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The day I got the best toe job in town

For a low-maintenance woman, I am surprisingly knowledgeable about pedicures. This is for the simple reason that I can’t cut my own toenails because they are too horny (not in a good sense) so I have to have them done professionally every six weeks. I used to rely on the local NHS clinic but they got more and more unreliable so then I resorted to private chiropodists – a sad lot, it seemed to me click over here, who always wanted to tell me about their personal problems. And then one day I noticed in the Yellow Pages that there were all these beauty salons offering pedicures, so I tried all the ones in my area and eventually settled on Tonton Nails on the Archway Road – not a very chic address it must be said, but home to a charming Vietnamese family who chatter and giggle among themselves while watching daytime soaps on the telly. The only thing wrong with Tonton is that they insist on painting my toenails – I think it hurts their creative pride if I refuse – so I always have them painted different colours to make it more amusing for us all.

But now, courtesy of my editor, I have an appointment with Bastien Gonzalez, a ‘celebrity pedicurist’, who shuttles between Paris, New York and London, and is currently based at the Cadogan Hotel in Sloane Street, where Oscar Wilde was arrested. He charges £110 a session, which is four times the Tonton, so he’d better be good. The term ‘celebrity pedicurist’ fills me with the direst foreboding, but he turns out to be a really sweet, plump, 34-year-old Frenchman who Authentic Prada Online Shop tells me, in his wonderfully fractured English, that his hobby is building dry-stone walls. I was a bit alarmed when he said at one point ‘I am a foot fetishist!’ but then he went on, ‘I love your restaurants in London. You have the best food in the world.’

He asks me to remove my shoes and recline on the bed. Most people reel back in horror when they see my bare feet – the combination of gnarled toes and rainbow-hued toenails is rather startling – but Bastien surveys them calmly and pronounces, ‘Your feet are not so bad. No corns. You can walk.’ This reminds me of a rather key question: what are his qualifications? He explains that he did three years’ training as a ‘pedicure podalogue’ in France which qualifies him to do any sort of foot Are Prada Trainers Made In Vietnam treatment short of surgery – for that, you need a podiatrist. But he reckons he can cure almost anything, including ingrowing toenails: ‘There is always a soft solution. You don’t need to go to hospital. I cure the nails, I cure the mobility of the toes and the elasticity of the skin. I cure the feet in a completely holistic way.’

The Tonton always starts with a ‘foot spa’ but Bastien says he prefers to work with dry feet. ‘I won’t paint your nails,’ he explains, as he clips them, ‘but I will cure them. Because when you put colour on the nails, the nails as you can see turn yellow, and they become drier.’ His technique is to go over the nails with something like a miniature floor sander, then polish them with chamois leather – he had the idea when he saw his great-grandmother polishing her fingernails and saw that they were shinier and prettier than any painted nails. ‘This is the real French manicure,’ he says. ‘You buff the nails to make them shine, because by buffing the blood circulation is stronger and the white line at the Agatha Ruiz Dela Prada Uk Sale base is even cleaner. But it’s a process that is long and the Americans make it fast, with the varnish. Look at that – much better. It will stay for at least two months.’

While he polishes away, I ask how he came to be a celebrity pedicurist – it’s not the sort of career you think of at school – and he says it was an accident. He wanted to be a ski champion and he was doing well but then he broke his knee and had to have physiotherapy for six months. He also saw a podiatrist who gave him insoles for his ski boots. ‘And the following season I wore these insoles for the competition and I won! So I decided to work with my sponsors developing ski boots.’ He did this while training as a pedicurist but then his sponsors dropped him and he realised he was never going to be either a champion skier or a ski-boot entrepreneur. So, at 22, he opened a pedicure practice in the Place des Vosges, Paris, and within two years had a thriving business, seeing 20 clients a day, six days a week.

But then he suffered an existential crisis. ‘I was 24, 25 and I saw the next 40 years of my life Bicester Village Prada Store Number being the same – what a depression, you know.’ So he took off for the United States and opened a practice in New York, and then London. He also trains pedicurists for the One and Only spa hotel group which means he makes frequent trips to Mauritius and the Maldives. For the past two years, he’s been trying to Authentic Prada Messenger Bag For Sale set up his own salon in London but all the properties he’s been interested in keep falling through, so meanwhile he uses the Cadogan as his base.

Why does he like London? ‘Because I love Englishwomen. You can book them four months ahead and they are coming, without complaining. I have found that unique in the world. When you speak with a French lady and she finds she has to wait two months for an appointment, she is insulted. She wants you right now.’ The other great attraction of London is its restaurants. ‘I think London is the capital of the world now, I really do.’

He sees himself on a mission to preach pedicure: ‘I want to give an education to people: more than doing a pedicure and being the crème de la crème, I want people to understand their foot problems. I love to look at nails as teeth – you eat, you brush your teeth and you don’t even think about it – but that was not the case 50 years ago. So my target through this pedicure is to make Baby Prada Shoes Uk people care about their feet.’

My old NHS chiropodist always told me the secret of good feet was to wear sensible shoes, preferably Birkenstocks. But of course Bastien is French and horrified by that idea. ‘You can’t say to a woman you mustn’t wear high heels because she will hate you! Pointy shoes and high heels are part of her life! Eating is bad for your teeth but you have to eat, no? If you want to wear high heels that’s fine, but you have to be careful of your feet, keeping the mobility of the toes, working on the elasticity of the skin and replumping the fatty cushions. It is cure, cure, because if you don’t take care of your feet, you destroy them.’

By now Bastien is massaging my feet with his delicious Révérence de Bastien foot balm, and putting pink ointment, containing zinc, arnica and apricot oil, around Authentic Prada Vitello Daino the cuticles. ‘You have two things to bear in mind,’ he instructs me. ‘One: cream every night, no choice. And two: try to restore the mobility of the toes by gently pulling them a little bit. Work on the elasticity of the skin by lifting and Amancio Prada Prada circulating. Work on replumping the fatty cushions of the sole. Keep the sides of the nails free of dead skin. Floss your nails every night.’

‘Feel your heels,’ he tells me. ‘They are soft, no?’ Absolutely – but not just my heels – my feet are completely transformed. Biggest Prada Store In London Authentic Prada Factory Outlet Online My toes are all pink and wriggly like newborn mice, the nails are shiny, they look almost desirable. I am so fond of them now I shall enjoy massaging them every night and ‘replumping my fatty cushions’ – it’ll be a whole new hobby, like baking bread.

I remember when I saw those photos of the Duchess of York having her toes sucked in the South of France, I thought, Why would anyone, ever, want to suck anyone’s toes? But I can suddenly see – a bit late in the day – that after an appointment with Bastien, it might be quite fun.

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