BIG AT HEART: Don't let the name fool you. Mini Palais, the new eatery at the Grand Palais, is hardly your typical cramped Paris bistro. In fact, the contemporary decor is monumental, with 23-foot ceilings, massive light fixtures and 4,300 square feet of dining space spread over dark concrete floors. There's even a large terrace overlooking the Alexandre III bridge. Young French chef Gilles Choukroun created a menu open to all gastronomical cultures. The foie gras flirts with popcorn or peanuts, while the chicken is poached and served with caramelized tomatoes, chorizo and dates.

Mini Palais: Perron Alexandre III, Avenue Winston Churchill 75008; +33-1-42-56-42-42.

SUIT YOURSELF: The Savile Row Bespoke Association is joining the couture calendar with an event July 5 showcasing the skilled craftsmen concentrated on the famous London street. Among the more ornate endeavors being rolled out for the expo are gowns worn by the Marchioness of Reading for the coronations of King Edward VII in 1902 and King George VI in 1936. Certain tailors also have created garments especially for the occasion. One creation by Norton & Sons, for example, is a take on a white cropped dinner jacket originally made for the young Winston Churchill in 1896. Many tailors are expected at the event, including Edward Sexton, who is considered a master of bespoke tailoring for women. Sexton was behind the famous ivory pantsuit worn by Bianca Jagger for her wedding to Mick Jagger in 1971. He also coached a young Stella McCartney in the art of making trousers.

WHERE'S THE BEEF: Forget the salad niçoise. Unico, a red hot Argentine restaurant in Paris' 11th arrondissement, serves up more substantial fare: tender steaks and South American specialties such as Lomo, flame grilled with chimichurri sauce, and banana con dulce de leche for dessert. Set in a neighborhood butcher shop dating from the Seventies, Unico boasts a table d'haute feel. Its owners, photographer Marcelo Joulia and architect Enrique Zanoni, kept the brown and orange ceramic tiles and psychedelic wallpaper and juxtaposed their taste for design, such as tables signed by Norman Foster and chairs by Charles Eames, with cutting blocks and butchers' knives.NEW RUE: After years of serving as the main shopping draw on the Rue de Fleurus, the Left Bank street that Jazz Age expat Gertrude Stein once called home, APC has moved around the block. Jean Touitou, the cult brand's designer and founder, has regrouped his men's and women's units into a single store at 38 Rue Madame, just across the street from his headquarters. True to Touitou's minimalist aesthetic, the shop boasts unfussy wood walls and simple wood display cabinets. Some APC aficionados might wonder what the move means for the brand's iconic label, which was emblazoned with the Rue de Fleurus address. Now, of course, it's marked Rue Madame.

SHAPE SHIFTERS: After years as a stylist for Numero magazine, Samuel François no longer wanted to hold back his inner designer. Though he has no intention of giving up his day gig, François, 36, has teamed up with his longtime buddy, Daniel Fumaz, 42, formerly at Thierry Mugler and Eric Bergère, to create the nascent Avalon Vega couture label. The collection will be presented on the runway July 4. "Being a stylist has given me a detached regard," said François. Fumaz said the duo was interested in making real clothes geared to a modern woman. "It's meant to be an ideal couture wardrobe," he said of the collection of 15 looks, which spans evening gowns to day suits. François described the line as "somewhat severe. Our style is more about silhouette than decorative effects."

TWO TIMING: Petite Hélène Darroze, a chef with two Michelin stars, just opened her second address in Paris' 5th arrondissement. Toustem, her new 60-seat eatery, is located in a 13th-century house resembling a country inn. Darroze entrusted French designer Matali Crasset to disrupt the rustic decor. She replaced the red floor tiles with orange resin and covered the vaulted stone ceilings in the basement with an artificial white ceiling. The menu includes Darroze's signature dishes, such as her Bourgogne snails in a brioche or a comforting foie gras mascaronnade, a dish made with macaroni and sautéed fresh foie gras.

Toustem: 12 Rue de l'Hôtel Colbert 75007; +33-1-40-51-99-87.TEA TOWELS: The recently renovated Hotel Scribe is taking teatime relaxation to a whole other level. Its Séréni-thé package includes tea and pastries, followed by a Green Tea Body Peel and Three Tea Wrap, in the hotel's brand-new Jacques Grange-designed spa. Le Spa Hotel Scribe, open to nonguests, also boasts the first Lancôme space in a Parisian hotel. Customers can enjoy treatments in a cocoon of white curtains and under different lighting, such as blue for relaxation and red for energy. The star treatment here is the one-hour Eclat de Perle body exfoliation using pearl powders, followed by a face mask, plus a hand and nail treatment. The space also offers Décleor essential oil-based massages, a hammam, a fitness room and a Jacuzzi. Prices range from 105 euros, or $140, for a hot stone massage to 310 euros, or $412, for a three-hour Décleor Ultimate Detox treatment.

Le Spa, Hotel Scribe, 1 Rue Scribe 75009; +33-1-44-71-24-70.

SHAKING THINGS UP: Parched Parisians are getting a taste of New York at The Experimental Cocktail Club. "We wanted to bring the New York cocktail club experience to Paris," said banker-cum-bartender Romée de Goriainoff, who founded the bar last month with two pals. The 25-year-olds shake up their own innovations, as well as New York's most traditional cocktails such as the Knickerbocker made with premium spirits and ingredients such as organic fruits, eggs and spices. And, for an added Manhattan feel, Goriainoff tapped New York-based architect Cuoco Black, who designed the ubercool hot spot Gin Lane in Manhattan's Meatpacking District.

GONE DOTTY: The Pinacothèque de Paris is a new private art museum spanning more than 21,500 square feet at 28 Place de la Madeleine. The inaugural exhibit, running through Sept. 23, is dedicated to Roy Lichtenstein, showcasing the American pop artist's works from 1966 to 1997. But there are plenty of other must-sees, starting with Anselm Kiefer at the Grand Palais, first in a series called "Monumenta" that gives artists the opportunity to create installations and works on a gigantic scale using the Palais' steel-and-glass nave. If music is more your passion, relive the U.S. social transformation and cultural phenomenon of rock 'n' roll from 1939 to 1959 at the Cartier Foundation. It's also the last chance for the couture crowd to catch the Musée du Luxembourg's René Lalique (through July 29), a show of 150 crystal masterpieces, many of which have never been shown before. Finally, the Jeu de Paume recently finished renovating and is opening with an exhibit devoted to photographers Pierre et Gilles, covering the period 1976 to the present.DRESS UP: Anne Valerie Hash may be known for her girly take on men's tailoring, but her new capsule line of dresses is all woman. Hash plans to present the 10 styles to retailers in town for couture before putting them on the runway in October. Styles and lengths vary, from a knee-length pencil dress with origami detail at the shoulder to a mini V-neck tunic, or softer Forties-inspired looks with rounded shoulders.

FIRST SHOT: A former studio hand at Yves Saint Laurent with both Tom Ford and Stefano Pilati, Romania Scarpeccio is striking out on her own with a small couture collection, which she will unveil at Galerie Thierry Malat in a still life presentation on July 3. A fan of the Valentino style, Scarpeccio, 37, described her dresses as "light and airy and dreamlike." But she also is thinking about what women need. She said she would offer custom-made jeans and made-to-measure smoking shirts that can double as dresses.

JUMPING FOR JOYCE: A stock of rare Thirties gowns, lace and lingerie will go on sale at Joyce from July 4 to 20. The garments, grouped into an all-white theme, hail from a private collection belonging to designer Maryvonne Herzog, whose family owned factories in France during that era. On July 3, the store also will host an exhibition of five porcelain busts by designer Gustavo Lins. "The idea was to mix the art of couture with the art of porcelain," said Lins of the busts that will be unveiled as a backdrop to his couture show. The process involved soaking kimonos in porcelain paste and then painstakingly draping them over busts. "Once cooked, they took on the form of statues," he said.

Joyce, 168 Galerie Valois 75001; +33-01-40-15-03-72.

SACK RACE: Paule Ka is the latest fashion brand to join the bag brigade. The firm, which will turn 20 this fall, will unveil its first leather goods line during couture week. Dubbed 223SH, after the address of its Rue Saint-Honoré flagship, the line's rounded shapes echo the form of its iconic Canotier (basket) bag that was launched in 1994. Six styles are available, including python and fur and metallic versions. Retail prices range from $900 to $4,000.BONE HEAD: Paris boutique Colette will unveil a skull-themed batch of 19-year-old Delfina Delettrez Fendi's nascent jewelry line during couture week. Prices range from around $400 for a skull and crown ring to $3,000 for a tricolor silver and mammoth-bone skull necklace. The line was inspired by local World War II ghost tales that Fendi, daughter of Sylvia Venturini Fendi, heard while growing up between Ronciglione and Rome. Fendi's full line, which goes by the name Delfina Delettrez, will be launched in October during the Paris ready-to-wear shows. — Chantal Goupil, Katya Foreman, Robert Murphy, Ellen Groves and Miwa Kosuga

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