Say ooh la la to flaky croissants, vinotherapy and sexy underwear.
Mon May 31 2010
Held every third Wednesday, French Culture Nights (frenchculturenights.com) is a roving soiree that brings art and music lovers of all cultural backgrounds to swanky lounges and rooftop settings around the city. On June 16, the party hits Hudson Terrace (621 W 46th St between Eleventh and Twelfth Aves; 212-315-9400, hudsonterracenyc.com; 7:30pm; $10, free for those who preregister online) with a musical performance and a DJ. “Our goal is to promote francophone artists living in New York and to open up French culture to others in the city,” says founder Enrique Gonzalez. “At each event, we feature a different French-speaking singer, DJ, and painter or photographer, but they don’t necessarily come from France.” Inclusivity is the name of the game at these stylish outings, where speaking French is a plus, but a strong case of Francophilia is all you need to get in the door.
Once you’ve ingratiated yourself with the natives, they’ll probably invite you to dinner. Plan to arrive 15 to 30 minutes late (show up early and be scorned forever), and don’t bring wine—it’s a serious faux pas. Instead, offer flowers from Ariston Florist (110 W 17th St between Sixth and Seventh Aves; 212-929-4226, aristonflowers.com), which imports colorful blooms like long-stemmed tulips (a bunch of ten $45--$75) and peonies ($5--$15 per stem) directly from high-quality growers in Nice. “Generally, the French buy more flowers,” says owner Thanasis Barbagianis. “There’s an old saying in France: A gentleman does not go home on a Friday without bringing flowers to his wife or girlfriend or lover.”
If you’re ever invited by an ami for a weekend stay, head to Diptyque (377 Bleecker St between Charles and Perry Sts; 212-242-2333, diptyqueparis.com) for elegant imported candles ($60 each) in exotic, travel-inspired scents like Baies, a fresh blend of roses and black currant leaves. Since 1963, when its first candle was sold from the store’s original location on Paris’s chic Boulevard St. Germain, the brand has been a fail-safe source of home goods and gifts.
We’ve all heard about the health benefits of drinking wine, but die-hard oenophiles take it a step further by indulging in winecentric beauty treatments from Caudalie Vinothrapie Spa at the Plaza (1 W 58th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves; 212-265-3182, caudalie-usa.com). The spa’s founders, French power couple Mathilde and Bertrand Thomas, founded the Caudalie brand after discovering that the discarded grape seeds that littered the property of Chteau Smith Haut Lafitte (Mathilde’s family’s vineyard in Bordeaux) had the power to fight free radicals when applied to the skin. If you can pony up for the Grape Marc Barrel Bath ($75), you’ll be hydromassaged by finely crushed grapes that exfoliate and rejuvenate the epidermis. Once you’ve bathed in wine, you might as well drink some: Head to the spa’s French Paradox Wine Lounge, where you can sip a glass of Chteau Smith Haut Lafitte ($10).
The free online social network New York in French (newyorkinfrench.net) posts French-themed events and connects Francophones throughout the city. Anyone can join, but some of the online content is in French, so you might want to break out your old Muzzy tapes to brush up.
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