NOT SO GAY BUT VERY HIP
If you must, a world of fabulously twinkling French glitterati awaits you at the so-chic-it-hurts Buddha Bar & Restaurant (8-12 Rue Boissy d'Anglas, 8th; +33-1-53-05-90-00; 30-80 EUR). As you pass through its iron gate you are immediately thrust into an atmosphere blending Parisian elegance with a Turkish Casbah, a Chinese temple and an underground dance floor -- all designed in perfect sync with the concepts of feng shui. The giant golden Buddha welcomes all who enter -- or at least those who can afford the 16-EUR cocktails. Naturally, the clientele represents all forms of sexuality. The bar features renowned DJs whose tracks have a Middle Eastern and Indian flare, and releases a much sought-after album for those cutting-edge lounge-heads.
The coolest culinary incarnation has to be Le Kong (1 rue du Pont Neuf, 1e; +33-1-40-39-09-00; 23-40 EUR), the bar-restaurant gracing the top two stories of the Kenzo flagship store. The curious and sophisticated gather amidst pink and Plexiglas in the Philippe Starck-designed palace, with very distinctive furniture to accompany. Stunning city views and legendary attitude from staff also feature. There is a happy hour for drinks daily from 6 to 8 p.m. For a quick bite before ascending to Le Kong for fancy cocktails, L? Sushi (+33-1-42-33-09-09; 20-45 EUR) is a minimalist sushi bar in the basement. Each seat has a computer screen so you can chat with other diners.
Moroccan and Algerian delicacies grace the menu, and fashion's fabulous names from Westwood to McQueen once lingered over North African wines at Chez Omar (47 rue de Bretagne, 3e; +33-1-42-72-36-26; 15-25 EUR). While the star power remains mostly in memory, the tagines and couscous remain tasty and a great alternative to French food. Hiramatsu (52 rue de Longchamp, 16e; +33-1-56-81-08-80; 45-180 EUR) is a 40-seat Art Deco 16e arrondissement luxury-fest, with French dishes (with Japanese touches) to die for. Chef Makagawa does wonders with foie gras, seafood and game. Previous travelers may remember this restaurant small, cozy, and perched on the Seine on Ils-St.-Louis but its new home allows it a wider clientele, breathing room, and premium service (the ratio of waiters to tables is almost 1:1). Reservations are essential.
The number one place for the Montmartre theater crowd is Le Kokolion (62 rue d'Orsel, 18e; +33-142-58-24-41; 14-26 EUR). Open late, the restaurant becomes suddenly crowded at 10 p.m. after the shows at the nearby Th??tre de la Atelier. The food is absolutely divine and beautifully presented for the price. The candlelit d?cor is much fun, with old movie posters and low hanging, dimly lit modern light fixtures. The head waiter closely resembles Kevin Spacey, and if being in Montmartre among the theater crowd isn't convincing enough for you, expect to feel very welcome. Reservations recommended.
Georges (Place Georges Pompidou, 4e; +33-1-44-78-47-99), a Costes brothers restaurant perched on top of the Pompidou Center, is funky and has tasty ultramodern French food. Who cares about food, however, when you can see all of Paris stretched out in front of you from an ideal location? In the quartier of Beaubourg, it's a mixed crowd; waiters are cute and hipper-than-thou. Reserve in advance.
L'Epi Dupin (11, rue Dupin, 6e; +33-1-42-22-64-56; 25-45 EUR) serves hearty, creative bistro fare in a Left Bank modern setting: a "baby bistro" of chef Fran?ois Pasteau, your traditional French cuisine is served in a cute and cozy environment, with exposed wood beams and sisal floor covering. If not, you can join black-clad stars of screen and catwalk and high-style vegetarians at celebrity chef Alain Ducasse's Spoon Paris @ Marignan (12 rue de Marignan, 8e; +33-1-40-76-34-44; 29-100 EUR), formally "Spoon, Food and Wine," a restaurant that has set an international standard in haute cuisine. After having opened other "Spoon" incarnations in St. Tropez and Hong Kong, Ducasse returned to his flagship opus to rediscover its French roots while still managing to feature the cuisine of other faraway nations. With a d?cor that changes throughout the day, Spoon serves memorable dishes with hyper-creative presentation. Reservations are essential, although near impossible to get. Open Monday-Friday.
Celebrity hangouts include actor Gerard Depardieu's restaurant, La Fontaine Gaillon (1 place Gaillon, 2e; +33-1-47-42-63-22, fax +33-1-47-42-82-84; 30-42 EUR), which boasts reasonable prices and a great wine menu. Casa Olympe (48, rue Saint Georges, 9e; +33-1-42-85-26-01; fixed-price menu: 38 EUR) is the flagship of one of the few female celebrity chefs, Dominique Versini. This stylish and popular restaurant serves great Proven?ale cuisine to the adventurous. The pig's ears in caper sauce are reportedly perfect.
L'Atelier de Jo?l Robuchon (5 rue Montalembert, 7e; +33-1-42-22-56-56; ;18-45 EUR) is one of two Michelin-rated Robuchon restaurants in Paris, this one the more revolutionary in that it is a no-reservations venue with seating around a central "sushi" bar and 200 wines available. Robuchon's La Table (16, avenue Bugeaud, 16e; +33-1-56-28-16-16; 20-65 EUR) has a higher rating with Michelin (two stars) and serves similar fare in the bourgeois 16th arrondissement. This one requires reservations.