I cut off a good 14-15 inches of hair this afternoon, and it feels amazing. I am now welcoming summer with open arms. Bring on the heat.
What brought all this on? I’ve been itching to cut my hair since a few months before our wedding. Why? I like long hair (it’s pretty), but man is it a lot of work and man does it take a long time to dry/fix to make it look nice. We’re also approaching summertime here in Toulouse and a neck without hair on it is just a marvelous thing. Last time my hair was this length was right when I moved to San Francisco back in 2012.
It should be stated, however, that I was a little nervous about getting my hair cut here in Toulouse with the whole I don’t really speak French thing. But I did a lot of yelping (only 693 salons in downtown Toulouse!), staking out salons (easier said than done), and ultimately lucky enough to get the recommendation from one of Jim’s coworkers for a salon and stylist.
Fast forward to this afternoon. Jim’s coworker had given me the tip to try Pure Pascal, which is just off of the Boulevard close to the arch. I looked online to see some reviews/photos…all the reviews were of the boutique inside the store. Hmm. Not a single review of the hair (I found a great gift – what neat things!). Normally, I’d call to schedule an appointment, but I wasn’t sure if anyone there spoke English, so I figured I’d be more successful if I inquired in person. Off I went with a carefully crafted note in French (thank you Google Translate) to hand off in the event no one speaks any English.
I entered the store to find MANY interesting things (like large legos, rope pins, and other little doo-dads). I’m not exactly sure you’d even know this place cut hair from the window or upon entry. I was immediately greeted by a gentleman, whom I knew to be Pascal from all the photos I’d seen online. “Bonjour monsieur!” He then proceeded to say a lot of things rather quickly in French. I looked back at him and said, “Je suis désolé. Je ne parle pas beaucoup le français . Parlez-vous anglais?” He smiled then walked away and went to get someone else. While he was walking away I dug into my purse to pull out my note. He returned with another gentleman and a young woman.
I handed my note to Pascal, who seemed rather relieved I had something written down. Then he read it aloud with the other two sort of hovering over. I mentioned his salon was recommended by Jim’s coworker and when he got to her name he kinda squealed in recognition (Oui, oui!). From there, a gentleman asked me when I wanted to make an appointment and said, “Now?” So I agreed, “Oui.” So far, this was much easier than I anticipated.
They take me over to a chair, tie me up in a robe, and ask me what I’d like to do. I am searching for words in French that could potentially describe what I want. I’m using my hands like they’re scissors and showing what length I’d like with my fingers. He’s asking me all sorts of questions, pulling my hair up and out and over. This is where I start to feel really bad. The other man then says, “Do you have a photo?” My response, “Aah, oui, oui. Un minute.” Then I frantically pull out my phone and look for a photo of myself with shorter hair. I finally find a photo from probably sometime in 2011 and show it to him. He was SO relieved. “Aaah – oui. C’est bonne.” That photo I had bangs, which I didn’t want. I don’t know exactly what he said, but he motioned and I heard fringe. So I assumed he was making sure I don’t want bangs. I said, “Non, non fringe.” He smiled broadly and made a face like that was a smart decision on my part. Then guided me to stand up. This is where things got interesting.
As I’m standing behind the chair, Pascal picks up a pair of clippers. I will admit I was a little afraid for a minute and thought maybe the language barrier had made me communicate something completely incorrect. However, he just started using them to cut off all the length. He went all around my head with those clippers. I wish I’d taken a photo of how much hair was on the floor around us. Crazy. All the while, the young woman is watching. Once he finished with the clippers he kinda snapped his fingers and said, “Shampooing” and immediately the young woman rushed me into the shampooing area.
The young woman was very nice, eventhough she kinda looked at me like I was an alien the whole time. She attempted to make small talk, and I ran through the depths of my brain to be able to converse with her in some capacity. I managed to tell her I’m American, from California, my husband works for Airbus, we’ve been living here for 6 weeks and plan to be her 2-3 years. Shockingly, those were all answers to questions she asked (at least I think that’s what she asked). She told me she’s from the south of France. Then asked what I think of Toulouse. I responded, “Tres jolie” and she smiled. I swear she asked me where I live, so I told her my street name and she looked at me really funny. As such, I have no idea what she actually asked me. I also found out she knows a little Spanish, so we exchanged a few pleasantries there. Then she showed me all the products and explained why she was using them. I think one of the most interesting parts was she wrapped my hair up in a towel like a turban. I’ve never had that at a salon before – I looked ridiculous, but I kinda loved it.
We left the area with the wash basins, and I figured we were going back to the chair for the cut, but instead I was taken to a little room where she kept motioning to the door and said, “Verre.” At least I heard “verre,” which I thought was strange because that means glass. After she repeated herself about 4 times she muttered “Toilette.” Then she got the recognition she was looking for from me. “Aaah.” Then we turned and she took me to another room. It’s at this point I realized I was getting a tour of the salon. First it was the bathrooms, then the barber shop area, then the lounge (they literally had a lounge with a TV…maybe if people are getting color done), and I think there was also a kitchen type area. Anyway, after all of that she took me back to my chair.
Then Pascal returned, and he just started to immediately cut my hair into what we had discussed and what he’d seen in the photo. This was really fine-tuning his clipper cut. Then he got out the thinning shears. Clip, clip, clip. Seriously, there was so much hair…everywhere. A giant mound was sitting on my shoulder and he saw me laugh as I sorta shrugged my shoulders let out a self deprecating laugh. This made him smile, which made me feel better. Then he immediately got into the styling/blow drying. I doubt the combination of the two even took 15 minutes. I’ve never had a haircut that fast. Ever. Once he was done he got this fancy mirror and showed me the cut and said, “C’est bonne?” With a giant smile and a thumbs up I responded, “C’est bonne! Merci beaucoup!” I got a nice smile there, too. Then they had me fill out a sheet of paper with my information, I paid, and I was on my merry way. In typical fashion, upon exit the one guy who spoke English said, “Goodbye. Have a nice day.” I responded, “Merci, au revoir!” He didn’t seem as amused as the folks at Victor Hugo. Just another project – need to learn how to make small talk and express haircut needs.
Overall, it was one of the more positive haircut experiences I’ve had, ever. I’ll definitely go back. And I’m sure Pascal will have a good chuckle with Jim’s coworker – you recommended someone who speaks no French!
First french haircut – check!