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Buenos Aires--the Paris of South America

Created date

November 24th, 2009

Now that winter is here, you re going to want to find a place where the sun s rays are actually hot. But what if you re not a beach person? What if you crave the cosmopolitan life a wealth of museums, restaurants with pizzazz, streets filled with shops and interesting people, architecture that inspires, and most of all, the electricity of a Paris or London minus the dreary skies and cold rains? Then your dream getaway awaits you on the other side of the equato in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the Paris of South America.

Parisian influence everywhere

[caption id="attachment_6811" align="alignright" width="280" caption="The pink Presidential Palace where Eva Peron made her speeches from the balcony. (Photo by Pierre Lehux)"][/caption] It s no accident that so many buildings in Buenos Aires remind you of edifices you might find in France. The wealthy residents of Buenos Aires would spend six months in Paris and return home to villas that were copies of their French abode. Even the more modern buildings maintain a European flair so you never feel how far south you actually are that is, if you don t count the endless blue skies and luxurious warmth in January and February. You can t stroll through a park without thinking of Paris because the designers were brought over from France to cause just that effect. Of course you won t see the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame, but you will see the Presidential Palace where Eva Peron stood to give her speeches. And the cemetery in Recoleta where she s buried actually offers more incredibly ornate ' monuments to gawk at than Paris Pere Lachaize. [caption id="attachment_6814" align="alignright" width="280" caption="Buenos Aires is filled with vibrant neighborhoods and architectural delights, like La Boca. (photo by Pierre Lehu)"][/caption] If you visit the Malba Museum in Buenos Aires, which features only artists from South America, and stop into the on-site caf , you ll discover that the menus are in French, the sandwiches come on baguettes, and many of those at neighboring tables come from Buenos Aires high society who have made this eatery a place to see and be seen.

Palate pleasing

You won t find a menu in Buenos Aires that doesn t feature steak, as the pampas with their tens of thousands of heads of cattle are close by, but the seafood is excellent too, and if you equip yourself with a list of the Spanish words for the potential ingredients, you ll discover some wonderful dining possibilities. But what might surprise you is that if you want pepper, you ll have to ask for it, as the Argentine palates don t seem to go for spicy foods. If you spend time in Palermo, Buenos Aires Left Bank, which is actually in the center of the city, you might try El Mundo for lunch, where you can dine in a covered terrace and enjoy a delicious black ink risotto. In the evening there s Uruquai where you can enjoy the evening air dining al fresco. [caption id="attachment_6812" align="alignright" width="280" caption="The El Rosedal garden. (Photo by Pierre Lehu"][/caption] Palermo is actually a good area to stay in, as the streets are quiet and lined with fancy shops and excellent restaurants. Mine Hotel is owned by a former Argentinian TV producer who grew tired of the rat race and now pampers guests in his boutique hotel where the staff treat everyone as if they were a star. Of course, no trip to Buenos Aires is complete without taking in a tango show. Ask your hotel concierge for a recommendation; many of the shows provide van service so you don t have to worry about transportation.