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Harpa, Reykjavík, Iceland

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, August 11 07:00 AM

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Would you expect that--from a country that produced Bjork, still believes in elves, and noshes on putrefied shark--the newest cultural endeavor would be a restrained affair? Iceland's World Architecture Community Award-winning Harpa concert hall in Reykjavik has a shimmering glass facade by Olafur Eliasson that refracts and reflects ever-changing light and weather conditions. Inside, the main hall is a 1,800-seat womb of rich scarlet and finely tuned acoustics.

At night, LEDs embedded in the building's crystalline skin give off a multicolored glow. A structural riff on the northern lights, it's an atonal visual symphony of form and function.

Photo: Courtesy of Bára Kristinsdóttir

L'Opéra Restaurant, Paris

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, July 07 11:32 AM

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After 136 years on the drawing board and three near launches, L'Opéra Restaurant at Paris' legendary Palais Garnier finally opened to the public on Monday. And it's every bit as theatrical as you'd expect.

Starchitect Odile Decq's huge white-plaster shapes curve organically around the restaurant's columns, and deep ruby chairs and carpets add Puccini-esque drama. The food from chef Christophe Aribert of Grenoble's two-Michelin-starred Les Terrasses is equally showstopping. Star dishes include roasted guinea fowl, creamed artichoke and foie gras soup, and two versions of house-smoked salmon (classic, with blini and caviar, and contemporary, with brioche and a horseradish and mustard sorbet).

Our inner fat lady ain't singing here. She's eating.

Photo: Courtesy of L'Opéra Restaurant

Prices and other information were accurate at press time, but are subject to change. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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