Monthly Archives: December 2014

A French Christmas in the California desert

A French Christmas in the California desert


 Christmas came and went. This year, we returned to Palm Springs, CA.

I just read the story I wrote for the blog almost two years ago, and stand by every word.

Scenic, magical Palm Springs.
The most beautiful palm trees this side of the Mississippi river.
The light. The colors. The mountains. The desert.
Non golfers and non shoppers are better off sticking to:
Hiking. Photography. Exploring.
They are like Parisian lèche-vitrine (window shopping:)

Nature beckons. Follow the guide…

In the desert
In the desert
Feeling very small in the shadow of giant palm trees
Palm Springs skies
Kids desert
Nature-enthralled teenagers!

 Yes, Palm Springs is spectacular.

But it is not very Christmassy,
even if the city tries to get in the spirit…


If all else fails, any of these little guys would make fine Christmas ornaments…


The city of Palm Springs, to a French native, is so American, a mini-Los Angeles.

Sprawling. Designed for cars and driving. Endless streets. Mall-centered life.
Downtown Palm Springs has a different flavor. Pedestrian-friendly. Welcoming.


The best part about downtown: The proximity of nature.

The mountains are nearby. The desert, next to them.


Yet popular culture won’t be so easily ignored,
and competes with nature for the visitor’s attention.

Palm Springs capitalizes on its time-tested reputation
as Hollywood’s desert playground.

The Rat Pack, Elvis, Bob Hope, and their friends may be long gone,
they are not forgotten…


Lili Marlene: Forever in the  glorious sunlight
Lili Marleen: Forever in the glorious sunlight
Elvis’s star lies a few feet away from his agent, Colonel Parker

 Yes, Palm Springs is all American.

But this French Girl was determined to get her French Christmas.
There are so many French people in this city: We bumped into them several times a day.
Are they attracted by the promise of great hiking (a favorite French activity?)
Are they looking for a slice of Americana?
Do they work and reside there?
Clearly, some do…


French eyewear can only be described as "Oh-la-la"
French eyewear can only be described as “Oh-la-la”

 Our French-American-Finnish group of five indulged in a decadent Christmas celebration.

Our destination? Le Vallauris, Palm Springs’ most renowned French restaurant.

We knew we had lucked out when we saw our table on the beautiful patio…

Dinner under starry skies...
Dinner under a tree canopy and starry skies…

 Service, atmosphere, and the food, the glorious food!

Friends. Presents.
It was perfect!

Bûche de Noël “à la Vallauris.” Beautiful and delicious, as French food should be.

 I took this photo of our table before dessert was served.

An unmistakably *French* restaurant table.
Can you tell me why? [smile]


I hope you, too, had a special Christmas, surrounded by friends, family.
Or both.

Palm Springs put on a big show to help me forget we were not in Paris for the Holidays.

Merci, Palm Springs!


A bientôt.

16 Responses to A French Christmas in the California desert

  1. Very different Veronique but soooo fabulous. Gosh your son is shooting up, looks like his love of photography is growing with him.. Best wishes for the new year.

    • Merci Grace. Yes, Junior is already taller than I am! He has loved photography for quite a while now and shoots with film only (and uses all his manual settings.) I am afraid I am neither as tall, or as proficient with a camera as he is 🙂 — Happy New Year!

  2. I’ve been away from blogland for a long time Veronique. Some friends recently were in Nice and their trip whetted my appetite to return to the beautiful city. Suddenly I remembered that it’s your favourite French city and I looked you up! I’m sorry to hear about your dramas this year. But you and your son look well. As does my old home town of Palm Springs.
    Lovely to catch up with you again. I shall try to visit more often. All the best for 2015 to you and your family. Maybe I’ll see you in Nice one day!

    • What a nice surprise this morning! Welcome back, Craig. I have thought about you when I saw you had stopped blogging and was wondering how you were. I am glad your friends talked you into visiting Nissa la Bella. Isn’t she a beauty? My love of that southern belle remains, but I have not visited in over a year, unfortunately (I was in Paris and Toulouse last summer.) Please do come back when you can. Old friends are always welcome here. I wish you and yours a very happy New Year!

  3. v this sounds like a lovely love filled Christmas! I adore Jr.’s hair longer such a handsome young man and you look like a teenager yourself-Palm springs(although not gay PARIS) seems to agree with you….

    • My dear g. Thank you very much! It was, indeed, a good Christmas in beautiful Palm Springs, and a welcome change of pace and scenery. I don’t know about looking like a teenager myself, but I will accept the compliment, gratefully. I hope you had a good, relaxing Christmas as well, and the East Coast climate is treating you well. Best wishes for a healthy, fun-filled, and rewarding 2015. I am personally looking forward to starting a brand-new year 😉

      • My dearest v I never pay an empty compliment and-I am glad you graciously and cheerfully accept that compliment as it is true ..inner age and spirit comes to the surface more than one may realize-I too am looking forward to a new year-one filled with happy moments and sweet times…our Christmas was very low key, thusly LOW STRESS! Our weather for the most part has been warmer than usual but a lot of grey and rainy days-this week brings a dip in temperatures-Yuck– just in time for the Mummers to strut down Broad Street – Here is to the NEW YEAR MY FRIEND -may all your heart’s dreams be realized and may love surround you peace follow you and joy always hold your hand—-with my best wishes always….

  4. As usual, you capture the essence and beauty of a city and make one feel they are taking a mini trip there. I’m glad you had such a wonderful time. Happy new year!

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O French Christmas Tree (Mon Beau Sapin)

O French Christmas Tree (Mon Beau Sapin)

Our family will remember 2014 as the year of downsizing. Junior and I left our home and neighborhood, and moved into a spacious apartment (by European standards,) in the center of our suburban American town. Even if memories remain, many possessions ended up at Goodwill or Value Village. New pieces, furniture mostly, were acquired along the…

25 Responses to O French Christmas Tree (Mon Beau Sapin)

  1. I love your little tree! It is tres beautiful. Merci bien for all of your great posts and I wish you and Junior a Joyeaux Noel and a Happy New Year too! A bientôt.

  2. Thanks for sharing all of your french Christmas ornaments with us…what a beautiful tree you have. I too have an Eiffel Tower hangning on a branch of my tree that is very similar to yours. Sounds like a wonderful holiday you will have this year and all of those wonderful new beginnings you will have in the new year. Blessings to you and your family!

  3. Everything looks so pretty!! Each ornament is so unique and put a smile on my face. I love this space of yours and cannot wait to hear about the desert Christmas. MERRY CHRISTMAS V AND JR. Here is 2015!!

    • Merci, my dear g. I believe this is the 4th year we have exchanged “Joyeux Noël” wishes. Thank you for following the blog, and for your support and friendship. I hope you get yourself a very merry Christmas on the East Coast. One of these days, I will swing by Philadelphia and say “bonjour” to you…

      • And you would be MOST WELCOMED-I feel as though I know you from your lovely blog and as weird as it sounds consider myself lucky to call you friend-reading between the lines and sensing how hard it has been at times, just makes me admire and respect you all the more-seriously I do hope we meet someday-ONCE AGAIN MON AMIE HERE IS TO YOU AND JR. AND TO ALL THE NEW ADVENTURES TO COME!!Until we next speak–

  4. That is definitively a french sapin de Noel with those beautiful ornaments. Have a terrific time in the desert where the weather should be really nice as it is going to be in the 80’s next week. Bring your sunblock. Joyeux Noel et excellente nouvelle annee!

    • Merci Nadège, I accept the compliment, gratefully, since it comes from a French native. 😉 You will not be too far away from us while we vacation in the desert. I hope you have a wonderful Holiday season on the California Coast. Thank you for all your comments and support on the blog, and the Facebook page this year! See you in 2015. A bientôt.

  5. Your decorations are darling! On our French tree, I have a certain number of decorations I brought with me from the USA when I moved here. In the meantime, we have been able to buy some nice ones here, but in the 90s, there was not a lot available.

    I had somehow not registered that you are from the Midi-Pyrénées! Where exactly?

    Have a wonderful holiday!

    • Bonjour Betty, I am glad to see expats share the same habits at Christmas time! I would love to see some of your American-themed ornaments. And yes, you are correct, I was born, oh, a few years ago ;-), in the beautiful Midi-Pyrénées. Toulouse is my hometown, even if I lived all over the country, Lille, Montpellier, Lyon, and finally Paris, until I came to Seattle. Joyeux Noël to you and yours!

    • Best wishes to you, and your ever-growing family Cherie. I know this will be a special Christmas, with your grand-children. I hope to see you again in 2015. Maybe we will plan a “Studio group” reunion at a local French restaurant… Joyeux Noël !

  6. Chère Véro!!!!!

    I have had a very busy weekend, but finally came over after seeing your sweet comment! I see your darling mascot COCO has escorted me here to see your new blog! I thank you mille fois for coming over to visit, and for leaving such kind words. This is a time of year of chaos but fun mayhem; now that school is out, I can sit home and read or just SLEEP! I hope your school year is good? Mine is. I am teaching three French courses at the high school and one proficiency course at the middle school in the same district. Never a dull moment, all so wonderful in the French language world!

    Wishing you pleasant dreams of LOVE and family! Anita

    • Merci ma chère Anita. Toujours aussi occupée avec tes cours de français, je vois, et malgré tout, tu trouves le temps de continuer à créer de superbes histoires sur ton blog. Bravo! Merci de ta visite, et meilleurs voeux à toi aussi. Je t’embrasse.

  7. I absolutely love your beau sapin with its fabulous themed ornaments. The Deuche ones are so original and you know I have always had a soft spot for this cute little car. Father Christmas climbing la Tour Eiffel is the perfect decoration to sit on top! Wishing you and Junior a very Merry Christmas and I hope that 2015 is a happy and healthy year!

  8. Thank you so much for your wonderful posts ! I am grateful to you for keeping up my enthusiasm for all things French. Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year ! A Bientot !

  9. Tout s’explique !! tu as déménagé ton blog pendant que j’étais en Allemagne. Ne voyant plus ton blog bouger , je t’imaginais te consacrer à ton boulot et à Facebook(où je ne suis pas inscrite) .
    Heureusement que tu es passée!!
    Bon, eh bien, bon Noël dans tes nouveaux locaux (réels et virtuels!)Passe de bonnes fêtes et meilleurs vœux pour l’année qui s’annonce!
    Grosses bises de Nice ( où Noël se passe – of course- sous le soleil, avec 23° au thermo..)

    • Merci Marie. Je me doutais que tu n’avais pas remarqué le “déménagement” du site 😉 J’espère que les Fêtes se passent au mieux pour toi et ta petite famille. Pour une fois, suite à ton rapport météo, j’ai la joie de t’annoncer que, me trouvant dans le désert californien à Palm Springs, je fête, moi aussi Noël sous le soleil! Je t’embrasse. Véro

    • Bonjour Diane. I had a very warm Christmas in Palm Springs this year. It’s a very different kind of Christmas, there, of course, but we had friends with us and had a fun time. I hope your celebration went smoothly as well! Thank you for stopping by and for all your support this year!

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Under the Paris spell

Under the Paris spell

    The Holidays are here. Busy time of year. I was sorting through old photos this weekend, looking for inspiration for the traditional Christmas card. I fell into the rabbit hole when I opened some old folders and found images of travels past. What is it about Paris? I slowed down, and started looking at the…

20 Responses to Under the Paris spell

  1. Thank you for this charming mini-trip, as Suzanne put it. There truly is something about Paris…I am happy to be going there more often now since one of my daughters lives there.

    • A daughter living in Paris is the perfect excuse to go often. As a resident, she probably has a slightly different take on the city as we, visitors, do, but hopefully this has been a wonderful experience for her. Happy Holidays, Betty!

  2. Paris is always on my mind. When I arrive in the city I often ask myself why it is that I want to come back every year and as the week progresses I discover why…..thanks so much for sharing your memories. This year I did not go but went to explore Nice instead and used several of your tips Veronique.

    • Jeanne, you will adore Nice. What a fantastic city she is, and so different from Paris, in many ways, architecture, location, weather, and even street food. I hope you enjoy your visit there. Please tell Nice I miss her. Happy Holidays!

  3. I fell under the Paris spell many many years ago maybe during my very first visit as a seven year old admiring the Eiffel Tower at night! Sharing your memories here reminds me of my favourite Parisian moments and sights. Diptyque candles are wonderful! Fabulous photos as always!

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