Gertrude. As the name implies, this is your one-stop shop for all manner of things so marvelously useless, overpriced and intrinsically hideous they’re instantly hip. Expect digitial doodads no bigger than a thimble, CDs mixed by robots, and an array of faux-exotic cosmetics (the likes of Aveeno oatmeal soap are presented as imports with prices starting at $61 per item). Are those burlap potato sacks on level two right? No, that’s Gertrude’s new line of organic flax separates. The tri-level store also has a legendary basement restaurant where every item on the 22-page menu is prepared in the shape of a horse. 99 rue du Cheval-Pissoir. Tel. 01.8. Metro: On strike.
Hotel des Trois Salopes. (Inn of the Three Bitches). Surly service isn’t just the rule at this Left Bank wonder hole, it’s the main attraction. You’ll be greeted with a glare and a growl from one of the three La Hore sisters, each of whom is convinced she’s the biggest bitch of the three, before another of them deigns to check you in. Each of the 9 rooms and broom closets that pass for them is thoughtlessly appointed with middle bitch Beatrice’s colored chalk renditions of famous bitches from history, starting with Madame de Pompadour right on down to Leona Helmsley and Hugo Chavez. (Charcoal sketches of Marie-Antoinette and Barbara Bush are in store for 2010.) In reverse homage to the Westin Heavenly Bed, guests here are free to choose from two kinds of mattresses: lumpy-stained and lumpy-bedbug. If the sheets need cleaning, just ask one of the bitches at the front desk for directions to the nearest riverbank. Reservations accepted, reluctantly. 96 Blvd. du Cauchemar. Phone: are you kidding? Metro: on strike.
Le Sans-Oreilles. Literally, translated, this restaurant’s name means the no-ears. And while the waiters aren’t really deaf, that’s a nod to the tradition of reversing and/or totally ignoring customers orders and/or special requests. Here as nowhere else in the French capital, it pays to dine with a strategy: If you want steak frites, for example, try ordering the codfish. Tempted by the tarte tatin? Order foie gras. And if your waiter interrupts your ordering to take a call on his cellphone, don’t be offended, be grateful, because you’ll be experiencing the cutting edge in French hospitality trends up close. A great address, especially for the hearing impaired. 55 rue du Porte-Cochon. No phone. Metro: On strike. $$