Where French Cuisine Meets Fine Art in the Desert

Café des Beaux-Arts brings a taste of Paris to El Paseo.
Story By: Marissa Willman
Café des Beaux-Arts
Photography courtesy Café des Beaux-Arts.

A taste of fine French fare awaits on El Paseo, where Café des Beaux-Arts has been serving bistro favorites for more than 30 years.

After completing school in Switzerland for hospitality management, Didier Bloch worked in hotels and restaurants throughout Europe and eventually landed in Palm Desert, where he opened Café des Beaux-Arts on El Paseo in 1993.

“One of the reasons that attracted me to Palm Desert is that I found out that you’d work in the winter and close in the summer,” Bloch shares. “And because I’m French, I thought that would be great, so I could spend my summers in France.”

Now a fixture of the popular shopping and dining promenade, Café des Beaux-Arts opens for lunch and dinner daily, with breakfast also on offer Friday through Monday. Guests return time and again for French classics like crêpes, salads, and escargot, which Bloch cites as some of the most popular items on the menu.

“For breakfast and lunch, we have a lot of crêpes that people seem to really like. In the mornings, we have ham and cheese, as well as chicken and mushroom. We also have shrimp and crab, which are really popular,” Bloch says. “At lunchtime, the most popular menu items are quiche Lorraine, our chicken curry salad with papaya, and salade niçoise. Dinner is a little more sophisticated with duck, escargot, rack of lamb, and pepper steak.”


Guests enjoying drinks.

Owner Didier Bloch.

Owner Didier Bloch.


The menu changes only slightly each season, with consistency in dishes, quality ingredients, and service bringing the café a roster of regular customers. “At the end of each season, we sit down with the chef and see what’s working and what’s not,” Bloch says. “We try to add what’s in at the time, like beets or avocado.”

Café des Beaux-Arts translates to “café of the fine arts,” a nod to the paintings seen throughout the restaurant. The artwork is done by Bloch’s wife, Christina.

“I use mostly acrylic and sometimes collage,” she says. “I started out painting women, somewhat like abstract expressionism. I also do bighorn sheep and a lot of cows. I just started branching out into desert-inspired landscapes.”

Not only do customers return year after year for French comfort food and fine art — the Blochs’ employees tend to stay for the long haul, too. “What’s special about my restaurant is that my employees stay,” Didier says. “We have employees who have been with me for over 30 years. When our regulars come, they know they will have the same waiter who knows their name, and our patrons really appreciate that.”