If You Love… Back Bay And The South End
Go To Paris For… A posh European scene and first-rate gastronomic pursuit
By Sascha de Gersdorff
Paris has always been split into ideological camps neatly divided by the Seine. The Left Bank airs a bohemian vibe, its narrow side streets peppered with bookstores and boulangeries. By contrast, the Right Bank is all bourgeois, with pricey cafés, grand townhouses, and fashion nucleus Avenue Montaigne. Bostonians are intimately familiar with such division-they spend time shopping on the Back Bay’s elite Newbury Street before wandering “left” (or, in our case, south) for a dose of artsy bonhomie in the South End. As Paris’s new class of “bobos,” short for bourgeois-bohemians, is discovering, merging worlds only yields more enjoyment.
Long favored by artists and politicians (and politicians’ wives-Carla Bruni is a regular), the Art Deco-style bar at the Hotel Lutetia, with its red banquettes and modern sculpture, is the place for cocktails on the Left Bank (33-1-49-54-46-46, lutetia-paris.com). The 1,500-square-foot Arman Suite, named for the famed French artist, has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and an entryway lit by in-carpet twinkle lights. Run by the roguish Philippe Renard, the Lutetia’s Michelin-starred Le Restaurant Paris was decorated by über-designer Sonia Rykiel. Outside are the bistros of St. Germain-des-Prés and the much- lauded Restaurant Hélène Darroze, where a foie gras crème brûlée with cappuccino foam is a typical dish (33-1-42-22-00-11, helenedarroze.com).
Across the river, the Hôtel Plaza Athénée boasts a bar of a different kind, with gas fireplaces and a section called the “bathtub” for its giant tub-shaped sculpture suspended from the ceiling (33-1-53-67-66-65, plaza-athenee-paris.com). Many of the five-star hotel’s suites come with Eiffel Tower views and bathrooms bigger than most Boston apartments; the Terrace Eiffel Suite has a roof deck.
If Chanel started selling groceries, its stores would look like Fauchon, a luxury food purveyor that has made an art out of wine, cheese, and swank provisions (33-1-70-39-38-00, fauchon.com). Also on the Right is the hip Café de l’Homme, where bright young things sip Bordeaux on a terrace directly above the Eiffel Tower (33-1-44-05-30-15, restaurant-cafedelhomme.com).