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The Passion of Soho

From Soho beginnings to countrywide, Patisserie Valerie has provided

scrumptious delights since 1926.

Fiona James

tries hard to resist their

range of delicious goodies.

While Virginia Woolf was making what

she called her ‘usual round’ in Soho

during the 1920s, from Gordon Square

and Charing Cross Road, straight down

to Shaftesbury Avenue and Gerard Street,

there was another lady making her mark

in Frith Street. Madam Valerie, a Belgian-

born pastry chef who had decided to

come to London in a bid to introduce

fine continental patisserie to the English,

opened her first shop in 1926. Customers

attracted by her reputation would flock

from far and wide to the shop and choose

from an array of cakes placed on a stand

on each table, paying for the number

consumed. During the Second World

War, the premises were bombed by the

Luftwaffe, but Madam Valerie refusing to

allow this unfortunate incident to put an

end to her dreams, subsequently set up

shop around the corner in Old Compton

Street where her legacy continues to this

very day. The unique café atmosphere at

the Soho shop includes the décor left over

from the 1950s epitomised by the now

famous Toulouse-Lautrec style cartoons

by Terron.

Up to 1987, Patisserie Valerie had

operated as a single shop until

the three Scalzo brothers

– Enzo, Robert

and Victor – acquired the business and

grew it to eight in central London. In May

1993, Sagne in Marylebone established in

1921 by a famous chocolatier and pâtissier,

M. Sagne from Verlay, Switzerland joined

the group, bringing its delectable expertise.

This famous patisserie, with its Palladian

style murals was carefully restored to its

former 1920’s glory. The eight Patisserie

Valerie openings included the Kensington

shop which opened in October 2002 and

took over the site of the former Patisserie

Français owned by the Pechon family for

over three generations. The Belgravia

store opened its doors in Motcomb Street

in March 2003 and despite being smaller

and more intimate than the others, it

proved popular with local residents and

many of the visitors staying at the hotels

close by. The Belgravia shop also offers

a pleasant and calming garden area that

has been christened a ‘haven’ by Valerie

regulars. Other branches include Duke of

York’s Square in Chelsea which was one of

the first businesses to open in the square,

Piccadilly, Spitalfields and Queensway. In

early 2007, Patisserie Valerie joined

forces with Druckers Vienna

Patisserie which shared the same

belief and pride in the quality

of hand-made authentic

continental pastries and


Today, Patisserie Valerie

still provides a haven of

self-indulgence at each of their locations,

displaying delicious and sumptuous cakes

that are too good to walk past. During

your visit, you’ll discover the unique

quality of their cakes and patisserie as well

as their continental breakfasts, lunches, the

finest teas and coffees and an atmosphere

that is unique to each location. Patisserie

Valerie has worked hard to achieve an

international reputation built on the quality

of their products, where their cakes and

patisserie are hand-made using

artisan craft bakery skills, fresh

ingredients and traditional

baking methods resulting in

award-winning croissants

and viennoiserie.They have

a selection of popular and

bespoke special occasion

cakes and celebration

cake service that offers


quality and

value. All of

their products

are made in-

house at one

of their seven


a n d