View From The Barber's Chair


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IF you want to get your hair cut in Villefranche du Perigord, a village in the heart of France, you have two choices.
On one side of the street is a hairdressers, all chrome and shiny mirrors, a little further down is a barbers of the cutthroat razor kind.

But it’s no Sweeny Todd style shop more a great place to enjoy a heavy dose of French life.

I’d already prepared myself for the visit, learning the French word for short, for a little shorter please and leave the sideburns as they are.

Well maybe not the last one.

I was also hoping that there would be a couple of pictures on the wall, like all good barbers, that I could at least point to.

But I then had a panic attack as I thought they all might be pictures from the 70’s and I’d have to point to something that the Hair Bear Bunch would be proud of.

As I walked into the shop there was an old chap sat in the chair with the barber tending to his hair and chatting away.

They both turned towards me and said ‘bonjour’.

I returned the welcome and as there was no one waiting just sat on one of the chairs and waited my turn.

Ten minutes later and I was sat under the quick scissors and smooth style of Daniel Galdrat, Villefranche du Perigord’s true barber.

“I’ve been a barber in the village for 43 years, I was born 50 meters away from the shop and I’ve lived here all my life, " Daniel said.

“After I left school I trained to be a barber at college and started working in the shop. "

Daniel is more of a sculptor than a hairdresser, he uses scissors and a comb like an artist uses a brush, with a delicate touch and dedication to detail.

He turns to his cutthroat razor to take the hair off the back of your neck and only uses the electric trimmers to tame your sideburns.

“It’s a shame that hairdressers today only use the trimmers to cut people’s hair, but that is what they are taught at college, " said Daniel.

“They have no knowledge of how to use the scissors and comb to cut hair, they might as well be shearing sheep. "

At the back of the shop is a collection of wooden mushrooms, walking sticks and canes – the other passion in Daniel’s life.

He enjoys going out into the Dordogne forests around the village with his dog and camera to take pictures of mushrooms that he uses as the basis for his woodturning.

And it is clear to see the skills he has developed as a barber come out in his hobby again the touch of a sculptor is evident.

“I enjoy the mountains, " Daniel said as he pointed to a large poster of the Alps on the wall.

“But I can’t get to see them as often as I would like

“I am hoping to retire soon, but there is no one to take over the running of the shop as yet. "

As my cut was coming to a finish another man dropped in to the shop, said bonjour, and shook both Daniel’s hand and mine.

He said the weather was about to turn and as I got up to pay, he took his place in the barber’s chair.

For more articles by Craig McGinty on living in France including tips on buying a home, the legal process and more, visit his website and live life the French way.


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