Avenida Paulista  is the final frontier of Sampa ’s downtown area. Lying to the southwest is the leafy sprawl appropriately known as Jardins (Gardens). Modeled after the British garden suburbs of the early 20th century, Jardins is a wealthy and perennially fashionable residential neighborhood whose name conjures up lifestyles of Brazil ’s rich and famous. Jardins actually embraces four separate “gardens”: Jardim Paulista, Jardim Paulistano, Jardim América, and Jardim Europa.
Bordering Avenida Paulista, the exclusive high-rise condos of Jardim Paulista (part of the district known as Cerqueira César that spills over onto both sides of Avenida Paulista) are interspersed with some of São Paulo ’s most world-renowned and über-trendy restaurants, cafés, and bars. Rua Oscar Freire and the posh streets surrounding it contain a shopper’s dream of upscale boutiques selling the fashionable wares of leading Brazilian and international designers.
Leading down to Avenida Brigadeiro Faria Lima, on the edge of Pinheiros , Jardim Paulista turns into Jardim Paulistano, an area with many restaurants and bars. Meanwhile, Avenida Estados Unidos marks the beginning of Jardim América and Jardim Europa—two residential enclaves that are even more exclusive and wealthy, as evidenced by the opulent mansions that peek out from behind heavily guarded, thickly hedged, electrically fenced-in estates. Jardim Europa has a trio of small but interesting museums that are worth dropping into.
The Museu da Imagem e do Som (MIS, Av. Europa 158, Jardim Europa, tel. 11/3062-9197, www.mis.sp.gov.br , 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Tues.–Sun., R$3) usually hosts interesting temporary exhibits that showcase some of the treasures in its vast archive of historic and contemporary Brazilian photographs. On weekends, international shorts and art films are screened in the theater.
Close to the Museu da Imagem e do Som, the Fundação Cultural Ema Gordon Klabin (Rua Portugal, Jardim Europa, tel. 11/3062-5245, www.emaklabin.org.br , 2–6 p.m. Tues., Thurs., Fri., R$10) is located in a fabulous mansion inspired by Berlin’s Palace of Sanssouci. This private home was built in the 1950s by wealthy philanthropist and paper and cellulose heiress Ema Gordon Klabin. Klabin was so concerned with showcasing her constantly growing international and Brazilian art collection that she had the ceilings built to heights of 5 meters (16 feet).
As you wander from room to room, you’ll encounter everything from 6th-century B.C. Greek vases to paintings by Marc Chagall and Chaim Soutine. A highlight of the beautiful garden is the orchid hothouse.
Housed inside a 1930s saffron-colored villa, the Museu da Casa Brasileira (Av. Brigadeiro Faria Lima 2705, Jardim Europa, tel. 11/3032-3727, www.mcb.sp.gov.br , R$4, free Sun.) displays an eclectic permanent collection of Brazilian and international furniture dating from the 17th century to the present. It also displays temporary exhibits focusing on various aspects of furniture and design.
A delightful place for lunch or afternoon tea is the Quinta do Museu restaurant (www.quintadomuseu.com.br ), where tables are scattered around the villa’s original kitchen and throughout the adjacent garden.