After staging a spectacular Chinese New Year parade on the Champs-Elysées, Paris is revving up for a “Zen’n’zestful” spring. It’s time to turn a new leaf…
“Made in Paname”
Stacks of stylish events are in store: some with an exotic “Année de la Chine” flavor, others “Made in Paname” — the title of perennial Parisian nightlife diva Régine’s brand-new “neo-Parigot” CD. (In concert for three weeks at the Casino de Paris, in May)
Everybody’s talkin’ about the Smart Forfour. As its name suggests… the latest version of DaimlerChrysler’s “itsy, bitsy, teeny, weenie” urban car — ready for delivery by April — seats four.
“Zen” has become a business buzzword, liberally applied to anything from bank services (Credit Lyonnais) to supermarket promos (Monoprix). Spotted on the Left Bank… A zippy, zany bar/restaurant dubbed CityZen (73 rue de Seine, 6e, M° Mabillon, 01 43 29 01 22 — happy hours 4-7pm, brunch Sat & Sun 1:30-5pm). In the heart of the Right Bank’s snooty Passy area… A chic resto/tearoom named PassyZen — not quite as Zen as might be expected in that it’s permanently packed with piquant Parisians, savoring its scrumptious Mediterannean menu based on market-fresh produce (Mon-Sat, 9am to 6pm, 35 rue de l’Annonciation, 16e, M° La Muette, tel: 01 45 25 95 55).
For a taste of “the real thing” head for “Le Parcours des Cinq Eléments.” This distinctly Zen ten-day festival hosted by the “Les Temps du Corps” Chinese Culture Center illustrates Taoist philosophy’s interpretation of life’s cycles and the seasons via five living tableaux related to Music, Dance, Poetry and Calligraphy as well as Martial Arts & Qi Gong. Reservations are required for each session, starting at 6pm, 7pm & 8pm (Tue-Fri) and at 3pm, 4pm, 7pm & 8pm (weekends). (Feb 17-27, 10 rue de l’Echiquier, 10e, M° Bonne Nouvelle, tel: 01 48 01 68 28)
This capital’s snobby 16th arrondissement is enjoying a “Generation Y” renaissance. On the Metro, infuriatingly affluent teenage “princesses” sporting Diesel jeans and Dior “saddle bags” alight at stops like La Muette, then hit their favorite new-style haunts… Opposite the notoriously elitist Lycée Janson de Sailly, the Presto Caffé serves upmarket fast food and conjures up groovy private theme parties ranging from children’s birthday “goûters” (Mon-Fri 3:30-6:30pm) to DJ buffets for pre-teens and teens (Mon-Sat 6:60-11:30pm). (129 rue de la Pompe, 16e, tel: 01 56 26 66 66)
Last January’s Salon du Meuble furniture fair held at the Metropole Pavilion — newly inaugurated at the Porte de Versailles — spotlighted France’s current craze for interiors that mix and match traditional styles with funky attitude, showcasing state-of-the-art prototypes in a separate “Design Lab” section.
On March 5, the Galeries Lafayette department store launches Lafayette Maison — a 10 000 square meter, five level, 150-window haven for the hip and house proud — which includes a sleek shoppers café and sandwicherie on the premises of Marks & Spencers former boulevard Haussmann food hall. Among its star products: modish lighting designed to modify hip homes’ spatial boundaries, “coloring” their ambience ad infinitum. In this spirit, look out for Artemide’s intriguing concepts: for instance, Ernesto Gismondi’s “Nur” or Carlotta de Bevilacqua’s “Yang Touch.”
The Cartier arts foundation on boulevard Raspail has juxtaposed two exhilarating exhibitions. Downstairs: cool Congo artist Chéri Samba. Upstairs: mainstream Australian designer Marc Newson. Newson presents a specially-commissioned high-tech project — a one-of-a-kind “dream” airplane with an 8-meter wingspan called Kelvin 40, in reference to his age and to the early “flying machines” he’s always admired. (To May 2)
Naturally, not everyone can afford their own plane, which is why Canadian aircraft manufacturers Bombardier Aerospace branched out into jet rental, via their Flexjet services. Over breakfast at Fouquet’s, their UK reps recently hosted a presentation to introduce their “Skyjet charter” and “Jet membership” options “tailor-made for European company needs.” (www.flexjeteurope.com)
In the mood for a “high-flying” romance, in a comfortable yet thoroughly modern decor imbued with the aura of heroic French pilots such as Blériot, Mermoz and Saint-Exupéry? Operational since September, the Restaurant de l’Aéro Club de France and its eminently imaginative chef, Gaby Martinon, have planned a Saint Valentine’s dinner that takes you places (70E per person, with champagne starter and bottle of Grand Rouvrière Vieilles Vignes for two). No need to “belong” to this prestigious aviators circle founded in 1898, just reserve… (6 rue Galilée, 16e, M° Boissière, tel: 01 47 20 88 04)
Networking evenings where media buffs, creative types and start-up execs gather to exchange email addresses and discuss projects in progress are “à la mode.” Transatlantic “pros” in this field — the International Association of Business Communicators has a “chapter” here (Contact: Laura Petersonfirstname.lastname@example.org). IABC specializes in strategy-defining seminars featuring guest CEOs, but also encourages its members to socialize… notably by kicking off its 2004 program with a “Chinese New Year Cocktail” at the Man Ray club on rue Marbeuf — which is pursuing its own Monday night “Woman Ray” cosmo career girls’ get-togethers. (In charge — Vérane Boral: email@example.com)
The after-work tipple of the season? How about a glass of chilled chardonnay from California’s Central Valley? The legendary Tour d’Argent will be the gastronomic venue of a springtime tasting scheduled to re-launch Ernest &Julio Gallo’s Turning Leaf Vineyards wine range on the Gallic hyper-market circuit, with sprucer, lighter-looking labels.