TRAVEL BY DESIGN
DESIGN FINDS (AND FOOD, AND FASHION AND CULTURE) MAKE A TRIP TO THE GLOBE'S MOST ROMANTIC CITY WORTH EVERY EURO
Ahh, April in Paris. We've all heard it. But why April? It's all about that famous springtime light, known around the globe for its ability to accentuate the varied patinas of the city's diverse buildings, and for its reflection off the Seine.
Unbeknownst to many, Paris is a top destination for design cognoscenti seeking traditional and cutting-edge interior design and home furnishings. There's a whole cornucopia of interior design galleries and home-furnishings boutiques waiting to be found in les bonnes addresses—the French way of describing insider secrets nestled throughout the city's iconic 17th-century buildings. Get a detailed street map of the neighborhoods and set out on foot (or hop on a bicycle from a one of the many Vélib stands throughout the city, www.velib.paris.fr) to find out what's new in the old city of Paris.
Begin your stay in the newly renovated Art Deco–style Eiffel Suite at the posh Hôtel Plaza-Athenée (25 Avenue Montaigne, www.plaza-athenee-paris.com) and you'll discover why the magic of Paris still enchants today. Gaze at the Eiffel Tower from your private terrace or soak in the bathtub of the master bath suite. Fans of the Normandie luxury cruise ship might prefer the Hilton Arc de Triomphe (51-57 rue de Courcelles, www.arcdetriompheparis.hilton.com), which is loaded with Ruhlmann and Art Deco design elements. Take a little side trip on the same side of the Seine to the neighborhood between Etoile and Trocadéro to visit the Baccarat Gallery (11 place des Etats-Unis, www.baccarat.com), a stunning maison with a dazzling display of decorative arts and Philippe Starck's Cristal Room masterpiece, which is also a fine gem of a restaurant.
Cross the Seine by bridge—past the Louvre and over to the Left Bank—and you'll be in the 6th Arrondissement, or St. Germain des Près, the cradle of Parisian chic. Step into Galerie Jacques Lacoste (12 rue de Seine)—yes, his grandfather was the famous tennis player and creator of the eponymous polo shirt—to see a carefully curated offering of decorative arts from the 1950s and those iconic red armchairs by Jean Royère. Queue up at Maison Ladurée (21 rue Bonaparte, www.laduree.fr) for your macaron fix, then stop for a drink at the cozy lobby bar at L'Hotel (13 rue des Beaux-Arts, www.l-hotel.com), where you can marvel at the spectacular atrium stairwell that leads to 20 opulently decorated guest rooms, including the one where Oscar Wilde lived out his last days.
A few blocks away, the elegant 7th Arrondissement is bursting with a wondrous host of interesting design and antiques boutiques. Get the look of a classic-style Parisian apartment with a visit to a+b Kasha's Art of the Pied à Terre showroom (16 rue de l'Université, www.abkasha.com) and see examples of exquisitely detailed apartment renovations. Galerie Hervouet (40 rue de l'Université), down the block, has an eclectic array of late 20th-century decorative art and killer oversized mirrors. Visit Sentou (26 Boulevard Raspail, www.sentou.fr), a spacious two-floor boutique specializing in modern home furnishings by bold-faced names including Arne Jacobsen and Jean Prouvé, textiles from Maison Georgette and ceramics from Brigitte de Bazelaire. And don't miss the French equivalent of "shabby chic" at Blanc d'Ivoire (104 rue du Bac, wwww.blancdivoire.fr).
As you make your way back across the Seine at sunset, you might be able to take in one more gallery in the Marais: Hervé van der Straeten's eponymous home store (11 rue Ferdinand Duval). A former jewelry designer for Saint Laurent and Lacroix, he has that French flair that proves that Paris gets it right every time.