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.
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.
1014 Wilshire Boulevard
The Salon by Maxime
421 N. Rodeo Drive, Rodeo Collection
311 North Beverly Drive
1121 Glendon Avenue
Tuesday to Sunday 5:30 PM – 9:30 PM