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In Paris, Living Large for Less


And should it rain, why not a movie? Paris has always been a glamorous place for cinema, with its vast selection of gorgeous art-house theaters. But the Cine-Theatre 13 of Montmartre takes the classic art-house cinema to a new level: Spectators sit on couches and armchairs in a sexy, low-lit room with a full bar.

For about $19, you get the movie fare along with a coupe of champagne. There's something divinely French about sipping champagne in the dark as you watch a movie. The intimate atmosphere is even more pronounced on Saturdays, when the audience chooses from a selection of three possible films. It's most likely the closest you will get to a luxurious private screening room in this lifetime. Take a liking to a particular armchair? Next time you visit, you can call ahead to reserve it.

At the Ritz's Hemingway Bar in Paris, even visitors sans deep pockets can feel at ease in the low-key surroundings. (Rory Satran)

Cine-Theatre 13, Le Cinema du Moulin de la Galette, 1 Ave. Junot, 18th arrondissement, Montmartre, 011-33-1-4254-1512, www.cine13.com. Metro: Lamarck-Caulaincourt. Admission $10, $19 with champagne.

Shopping at Chanel

Don't despair, penny-pinching fashionistas. There is a home for us all at 31 Rue Cambon, Mademoiselle Chanel's legendary boutique in the first arrondissement. No, I am not going to reveal the Perfect Little Black Dress for $40. Doesn't exist, sorry. Remember, this is all about tiny luxuries -- beautiful little trinkets to tide you over until you hit the jackpot. So nod to the doorman outside and enter the fashion mother ship.

This is the only place in the world that your clumpy Birkenstocks will not make a sound -- the carpet is like a giant marshmallow. There are fresh white camellias and orchids everywhere, Coco's choice. The place is like a giant white womb for luxury addicts.

After a nice long browse around the $6K tweed and leather suits, head to the makeup counter and let the impeccably groomed vendeuse or maquilleuse help you. This is Chanel, and she does know best. Breezily let her know that you just dropped in to pick up the latest lipstick -- are there any new exciting shades? Don't worry, all of Chanel's employees speak English. Possibly German and Japanese, too. Then, the clincher: Let Madame know that the lipstick is a gift and you would like it wrapped. Your $20 lipstick will be duly swathed in yards of black satin ribbon and a white silk camellia. And you get to carry around the most classically chic shopping bag in the city all day long.

Chanel, 31 Rue Cambon, 1st arrondissement, 011-33-1- 4286-2800, www.chanel.com. Metro: Madeleine.

Ribbons and Sparkles

Every Parisian fashion-school student and savvy designer has the legendary La Droguerie in his or her address book. The name means "hardware store," but I am not suggesting that you outfit yourself in chains and bolts. La Droguerie is in fact a vast wonderland of all things ornamental, ostensibly for the seamstress: feathers, ribbons, buttons and sparkles, among other treasures.

There are a few branches, but the most well-stocked is that on Rue du Jour, in the 1st arrondisement. For less than $13, I recently purchased three pompoms of satiny rabbit fur in crimson, gray and mallard blue, which I affixed to my winter coat with safety pins. Tres chic!

Well-heeled Parisians go to La Droguerie for more than just cheap and original fashion, but also for the elegant details of everyday life: delicate silk flowers for the table, polka-dotted ribbons to adorn lampshades or trimmings for gorgeous photo albums. I have one fashionable French friend who creates beautiful Japanese-inspired gift wrappings from La Droguerie's wares. An incredible cloth and string wrapping (topped off with a silk lotus flower) can transform the most banal of gifts into a gem. La Droguerie proves that in Paris, luxury really is all in the details.

La Droguerie de Paris, 9-11 Rue du Jour, 1st arrondissement, 011-33-1-4508-9327. Metro: Les Halles.

Glittering Nightlife

Young Parisians are increasingly bringing the principle of the petit plaisir to underground nightlife, once the territory of beer in plastic cups. The OPA, a Bastille bar and club better known for its progressive twentysomething DJs than its sumptuousness, now offers its clientele an affordable treat: A magnum of champagne for about $90. For those unfamiliar with the magnum, we're talking about a giant, double-size bottle of champagne hitherto seen only in rap videos. It's perfect for the jaded children of the night. And if you split it with six friends, it's also about the price of your average Parisian cocktail. With a flute of champagne in one hand, you might even fool people into thinking you're French, a definite nightlife plus.

A foolproof way to glam up your nighttime posse, along with the magnum, is the addition of those ubiquitous digital cameras. Young and trendy Frenchies are susceptible to all things small and silver, so snap away at your crew constantly. It's all about the power of persuasion: If you have to be an American, you may as well be a movie star.

OPA Bar and Club, 9 Rue Biscornet, 12th arrondissement, 011-33-1-4628-1290. Metro: Bastille. Admission varies, sometimes free (call ahead).

Trendy Art Opening

Another epicenter of young and trendy luxe is the Palais de Tokyo, a relentlessly cutting-edge modern art museum in the stodgy 16th arrondissement. The installations and exhibitions of the Tokyo are worthy on their own, but there is no better incarnation of hip luxury than the near-monthly vernissages (exhibition openings) that take place on Wednesdays from 8 p.m. until midnight. There's free food, free booze and far better people-watching than you'll get at the Cafe de Flore, that old standby of guidebooks. Who can turn down an open bar and the chance to mingle with the Parisian art community? What's more, the space is truly impressive, with vast columns and looming windows -- an original place to take in an exhibition, and a welcome change from the Pompidou Center.

It's also one of the only completely free ways to experience the Parisian pleasures of wine, eye candy and innovative art. It's like one of those glamorous parties that usually require humiliating waits behind velvet ropes -- minus the ropes and the cover charge. After all, part of the principle of the petit plaisir is the decision to get out of the house, dress up and make daily life just a bit more enchanting -- even for just a few hours.

Palais de Tokyo, 13 Ave. du President Wilson, 16th arrondissement, 011-33-1- 4723-5401, www.palaisdetokyo.com. Metro: Iena. Admission $7.70.

Rory Satran is a freelance writer based in Paris.

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