French women don’t get their nails done. OK, that’s not entirely true. Nail salons exist but nowhere near the number of salons you’d find in a comparable US suburb. In my town, there are only 7 nail salons — most are small, expensive and very basic in their service offerings.
But when you count the number of hair salons? There are 100+. It’s easy to see where the French spend their money and it’s not on nails in France. So why don’t French women get their nails done? And what are French girl nails like?
French women nails
Anyone who’s spent any time in the US will notice that nail salons are as commonplace as drugstores and gas stations. They’re everywhere, and stopping in for a lunchtime mani/pedi was not out of the question on my lunch break when I worked in New York City.
Sometimes for $25 total, you could get a quick polish change on your fingers and toes and walk out feeling like a million bucks. But then I moved to France and realized that nail salons are few and far between. And the ones that I did find were crazy expensive!
So what’s up with French women nails?
You’d think that French women would delight in an hour of nail pampering but as it turns out, the nail salons I walk past are often empty. A woman that I go to from time to time who is Vietnamese and actually spent a few years in San Francisco told me that aside from a summer pedicure and at Christmas (and wedding parties), frequent trips to get your nails done just aren’t a thing here.
I’m sure many French women get their nails done regularly but it’s certainly not the norm. But that’s OK because it means I never have a problem getting an appointment for my nails in France.
I like all kinds of nail colors and designs but tend to gravitate toward deep blue, purple and gray. I like a little minimalist nail art too. I get gel over my natural nails so it lasts for 3 weeks. The woman who does my nails said that French women aren’t as adventurous as Americans with their nails and tend to stick to beige and pinks.
Are French girl nails always traditional? No, but overall they’re less trendy than nails in North America. Do French women paint their nails? Yes, of course.
But bottom line is that the French love looking stylish and take pride in their hair and appearance. When it comes to nails, though, it seems that French women would rather put their money elsewhere or paint their nails themselves. I get it. Especially since nail services are expensive here.
But there’s something to be said for treating yourself to a perfectly shiny manicure. I just feel complete with freshly painted nails.
Do you get your nails done in France? What are Parisian nail trends like in your opinion?
Check out my no-BS guide on how to dress in France and my French beauty and skincare essentials I can’t live without!
I finally found a relatively cheap nail place here in Rueil Malmaison. it’s 25 euros and I like the manicurist. She’s Chinese and we chat about French women! But I don’t go often Like you I was amazed that so few French women have their nails done. But those spa places! They’re a dime a dozen.
Oh cool! Yes, so surprised that nails aren’t a huge industry here. I was expecting classy looks, maybe understated elegance but French women I know either do their nails themselves or not at all. Must just be a cultural thing because they do spend lots of money on their hair. I could go for one of those spa places right now…. happy holidays to you!
When I was living in Miami, nail salons weren’t on every corner, but there are everywhere here in Melbourne. I wonder if this has just become a thing over the last couple years. Otherwise normal women I know are completely obsessed with “nail art”. I tend to do my own nails and I keep it pretty simple. I do like a pedicure from time to time. That feels indulging.
I love nail art and used to do my nails every other day in high school to be in competition w/this other nail obsessed girl. I think nail art is a trend that’s here to stay but hasn’t really made it mainstream in France. I love doing my own nails too, even bought a uv gel lamp and kit. Gel lasts a good week and doesn’t chip!
I think that french women prefer to do their own nails. Older women just pit some classic nail polish but lots of younger ones love nail art but we do it ourselves. They are lots of nail art blogs. I like to see on blogs new techniques and try them.
I wouldn’t pay for something I can do myself except maybe for a special occasion. Even if it was not expensive.But I’m getting married next year and I don’t think I’ll gel my nails done, I’ll rather do it myself. (but I won’t get my make done either…)
And I think that the American nail style is different from the French one.
Hello! I’m a huge fan of DIY nail art. It’s cheap to do and if you mess up, it’s easy enough to try again. And if you chip it or break a nail, it didn’t cost much if you did it yourself. I’ve gotten nice designs before at the salon and always feel so bad if I chip it after a day. Congrats on your upcoming wedding — so exciting! Hope all is well, Stella! Thank you for your input 😉
Which wuld you say is the most used nail color in France, for french women I mean?, or does everyone usea different colors? Here in Spain for example I think its either bare nails or red /burgundy.
It’s hard to say what the most used color is since everyone has different tastes. I’ve been a nail model for a nail tech in town and she’s told me that French women tend to go for neutral colors or pinks the most. But there are all types of colors so for everyone woman who gets a French manicure, there’s someone a little more daring.
I got a pedicure when I was staying in Paris. I was the only one in the salon! The woman pulled up a chair and put my feet in a bowl of water with river rocks at the bottom. I think it was very expensive, and a slow process. It was a bit awkward. (I’m American).
Every time I’ve gotten my nails done, I’ve been the only one in the salon. And the lady I go to said she bought an expensive pedicure chair but it was collecting dust except for like 2 appts in the summer so she sold it. It’s just not a mainstream French thing and they definitely aren’t cheap! Did you enjoy your trip to Paris?
You said the nail services are expensive in France. How does it compare to the manicures you would get in the States? I have seen people buy UV lamps and shellac polish to do their own shellac at home.
Laura Cannone says
I think the thing about French women is that they roll up to work or to a party looking perfectly disheveled and you can’t help but think it’s innate. But the truth is, their gorgeous state of chaos is highly calculated. And that’s ok!
They’re allowed to care, just like Anglosaxon women care, but even in caring, the final product generally looks more natural. And yes, despite smoking like chimneys they DO place an emphasis of self-preservation 🙂
Nicole Williams says
I just made an appointment at a nail salon for a Mani/pedi (I think).I’m not sure what I signed up. Is it similar to what they do in the US? Callus scrub, for massage and all that? It’s quite expensive and I’m wondering if it will be worth it. Thanks!
I think it depends on the salon but it’s probably best to ask just so you’re both on the same page. I got one pedicure in France and it was 60 euros, no massage, and nowhere near as thorough as what I was expecting. But not sure it’s that way across the board. Definitely call before so you can cancel if it’s not up to par!
I live in Canada but I love to learn more about French ways for natural beauty. I had a phase for a few years when I would go to a nail spa salon downstairs and do Shallac very regularly. I absolutely loved how my nails looked and how I felt. BUT my nails were in a terrible condition after so many shallacs and regular polishes (it’s almost they needed to breath). So then I gave them rest. Now they look healthy. I do not go to the spas to do manicures and pedicures as I got all the stuff at home and I just watch Youtube tutorials on how you do it at home. Nails are healthy, clean and have a nice polish once in a while, I save lots of money (and put them rather towards an expensive eye cream). It’s also a nice time you spent with yourself at home with doing your nails, drinking some green tea and watching an awesome show instead of sitting for 3 hours still in the spa.