On a mission to bring French literature to American audiences, Albertine is the only bookshop in New York City dedicated entirely to books written in French and English, offering 14,000 titles from 30 Francophone countries. Located in the historic Payne Whitney House on the Upper East Side, the French Embassy established this multicultural literary platform in an effort to promote a French-American intellectual exchange. Designer Jacques Garcia is the mastermind behind the building’s Italian flair; Lorenzo de Medici’s 15th century villa serving as Garcia’s main source of inspiration. The bookshop displays a remarkable set of sculptures gifted by the talented ateliers of the Musée du Lourve, fostering a Renaissance-style atmosphere perfect for homesick European bookworms everywhere.
Albertine, 972 5th Avenue, New York, NY, USA +1 212 650 0070
Central Park Conservatory Garden
Just beyond the 19th century Parisian-style iron gates that once stood before the Vanderbilt Mansion on 5th avenue lies the Central Park Conservatory Garden. Located in the northern region of Central Park, this six-acre garden merges three distinctively European botanical styles. The central garden, also known as ‘The Italianate’, is made up of a large, lush lawn surrounded by pink and white crab apple trees. The French component, located in the northern part of the Garden, is known for its stunning seasonal displays of tulips and parterres of germander. Last but not least, the English garden is located in the southern region of the Garden, displaying a signature Victorian quality. The perfect place for a quiet and colorful afternoon stroll, this peaceful setting offers an escape from hectic life in the city.
An increasingly popular Chelsea hotspot, this contemporary French restaurant is the ideal fix for a weekend brunch craving. Montmartre blends the quintessential Parisian brasserie aesthetic with the simplicity of the American family-style restaurant in a quaint yet unpretentious setting. The menu features their signature beef burger with sweet onions, creamed spinach and béarnaise cheese, ranked ‘Best Burger’ by New York Magazine in 2014, in addition to unmissable brunch options such as crème fraîche pancakes and Pommes Rosti. Montmartre is one of the many citywide favorites included in the Happy Cooking Hospitality family of restaurants started by West Village restaurateur Gabriel Stulman, which also includes Joseph Leanoard, Jeffrey’s Grocery and Fedora.
New York Public Library
A mecca for readers, researchers and students alike, the architecture of this New York City institution calls for a well-deserved visit. The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building is the flagship site of the New York Public Library, located in the midst of the hustle and bustle of corporate, high-rise midtown. An early 20th century beaux-arts creation by Carrère and Hastings, this historical landmark is nothing short of majestic and offers the perfect historical refuge from modern New York City life. From the iconic lion sculptures at the entrance to the grand chandeliers and ornate wood-carved ceilings, the building’s astounding level of aesthetic detail transports visitors to Baroque-era Europe and will leave you with the urge to start reading again.
The Raines Law Room
Prohibition-era inspired bars (more commonly known as speakeasies) are popping up in cities across the country, adding a fresh twist to the all-too-familiar traditional American bar scene. As expected, New York City gave the new trend a warm welcome with unique gems such as The Raines Law Room. This well-known speakeasy boasts two central locations in Manhattan: one in the Flatiron district and another at boutique hotel The William. This swanky, 1920s-themed cocktail lounge is named after the 1896 Raines State Law forbidding alcohol sales on Sunday, which led to the establishment of numerous hidden bars throughout the country. Chesterfield furniture, black gauze curtains and brick walls enforce a mysterious and exclusive atmosphere where Gatsby meets Sherlock. Exquisite, handcrafted drinks compliment this luxurious space, making it an ideal spot for cocktail-savvy anglophiles.
By Helena Bajaj Larsen
Helena Bajaj Larsen is a Fashion Textiles student at Parsons The New School for Design with a love for travel writing and photography. A multilingual half-breed, Helena was born and raised in Paris by an Indian-Norwegian family before moving to NYC for college. She hopes to pursue writing alongside her design studies through her contributions for The Culture Trip.