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T+L Reports: Paris, London, NYC, Portland

The Safari Lodge of the Moment
The big-game region of Welgevonden, a dramatic landscape of savannas, waterfalls, and craggy mountains, is home to South Africa's new Makweti Safari Lodge. Owners Dawn and Alan Kisner originally built Makweti as a vacation house, but then decided to turn it into a hotel with a major commitment: to provide high luxury in raw nature, for a maximum of 10 guests. Secluded in the bush are five chalets, each with a viewing deck, fireplace, bathroom (with hot and cold running water), and frothy netting looped over the bed. Dinner is at tables set with feathers, nests, and local artifacts. The Malawian chef takes pan-African exotica, such as ostrich and alligator, to epicurean levels, serving it with just-picked greens, native fruits, and estate wines. Forays to see raptors, bush babies, and white rhino are customized; many take place in response to the call of the hunting lion. Makweti Safari Lodge, Vaalwater; 800/545-1910 or 27-83/458-6122, fax 27-83/459-1153; doubles $800 per night, including all meals and game drives. —Jill Spalding

Salons . . . Bars . . . Products . . . Exhibitions . . .

The Beauty of Paris
If it's Paris this must be — Marrakesh?You heard right. Named for the Queen of Sheba, La Reine de Sabah is an enchanting beauty boutique and treatment salon in the Second Arrondissement that looks as if it came directly from the dusty, fragrant alleyways of the medina. In Sabah's best-selling épilation à l'orientale, sugar, lemon juice, and orange-blossom water are cooked to a gummy consistency, and then applied to the body for painless (or so they say) hair removal. Israeli-born owner Vanessa Sitbon gives ho-hum tresses a loud wake-up call with an application of clay followed by a sprinkling of jasmine oil absorbed under the cover of a steaming towel. The shop offers Sitbon's own shampoos, honey mask, and rose-based anti-wrinkle oil — plus complimentary tea. Moroccan mint tea, of course. La Reine de Sabah, 65-69 Rue Greneta, Paris; 33-1/40-41-06-64. —Christopher Petkanas

Cool Cocktails: London
Latest entry on the London nightlife scene: Claridge's Bar, tucked into a corner of the famed hotel of the same name. The space, designed by David Collins, is an homage to Art Deco, with lacquer, silver leaf, and Bakelite details. After hours, the neighborhood publishing crowd descends upon the burgundy leather banquettes to sip rare champagne and nibble on daikon spring rolls and caviar. Claridge's Bar, Brook St.; 44-171/629-8860. —Kathleen Beckett

Give it a Hand
When a sample of Jao arrived in the mail, we scoffed. Not another antibacterial hand cleanser. But after we spotted the trendy blue bottle for sale at Bliss spa and caught T&L's assistant picture editor Reena Bammi toting one in her bag, we gave it another chance. Now we're hooked on the lavender-scented germ-killer, perfect for keeping clean on the go. 888/296-8685; $3-$6.—L.B.

Not to Miss
Scope out porcelain pieces made at France's legendary Sèvres factory from designs by 40 artists, including Alexander Calder, Jim Dine, and Aurélie Newmours at New York's American Craft Museum. "Art & Industry: 20th-Century Porcelain from Sèvres" runs through May 2. Those who dislike museum shows because there's nothing to buy should head for the Smithsonian's 17th Annual Craft Show (April 15-18). Everything on display — including snakeskin evening bags — is for sale. —Kimberly Robinson

Lounges . . . Shops . . . Hotels . . . Gizmos . . .

Mercury Rising
Dr. Winkie, the curiously named force behind San Francisco's legendary DV8 nightclub, has unveiled Mercury, the newest addition to the white-hot SoMa district. Pacific Rim dishes are served in a cavernous dining room where crystalline chandeliers vie for attention with corset-laced columns of woven steel. Slip downstairs to the lounge for a drink at the feather bar — there are hundreds of white and black plumes behind glass. Mercury, 540 Howard St.; 415/777-1419; dinner for two $80. —H. Scott Jolley

It's making waves around the world. It's a WIND-UP RADIO, invented by a British escapologist (a modern-day Houdini). One or two minutes of winding allows a half-hour of play. The first to recognize its green potential, a South African company, Freeplay Energy, produces the radio at its Cape Town factory. 800/946-3234; $80-$120. —Gillian Cullinan

All Natural in Oregon
Buy sprouts, if you insist, at the sprawling Nature's Northwest, newly opened in the Portland suburb of Lake Oswego. At what may well be the largest health food store ever, shoppers can pick up herbal remedies formulated at the in-house apothecary, get radiant skin (courtesy of facials at the day spa), and even learn tai chi skills. There's also an aromatherapy blending bar, a soap bar, and (of course) a salad bar. Who knew the hippie lifestyle would come to this?Nature's Northwest, 17711 Jean Rd.; 503/635-8950. —Susan Hauser

Provence's New Haunts
From its commanding perch in the Lubéron Mountains, La Bastide de Capelongue gives south-of-France fanatics a new reason to cut a swath through lavender country. Seventeen bright guest rooms, the decorative work of local antiques dealer Hélène Degrugillier, occupy a complex of stone buildings dispersed village-style around a square in the town of Bonnieux. Meanwhile, just outside the ring road in neighboring St.-Rémy-de-Provence, Les Ateliers de l'Image is a new 16-room hotel whose photography theme comes through in a darkroom, a gallery, and workshops, some held in English. La Bastide de Capelongue, 33-4/90-75-89-78, fax 33-4/90-75-93-03; doubles from $214. Les Ateliers de l'Image, 5 Ave. Pasteur; 33-4/90-92-51-50, fax 33-4/90-92-43-52; doubles from $89. —C.P.

Trends . . . Fashion . . .

Soho's Latest Darling
SoHo has upped its chic factor considerably with the opening of Catherine. Catherine Malandrino — who does double-duty as chief designer at Diane von Fürstenberg — has filled the playful store with her flirtatious French fashions, as well as modern furniture, pottery, books, and CD's by Gallic greats like Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot. For spring, the inspiration is ultrafeminine 1950's French Riviera. Think leather pedal pushers in revved-up pastels, floral chiffon dresses topped with fitted cardigans, and silk shawls with lots of fringe. Catherine, 468 Broome St.; 212/925-6765. —Christine Muhlke

Hot in the City
• Fanny packs by Louis Vuitton and Helmut Lang
• Reebok Club's Boot Camp workout (Amy Irving is a fan).
• Avenue B, the new Restaurant Row.
• Beaded floral sandals from Stephane Kélian's new SoHo store.
• Acupuncture treatments at Sirene day spa.
• Sunday Makeout Parties — pucker up — at Chinatown's Double Happiness bar.

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