San Jose's Santana Row

Luxury browsing with Euro flair in Bay Area's live/shop center

Carole Terwilliger Meyers

Finished three years ago, Santana Row already has the ambience of a much older neighborhood. An amble beneath the mature oaks in the park at one end of the linear outdoor mall feels a bit like walking through a European village. Large sculptures by French artists Andre Dumonnet and Christine Foulche are juxtaposed with antique fountains. One shop imported its 19th-century neo-Gothic façade from France. And the fragrance of fresh-baked croissants wafts out from the boulangerie Cocola.

The live/shop center―high-end condos and apartments top the shops―specializes in designer boutiques. Pop into Burberry for everything from perfume to the classic trench coats with iconic plaid lining, or linger over the feminine clothing at Anne Fontaine, famous for its white blouses.

Quintessential Art displays colorful sculptural glass by Kenny Pieper and Bernard Katz and contemporary mixed-media paintings by Mari Giddings and other artists. A few doors down, Vintage Wine Merchants offers tastings and a selection that runs from good values to pricey collectibles. Fortunately, the more than 900 wines are all identified with tasting notes.

A cup of rose petal- and lavender-spiked Earl Grey at Lisa's Tea Treasures is a nice break. Owner Patricia Ramirez stocks fine china for traditionalists as well as miniature purple tea sets for kids. If pearl tea is more to your taste, stop for a cold drink and a mochi sweet at Fantasia Tea Cafe.

Mutt follows another longstanding French tradition―encouraging canine indulgence. The shop offers pink "Desperate Housedogs" T-shirts, spa-quality grooming products, and a white carrier with pink daisies that's just like the one Jessica Simpson owns.

Reenergize with a vital energy-point massage at Ayoma LifeSpa in Hotel Valencia Santana Row, then step through the beaded curtains into the hotel's Vbar to try a Red Hot Mama―Bacardi silver, cranberry juice, and club soda. It pairs well with a plate of salmon and caviar on corn blinis. Bon appétit.

Where
Santana Row ( www.santanarow.com or 408/551-4611) is framed by Stevens Creek Blvd. and Winchester Blvd., near I-880 and I-280, in San Jose. Parking is free.

Shop
Anne Fontaine. 334 Santana Row, Ste. 1030; 408/296-6043.

Ayoma LifeSpa. Closed Mon; treatment prices vary, reservations recommended. In Hotel Valencia Santana Row, 355 Santana Row; www.ayoma.com or 408/423-5424.

Burberry. 333 Santana Row, Ste. 1015; 408/261-9100.

Mutt. On Olin Dr., Ste. 1065; 408/249-2345.

Quintessential Art. On Olsen Dr., Ste. 1175; 408/260-7500.

Vintage Wine Merchants. Wine tasting from $3. On Olsen, Ste. 1135; 408/260-1115.

Eat
Cocola. $; breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. 333 Santana Row, Ste. 1045; 408/551-0018.

Fantasia Tea Cafe. $; lunch and dinner daily. 378 Santana Row, Ste. 1115; 408/260-1668.

Lisa's Tea Treasures. 10-6 daily, tea service ($20, reservations recommended) 11-4 daily. On Olsen, Ste. 1145; 408/247-3613.

Vbar. $$$$; dinner Mon-Sat. In Hotel Valencia Santana Row, 355 Santana Row; www.hotelvalencia.com or 408/551-0010.