My French ‘Do

My French ‘Do

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Ever since I was 13 years old and had a successful haircut experience in Montreal, Canada, I have always longed for a European cut. If you like experimenting with your hair, as I do, to update your look, or simply like to try something new, then you will understand from whence my desire derives. I have friends who have gone to the same hair stylist for years, and you know what, their hair has always looks the same. I like to break out of the mold and tend to be comfortable with being uncomfortable about someone different doing my hair. 

I will say that, if you do find a stylist to whom you can express the desire for a different look to keep up with the trend, that is a rare find. I have found a stylist like that in Dunmore, PA, but it’s quite a commute for me, as I live in South Carolina. So, when I told my hair stylist from PA (of course, we still keep in touch!) that I was going to Paris and was seeking his advice, he just said to avoid the Haircuttery type places, but otherwise, I should have good luck.

With that advice, I kept a hidden agenda (‘cause you can’t tell your spouse that you’d rather get your haircut than hike to Sacré Coeur) to seek out the perfect hair salon. What qualities, you ask, does the perfect hair salon possess? It must be clean, well appointed– but not too well–and in a trendy part of the city. The salon must have good products on display, preferably in the front window. It must have clientele in chairs getting their hair done (hopefully locals). The stylists must understand hair. For example, I have very thick naturally curly hair. If someone stares at my hair, constantly runs his or her fingers through it, asks me the last place I got my hair cut, or simply makes a weird face, then I know the stylist does not understand hair.

Our apartment off Rue Dauphine on Ave. de Nesle was close to a hair salon; however, I did not notice it until our third day in Paris. In the meantime, I had gotten about a half dozen recommendations from some ex-pats and locals. Thus far, throughout our trip, we were too busy to really concentrate on specifically getting my hair cut; I mean, some things took priority (i.e. the Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysées, Arc de Triomphe, Marais, etc). One morning, while we were eating crêpes in the shadow of the Panthéon, my husband said to me, “I know you’re looking at that salon over there. Why not go get your hair cut.” But, feeling embarrassed and almost ashamed, I said no, we had to get on with our planned agenda for the day. It just didn’t feel right.

On our fifth day in Paris, we went to the Louvre and Ile Saint-Louis, afterwards making our way back to the apartment. As we approached, my husband went ahead to the apartment to drop off some souvenirs; I gazed into some nearby shops, bought some Parisian scarves, and then headed back to the apartment too. On the way I passed by the salon, Josselin Bernard, on Rue Dauphin. I peeked in. I saw Sebastian products in the window, clients in the chairs, and reasonable prices listed on the doorway. I was drawn in, I can’t really explain why, but it just felt right. I don’t speak French, and the staff didn’t speak English, so the experience was even more experimental than initially intended. However, that didn’t intimidate me.

I sat down to have my hair washed, or so I thought. Now, if hair washing was to be rated, this hair washing rates a ten on a scale of one to ten. I thought I had died and gone to the Palm Springs Spa. The girl massaged my head with shampoo for a good eight minutes. Then she attempted to ask if I wanted conditioner, I nodded and she continued to work her magic. She used every digit like it was a shiatsu machine. It felt so good. Then, to my delight and surprise, she took a steaming hot towel and placed in on my head. At first it was a shock, but once the warmth soaked into my scalp, I felt so relaxed. This was the most therapeutic hair washing I have ever had. Once she had rinsed and towel-dried my hair, it was onto the chair for the cut.

This is where the language barrier got a little interesting. I, of course, was explaining what I wanted done, and the stylist was doing his best to manage an interpretation. Whatever he said I accepted, and he proceeded to cut. Now, if you are intolerant of being slightly tormented with the comb while getting your hair cut, then Mr. Bernard will not be your cup of tea. However, if you can sustain the pulling of your hair and tilting of your head, then you will be most happy. Mr. Bernard gave me a very detailed haircut. He even straightened my hair (without my asking). And, if you have coarse, curly hair, you’ll know what a bonus that is! It is the perfect length, the perfect style, and oh, so trendy. It is exactly what I wanted!

My husband, wondering where I had gotten to, did not have to search long to find me at the coiffure. As Mr. Bernard was finishing drying my hair, I could see him flashing the camera in the window while I sat firmly in the chair. He came in with a big smile on his face, and that was the tell-tale-sign that my hair cut experience was a success.

If you go:

Josselin Bernard Couiffere
23 Rue Dauphine
75006 Paris
Tel: 01 43 54 14 29