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The Ile de la Cité at dawn  

France may be suffering from un coup de blues lately (last week’s general strike capped a period in which the country lost the 2012 Olympics, voted non to Europe, watched its marginalized youth set flame to the suburbs, and saw tear gas drifting across the boulevard St. Germain as students in the streets protested diminishing job security). But in some ways, the capital city has never felt more charged. With President Jacques Chirac on the way out, and a female Socialist candidate—Ségolène Royal, who’s got Bloomberg-level approval ratings—saying she’ll run, there’s a nationwide hankering for change that hasn’t been felt in a long time. Things are loosening up at a local level, too. Mayor Bertrand Delanoë is trying to invigorate the street life by bringing back the popular Paris Plage (an organized public “beach” on the Seine) and Les Nuits Blanches (an all-night, citywide chance to go to museums, monuments, restaurants, and galleries) this summer. The fine arts are charging hard, too. In the past six months, the Grand Palais’s Central Hall, the Petit Palais, and the Modern Art Museum of the City of Paris have reopened to the public; L’Orangerie and the Museum of Decorative Arts will soon follow. In June comes the opening of the vast, modernist Musée du Quai Branly, dedicated to primitive and tribal arts. Events may get dramatic at times, but never fear; in Paris, eternal pleasures (warm croissants, surly cab drivers) endure even as the next new thing gets ready to burst on the scene.
- T.I.

If you like the modern aesthetic of the Four Seasons, you’ll love the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme.

If you like mingling with the eccentric regulars at the Chelsea Hotel, you’ll love the Hôtel Costes.

If you like ogling the fashion editors at the Bryant Park Hotel, you’ll love the Meurice.

Next: Parisian Fashion Temptations

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