Peter Freed
Travel + Leisure
May 07, 2010

Q: Where can I find the best hotel deals online? —Jacob Kipp, Lafayette, Calif.

A: “New functionality at tried-and-true booking sites has made finding low rates simpler than ever. Bing recently added a tool that allows you to compare current rates with historical ones in thirty U.S. cities; a map pops up with hotel options flagged by color (green is a steal, yellow is average, and red means steer clear). The Orbitz Hotel Price Assurance Guarantee refunds you the difference if another user on the site gets a better deal than you. With its Welcome Rewards program, Hotels.com now incentivizes loyalty by giving you points toward free nights every time you book.” —T+L features editor Niloufar Motamed.

Q: I am planning a trip to the East Coast this summer. What are some of the best hiking trails? —Isabele Kimpton, Wooster, Ohio

A: New York’s Mount Jo is a great choice for beginners, thanks to its free, guided nature tours up a two-mile path with summit views of the Adirondack High Peaks region. A more difficult challenge can be found on Vermont’s third-highest peak, Camel’s Hump. The gradually ascending 6.8-mile Monroe Loop culminates in panoramic views of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. And Mount Desert Island, in Maine’s Acadia National Park, offers two short but technical trails: the 1.6-mile Precipice and the one-mile Beehive, both of which involve steep climbs with the chance to view endangered peregrine falcons.

Q: Can you recommend an outfitter offering a classic cultural itinerary in Egypt this fall? —Mark Gregory, Setauket, N.Y.

A: The 15-day Discover Egypt trip from eco-friendly Intrepid Travel (intrepidtravel.com; from $1,215 per person, double) covers the major sites—the Sphinx, Giza Pyramids, and Valley of the Kings—and includes an overnight stay with a Nubian family in a traditional mud-walled house. Lindblad Expeditions (expeditions.com; from $4,700 per person, double) is offering a 10-day Egyptologist-led Nile cruise aboard the 54-person Salacia with shore excursions to the Temple of Horus and the Luxor Museum, among other spots. Finally, Ker & Downey (kerdowney.com; prices vary) creates customized itineraries that may include guided tours of Cairo’s bazaars and ancient Alexandria.

Q: My husband and I are visiting Paris next month. Any ideas for an affordable three-day itinerary? —Margaret Brown, Fort Worth, Tex.

A: Make the new 29-room BLC Design your base, before heading to Pinacothèque de Paris, a contemporary art museum hosting the city’s first Edvard Munch retrospective in 20 years. Come evening, the ever-changing menu at Frenchie (dinner for two $98) features dishes such as cauliflower soup with candied lemon. The next day, try the Mozambique shrimp at Yam’Tcha (lunch for two $80) and catch a performance in the Jardin Shakespeare (jardinshakespeare.fr), as part of the city’s annual theater festival. On your last day, take a guided tour of the brand-new Institut Français de la Mode, in the Cité de la Mode et du Design, an industrial design complex.

Frenchie

The fresh greenmarket flavors at this crowd-pleaser are inspired in part by chef Grégory Marchand’s stint at New York’s Gramercy Tavern. Though found in the Sentier district in the Second Arrondissement, the dinner only restaurant would probably fit in seamlessly in Brooklyn with its rescued wood furniture and urban farmhouse feel. The chef, who earned the nickname Frenchie at Jamie Oliver’s 15 in London, has an ever-changing affordable menu featuring market driven dishes such as cauliflower soup with candied lemon or Basque pork belly with beets and turnips. As for scoring a table, reservations should be made weeks in advance.

Yam’Tcha

Few anticipated the Michelin Star this 20-seat restaurant near the Louvre would earn in 2009, just one year after opening. The space's rustic wood beams and stone walls suggest  simpilicty, but chef Adeline Grattard's menu is anything but. Shaped by the two years she spent in Hong Kong and having previously worked under chef Pascal Barbot at L'Astrance, Grattard offers up market-driven prix fixe menus that include artfully presented dishes such as sweet and sour soup with tofu and scallops, combi-steamed sea bass, and duck of Challans with Sichuan eggplant. As space is limited, so making reservations a few weeks in advance is a must.

Mount Jo

A great choice for beginners, thanks to its free, guided nature tours up a two-mile path with summit views of the Adirondack High Peaks region.

Camel’s Hump

A difficult challenge can be found on Vermont’s third-highest peak. The gradually ascending 6.8-mile Monroe Loop culminates in panoramic views of New Hampshire’s White Mountains.

Mount Desert Island

The hiking route, in Maine’s Acadia National Park, offers two short but technical trails: the 1.6-mile Precipice and the one-mile Beehive, both of which involve steep climbs with the chance to view endangered peregrine falcons.

BLC Design Hotel

Located in the 11th arrondissement and the Bastille district, the BLC Design Hotel is noted for its interior, which is covered entirely in white except for tiny bursts of color in photographs and flora. This boutique hote’s 29 rooms maximize white light and include slight but functional furnishings: a small ledge serving as a table, a small stool, and a flatscreen television. Each room also boasts a wall mural with an image of a woman, and bathrooms are partially enclosed. An on-site continental breakfast is offered at extra charge, but there are also plenty of cafes and restaurants nearby.

Pinacothèque de Paris

Originally established in the 10th Arrondissement in 2003, this privately funded gallery reopened in 2007 at its current location on Place de la Madeleine. The brainchild of director and art historian Marc Restillini, the Pinacothèque is unusual in that it organizes exhibits not by date or movement but rather by theme, enabling comparisons between works that are rarely viewed side by side. Housed in a three-story building, the gallery showcases only temporary exhibits, with past highlights including the Chinese Terracotta Army, Incan artifacts, and works by Van Dyck, Picasso, Monet, Lichtenstein, and Pollock.

Institut Français de la Mode

Designed by Jakob + MacFarlane at a pricetag exceeding $60 million, this dramatic green riverfront building is home to the French Institute of Fashion, where promising designers shape their talent. Inside, visitors can catch an exhibition from a designer alum (such as Eva Gronbach) or a listen to a roundtable discussion of urban renewal featuring an architect, a computer designer, a painter, and a philosopher. The facility is also home range of trendy design shops, cafes, restaurants, and event spaces, all of which attract a collection of avant garde artists, designers, and hangers-on.

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