Sprinting into Spring
by Georgina Oliver

With its annual marathon scheduled to start on the Champs-Elysées on Sunday, April 6 — Paris is sprinting into spring. Just as joggers suddenly "absolutely must" have a new pair of running shoes. Nike, or Adidas. Reebok, or Lacoste… Now, everybody's craving for fresh air and pace-setting places to pop into. Perchance, to take their minds off more pressing geopolitical issues?

Fresh Art

"Réveiller votre gourmandise artistique" — or "whet your artistic appetite" — is the slogan on the crisp white T-shirts produced by Alexandre Taisne and Vincent Picandet to promote the Toast Gallery. Boyhood buddies, these fledgling art dealers have succeeded in implementing a yummy "business plan." A mixed bag of 75-915E paintings — mainly by Beaux-Arts alumni or young "squat artists" — is presented "supermarket-style" — on and against the walls, as well as in record shop-like racks — in the consumer-friendly space they've launched in the heart of the Latin Quarter. Drop by for a cup of tea. Or, glass of wine. Flick through their latest batch of discoveries. Purchase, or rent what catches your eye. Here, collecting is "hassle free." If that garish "impulse buy" clashes with your new decor… You have two weeks to exchange it! (Daily except Tue, 10am to 10:30pm, 3 rue de l'Estrapade, 5e, tel: 01 44 07 04 22)

Like your art served "sunny side up"? In that case, touch base with the Fraîch'Atttitude gallery, sponsored by APRIFEL, France's official "fruit'n'veg" agency. Until April 12, it spotlights ultra-quirky "artists scarecrows" by a healthy mix of fresh talent and mainstream figures such as Jean-Paul Chambas and Hervé Di Rosa. These were previously on display in TV epicurean Jean-Pierre Coffe's vegetable garden… Next on the agenda? A colorful installation by GOMA, a trio of Tokyo-based "cookies" who design ephemeral food concepts as well as “tasty” objects, notably brooches that look like candy. (April 23 to May 3, Tue-Sat noon to 7pm, 60 rue du Faubourg Poissonnière, 10e, tel: 01 49 49 15 15)

Parfumerie Générale

At the bottom of a chic impasse, on rue Marbeuf, Victoire de Taillac (formerly the Colette concept store's publicist) and Ramdane Touhami — presently, the proud parents of a bébé branché named Shéhérazade — have established the Parfumerie Générale, which specializes in cool fragrances, catwalk cosmetics and state-of-the-art skincare. Bearers of its slick 18E"Le Barbier" gift vouchers are treated to a classic "brush and blade" shave, and discerning travelers will make a beeline for its hard-to-come-by sunblocks… Greek product Propoline, for the face. Along with, a "Bio-Maple" body and complexion formula developed by Canadian chemist Ben Kamins. (Mon to Sat, 10am to 7pm, 6 rue Robert-Estienne, 8e, tel: 01 43 59 10 62)

Imaad Rahmouni

At 30-something, Algiers-born Imaad Rahmouni is one of this capital's most sought-after interior architects. His "signature" neo-modern style lends an aura of airy elegance to the Marais' fashionable Maison Rouge restaurant (13 rue des Archives, tel: 01 42 71 69 69) — even when its bay-windows aren't open to let the sunshine in. And, the various hotspots he's created for groovy restaurateur/club conceptors Cathy and David Guetta — including the Pink Paradise lap-dancing dive on rue de Ponthieu — all have undeniable "cachet"… With its Sweet Bar and très "star system" dining room proffering a cinematic view of Paris by night, La Suite is a great venue for a romantic springtime proposal (40 av George V, tel: 01 53 57 49 49), while the B4 coffee shop/neighborhood bistro (next door to the Maison Rouge) serves hip'n'healthy cuisine in a harmonious ambience (tel: 01 42 72 16 19).

Maison Blanche

Likewise designed by Rahmouni and blessed with a magnificent vista… Earlier this year, the Maison Blanche restaurant/bar adjoining the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées hosted a VIP culinary "fashion parade" during which its waiters and kitchen staff presented a special Carterouge — or "Red Card" — menu to an array of VIP guests, convened to sample a succession of scrumptious crimson gourmet creations. With "matching music," along the lines of "The Lady in Red"… (Reservations: 01 47 23 55 99)

Zingy Cocktails

A brand-new breed of outlandish-hued drinks containing spices like ginger — or even, juniper — has hit the soda and mineral water market. So, cocktails with an exotic twist are "hot." Made from natural peppers and vodka distilled from Swedish-grown grain, Absolut Peppar is touted as a four century-old thrill, "to be enjoyed responsibly, by those who appreciate quality."

Equally zestful, the Bubbles champagne bar/restaurant (6 rue Edouard VII, 9e, tel: 01 47 42 77 95) fêted Florida's recent grapefruit harvest by concocting a zingy "combo." Part bubbly. Part "Sunshine" juice. Plus 3cl of Marie-Brizard… stirred with an Amarena cherry. Bound to be a hit at its Wednesday to Friday 6-9pm "After Works" DJ sessions!

Lacoste running shoes

Toast Gallery logo

Cathy and David Guetta

Paris Marathon poster

Absolut Peppar