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travel

French Kiss

Never mind what the GOP has to say. Paris is burning… again. Even the Eiffel Tower sparkles these days (for ten minutes every hour on the hour, starting at sunset). And that’s just the frosting on the tarte. Here’s the skinny on where to…

Nest
Right Bank: The 8th Arrondissement? Boring? No more. The recently refurbished Hotel de la Tremoille (14, rue de la Tremoille, 8th; 01 56 52 14 00; metro: Alma-Marceau), in the heart of the white-hot Golden Triangle, has spacious rooms that are tres moderne. Definitely hit Terence Conran’s Senso (01 56 52 14 14) restaurant on the ground floor.

Hotel de la Tremoille

Left Bank: Hotel Bel Ami (7-11 rue St. Benoit, 6th; 01 42 61 53 53; metro: St. Germain-des-Pres) is still the destination for thriftier travelers who refuse to skimp on style. Services include free Internet access in the chic lobby. Also, Les Deux Magots and Cafe Flore are just around the corner.

Hotel Bel Ami

Ingest
Everyone’s atwitter about Kong (1, rue du Pont Neuf, 1st; 01 40 39 09 00; metro: Pont Neuf), the new Philippe Stark-designed restaurant atop the Kenzo boutique. Splendid Seine views complement the playful Asian decor and swankster scene. Come dancing on Thursday nights. If you can get in.

If not, stop into Lo Sushi (1, rue du Pont Neuf, 1st; 01 42 33 09 09; metro: Pont Neuf) in the basement, a veritable study in conveyor-belt cuisine (everyone sits at the counter) and flirting. (Like the gamine across the bar? Send her an e-mail from the terminal in front of you.)

Bar food gets even more high-concept at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon (5, rue de Montalembert, 7th; 01 42 22 56 56; metro: Rue du Bac). Show up early, because no matter what time you go, there will be an interminable wait. It’s the hottest restaurant in Paris, and, natch, they don’t take reservations.

Les Bookinistes booked? Head next door to the newer Ze Kitchen Galerie (4, rue des Grands-Augustins, 01 44 32 00 32, 6th; metro: Saint Michel) for modern French cuisine on the banks of the Seine.

Want a side of classic with your trendy? Alain Ducasse and Thierry de la Brosse (of the famous L’Ami Louis) have revamped Aux Lyonnais (32, rue Saint-Marc, 2nd; 01 42 96 65 04; metro: Bourse), which has been bistro-ing since 1890.

Aux Lyonnais

Invest
Paris is only, like, the world capital of fashion. Don’t trip over yourself.

Classic afternoon-wasters include the stretch along rue Saint Honore (bonjour, Hermes) and streets in the 6th Arrondissement such as rue de Rennes and rue du Four between St. Germain des Pres and the giant Bon Marche department store (where you’ll find fave Parisian-girl boutiques Paul & Joe, Zadig & Voltaire, Vanessa Bruno, and more).

Colette still retains its cult status, but rival shop Maria Luisa (women’s: 2, rue Cambon, 1st; 01 47 03 96 15; metro: Concorde) is where the of-the-moment set goes for its Demeulemeester-Comme-Margiela fix. Three other Maria Luisa boutiques (men’s, accessories, mixed) are just around the corner on rue du Mont-Thabor.

What do you get when you let the muse become the designer? Former YSL darling and French icon Loulou de la Falaise has opened her first boutique (7, rue de Bourgogne, 7th; 01 45 51 42 22; metro: Assemblee Nationale), which houses an elegant collection that proves Tom Ford isn’t St. Laurent’s only heir.

Speaking of, recent fashionable additions to the Golden Triangle include Gucci (60, avenue Montaigne, 8th; 01 56 69 80 80; metro: George V), Jean Paul Gaultier (44, avenue George V, 8th; 01 42 86 05 05; metro: George V), and Balenciaga (10, avenue George V, 8th; 01 47 20 21 11; metro: George V), which just got a face-lift. In other designer news, John Galliano (384-386, rue Saint Honore; 1st; 01 55 35 40 40; metro: Madeleine) recently made his retail debut in a stunning glass storefront.

Canal St. Martin (metro: Stalingrad) is close enough for easy access, offbeat enough to feel like a find. Stroll along the quai de la Seine and stop to read the classic movie lines that adorn the walls of the MK2 movie theater (Que la force soit avec toi). Then pick up clothes and fun household trinkets at the charming Antoine et Lili (95, quai de Valmy, 10th; 01 40 37 41 55; metro: Republique) boutique, and don’t miss their cafe on the corner. The collection of girlie dresses and skirts at Stella Cadente (93, quai de Valmy, 10th; 01 42 09 27 00; metro: Republique) will make everyone at home vert with envy.

Antoine and Lili

And, most important, where to…

Stop for Une Coupe de Champagne
Whether the craving strikes at Sunday brunch, tea time, or midnight, hit the bar at Pershing Hall (49, rue Pierre Charron, 8th; 01 58 36 58 00; metro: George V). The hotel, in the former American Legionnaire building, is famous for its striking vertical garden.

Pershing Hall

Pretend You’re a Hilton Sister
Dance the night away at La Suite (40, avenue George V, 8th; 01 53 57 49 49; metro: George V), the latest from nightlife mavens Cathy and David Guetta (of Les Bains fame). The music is rocking, and the bouncers aren’t as nasty as they’d like to seem.

Get Sweet on Something
Forget La Duree. The best sweets in Paris are now confected at Pierre Herme (72, rue Bonaparte, 6th; 01 43 54 47 77; metro: St. Sulpice), the eponymous shop from the former pastry chef at Fauchon. Rose macaroons are the perfect pick-me-up after an afternoon of shopping.

Get Sweet on Someone
The bar at the Trokadero Dokhan (117, rue Lauriston, 16th; 01 53 65 66 99; metro: Trocadero) is stylish and discreet — just the way they like it in Paris. Sneak a ride in the elevator, which is lined entirely in Louis Vuitton monogrammed leather.

Get a Shot of Culture
Overwhelmed by the Louvre and the Musee d’Orsay? Visit Musee Jacquemart-Andre (158, boulevard Haussmann, 8th; 01 42 89 04 91; metro: Miromesnil), which affords a glimpse of the good life circa 1875, and Musee Nissim de Camondo (63, rue de Monceau, 8th; 01 45 63 26 32; metro: Villiers) for its exquisitely preserved collection of 18th-century furniture and tapestries.

Musee Jacquemart-Andre

Survey the Sparkle
It’s been trendy for years, but the view from Georges (19, rue Beauborg, 4th; 01 44 78 47 99; metro: Rambuteau), the Costes brothers’ restaurant on the top floor of the Pompidou Center, can’t be beat.

We’d ask you to send a postcard, but you clearly won’t have the time.