A Perfect French Day in Los Angeles

A Perfect French Day in Los Angeles

As a confirmed Francophile, how I long for the City of Light during this difficult time of pandemic. Paris– with its beauty, light, cuisine, art and culture– has always been a part of my soul. My heart aches to walk along the Seine, among people who seem to have more of an idea of how to live daily life, enjoying its moments and focusing on the simple and not so simple pleasures. But right now, it seems a Parisian experience is out of the question. So I decided to embrace my longings and nourish my inner Francophile with a perfect French day in Los Angeles.

I began with a stop at Huckleberry Café in Santa Monica for a delicious café and a freshly baked, mouth-watering croissant. Arguably, it is one of the best in Los Angeles. Having satisfied my appetite for a French breakfast, I moved on to tackle my desire to achieve the effortless elegance and style of a French woman.

Women in France know that it pays to go to a great hair stylist and go back to the same person for many years. In the words of Coco Chanel, “A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.” I headed to The Salon by Maxime in Beverly Hills, the hair salon that stands head and shoulders above the rest as the closest to having a French coiffure experience.

A native of Toulouse, Maxime Salvador is the quintessential Frenchman who infuses French charm into his Beverly Hills salon with an easy, natural sophistication. Maxime opened the doors to his salon after 15 years with José Eber. With a reputation as one of the best stylists in the business, Maxime takes pride in bringing the French ethic to his chic salon, ensuring that each client feels special and the total experience is a pleasure.

From the moment I walked into his light and airy salon, I felt less Covid anxiety and much more French. As in France, where the initial greeting is so important, the staff of Salon Maxime go out of their way to make you feel welcome. That greeting included an assurance that the salon is closely following the guidelines set by the CDC and WHO to keep both employees and guests safe. In this sophisticated yet relaxed atmosphere, there was no doubt I was in expert hands.

The pampering began from the start as I settled in to have a shampoo and massage with leading hair products from Kerastase Paris. After that, the real magic started with the haircut. Maxime endorses the French idea of beauty, optimising a person’s natural features and style in an effortless manner. In the talented hands of Maxime (while he indulged my craving to speak French), I was transformed. The experience gave me insight into the underlying secret to French beauty – confidence.

I left the salon with that “je ne sais quoi” sense of lightness and spark. Fortunately I was just a block away from Ladurée, and treated myself to the pleasure of a French macaron to top off my day.

On my way home, it was time to think about dinner. Still in my French frame of mind, I mused about how dining at a bistro and enjoying a delicious meal with a good glass of wine is almost a ritual in France. I eagerly stopped by Violet Bistro, the delightful Cali-French bistro and bar in the heart of Westwood Village serving refined French bistro fare. Owner Dana Slatkin, a Culinary Institute of America graduate who trained in France, opened Violet in March 2020 to showcase her inspired dishes, combining the flavors of traditional French cooking with contemporary California market-fresh cuisine.

Lunch. Photo credit: Aliza J Sokolow

The simple menu boasts authentic bistro fare including steak frites with a sauce Provençale, the Violet hamburger with Emmenthal cheese and onion confit, pan-seared white fish barigoule, and of course a warm baguette.

The Violet space is also home to the Violet cooking school (upstairs from the bistro), and the Violet Shop, a chic kitchen boutique. I was tempted to sit and enjoy a Violet signature cocktail such as the Bloody Antoinette or the Monsieur Pim, and enjoy the warm, convivial atmosphere and lovely patio, but opted for the Violet take-out/delivery option during this unusual time.

My experience in Paris has given me an appreciation for beauty and discovery, and I still dream every night about returning to France. Until that day, I am resolved to find and savour the bits and pieces of Paris that are right here for the taking in Los Angeles.


Huckleberry Café
1014 Wilshire Boulevard
Santa Monica

The Salon by Maxime
421 N. Rodeo Drive, Rodeo Collection
Beverly Hills
310 205-2370

311 North Beverly Drive
Beverly Hills

Violet Bistro
1121 Glendon Avenue
Los Angeles
310 208-1121
Tuesday to Sunday 5:30 PM – 9:30 PM

Violet. Photo credit: Nicole LaMotte Photography

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A native of Los Angeles, Barbara is the France Today Ambassador for L.A. She graduated from UCLA with a BA degree in Political Science, and also received her JD degree from UCLA School of Law. While at UCLA, she spent her junior year in Grenoble, France. From that time on, she has been an avid and passionate Francophile. She has visited almost every region in France, and still pursues French language courses in Los Angeles. She has an apartment in Paris and continues to visit France every year.

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  • Deborah Gruen
    2024-06-06 09:14:22
    Deborah Gruen
    Hi Barbara, I recently relocated to LA. from the east coast. I have always been attracted to the French language and art. I have traveled to France and continue to informally immerse myself in the language. I am a clinical and forensic psychologist remotely continuing my part-time private practice. I have the opportunity at this juncture to expand learning the French culture and increase my minimal though very gradually expanding fluency in the language. I would like to visit local restaurants, art museums, etc., to enhance my artistic passion for art and minimal fluency in the language. I have noted the recommendations you have provided though, I would appreciate any additional specific ideas you might share based on my background that might be stimulating learning (social/arts/language-enhancing) environments. Thank you. Deborah


  • Frenchie L'Noir
    2021-03-28 07:58:07
    Frenchie L'Noir
    You missed Lou The French On The Block. The owner is from Sarcelles and another Parisian gem is Taix in silver lake.


  • Josephine Fisher
    2020-08-19 21:43:40
    Josephine Fisher
    Dear Yetunde, Having visited France four times, I felt as if I had lived there prior to my visits. I never minded strolling for 8 hours plus, and if I got lost in Paris it Never bothered me during my time there, as I discovered the beauty and the past, that fulfilled me. One day, near the 'St. Louis Metro(in the 6th arr., where I was staying) I went into a small bistro/bar for the BEST Omlette I EVER tasted in my life....it was so Light and Fluffy, with a 'nut-like flavor I have never forgotten; my question would be do you know if the French Chefs use a certain kind of cheese for their dishes, that is 'common knowledge' or, do I have to Keep trying to make them in my experimenting? Many thanks if you can reply...… Sincerely, Josephine Fisher


  • Yetunde Oshodi Fraudeau
    2020-07-31 16:46:59
    Yetunde Oshodi Fraudeau
    Glad you were able to find a way to add a bit of France into your day, Barbara. We offering cooking classes in Paris & Uzes (in Southern France), and the pandemic has had us going online. We have been offering a few classes to help people bring a little taste of France into their homes. A way to escape from the current madness. Would love for you to join us if you are so inclined. Yetunde