Make your mark on the new romance suite at Hotel Bel-Ami

Hotel Bel-Ami just finished its new “Romance” junior suite and wants you to take it for a spin. So, take your wife or girlfriend (there are double-occupancy restrictions, so you can’t take both of them) to Paris by the end of August, and you’ll get the room and a welcome glass of champagne for only $675 a night. And, the hotel is kicking in a 20 percent discount on treatments at the hotel’s spa.

I guess there is a “right” way to do Paris!

The fourth floor suite is far enough up to give you a view over the rooftops in St Germain des Pres, so you can enjoy the city from above and from the street. But, you probably won’t be looking out the window much …

Renoir going to Paris, you should too

Don’t you want to hang out in Paris with Renoir? The exhibit “Renoir in the 20th Century” is coming to the national Galleries of the Grand Palais on September 23, 2009 and will stay through December 21, 2009. That gives you plenty of opportunity to soak in what promises to be an impressive exhibition. And, since you’re already hooked on Paris (who isn’t?), Concorde Hotels & Resorts is trying to lure you in the door … which shouldn’t be that hard when you see what they’re offering.

So, shell out for a hotel room (starting at $282 a night), and you’ll pick up two priority tickets to the Renoir exhibition and buffet breakfast for two for every night you stay. You can choose from six hotels for this package.

  • Hotel de Crillon – this 18th century masterpiece has a history closely linked to that of the Place de la Concorde
  • Hotel du Louvre – facing the Musée du Louvre and the Opéra Garnier in the heart of Paris’ fashion district, Hotel du Louvre is differentiated by its colorful interior
  • Hotel Lutetia – the grand hotel on the Left Bank is right in the middle of the action of Saint-Germain des Prés and its fashion boutiques and isn’t far from the Jardin du Luxembourg and the Musée d’Orsay
  • Hotel Concorde St. Lazare – uniquely charming and only a short walk from the Opéra Garnier and several famous Parisian department stores
  • Hotel Concorde La Fayette – located between the Champs-Elysées and La Défense
  • Hotel Concorde Montparnasse – you’ll find it in the heart of Montparnasse

The Sounds of Travel 7: So Flute

Here at Gadling we’ll be highlighting some of our favorite sounds from the road and giving you a sample of each — maybe you’ll find the same inspiration that we did, but at the very least, hopefully you’ll think that they’re good songs.

Got a favorite of your own? Leave it in the Comments and we’ll post it at the end of the series.

France. This is a country known for its music. The stereotypical accordion tunes from atop Montmartre embodied in the soundtrack of Amélie, the ballads of Edith Piaf, and the intense lyrics of adopted icon Jacques Brel (he was actually Belgian, but the French like him so much they seem to forget). But beyond those symbolic melodies that scream French roots, there’s another side to French music. One that is much more urban, cosmopolitan and chic. It’s the smooth, electro-jazz, slightly funky sounds of contemporary bands like St. Germain.

I was spending a semester in France in college and had fortunately been placed in a very cool attic apartment with an equally cool Frenchman; one who had a penchant for red wine, dinner parties and top of the line background music to complement the food and company. St. Germain’s Tourist album was played at one of the first of these dinner parties that I ever experienced.

It was a quintessential French evening: a bottle of regional Muscat to start the night, a whole chicken, cooked in butter and herbs fresh out of the oven, a salad with fresh greens and a homemade vinaigrette, a Burgundy to go with the chicken and a cacophony of French voices all giving their politically charged opinions on everything from GMOs to the American President. The upbeat sound of the saxophone in “So Flute” hung in the air, dancing around in the vibrant ambiance.

All of a sudden I felt instantly chic and European. Just listening to “So Flute” let me shed my hippie college roots and automatically develop into that classy, cultured young adult I’d always wanted to be. From that night on I couldn’t stop listening to St. Germain.

When I returned home after my semester abroad I would try and recreate these dinner parties. I would tell people that we would eat at nine, they looked at me as if I was crazy and sad they would come at six; Americans unlike the French are not trained for late night dinner parties. I got frustrated that the only white wine I could find for an aperitif was a Californian Chardonnay; trust me, after wine of Alsace, it’s not the same. But thanks to my pre-departure stop at FNAC (the French Borders) at least I could have “So Flute” play in the background. Maybe I didn’t feel so chic in my shared college house, but at least I could import the French urban vibe. At least it was better than drowning my sorrows in a bottle of bad red.

Returning home, especially after extended stays when you have completely immersed yourself in your host culture, can be hard. Sometimes, to get over that culture shock — no matter how long you’ve been back — all it takes is a melody reminiscent of your time there. Instantly you are taken back to a certain moment, a certain feeling and for a second all that cultural confusion just slips away. “So Flute” is that song for me and whenever I play it I am whisked away to my favorite vibes of France.

Click here for previous Sounds of Travel.