This is a story of how the term ‘Side Fringe’ does NOT translate literally to French. Also known as ‘the haircut that took a year to grow out’ , ‘It’s my own damn fault’ or ‘Ode to Michel’.

Trust me, it’s HARD to get a good haircut when you can’t communicate clearly. Even harder to argue your point if you’re not happy.


Most women are pretty loyal to their hairstylist, and I’m no exception. I was with my stylist back in Toronto for at least 10 years, and when I first came to the South of France, I floundered trying to find a new stylist. I ‘let it go’ for the first few months to grow out my pixie cut, and, as a bit of an unexpected bonus, I got to see my natural hair colour for perhaps the first time in over a decade. But that didn’t last, as it was peppered with more grey than I remembered!

Anyway… fast forward a few years, and I found myself settled into a tiny apartment in Vieux Nice, and on a whim I decided to try a small and uber-trendy salon (way too cool for me!), just up my street.  And so I met Michel. He was so cool, he should have an entourage. I swear I felt like a glamourous celebrity every time I left the salon, and people would turn to stare as I flicked my golden locks as I cruised down the street. Okay, probably not… but how could they not admire his handiwork!  I was red-carpet ready!

My relationship with Michel lasted a good many years. When he told me he was leaving the salon, I followed like a lemming. How could I let anyone else touch my hair??? It had taken me years to find him!  I went regularly to his home for my touch ups and cuts, and I couldn’t imagine going to anyone else. I befriended his boyfriend, and his cats.  He even gave me my wedding updo, and my awesome “New Mommy” cut when my son was just born.

But, alas… all good things must come to an end. After more than five years, he told me he’s had enough of being a hairdresser, and he was changing his metier to something more personally rewarding… and the next thing I knew he was doing good work with mentally & physically challenged patients, and I had a silver stripe down the middle of my head. I was proud of him, and resented him all at the same time. Merde.

Back to square one… which led me to a quaint salon in my new neighbourhood. And here it started to go terribly wrong. The colour was never right. Too brassy. But anytime I tried to bring it up, I was scoffed as it was the ‘same colour since the beginning’ and it had no red in it. Maybe so, but I look in the mirror, and I see brassy. *sigh*  Okay, pick your battles… at least the ones you can articulate properly!

Let’s not even talk about the day she sent me home with some frizzed out ‘rock ‘n roll styling’, so bizarre that my husband told me I looked like something out a John Hughes movie when I walked in the door… and he never notices anything. Does she not get that I am a 40-something mother of a baby???

Winter came, and I wanted a change. I’d put on a few pounds of ‘new mom’ weight and wasn’t feeling terribly attractive. Hormones had made my skin patchy on my face.  I wanted side-fringe to shake things up, and get me through the season. Side fringe. “Frange sur le côté”.  I was pretty confident with my explanation. Right up until the moment she snipped an additional few centimetres of fringe on either side. Wowza… that is NOT a side fringe. That’s a full on blunt fringe, and I was NOT feeling it. My stomach sank, and I sucked it up and told her it was certainly ‘different’ and that I would give it a try. As if I had a choice. She told me it was very au courant, very trendy. I thought I looked like my mom, who is NONE OF THOSE THINGS.

Since then, I’ve discovered a very important lesson. Ladies, the phrase ‘frange sur le côté’ does NOT EXIST. Side fringe is ‘meche côté’.  Yes, meche is also the translation for highlights. I can forgive myself for being confused. I could forgive my stylist. It was my own damn fault. Kinda sorta.

That stylist has recently left the salon. I stuck with her for 2 years, only because I didn’t want to go through the steps of finding someone else new (and they have an awesome massage chair for when your hair is getting rinsed — I highly recommend every salon do this!). Eventually, she understood me. More or less. No movie star moments… but beyond the fringe that took a year to grow out, no more horrid hair moments.

I just had a rendez-vous with her replacement today. I was all a-jitter, anxious about getting another bad cut… but he did well. I got my “frange a côté”, just the way I wanted it. Next time, the meche. And if I’m lucky, maybe he can sort that brassiness. Baby steps!

But I still miss my Michel. I’d like to feel like a movie star again, even if just for the 5 minute walk home from the salon.