SMOKE ALARM: For literary Americans, Paris has always exerted a powerful allure with its cafes, its chestnuts in blossom and its spirit of Sartre. Now expat writers can add a new perk to that list: the hospitals. David Sedaris, who has lived in Paris for the past three years, recently had friends rolling with laughter with the story of his first trip to a French hospital. He recalled how he awoke one morning with an agonizing pain, which he recognized from past experience as a kidney stone. He picked the Hopital Sainte Anne from the phone book because of its friendly name and rushed to the emergency room. There, he was shocked to be ushered straightaway into his own hospital room. “Don’t you want my name or anything?” he asked, only to be reassured that such details could be handled later. After an IV drip was hooked up, the nurse asked if he wanted anything else. With a mischievous look, Sedaris asked: “An ashtray?” And he got it. “In five minutes, I had a private room, a Demerol drip and a cigarette,” Sedaris recalled. “What more could you want?”
LUNCH BUNCH: Barneys New York may have bumped Fred’s upstairs to the ninth floor, but judging by the crowd there Thursday afternoon, the move has only renewed the restaurant’s status as a power-lunch spot. The tables by the window were peopled with the likes of Ron Perelman and Ellen Barkin; Richard Gere and Carey Lowell; hairstyling legend Vidal Sassoon and his fourth wife, Ronnie, and actress Lena Olin.