6 facts you didn't know about umbrellas

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As a rain-loving umbrella brand, how could we not write a post that honours ‘the umbrella’, which is one of the most important and oldest accessories for someone living in a rainy location. In fact, umbrellas were first invented by Egyptians to create shade from the sunlight for royalty, and it was the Chinese who first utilised umbrellas against rain by covering their wooden parasols with wax and lacquer. We now use these shielding objects almost every day in the winter, yet there is so much we don’t know about them. So, here are a few facts to bring you and your umbrella closer to each other…

1. We must start as we do with people: by introducing names. The name ‘umbrella’ comes from the Latin word ‘umbra’ which means shade or shadow, which means that umbrellas are in fact not only associated with rain, but also sunlight and the shadows the sun creates- which is why we, at Beau Nuage believe that your rainy days should be just as bright and happy as the sunny ones!

2. Secondly, you might not know that umbrellas have come a long way since their invention, which was in fact almost 4000 years ago by the Egyptians, who used parasols to create shade from sunlight. Alongside other groups and objects, the umbrella was also highly discriminated and stereotyped during the 18th century, used predominantly by women, and looked down on by men as they were purely an object to flaunt ‘femininity’ until the 18th century. It was in the 18th century that Jonas Hanway, the first man to use an umbrella in the streets of London, broke this stereotype, and commercialised the umbrella for the whole population. Without him, we would also not have ‘The Gentleman’.

3. To carry on with our sociological analysis of the umbrella, we can also notice the umbrella is not only important to protect you against rain, but in many cultures, it serves as other far-reaching, influential roles too. In Chinese cultures, paper umbrellas (like the ones in the picture below) symbolise good luck, protection against wars and evil spirits and even attractors of longevity- so if you don’t have an umbrella, it might be time to invest in one ;) . However, different cultures also find innovative uses for umbrellas, which might be seen at a range of ceremonies, including weddings of course! In the neighbouring Tibetan culture, they respect umbrellas so much that they worship the Buddhist goddess ‘Sitatapatra’, who when translated to English is called ‘the white umbrella’. As with Chinese cultures, ‘the white umbrella’ goddess represents protection against supernatural danger.

Now that we know some foundational facts about how umbrellas have become household accessories, we can uncover the dark side of umbrellas and explore their shadows…

4. If you have read our blog post “Umbrellas In Movies”, you might remember the section “Umbrellas and Combat” where we depicted how umbrellas are often used in movies as secret weapons, using the great example of the movie Kingsman, where the spies used umbrellas for elegance and power. Although, it appears that movies like Kingsman were actually inspired by real life events concerning spies and assassins, who really do use umbrellas in combat! For instance, there is a famous case from 1978, when an assassin used a poisoned-tipped umbrella to eliminate Bulgarian defector Georgi Markov on Waterloo Bridge in London!

5. However, it doesn’t stop there- umbrellas can be used as weapons, but at the end of the day, they will always remain loyal to their main task, which is to protect us from rain, or from dogs; attackers; bullets; knives; acids; rocks and even fire, if you are Nicolas Sarkozy! Yes, you read it right, in 2011 French presidential bodyguards gained a new weapon-the umbrella. Except their umbrella is coated with Kevlar and weighs 2.2kg compared to our heaviest umbrella, The Gentleman, which is only 500g. It is said that the umbrella is so strong that when they threw a champagne bottle at it, the bottle smashed into pieces with no trouble. See! Umbrellas can do anything…

6. As we have demonstrated how incredibly multifunctional umbrellas are, they clearly need some appreciation, which is exactly what they get from Nancy Hoffman, who opened the first ever Umbrella Cover Museum in the USA and now in Bristol, England too, showcasing more than 700 umbrella covers. Nancy’s inspirational mission statement on the website reads: “The Umbrella Cover Museum is dedicated to the appreciation of the mundane in everyday life. It is about finding wonder and beauty in the simplest of things, and about knowing that there is always a story behind the cover.” There is certainly a story behind our patented triple-layer absorption technology covers, so maybe one day you’ll find a Beau Nuage umbrella cover amongst the collection too…

Now that you have all the ‘need-to-know’ facts about umbrellas, only one question will forever remain unanswered… what’s not to love?


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Beau Nuage eco-friendly umbrella


Beau Nuage  patented absorbent cover


Beau Nuage innovative foldable umbrella with patented absorbent cover




  • The Beau Nuage absorbent cover absorbs the raindrops and hold them with a patented three-layers technology. The inner "absorption" layer is composed of a microfiber fabric able to retain up to 200 times its weight in water.  There is an intermediate layer under the inner one. This layer is made of a water repellent fabric and has a dual function : not only does it enable the outer layer to stay dry by preventing the rain drops from coming through, it also attracts the water towards the microfiber layer in order to ventilate it and dry it effectively. Lastly, the outer layer is a thick umbrella fabric (200threads/in2) with a Teflon® covering which makes it waterproof. It thus prevents raindrops from leaking. In short, you can put your Beau Nuage umbrella into a bag or a pocket and keep it dry!

  • Yes, the Beau Nuage umbrella is eco-friendly! As of September 2020, we have decided to go the extra mile for the environment by designing all the canvases of our umbrellas and covers from recycled plastic bottles. The rPET® material we use is certified by the international organization Control Union. This assures you that your next Beau Nuage umbrella and its cover will have given a second life to a plastic bottle that would otherwise have polluted a beach or an ocean somewhere in the world. In addition to this step, from the start, we have taken measures to protect the environment. For example, the protection of and access to safe drinking water is crucial for a healthy planet. This is why we are very happy to be partners of the Solidarités International association, which has been fighting for more than 35 years for access to drinking water for all. Since June 2019, we donate to this association for each cloudy product ordered on our site. Each product ordered represents an average of 12 hours of access to drinking water for a household! In addition, we eliminate waste by donating all of our unusable Beau Nuage to the Nice Foundation. There, they are sorted by people in professional reintegration and volunteers. The overly damaged umbrellas are then recycled, to minimize the damage to our planet.

  • Yes it is! A Beau Nuage umbrella is inseperable from its cover and the other way around. Even Le Gentleman has its own absorbent cover that enables you to carry it over the shoulder! If you ever spot a Beau Nuage without its cover, contact us quickly…

  • The Beau Nuage umbrellas are built with innovating materials, both flexible and robust. These materials make our umbrellas more resistant and enjoyable than any others. The shaft is made of aluminium and steel so that it is not too heavy (only steel) nor too fragile (only aluminium). Likewise, the ribs of our umbrellas are made of flexible materials, like fiberglass, but very strong, stainless ones for the junction between the ribs, where we favoured nickel for its strength and aesthetic. Our canopies have 200 threads/in2 and are thicker than average (180 threads/in2) and the ribs and canopies are both handmade. Last but not least, our unique Beau Nuage cover, unique, allows you to know where your umbrella is at all times since you can always keep it in your bag ! In that way, the Beau Nuage umbrellas last much longer than others!

  • As of September 2020, all the canvases of our umbrellas are made out of recycled plastic bottles.  The rPET® material we use is certified by the international organisation Control Union. This assures you that your next Beau Nuage umbrella and its cover will have given a second life to a plastic bottle which would otherwise have polluted a beach or an ocean somewhere in the world. 

  • It depends! Le Mini and L’Original have a manual opening whereas L’Automatique and Le Gentleman have an automatic opening. Better still, the aptly named L'Automatique also has an automatic closing. The automation is a wonderful feature that allows you to open and close your umbrella iwith the most ease. But to be of good quality, like the Beau Nuage Automatique, this technology requires a stiff spring. It is thus primarily suitable for the robust and larger umbrellas, like Le Gentleman. That’s why we’ve favoured excellent quality manual openings for Le Mini and L’Original so that these two umbrellas are compact and easy to carry.

  • As we said previously, the Beau Nuage cover is able to retain up to 200 times its weight in water. Nevertheless, we advise you to thoroughly dry the umbrella before placing it back in its absorbent cover. It is recommended that you turn the cover inside out and leave the umbrella open to facilitate drying.

  • After heavy rain, we advise you to let your Beau Nuage cover and umbrella dry at home, like any other accessory subjected to rain. It will prevent any corrosion of your umbrella. If your absorbent cover is dirty, you can wash it, either by hand or in the washing machine, in delicate mode and at 30°C, without softener. Lastly, if your umbrella is wrinkled, you can iron it to make it look as good as new! To do so, you only need to open it and gently apply the steam for the iron on each parts of the canopy, one by one.

  • The technique for opening your Beau Nuage depends entirely on the model you have purchased! Did you choose l'Original? To open it, all you have to do is slide the mast upwards until it stops, without pressing the button. To close it, press the button then retract the mast by hand by pressing on the top of the umbrella. Have you selected le Mini? To open it, simply slide the mast until it stops. To close it, you just have to do the opposite. For l'Automatique, just press the button to open it. To close it, you must also press the button then retract the mast by hand, pushing on the top of the umbrella. Finally, for our majestic Gentleman, all you have to do is press the button to open it. However, it is closed manually. Store it in its absorbent cover head first so that you can take it out by holding it by the handle. For all models, after use, it is advisable to turn the absorbent cover over and leave the umbrella open to facilitate drying! 

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