Here are some points of interest as the couture season approaches, July 8-12.
SPEED CUISINE: Paris remains capital of the leisurely, three-course lunch. But leading restaurants have a new mantra: In and out in an hour. Alain Ducasse’s Spoon speeds diners through a different international cuisine every day of the week with a choice of appetizer, main dish and dessert for $35 to $45. At Korova, the waiter brings all the dishes at the same time when the diner points out he is in a hurry. Nobu offers three different in-and-out boxes, from a complete vegetarian meal to a variety of sashimi, fish and vegetable. Even the prestigious Crillon restaurant, Les Ambassadeurs, follows the beat with its Precious Time Formula, which offers a choice of two dishes with the guarantee to be out in an hour in 15 minutes.
Spoon, 14 Rue Marignan, (331) 40 76 34 44.
Korova, 33 Rue Marboeuf, (331) 53 89 93 93.
Nobu, 15 Rue Marboeuf, (331) 56 89 53 53.
Les Ambassadeurs, 10 Place de la Concorde (331) 44 71 15 00.
DO NOT DISTURB: Forget the “Do Not Disturb” sign. Each room at the hotel La Tremoille, which just reopened after an 18-month renovation, has a unique pass-through cupboard so guests can jump into the shower, or snooze, without fearing room service’s knock on the door. Food trays, laundry and shoes can be delivered or retrieved at any time, keeping privacy intact. The hotel’s 88 rooms and five suites now boast art-deco decors and spectacular bathrooms. Coming in September is a fitness center and, word has it, a new restaurant by Sir Terence Conran. Standard rooms cost $386; suites are $945. 14 Rue de La Tremoille, (331) 56 52 14 00.
FLOWER POWER: “Say it with flowers,” the French recommend. But what if you don’t know the language? To the rescue is Aude de Thuin, a French gardening guru who has established an exclusive flower-arranging school for amateurs. The courses, taught in French, English, Japanese and Arabic, start July 2 in De Thuin’s garden, led by such top Parisian florists as Christian Tortu and Stéphane Chapelle. Courses last from two hours to a whole day, with prices ranging from $150 to $600. 7 Rue Scheffer, (331) 47 04 50 20.
SHOE BOX: Manolo Blahnik will put his best foot forward during couture week when he stomps into town to inaugurate a new boutique on Rue Mont Thabor, run jointly with retailer Maria Luisa Poumaillou and stocking his designs exclusively in Paris. Poumaillou said she would host a cocktail for the designer July 8. The new 1,000-square-foot Blahnik shop replaces a unit half its size operated by Poumaillou on adjacent Rue Cambon, which will close. “I guess you could say we outgrew our shoes,” joked Poumaillou. 40 Rue Mont-Thabor, (331) 47 03 48 08.
SWISS TWIST: By opening his first boutique in Paris, Swiss-born designer Alexandre Narakas wanted to give his couture-style dresses a modern twist. “Today, it’s about mixing and matching,” said Narakas. “No one wants a total look.” That’s why Narakas decided also to stock John Bartlett men’s wear and such brands as Custo Barcelona alongside his own designs, rounding out the stock with music and other items. The 3,000-square-foot space in a 17th-century town house in the Marais also houses Narakas’ showroom and studio. Narakas, who previously did couture, jumped into ready-to-wear two years ago. 79 Rue du Temple, (331) 44 54 88 80.
FATHER FIGURE: Ramdane Touhami, the young French entrepreneur known for such projects as his tongue-in-cheek T-shirt label Polette and the short-lived concept store L’Epicerie, has another new project: an art gallery named Saint Pere on the Left Bank. His first exhibition spotlights 27-year-old Japanese artist Kobuke Kentaro, who does striking, childlike, crayon illustrations. Upcoming expos include “The World of Tom Dixon,” devoted to the popular industrial and interior designer; a group show of skateboarding photography, and a celebration of Purple Magazine’s 10th anniversary. The gallery also has a bookstore and video library. 19 Rue des Saints Peres, (331) 55 04 89 10.
HAMMING IT UP: A purveyor of Spanish acorn-fed Bellota ham for two years at his Jabugo Iberico & Co., shop of the Avenue Montaigne, Philippe Poulachon now serves up the scrumptious stuff at his new restaurant, Bellota-Bellota. Diners can sample ham from different regions of Spain as well as excellent young artichokes hearts, red peppers and cheeses. A shop off the dining room offers Spanish delicacies to take home. Dinner costs between $40 and $55 including wine. 18 Rue Jean Nicot, (331) 53 59 96 96.
EYE SPY: Ladies who Lunch have a new spot just off the Faubourg Saint-Honoré shopping strip. Specializing in light fare, L’Envue offers salad platters with the likes of langoustines and arugula or candied tomato with goat cheese. But there are traditional favorites, too, including five flavors of crème brûlée for dessert. Run by women, feminine tastes reign, from the bustier tops worn by wait staff to the pink napkins. Lunches run from $15 to $30. 39 Rue Boissy d’Anglas, (331) 42 65 10 49.