weeks to make standard styles, and you can select various aspects. This includes - impressively - adding or removing arch support and changing small things on the last, such as widening the forefoot or slimming the heel. You can also set the height, which is very useful in a boot for those of different heights.

There’s an additional fee of around £45 to select these options, but if you have trouble fitting boots it will certainly be worth it.

My choice was the Terence boot (above, £316). It had all the obvious style points I wanted: above the ankle, round toe, slightly stacked heel, plus a side zip that meant it had shape through the ankle and held my foot in place (a major gripe with roper boots).

More importantly, it seemed to hit that sweet spot between my different style references. It was a casual boot but but a little refined, a little more - dare I say it - sexy. Apparently the style is a contemporary version of their classic 1950s boot, the most obvious update being the side zip, intended to give that greater hold on the foot.

Being incredibly excited when the boots arrived, I unzipped them, slid straight in and left the house with reckless abandon. The soft leather and ergonomic last performed admirably - I can’t think of another pair of boots, bar soft suede chukkas, that have provided such immediate comfort.

Over 12,000 steps later, my feet were slightly weary but not bruised or blistered in the way they would be with most new shoes. The half rubber sole and oily leather also makes them immediately weatherproof.

I was impressed with the quality and style elsewhere too. The calf leather has a nice waxy-ness that gives it a more matte look than a dressy black boot, and it makes it a better partner to jeans and more workwear/rugged looks. 

I took my normal size, 10.5 (45). I didn’t go for any alterations on the shape, as while I do have slightly wide toes, the last sounded roomy enough to accommodate them. Having worn the boots now, I would probably take some further arch support on future orders, but it was interesting to try the standard fit for the purposes of this article.

The boots are Blake constructed and La Botte Gardiane offer a resoling service and a full reconditioning service. Changing the heel and rubber piece of the sole costs €45, while a full resole with new heels and insole costs €156, and takes about a month. 

The company seems to be excellent value. It’s slightly below the quality PS normally covers and I understand that some of the boots might not be to everyone’s taste. But the styles and the manner of making come from its genuine heritage. Some other styles also look interesting, including casual sandals and some “slippers” that look like they could be quite chic with a smarter look. They also make a range of leather bags that I’ve only seen briefly but seem to have a nice, minimal style. 

Since getting the boots (even though it’s slightly out of season) I’ve really put them through their paces, from pub nights to long walks. I initially wore them with black Levi’s and a black Wrangler shirt and the look wasn’t over the top - where a lot of my previous boots would have been. I’ve also worn them more simply with a wool trouser, shetland sweater and cashmere coat. 

I can post pictures of those outfits, as well as how the boots themselves have aged, later in the year. At this rate I might even have another pair by then.

Menswear stockists: No Man Walks Alone (US), Parlour (Korea). Circular image above taken from No Man.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Lindsay McKee

The Blake construction was an immediate red flag for me.
Whether smart or casual, it’s good construction that matters to me.
I’ll be sticking with Crockett & Jones quality upwards.
I’m prepared to pay for quality.

Lindsay McKee

I see your point Simon.


The C&J Chelsea 5 boot in rough out suede is a tough as nails, but also stylish boot in my opinion. Obviously very English, but don’t sell the Brits short in the style department just yet. I agree that one should definitely keep style in the equation, very important. I own the C&J Molton in black rough out suede and have received many questions and comments about how good looking the boot was. Discussing boots, and shoes in general, is always a wonderful subject, excellent article.

Lucas Nicholson

Hi Scott, definitely not discounting the C&Js, love the brand, they make great shoes and exceptional value, but I was looking for something with a little more joie de vivre! Both of the boots mentioned look great and i’m sure just get better with wear!


Hi Lucas. I see your point on the wonderful joie de vivre concept! I too have boots, two pair, that were made using Blake construction that are still going strong after at least 15 years of wear. So, I’ll definitely investigate this maker more carefully and appreciate you bringing the company to our attention, thanks again.

Lucas Nicholson

Hi Lindsay, I totally understand your point, thought I would say if you are just walking around a city (which is what I would be doing in this boots) The a Blake construction is fine, especially with the half rubber sole. I have trodden in some deepish puddles and not caught trench foot yet!

Eric Michel

You can like CJ AND La Botte Gardiane: two totally different great styles! I really like boots: engineer boots, cow-boy boots, Chelsea boots, Camarguaise… They all have many pros and some cons but you will find really stylish models in each category with a bit of efforts. I would not wear my Camarguaise with tailoring (but neither engineer or cow-boy boots…), only with wide legs denim or chinos (do not even think about tapered trousers with original Camarguaise: the shaft is much wider than a cow-boy boot!) And I love Chelsea boots too, with slimmer jeans and suits…

Lucas Nicholson

Absolutely they all have their place! As Simon often says its all about dressing sympathetically for the environment.


I’ve a few pairs of sandals from LBG and would recommend the product, especially for the price. However the e-commerce could be improved – exchanging sizes is somewhat faffy.

Lucas Nicholson

Hi Tom, I think the sandals look good and if I wasn’t set up with a couple of pairs of Paraboot fisherman sandals I would probably take a closer look at them . I would also agree the website is a bit of a challenge but maybe sometimes thats the charm of a smaller brand?


Hi Tom, may I ask how is the fit on the sandals? I’m planning to order a Geronimo model, and the advice on sizing is somewhat confusing: the website says to order half a size larger than your normal size, but when I contacted them by email, they said I should order my normal size. Would you say the sandals fit true to size?


Hi Bogdan. I have a pair of Cilaos, which look similar to the closed toe Geronimo that you’re considering, and yes – I ended up sending back the first pair I ordered and going up a size (a full size in my case). The shape is fairly broad, and I’ve fairly long/narrow feet, so toe space was an issue. But if you have shorter/broader feet, then I wonder if you could get away with your normal size?

For the open toe models, as you might expect, this isn’t an issue (I also have a pair of Taizé which are a size smaller).


Thanks this is very helpful! It’s very hard to find sizing info online from LBG customers. I have decided to go half size higher and I will report back.


Good morning Simon. Very nice boots, probably the most beautiful of all that you have shown us. Even nicest from the Parker’s ropers (a style im not “in love” with). From what i can understand, you maybe not the western boot type. But to my subjective opinion, judging the toe, the heel, and overall, these are the closest of all you own to the western style. If Gardiane do bespoke, at your next order ask for wood pegging and -mainly- metal shank support. This increases the “feel” of the boot, the quality and longevity even more. —Off topic, but unfortunately my thoughts have been stuck on your last article about Pitti….


Ahahah sorry Lucas!!


I often see people missing that a guest author has written the article. Truth be told as I initially skimmed I also didn’t notice until I saw the boots, which I think are not your style, so I scrolled back to check the author. Obviously readers could be more mindful but perhaps there is a way to make it more obvious, maybe a picture to accompany the name?

Eric Michel

I own and love my pair of Camarguaise from La Botte Guardiane. Those shoes were a must have in French colleges in the 80’s… with Weston 180 loafers! Those are not posh shoes like Weston, they were designed and worn by working horse-riders in the South of France and there is one specificity connected to this: those boots needed to be easy to take off in case riders fell from their horse. Then when you try a real Camarguaise, the feeling is much looser than a typical boot. This is what makes them so comfortable. I am not a specialist but I own many other boots from CJ, Corthay, Alden, EG… and my Camarguaise are holding very well at a fraction of the price. I was not expecting La Botte Gardiane to be covered in PS, but with Rondini those are my hidden gems from the South of France…

Lucas Nicholson

Hello Eric, that is great to hear, do you have a picture of the boots? I would love to see them. Also love Rondini sandals!


Very nice boots, could you post some pictures wearing them with jeans ?

Lucas Nicholson

Hi Georgios, sure see some pictures i’ve taken below.

Lucas Nicholson


Lucas Nicholson

Top view


Thank you, that helped a lot. I like them a lot and the zipper offers for sure a snugger fit than the one in a chelsea boot. The quality seems to me nice, such boots dont need to be super elegant, thats why you dont find them in clasic brands.

Lucas Nicholson

Thats how I felt too!


May i ask you something last but to me important ? I wear 41-41,5 which is relatively small size. Do they give an optical feeling of a bigger, smaller or true to size shoe ?

Lucas Nicholson

Hi Georgios

I would say if anything they give a slightly larger illusion, but not much, just with the slight welt and the slightly stacked heel they are a bit more chunky and other Chelsea style boots


Great Purchase Lucas! I was searching for a new suede boot a few years back and came across a really nice pair by LBG. I wanted a light suede with a side zip (which aren’t that popular with classic British brands), so I ordered the Clint boot. The shape is slightly slimmer at the toe than your style, but really nicely worn in now – great with vintage 501’s!

Lucas Nicholson

Excellent! if you have a picture of them please do post it so we can see how they have aged!


A Blake stitched boot made in a first world country for less than $400usd is a very good value and should be applauded.

Lucas Nicholson

I agree!


Hi Lucas, great write up, I have been considering a pair of LBG boots for a while, but holding off ordering online in case I make it to Paris this summer and get a chance to try on in person. Did you weigh up between the Terence and the Clint? I was drawn to the Clint but wonder if the slightly longer, narrower toe will look a bit out of place in more casual outfits.

Also, I for one welcome write ups of brands and items that aren’t in the loftier price bracket of many of those covered. I’m sure I’m not the only reader who is closer to the average UK salary than the usual bespoke customer, and more depth on those brands that prove that permanent style needn’t be priced unattainably is only a good thing!

Lucas Nicholson

Hi Alex,

Thanks very much, I did look at the Clint, there were two things that made me choose the Terence one was my foot shape tends not to do well in a narrower toe box so that one was purely comfort, and secondly I enjoy western look more when it is subtler. And the rounded toe made me think it would be less obvious and therefore more versatile! I think trying them on will give you the answer you need.


I like the look of the slippers – I’ve been looking for a pair like that since I saw Tom Hanks wearing some in Greyhound. Maybe I shouldn’t be getting style inspiration from a WW2 American ship’s captain who just needs to change out of his boots because he’s been on his feet evading U-boats for 24 hours straight and they’re bleeding, but then again, Simon’s always saying how so much menswear is inspired by military clothing…


Great article Lucas. I’ve been eyeing up a pair of these for a while. The only thing holding me back is the sizing and potential faff of exchanging overseas etc. Have you had any experience with returns to LBG? It’s a shame there is not yet a UK distributor…

Lucas Nicholson

Hi Bruno,

I haven’t had any experience with the returns process, it is a shame there is no UK, distribution hopefully after this article someone will pick them up!

Marcos LIP

Hello everyone,
Thank you Lucas for shining a light on a true French gem. Myself and the team of “Les Indispensables Paris” had the great pleasure of visiting the manufacture near Vergèze, where Perrier bottles it’s eponymous fizzy water, 2 years ago.
I too own a pair of boots, a different model from you Lucas, and have to say they are sturdy and were comfortable from the first time I tried them on. What appealed to me, was the round bulky shape, something I was looking for. So, I understand the shoes are not to everyone’s taste !
For any of you interested, the article of the factory visit is here (in French, but I can translate it if readers are interested):

And here is the article on my boots (in English):

All the best from Paris,

Lucas Nicholson

Thanks Marcos!