Scenes, Scents, and Sounds of Summer in the South of France

Gorgeous Plage l’Estagnol near Hyères


From here to Hyères, and pretty much everywhere across France, the hottest summer topic has to be … heat. With the temperature gauge regularly ramping up to 38C (100.4F) or beyond—and with most houses lacking aircon throughout, including ours—thoughts tend to veer toward how to escape the toasty temps, how to beat them, and eventually, how to embrace them.

Opting for the escape approach first, recently Ralph and I spent a week on the Presqu’île de Giens (Giens Penninsula) east of Toulon in the hopes of basking in cool Med breezes. And spotting birdlife—the skinny peninsula composed of two ribbons of land with marshes in between is a magnet for birds, especially flamingos. As a base, we chose a commune outside of Hyères proper called Les Salins, conveniently located next to a saltpan-filled nature park, Les Salins d’Hyères. Though the enclave is teeny-tiny, it boasts several seafood restaurants, a leisure boat port, and an expansive beach—a short stroll from our rental.

To make the most of our time away, en route to our destination, we stopped to explore the seaside resort of Saint-Cyr-sur-Mer and the Plage des Lecques. And on our return, we popped into the postcard-perfect village of La-Cardière-d’Azur, where we enjoyed a coffee break with delightful Canadian author ML Longworth of Murder in Provence fame. (The TV series, based on some of her mysteries, is now out on ITV.)

Beautiful Bormes les Mimosas

During the week in between, we searched for birds, walked the sandy shores and rocky coastal paths, splashed through the gentle Mediterranean waves, cycled on our foldable bikes, and made a valiant attempt at eating our weight in fresh grilled fish. We roamed around beautiful Bormes-les-Mimosas and also toured Hyères, following the tips listed in one of my favorite design/travel magazines, Côté Sud.

On our first full day, we gave ourselves an overview of the peninsula by driving the length to the picturesque village of Giens situated at the most southerly point. The views were magnificent as were the flocks of flamingos feeding in the marshes (albeit at a distance) and the kite surfers zipping across the zone especially designated for them on the west side of the peninsula.

But far and away, the highlight of the week was—thanks to our wonderful next door neighbor who knew the area from his childhood—the incredible beach called L’Estagnol and the seafood déjeuner at Restaurant L’Estagnol, (run by welcoming Patrick and Geneviève Cruché), located above the graceful arc-of-a-plage. Both beach and lunch were incroyable! Definitely worth a detour for a special outing, but beware, reservations are a must, particularly in high season. Parking is paid upon entry—11 euros—but the expansive lot is filled with tall shade trees and WCs with outdoor showers are available.

Ralph kidding around at the nature reserve Les Salins d’Hyeres

Few remarkable birds flew our way during the week though we circled the nature park multiple times and scoured the coast. Some Stilts with their flashy long red legs, and elegant Little Egrets sporting their yellow feet made brief appearances but, alas, only a single, lanky Grey Heron showed up. At least the prehistoric-looking oiseau posed close to us and remained still—two rare bird behaviors that were much appreciated.

Back in Saint-Rémy, after our beach escape, we entered the heat-coping phase. So while we manage the volets (shutters)—making sure they are open in the early hours, but just a crack during the day—we listen to the chanting cicadas, pause to appreciate the golden fields of sunflowers and inhale the intoxicating lavender aroma that permeates the weekly market. We enjoy special summer events like the rousing 14 July Fête Nationale concert en ville and greedily consume gobs of rosy, ripe apricots, courtesy of a generous neighbor who left a flat of the fruit by our door. Blended with foraged blackberries, they make quite the healthy and colorful smoothy.*

I sip the vibrant concoction from a frosty tumbler, while relaxing on a chaise longue on our elevated terrace, in the shade of a big umbrella, with a summer read at the ready. Oh wait, could it be that without realizing it, I’m inching toward the embrace-the-heat stage? Well, honestly, I doubt I’m ready to announce, “Vive l’été!” when that means melting for many hours a day. But, appreciating the perks of summer is a step in a promising direction, n’est ce pas?

Before I sign off, some words of deep gratitude for the courageous and brave pompiers here in France battling wildfires near Bordeaux and to all firefighters around the ever-warming globe who are facing unprecedented challenges of increasing numbers and intensity of fires. We hail their heroism every day.

And to you, dear readers, above all, stay safe and well, and as comfortable as possible–whichever hemisphere you’re in at the moment.

Amitiés, Gayle


Tuula Rampont and yours truly near Toulon

On our trip, I met with spirited journalist Tuula Rampont of Belle Provence Travels who writes for International Living Magazine. She suggested an enticing idea—that together we tape a video about how Passion for Provence and The Birdwatcher’s Wife came to be and our expat life in France. We’re planning on that—you guessed it—when it’s a tad cooler.

*I had the where-with-all to wash, pit, and freeze the bushel of fresh apricots, so I’ll be set for smoothy material for some time and won’t even need ice cubes!

Provence to Portugal (Part II): Waves-Baby-Waves 

Waves breaking on Nazare beach

For the second half of our Portuguese adventure, we headed ninety minutes north of Lisbon to the charming fishing village of Nazaré. Due to the magnificent waves that crash on its shores, the town is renown as a surfing mecca—not that we intended to climb on board any surf boards any time soon. Cruising through these curls—sometimes rising to one hundred feet in winter—was not on our agenda. Oh, no, such daring endeavors we’d leave to the fearless daredevils. (For more on this, check out the book of thrilling photos—Nazaré—by Portuguese photographer Ricardo Bravo.) After the hustle bustle of the buzzing metropolis that was Lisbon, chilling out was just the ticket.

Fishing boats of by-gone days now rest quietly on Nazare beach

Topping our go-slow agenda for the popular Silver Coast resort were low-key activities like meandering around the old village, birdwatching along the coast, and beach walking with a vivacious buddy who recently moved to the area with her pair of feisty pups—plus enjoying the local wine and food specialties, of course.

Jagged cliffs of Peniche, south of Nazare

But before Nazaré, our adorable Fiat 500 whisked us to a birding area at Peniche, a rocky peninsula that juts dramatically into the Atlantic. Ralph hoped to see low-flying sheerwaters or petrels (a smallish seabird, which only lands to nest), but surfers and Shags, (a type of cormorant), Black Redstarts, and Yellow-legged Gulls had to suffice. After tromping around the cliffs and exploring the town, lunch beckoned. Thanks to my pal Google, we found a gem of an eatery called Marisqueira Mirandum. There was no sea view but the grilled dorade was outstanding and the staff was incredibly welcoming.

Our Nazaré apartment, which practically sat on the sand across from the colorful iconic fishing boats, was exactly as advertised. And what a vista—we could see all the way to the castle topped by a crimson beacon set high on the cliffs. And from the vantage point of our friend’s huge terrace perched above the town, we took in another stunning view—this one revealed a sweeping panorama of the terracotta-roofed village and the gently arched beach stretching to the horizon.

As fresh as it gets
The talented and welcoming team at Rosa dos Ventos

Dinner at a traditional family-run bistro called Rosa dos Ventos was divine. There we dined on more delicious fresh-from-the-sea grilled fish. Again, the service was extraordinary.

Poster of the world-famous gargantuan waves seen from the castle
Ralph birding from the castle

Without pushing too hard, we squeezed in a lot during the rest of our short stay, including a tour of Óbidos, the ancient town crowned with a citadel dating to 713. Nearby, we marched around a nature park on serene Lake Óbidos, and enjoyed a yummy snack at Bar Regional O Covao Dos Musaranhos, a rustic café on a tranquil inlet. But the highlight was spotting a flock of at least a hundred flying flamingos—spectacular!

The super steep observation tower on Lake Obidos
A vast wild beach, a short drive north from Nazare

Strolling with our intrepid chum and her romping canines on a seemingly unending, wild beach north of Nazaré—mostly deserted except for a few fishermen—was marvelously surreal. And what fun to hop on the funicular that swooshed us up from the village to the attractive neighborhood of Sitio, home to the beacon-bedecked fortress overlooking the north beach where in winter the humongous waves crash. We opted to skip the return ride in favor of hoofing down the stairway back to the beach in preparation for yet another fab seafood meal.

Our good-bye dinner with our spirited friend at Taverna do 8 Ó 80 did not disappoint. The delightful company and the delectable cuisine at the contemporary beachfront restaurant, starring the exuberant waiter Paolo—Mr. Personality-Plus—was the perfect finale to our memorable city-to-shore Portuguese escapade.

Stay safe, well, and hopeful.

Bises, Gayle


Over the weekend, here in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, temps rose to the low 90s, and seem to be inching upward. So we’re especially pleased a beach getaway is in the works. Waves on the Med won’t match those of Nazaré by any stretch, but hopefully cool sea breezes will knock a few degrees off the thermometer. Stay tuned!

Provence to Portugal: Let’s eat!

At Lisbon Airport, a mural of the capital

From the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel, the Alps to the Pyrenees, France offers magnificent diversity on many levels to include landscapes, cuisines, and traditions. And with a hop, skip and a brief flight, even more variety awaits across the border.

Take Portugal, for example. The small country that ruled much of the world at one point in history, has topped our must-visit list for a couple of years now and we finally made it after a mere two-and-a-quarter-hour flight from Marseille, a sixty-minute drive from Saint-Rémy.

First stop, vibrant Lisbon, and afterward, via an adorable Fiat 500, north to the fishing village of Nazaré, known for its 100-foot waves.

Cruising cities docked in Lisbon

Bustling Lisbon was heaving with tourists, many arriving by ship—the humongous type that transports thousands. From our fourth floor apartment (82 steps, no elevator) overlooking the city—in the charming and wonderfully-located Chiado neighborhood—we observed Common Swifts and bats jetting by, and in the distance, the arrival of the floating cities.

Popular Tram #28 typically has standing room only

So it should not have been a surprise that on a sunny Saturday, the line for a train ticket to the popular seaside enclave of Casçais stretched to eternity. So instead, we focused on the city, huffing and puffing up and down all the very steep hills. To give our feet a break, we hopped aboard the quaint, old-world yellow tram #28 that rumbles through many of the neighborhoods—an efficient way to get an overview of the sprawling city. (Hint: Snagging a seat on this popular tram requires luck—unless you board at the beginning of one of its tours.)

With just five days in the metropolis, we limited our main objective to getting a feel for the Portuguese capital, or more precisely, a “taste” of it. Ralph had never visited and my last trip was decades ago when I’d been hauling a backpack and considered food as fuel. This time would be different—we were on a foodie tour, of sorts—relying on a Financial Times article (My Lovely Lisboa by Ajesh Patalay) about the fave culinary spots of Lisbon’s native son, Nuno Mendes, who earned a Michelin star for one of his restaurants in London. (His latest is the recently-opened Lisboeta, that he calls his “love letter to Lisbon.”).

Following in the famous chef’s footsteps, we found the hole in the wall called As Bifanas do Afonso. I ordered one of the acclaimed pork sandwiches served up by Afonso himself. He scooped up the marinating meat chunks from a huge pan fit for paella and deftly piled the succulent pieces on a soft, puffy bun, followed by squirts of a special sauce—extraordinarily delicious! Then onward we pushed across town to the huge covered market and the “oldest and only privately-owned kiosk in Lisbon,” Quiosque Sao Paulo. There we enjoyed more typical sandwiches—one with fried squid, which was marvelous!—plus a beer (1 euro) and a glass of local white wine (2 euros). The young wait staff was extremely welcoming and congenial, like nearly everyone we encountered in the frenetic city.

And we found visitors to be very friendly, as well. While waiting in line at tiny Taberna da rua das Flores at 5:30 PM!—the only way to get on the list to have half a chance of being seated—we met a like-minded foodie from Montreal who raved about a traditional place that he’d tried the previous evening—Principe do Calhariz. Both were fab.

We skipped Feitoria, the ultra contemporary and expensive restaurant—100 euros per person for the 9-course menu, drinks not included—and opted instead for Fidalgo, a down to earth, family-run eatery with tables on the street. The octopus with white bean stew was sensational.

When our trip to Casçais was thwarted for a second time—this day due to a train strike—we hopped on a ferry for the short ride to other side of the Tagus River. We walked around the weathered village of Cacilhas, had a coffee, and then, guess what, it was lunch time! Unprepared for this spontaneous side trip, I had no restaurant ideas, but Google came to the rescue. We walked along the river boardwalk past blocks of graffiti and the occasional fisherman until around noon when we arrived at our destination, Ponto Final. The restaurant staff was busy setting the tables, preparing for the 12:30 opening. One helpful guy paused to inform us that without a reservation, we’d need to queue up behind the three ladies seated on the nearby cement steps and hope for the best; at 12:30, they’d begin compiling a waiting list. Surprised at the formality at this out of the way, casual nook, we followed orders. We were soon enlightened by an Israeli tour guide who joined the dining hopefuls. She explained that a few years ago the place had been featured on the TV series, Somebody Feed Phil. Mystery solved! The grilled fish was excellent and the view of Lisbon outstanding!

On our last night, we ate next door to our apartment at a contemporary wine bar named someone with a wry sense of humor: Wine Not? Tapas ruled and that was a fine finale.

Next up, our stay in the surfing mecca, Nazaré—Provence to Portugal: Waves-Baby-Waves!

Until then, stay safe, well, and hopeful—Gayle


Before our Portugal trip, I so pleased and honored to make a presentation about The Birdwatcher’s Wife at the beloved independent, international bookstore/cafe in Aix-en-Provence called Book in Bar. If you get to Aix, pop by for a coffee and a good read—it’s opposite the stunning Caumont Art Center, a couple of blocks from the Cours Mirabeau:

Take a Seat in St. Rémy de Provence

The sun’s shining on Chez Lucien on the ring road.

Printemps has arrived and so have boatloads of tourists. Masks are off, the cafes are open, and when the soleil is shining, the terraces will fill up fast.

These stylish black and white classic bistro chairs won’t be vacant for long.

It’s the perfect time to take a seat and watch the world go by. People watching is always a fun pastime here in St. Rémy, but now with the warm weather and so many coming out of their cocoons–from far and wide–the town is a veritable beehive of activity.

So why not take a pause, pull up a chair and enjoy the show? Of course, there’s the dilemma of which seat suits you best–a woven classic, a stone fountain bench or a colorful Bentwood? With dozens of possibilities to chose from, the choice seems endless.

Before I bid you adieu until next time, I’d like to pause for a moment to consider those struggling to survive in Ukraine. There are so many ways to support them, but many experts suggest donating may be the best. A lot of information is available about trusted institutions to donate to, but the International Committee of the Red Cross typically ranks highly.

As our hearts go out to Ukraine, we count our blessings for the peace we are so fortunate to enjoy.

Peaceful Place Favier

Stay safe and well.

Bises, Gayle


Update on The Birdwatcher’s Wife. Last month, I gave a talk on the book at the lovely Manoir de L’Étang in enticing Mougins and next week I’ll do another at Book in Bar, the independent, international bookstore in Aix-en-Provence. Here’s the page from their newsletter. If you’re in the neighborhood, pop in and say hello!

Hiding in Plain Sight Around Saint-Rémy-de-Provence: Delightful Design Elements

Picturesque Baisse de Raillon, encircled by a wide trail, is a haven for birds and walkers alike. Surprisingly, it’s situated next to a massive logistics center, fifteen minutes from St. Rémy, near St. Martin de Crau.

Birds, birds, birds. We’re always keeping an eye out for them on our forays in and around Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, binoculars at the ready. But, more often than not, those winged creatures are too far away or don’t pose long enough to get their picture taken. And that’s when I happen to notice the spaces near the spots that our feathered friends have just commandeered as a runway.

As if for the first time, I’m struck by the delightful variety of some architectural and landscaping design elements hiding in plain sight.

Knock-knock, who’s there? Who needs a harsh buzzer when you can tap-tap-tap melodiously to announce your arrival?

You’ve Got Mail! An iron box, a splintered wood container, or a slot carved in stone–these boîte aux lettres are here to deliver news to you.

Fence Me In. Colorful and creative, these enticing enclosures are everywhere. Just look!

Push me Pull Me. Elaborate or plain, polished and gleaming or tarnished and dull, these door pulls will get you in.

Happy Spring to all!

Stay well and hopeful.

Bises, Gayle


Passion for Provence and The Birdwatcher’s Wife were featured in the March edition of the UK magazine, French Property News. You can read it here!

A Bicycle Balade in Saint-Rémy-de Provence

A sign announcing the new bicycle path.

Smooth and wide, Saint-Rémy’s brand-spanking-new bicycle path is a winner!

The new path is smooth, wide, and protected…

On a whim, Ralph and I recently tested out the section that runs east from Saint-Rémy between a canal and the D99 highway, dipping inland here and there to the cut-off to the sweet village of Mollégès, a little over ten kilometers.

This portion of the piste cyclable called Le Méditerranée en vélo, The Meditarranean by Bike, is completely flat with a few sweeping turns, so it was easy to go mindless and take in the scenery. Surprisingly, on a sunny day without a whiff of breeze, we had it mostly to ourselves. We sailed along at a good clip, stopping along the way to investigate new perspectives. At first we came to a pen of very shaggy brown cows, which, I imagine, are going to be the stars of many an Instagram post, once the spring cyclists arrive. At a gardening center, we saw sturdy century-old olive trees on offer and, on a side trail, we found snails for sale. Signs to some prestigious wineries like Domaine Romanin and Terres Blances tempted us. Maybe next time, we’ll pop in for a tasting!   

Oops, the end of the line…

Much to our dismay, the path stopped abruptly about two hundred meters before the round-about, where we planned to take a left and ride the two kilometers on the road to Mollégès. We tried to continue on the bumpy undeveloped terrain, but we soon lost interest with the bobble-head action. So we ducked onto the busy D99 and peddled like mad because there is little room for cars to pass. Luckily, no auto, or worse yet, a transport truck, tried to overtake us before we reached our turn-off—whew!

Conveniently, there is a boulangerie right there, so we picked up a tasty sandwich de poulet made from a baguette de graines for our déjeuner before continuing on. But not before popping into one of my very favorite consignment shops across the street.

A terrific consignment store–always fun to browse.

No treasures did I find, but was fun to browse for a few minutes. (I could have returned in the car for pick-up!) And I was happy to learn from one of the owners that the path would, indeed, be continued—yay!

Then it was back in the saddle to continue the two kilometers to Mollégès. In a small park by the post office, we sat on a stone wall and munched our lunch, watching Redstarts flit between the grass and trees. Then we cycled through the charming village and onward to Saint-Rémy via some back roads through the fields. Guessing where to make a left to return to the cycle path, we moseyed along until eventually we got it in our sights. We cruised into our driveway two and a half hours after we began our spontaneous mini adventure–a mere warm-up ride for serious cyclists–thoroughly delighted with our discoveries so close to home. Mille fois merci, Départment Bouches de Rhône!

Happy St. Valentine’s Day or Saint-Valentin in these parts!


If you should take a peek at The Birdwatcher’s Wife–available from booksellers, including Amazon–I’d love to hear your comments or read them on Amazon or Goodreads!

You can get it here: The Birdwatchers Wife on Amazon

Bonne Année 2022 from Frosty Saint-Rémy!

For 2021-22, the Carrieres de Lumieres presents “Cezanne, the Master of Provence.”

I hope you all enjoyed some lovely holiday moments, despite restrictions. And that all is humming along as smoothly as it possibly can in this brand new year, which we hope will prove to be a healthier, happier, and more peaceful one across the globe.

This sweet boutique in the historic center keeps the holiday spirit going into January.

Here in Saint-Rémy, the temps have dropped, often dipping to freezing overnight, leaving the field next door frosted with a coat of silvery fairy dust. L’hiver has definitely arrived!

Place Favier, bustling in summer, slumbers peacefully in winter.

By late morning, though, often the sun is shining, making for some pleasant walks—with binoculars, of course. Within a few minutes, we can reach several paths through the Alpilles, always on the look out for a blue streak of a Jay whizzing by. And not far off, there are some nifty chemins near Les Baux, Lac de Barreau, by the village of Eyragues, or over the hill to Fontvieille.

Remote-controlled sailboats cruise a pond near Aix. Can you spot Mt. Sainte-Victoire in the distance?
A wide path circles Lac de Barreau, near Saint-Remy.

Aside from nature forays, there’s a special cultural event we look forward to in winter–the stunning quarry-turned-art venue, called Carrières de Lumières. (It’s open year-round, but we save it for winter when we have it practically to ourselves.) Photos are projected onto the monumental walls of the multi-chambered interior, accompanied by rousing musical scores from classic symphonies to pop tunes. Themes change yearly and just recently we finally witnessed the current show, “Cezanne, Master of Provence,” which began early 2021 and just closed.  (The program also included some abstract works by the Russian painter, Wassily Kandinsky.)  

After a day out and about, we return to the homestead to stoke a soothing fire and toss around travel ideas–to be realized when venturing further afield is possible.

Stunning sunsets like this one are such a treat.

But before we settle in to warm our toes by the fire, we take a peek at what’s happening outside. Sometimes we are wowed by a fabulous sunset, splashing magenta and blue or mauve and hot orange across the winter sky.

Stay safe and well—and hopeful!

Bises, Gayle


The Birdwatercher’s Wife is out in the world! Here below, displayed at Book in Bar, the terrific international book store/cafe in Aix.

JOYEUSES FÊTES to all from Saint-Rémy

A drummer soaking up warm December rays in Saintes Maries de Mer (Camargue).

Season’s Greetings from our maison to yours.

Wishing You a Joyful Holiday Time

and a

New Year Filled with Good Health, Happiness & Hope.

Mille fois merci for your wonderful support over the year as I was trying to bring closure to The Birdwatcher’s Wife. Your kind words always gave me a much needed boost!

Golden light illuminates St. Martin Church, across from the Marché de Noël, which boosts a petting zoo.

As we march into 2022, above all, stay safe and well,

Bises, Gayle & Ralph


I’m pretty sure you know the book is available on Amazon–print and Kindle–but don’t forget, it also can be ordered through any book store. Happy reading, and if you’re noticing birds more, that would be wonderful!

Postcards from Palm Springs, California

Fun in the sun–that’s the big draw for this desert oasis, particularly in late fall. As the year winds down, here in Palm Springs, the party-o-meter revs up. Snowbirds flock in from northern climes to soak up the rays while pursuing their special joie de vivre. They whack dimpled white balls around emerald courses and smack fuzzy yellow ones across concrete courts. They hike the hills and bike the flats. They lounge by the pool and marvel at the windmills. They wave at parading floats and sip margaritas on toasty terraces. Birders, of course, bird pretty much everywhere. And these sun-seekers do all this—under azure skies, that rarely host a dark cloud.

During our stay, Ralph and I have followed the same routine. Though we did duck into the fabulous Palm Springs Art Museum once, most of the time, we made the most of the great outdoors. Come, follow in our footsteps—you won’t even need sunscreen!

Andreas Indian Canyon’s unusual rock formation.
A photo with Marilyn is a must-have for many tourists.
Beware: Mountain lion and bear make tracks in Big Morongo Canyon Preserve!

Fireworks finale concludes the Veterans’ Day parade 2021.

We’re heading home to Saint-Rémy in a few days, so the December post will shine the spotlight back on la belle in France. For sure, we’ll need to bundle up to handle the dipping temperatures. But winter in Provence also means snuggling in front of a blazing fire. Perhaps with a vin chaud in hand?

Stay safe and well.

Bises, Gayle

PS The Birdwatcher’s Wife is out in paperback and Kindle through Amazon and book stores. The perfect prezzie for a Francophile friend, a birder–expert or budding–or a bucket list quest enthusiast, perhaps? If you get a chance to take a peek, I hope you enjoy it—thoroughly!

Quoi de neuf in Palm Springs?

What’s new in Palm Springs, California, the dazzling oasis of sunshine, Palm trees, and oceans of sand? Just 113 miles from Hollywood, it’s long been a getaway for celebrities hoping to escape the paparazzi. And for snow birds who flock in from Canada and chilly eastern US climes, the vibrant town offers a respite from harsh winters. But for me–PS, as the locals call it–is simply my hometown.

Tourists gather round the Forever Marilyn statue during the weekly Thursday street fair.

Though I’m a native Washingtonian, we moved to the desert town when I was in high school, and during my undergrad and grad school years at UCLA, I was often in the desert city. Visits continued for decades since my mother lived here for over 40 years.

And right now, Ralph and I are once again in my old stomping grounds. It’s a do-over trip of sorts. We were last here in March 2020, but we’d barely touched down when we boarded a direct flight back to France when the ferocity of the pandemic became known. Since then a lot has happened.

For one thing, Marilyn is back! Love her or loath her, the 26-foot statue of Marilyn Monroe, known as “Forever Marilyn,” was formally installed near the Palm Springs Art Museum last June. The sculpture of the star, who was “discovered” in PS, was created by John Seward Johnson II. It reflects the iconic pose of her holding down her billowing skirt from the 1955 movie, The Seven Year Itch. The town’s promoters wanted Marilyn in the public eye once again—she’d been in storage after a two-year stint from 2012 to 2014—because the statue had been a boon for tourism. Tourists flocked to have their photos taken with her.

New Cody Place condos are listed “from $890,753.”

Other discoveries include condominium complexes that are sprouting everywhere. Huge lots that have been vacant forever are now construction sites. And, sadly, the See’s Candies store at La Plaza in the center of town—has closed. Not that I’m a chocolate buff, but it was a historic landmark, an island of stability in a sea of change.

Sadly, Sees Candies, on La Plaza in the center of town, has closed.

On the bright side, for the first time, we saw masses of folks working out together in Ruth Hardy Park and pop up art. A work called Popsicles, by John Cerney, is temporarily on display near the antiques district on the south side of town.

Energetic folks workout in Ruth Hardy Park.
Temporary pop-up artwork, Popsicles, by John Cerney

But some things remain and are thriving. Old world Sherman’s Deli is going strong—there’s always a wait at this go-to place for kosher classics. And Welwood Murray Memorial Library, which opened in 1940, is still open to the public, offering WiFi and computer access. Though now a visitor center and research library for the Palm Springs Historical Society, it prevails, thankfully. Over the years, my mom carried many a petition to save the building–designed by architect John Porter Clark–from developers.

Sherman’s Deli is always a must-do.
The library in downtown PS opened in 1940.

And on the natural side of things, you can still count on roadrunners scurrying around, stunning Vermillion Flycatchers (try Ruth Hardy Park), and zipping hummingbirds. And, of course, there’s the big, perpetually blue Palm Springs sky.

A roadrunner takes a morning constitutional.

That’s the latest from PS. More news from France upon our return.

Wherever you are, stay safe and well.

Bises, Gayle


The Birdwarcher’s Wife is now out in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon. Shortly, it will be available to order through book stores.