Nail polish is for people who think it's fun. That's what I tell my son whenever the topic comes up. However, I'm not sure many people share my opinion, including professionals in spas and other nails salons in France.
My first experience with a salon was right after we moved back. I had booked appointments for my maid of honor and myself to get pampered before the big day. They did not have a fun massage chair like all the nail places in the US do, let alone two (also, the color selection I have at home was about three to four times what they had there, no exageration). One of us had the pedicure done while the other had the manicure and then we switched. In separate rooms. So the fun was overall moderate. Since that was a place in a village, I was willing to give them the benefit of the location, and I made another appointment just for myself a few weeks later. After solving some crisis or other with my then-baby, I showed up five minutes late. FIVE. And they turned me down because they expect customers to be on time.While I do have an appreciation for punctuality, this has to be the only time in almost two years in France that a scheduled meeting of any sort was going to start at the exact scheduled time*.Well, I've talked about customer service before. Way to kill your spirit for the day!
Anyway, I swore to never have anything to do with that place again and forgot all about it. Until... another friend got engaged, and it occurred to me that it would be fun for us girls to have our nails done. So, I went ahead and tried to book a whole party of three girls into a salon in Paris. In Paris. Not my backwater village. An endeavour that would take about five minutes in DC, including looking up the place's phone number on the web. And if you didn't do that, you could probably just show up anywhere and be accomodated within the hour.
But here... Ha! One full hour into the game, I was getting seriously desperate. Two places never picked up the phone. One place's website showed an unlisted number. Two places were fully booked for the next weeks. One place was too small to accomodate more than one person at the same time. Finally, I was able to speak with someone from a salon that did seem to have openings and the ability to work with three customers. Sadly, the conversation went like this:
Me: - Good Morning! I'm arranging a bachelorette party for a friend, and I'd like to make mani/pedi appointments for three.
Salon: - Sure! I can give you appointments at 2, 4 and 5 on Wednesday.
Me: - 5 sounds great.
Salon: - Didn't you say you wanted appointments for three people?
Me: - Well, three appointements Wednesday at 5 would work great for us.
Salon: - I don't have three appointments at 5, I have one appointment at 2, one at 4 and one at 5.
Me: - But this is a party, we kinda hoped to be there together.
Salon: - Well, you should have arranged this in advance then!
Me: - This is three days in advance.
Salon: - Do you realize we're in summer?
Me: - ...
In spite of this culture shock, the story does have a happy ending. Thorough perusing of Yelp turned up a place in Chinatown that took walk-ins. We gave it a try, and it was everything one could hope for: a rainbow of OPI colors! massage chairs! a warm welcome for three!
So, I guess the lesson here is to keep away from the glossy French beauty parlours.They may have invented French manicure, but they don't seem equiped to let regular folks experience it!
* except for city hall weddings, to be completely honest. The notion of punctuality is so loose in this country, it would take an entire post to even begin to address it properly.