oh la la, st.-tropez
Connoisseurs of the Côte d'Azur are now resting their heads at the Hôtel Villa Belrose, a dream of lemon stucco, ruddy canal tiles, and brilliant white balustrades. Call it haute glamour: the estate is discreetly situated at the main entrance to St.-Tropez, on a residential bluff planted with parasol pines and cypress trees. All 34 rooms and six suites have private seaward terraces and are the last word in piled-on comfort. At dinner, tuck into a view of Ste.-Maxime across the gulf while indulging in chef Thierry Thiercelin's bourride, a classic Provençal fish stew thickened with aioli. Hôtel Villa Belrose, Blvd. des Crêtes, Gassin; 33-4/94-55-97-97, fax 33-4/94-55-97-98; doubles from $400. — Christopher Petkanas

Cafés . . . Transportation . . . Products . . . Beauty . . .

rice & beans go trendy
New Yorkers are finding a little piece of Cuba just a stone's throw from Little Italy. Café Habana, formerly a down-and-dirty local lunch counter, is now the breakfast, lunch, and dinner counter of choice for stylish boutique owners, artists, musicians, celebrities — and old-timers — in the downtown neighborhood nicknamed NoLita. Take a break from shopping to refuel with hearty plantain fritters and roast pork with rice and beans. Café Habana, 17 Prince St.; 212/625-2001; dinner for two $35. — Christine Muhlke

the french will fly
Francophiles, brace yourselves. A new subway line is helping push Paris into the 21st century. Météor moves passengers from Tolbiac-Masséna, in the southeast, to Gare St.-Lazare, in the northwest, in just 12 minutes. The computer-operated trains glide along bump-free on rubber tires, and with no doors between cars, riders cans see the interior from end to end. At each station platform, glass walls keep debris — and people — off the tracks. — Elizabeth Garnsey

herbs to go
Prefer valerian to sleeping pills?Green tea to coffee?The Herbal Remedy Travel Kit from Naturopathica is just your thing. Rehydrate plane-dried skin with Lavender Hydrolat; combat motion sickness with Peppermint Essential Oil; and add a few drops of Atlas Cedar Energizing Bath Oil — the perfect jet-lag elixir — to your tub. 800/669-7618; $65. — Hannah Wallace

a shear thing
If you're in need of cranial therapy by way of a trim, tint, and scalp massage, head to London's hottest new hair salon, the Lounge. The purple-padded Soho space has shag rugs and mod furnishings. Fashion-forward design collective Tomato provides new artwork for the walls and ceiling every six weeks: they're as up-to-the-minute as your hairdo. Appointments are going fast, so book before you board the plane. The Lounge, 26 Peter St.; 44-171/437-3877. — Helen Pipins

Equipment . . . Nightlife . . . Cinemas . . .

have bike, will travel
Don't let the tiny wheels scare you. Daewoo's Shuttle Bike, now being imported from Taiwan, is a portable wonder: it folds into a wee package and weighs just 31 pounds. The only drawback?The inevitable circus-clown jeers. Challenge those bozos to throw their bikes in the back of a cab. One- or three-speed, $219-$399; 800/962-2453. — Rima Suqi

china's got rhythm
Jazz is alive and well in Beijing — almost 50 years after the Cultural Revolution abruptly silenced it. At San Wei Bookstore (60 Fuxing Men Nai Daije; 86-10/6601-3204), the Wide Angle band plays Charlie Parker and Chinese-inflected fusion. Oldies but Goodies, a group of sexagenarians, appear at the Swissôtel (Dong Si Shi Tiao Li Jiao Qiao; 86-10/6501-2208). Leader Shengai Fan started on sax at age 11, when an American traveler gave him some Benny Goodman scores. At CD Café (N.E. Third Ring Rd.; 86-10/6501-8877, ext. 6156), you'll see saxophonist Liu Yuan, said to be China's best. — Marlaine Glicksman

pure theater
Glamour returns to Hollywood with the reopening of the Egyptian Theatre, the movie house that Sid Grauman built before the more famous Chinese. Its courtyard is decorated exactly as it was 75 years ago when it held the premiere of the original Ten Commandments. Now it's home to American Cinematheque, which shows rare and unusual films. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd.; 323/466-3456. — Chris Rubin