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Saint James Paris, France

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, November 14 01:24 PM

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You like your vacations to be a little bit country and a little bit rock 'n' roll. Well, it just so happens that the hottest number in Paris these days also happens to be its most sylvan: The freshly refurbished Saint James is a little slice of Loire château life in the City of Lights.

Set on the site of the world's first hot-air balloon launch, in 1783, this 19th-century property is all high-flying whimsy, thanks to boho goddess Bambi Sloan's redesign. A riot of patterns--toile and stripes, brocade and herringbone--lends a playful decadence to the 48 rooms. As a hotel guest, you can rub elbows with tony locals at the Saint James's private social club, or visit the luxurious spa that has gemstones as its theme. And after an exhausting day of shopping and Champagne sipping, where better to escape the flurry of Paris than the hotel's perfectly manicured gardens, hidden away behind mature trees?

Photo: Davide Lovatti courtesy of Saint James Paris

Maison Ladurée, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, September 07 11:47 AM

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When recounting the great New York City cupcake wars of the early 21st century, sugar-charged historians will note August 30, 2011, as the day everything changed, when chocolate and vanilla, red velvet and peanut butter all banded together against a new common enemy: the macaron at Maison Ladurée's new Upper East Side shop.

The first stateside outpost of the venerable Parisian patisserie presents a pastel crayon box of a Belle Époque teahouse. Chocolates, fruit jellies, and miniature pastries vie for attention, but Ladurée's signature sweet is the double-decker macaron--two feather-light crispy shells sandwiching a soft, chewy center--a delicacy the company lays claim to inventing in 1930. There's classic caramel with salted butter, black-currant violet, rose, and pistachio, as well as seasonal flavors like almond Morello cherry and strawberry-mint. Sound the death knell to Upper East Side diets.

Photo: Courtesy of abbietabbie, Flickr, Getty Images

Holographic Gate Agents, Orly Airport, Paris

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, September 01 07:00 AM

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Ever since Arnold Schwarzenegger had Total Recall and Princess Leia begged for Obi-Wan Kenobi, we've been waiting for our hologram fantasy to become a reality. Now, at Paris's Orly Airport, we're one step closer: holographic gate agents.

An image of an airport employee beamed onto an acrylic silhouette greets passengers and displays gate information. Orly's virtual assistants can be found in Hall 40 of Terminal Ouest, the airport's testing ground for emerging technologies. These agents always smile, never take a bathroom break, and don't go on strike (yet). It's a strange new world, indeed.

Photo: Courtesy Aéroports de Paris / Jean-Pierre Gaborit

Maison Martin Margiela Hotel, Paris

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, July 18 12:23 PM

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Amid the hand-sewn baubles and boundary-bending styles of this month's Haute Couture Week in Paris, something sexy launched that we all can slip in to: the Maison Martin Margiela hotel.

The 17-room hotel near the Champs-Élysées dates back to 1864 as the homestead of Princess d'Essling--but under Margiela's postmodern eye, it has been elevated to the realm of stagecraft. White-on-white on grays and black, it's all sharp lines, furnishings faceted like diamonds, and elaborate trompe-l'oeil paintings. Think a little surreal, a little Kubrick 2001, and a whole lot of jaw-dropping cool. Style like this never goes out of season.

Photo: Courtesy of Martine Houghton / Maison Martin Margiela

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

Ralph Lauren's Classic Sports Cars, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, April 22 01:27 PM

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The fashionable set rarely summers in Paris (that's what the Riviera is for). But Ralph Lauren is breaking with tradition by sending some of his favorite cars for a summer sojourn at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in the western wing of the Louvre.

Starting this weekend and running through August 28, the museum will exhibit 17 automotive gems from the designer's extensive collection, including a 1938 lipstick red Alfa Romeo 8C (pictured), and a 1955 Jaguar XKD that would look right at home in the Batcave. Still in perfect working order, the cars are more than worthy companions to the museum's more famous masterpieces. It's not like the Mona Lisa can take you for a spin along the Champs-Élysées.

Photo: Courtesy of Michael Furman

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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