How fantastic life seems beneath the palm trees dotted along the pavements of Beverly Hills. And how healthy it seems too, amidst the joggers and muscled athletes working out in the sunshine of Venice Beach... There’s no doubt about it, Los Angeles is enormous – the second largest city in the United States with almost 4 million inhabitants – stretching along the Pacific Ocean for over 100 kilometres. And it’s incredibly diverse as well: the “urban” difference between West Hollywood and South Central is striking. But it also rivals the world’s greatest capitals in terms of power and magic, thanks to its casual beauty, its old-fashioned exoticism and its diverse architecture, combining cultivated nostalgia with the breathtakingly avant-garde. Countless filmmakers, including Robert Altman, Michael Mann and David Lynch, have taken up the challenge to illustrate its diversity. Los Angeles, the home of cinema, with Hollywood devouring talent from all over the world like a cyclone, never fails to produce the most beautiful, light-drenched and promotional lifestyle you can imagine.
But reducing Los Angeles to its studios and budding actors detracts from its many other charms and treasures. Film buffs will want to admire the stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard, visit Universal Studios Hollywood or take to the hills to get a picture of themselves next to the Hollywood Sign. Foodies will fall in love with US media darlings, chefs Ludo Lefebvre, Philippe Blanchet and his Champs-Elysées Café, Romuald Guiot and his inspired patisseries... Because many French chefs have set up their kitchens in LA, a hotspot for international gastronomy. A melting pot of different influences, the cuisine here reflects this multifaceted city. You can choose between sophisticated Chinese and Italian nouvelle cuisine, between classic French dishes and a spicy Haitian treat or a burger with a purist organic twist…
Music-lovers will be in heaven at the Hollywood Bowl, whose amphitheatre can be seen on countless record sleeves. Sinatra, Dylan, The Beatles, The Doors... all the greats have played here. Art is also one of the city’s biggest draw cards. At the LACMA, a large art museum that sits in the shadow of the tower of the Variety Magazine building, you can see works by Picasso, Lichtenstein and Giacometti, to name but a few. There is a plethora of visual wonders to marvel at here, as well as pavilions dedicated to cultures from around the world. The MOCA is the city’s centre for modern art. Another landmark not to be missed is the Getty Center, with its architecture inspired by an Italian village, and there is also the California Science Center.
Make your way along the coast to experience the Californian Way of Life to the fullest: the beautiful bathers of Malibu, bronzing themselves on the beach or at one of the area's trendy bars; the peaceful atmosphere of Santa Monica and its villas by the sea; the attractions of the Santa Monica Pier and its legendary big wheel; or Venice Beach and its atmosphere combining an obsession with body image and hippyish peace and love. The city is no stranger to contradictions. Even more so in terms of its landscape, with the Griffith Park and the Griffith Observatory, locations for Rebel Without a Cause starring James Dean, offering delighted visitors a touch of greenery and finesse. Young and old alike flock to Disneyland, the theme park dedicated to the famous Mickey Mouse and his creator, the incredible Walt Disney.
The City of Angels is also about luxury, bling and a sometimes an exorbitant level of extravagance. In West Hollywood – a famous gay-friendly district – the windows of garages selling vintage racing cars attract the eyes of envious passers-by. On the renowned Rodeo Drive, the biggest American labels rub shoulders with their international counterparts. Giorgio Beverly Hills, an iconic address, might well have disappeared, but its replacements are champing at the bit, each one coming up with more inventive ways than the last to satisfy the most demanding clients. On Melrose Avenue, affluent fashionistas can shop ‘til they drop, or at The Grove and its pedestrian streets, or the Farmers Market, a “right-on” market selling organic vegetables and environmentally-friendly products. Los Angeles offers plenty of opportunities to fill your mind with memories and your suitcase with souvenirs.