France staycation

Say ooh la la to flaky croissants, vinotherapy and sexy underwear.

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Be chic like the French | Eat like the French | Live like the French

Any Francophile worth her weight in fleur de sel has surely hit Saks for a pair of Repettos, the ballet flats that French actor Brigitte Bardot made famous. But you’ll need more than footwear to truly look the part. Take cues from the impossibly stylish sales reps (they’ve even nailed the Parisian pout) at the first U.S. outpost of Gallic It designer Isabel Marant (469 Broome St at Greene St; 212-219-2284, isabelmarant.tm.fr). The French don’t splurge, they invest. Try not to feel bad about shelling out for elegant staples like a beige ruffled spaghetti strap dress ($610) and simple gold earrings, bracelets and necklaces embellished with colorful stones ($105--$270); you’ll be rocking such timeless items for years to come.

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Next door, Marant’s husband Jrme Dreyfuss (473 Broome St between Greene and Wooster Sts; 212-334-6920, jerome-dreyfuss.com) also recently set up shop, hawking his strokeworthy leather handbags ($550--$2,765) to SJP and other fabulous downtown style icons. If the leather doesn’t lure you, the phrase COME MEET YOUR NEW FRENCH LOVER scrawled in giant green letters on the shop’s floor will. But don’t get too excited—the phrase refers to Dreyfuss’s bags, which have men’s names. We wouldn’t mind parading around with a python-skin Max on our arm ($2,765).

For everyday staples at a lower price point (from $65), check out breezy boutique Comptoir des Cotonniers (155 Spring St between West Broadway and Wooster St; 212-274-0830, comptoirdescotonniers.com), whose French separates strike a miraculous multigenerational chord and are targeted at hip moms and their stylish daughters. At the brand’s first stateside shop, you can score the Gamelan, a cotton mariner-style dress ($105), and classic trenches like the Gage ($295), for which the brand is known. “We have a lot of French clients,” says store manager Goldie Zwecker. “When they shop here, it’s like home to them. They’re so happy to know that we’re here.”

You’ll get the chance to peep France’s flashy underpants at intimates purveyor Pull-In (252 Elizabeth St between E Houston and Prince Sts; 212-966-8914, pull-in.com), which was founded in the beach town of Hossegor on the Cte d’Argent. Pick up colorful comics-inspired boxer briefs like the Fashion Batman ($50) and quirky bras like the Strawberry ($59). Don’t be surprised if you start getting stares when you put your new Isabel Marant clothes back on—it’s just your je ne sais quoi.

When it comes to fashion, you’ll never be la mode until you’ve learned to talk the talk. At FIAF’s “Prt--Porter” workshop (French Institute Alliance Franaise, 22 E 60th St between Madison and Park Aves; 212-355-6100, fiaf.org; June 10 1--3pm; $50), you’ll get schooled in French designers and commonly used phrases that will help you shop your way to success both here and abroad.

Inside info


The French aren’t big on exercise, but ptanque is another story. From late March through early November the New York Ptanque Club (newyorkpetanque.com) holds regular outings and tournaments in Prospect Park.

Be chic like the French | Eat like the French | Live like the French

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Loire Gites
Loire Gites

If you're looking for somewhere to stay in France, but you're on a bit of a budget, gites can be great for family holidays, especially with young children; self catering can be easier for feeding young children, yet you've still got reassurance of the owner being on site if there's a problem. Some gites have multiple units so can be good for a couple of families holidaying together. France is great for families too, children are welcome more widely than in the UK and you've always got Disneyland Paris to fall back on! The beauty of gites is that you can often stay for just one or two nights up to a week or so, and often the gite owners can provide home cooked meals as well (or you can always explore local restaurants).