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Shopping in Paris
Shoppers stroll the famously picturesque avenue to check out the mammoth Virgin Megastore, as well as the mix of upscale boutiques like Louis Vuitton and Cartier, along with pocket-friendly chains like Zara and Sephora. A detour onto the other two legs of Paris' "Golden Triangle" - down avenues Montaigne and then up George V - will make your eyes sparkle and your wallet melt.
The grandest of the few surviving 19th-century passages couverts, or covered arcades, the elegantly restored Galerie Vivienne, with its iron-and-glass roof and ornate tiled floor, is home to a dozen interesting boutiques, a high-end wine shop, and a bistro. Highlights include Odette & Zoe for funky accessories, La Marelle for designer second-hand clothes, and the American-owned tea salon A Priori Thé.
Shoppers head to Boulevard Haussman for the mega-department stores Galeries Lafayette (#40) and Printemps (#64), which sell everything from home fashions to clothes - the former hosts fashion shows (check its website for schedules). Galeries Lafayette: 011-33-1-42-85-12-00; www.galerieslafayette.com; Printemps: 011-33-1-42-82-50-00; www.printemps.com
A fantastic pedestrian-friendly shopping district, le Marais is a medieval maze of streets harboring trend-setting boutiques on the ground floor of 17th-century mansions, plus fine shops and galleries along the perimeter of the Place des Vosges. On the district's northern edge is the Marché des Enfants Rouges, the oldest food market in Paris, founded in 1615.
Flea markets (open on weekends and sometimes Mondays) on the outskirts of Paris are worth the trek for antique treasure hunters; Saint-Ouen's flea market, or marché aux puces, in the 18th, is the best-reputed. Take time to sift through the heaps of silverware, antique beads, 1920's purses, or - if you can arrange a container - the beautifully restored art deco furniture.
Small designers have flocked to Montmartre in recent years, making this charming "village" a shopping destination. Troll the streets around the Abbesses métro station to find trendy boutiques, notably along Rue des Martyrs, Rue Houdon and Rue des Abbesses.
Rue du Faubourg St-Honoré
This hoity 8th arrondissement rue is a magnet for shoppers on the prowl for international haute-couture from the designer houses of the ilk of Dior and Hermès. Don't miss the Boutique Talents-Atelier d'Art de France, near Opéra, where you can find the works of hundreds of young French craftsmen specializing in objéts for the home
The streets of St-Germain-des-Prés, in the 6th, exude pure charm. Follow Rue de Seine for art galleries and Rue Jacob for furnishings and accessories. Then stop into Au Plat d'Etain, on Rue Guisard, for the most charming collection of toy soldiers and figurines you're likely to see anywhere - even if you don't intend to buy.
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