Category Archives: my travels in the U.S.

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:)
Free.

Nature beckons. Follow the guide…

In the desert
In the desert
PalmTrees2
Feeling very small in the shadow of giant palm trees
Scenery3
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…

FelizNavidad

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

Cactus

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.

PalmSpringsstreet

The best part about downtown: The proximity of nature.

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

Grandiosescenery

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…

PopCulture

Lili Marlene: Forever in the  glorious sunlight
Lili Marleen: Forever in the glorious sunlight
Elvis
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…

Frenchbakery

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!

BucheVallauris
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]

Frenchtable

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!

AlecMom

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!