Illustration by Fabrice Fortin for Paris By Appointment Only™
Monsieur Ho is to feet as Yves Saint Laurent was to fashion—worshiped by his clients and envied by his rivals as a master of his medium. For the last three decades his name has been passed secretly from one glamorous parisienne to another as the best pedicurist in town. None other than La Deneuve, France’s most famous and demanding diva, is his number one fan.
“Many of my clients, like Madame Deneuve, have followed me since my beginning at Carita 27 years ago,” explains Ho, a discreet and soft-spoken man who cares for his word-of-mouth clientele in his own private salon near the Champs Elysées.
In French, pedicure means something entirely different from your twenty-buck NYC pedi. It’s a curative treatment that only a podiatrist can perform, while beauté des pieds refers to the typical scrub and polish you get at your average nail salon. Monsieur Ho is both podiatrist and esthetician, meaning he can cure your feet and make them look divine. In a city where fashionable (read: uncomfortable) shoes are de rigeur at every age, his services bring springs back into steps.
“When it comes to shoes, comfort and aesthetics don’t mix. If they feel good, they’re ugly. That’s why I have such a steady clientele.”
Behind the rice-paper sliding doors of his mahogany-and-cream waiting area is a room the size of most studio apartments, outfitted with a single, Emperor’s throne of a chair. You’re asked to change out of your shoes and into a pair of plush slippers before ascending the steps to your perch. Lulled by the low-lit paper lamps and soothing water sounds playing in the background, you sink into the comfy leather lounge chair while Ho assumes his station at the tips of your feet.
After a lovely little foot bath and quick nail trim, Ho gets down to business. First he prepares his instruments: a thin, surgical knife (bistoury) and a slender gouge, both outfitted with fresh, disposable blades. With gouge in hand he starts working around the perimeter of each nail, carefully dislodging any dead skin that’s built up over and around them.
Once all of the skin has been ousted, he scrapes it all away with his scalpel using tiny gentle gestures so that each nail is perfectly clean. Next up? The soles of the feet. After reading your feet with his fingers, he takes his scalpel to offending mounds and patches being careful not too take off too much, then smooths the soles with a fine, hand-held file.
“The bottoms of our feet are our natural insoles, you want to keep a slight thickness for protection when we walk.”
Then comes the epic-long filing of the nails. Using five different files (emery, metal, mousse, etc), each one finer than the last, he gets nails as smooth and soft as crystal before performing the final climatic finish: the chamois cloth buffing that stimulates blood flow to the toes and leaves nails naturally rosy and glistening for up to a month.
Have a look below at Mr. Ho polishing my toes:
Price: 150E per hour
Availability: Send me an email to be put in touch with Mr. Ho
House Calls: For an extra fee, Mr. Ho will come to your hotel room or apartment