Places to shop:

It's time to check your credit limit, throw your inhibitions to the wind and do some Paris purchasing. What do you mean, you only want a carrier bag?
It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the shopping Mecca that is Paris. If you follow the more obvious routes of boulevard St Michel, Les Halles and the Champs-Elysées you run the risk of pushing through crowds all day only to come home with high stress levels and nothing that you couldn't have bought back home. Paris has far more specialised shopping areas than many other cities. For non-stop designer labels go to avenue Montaigne and its offshoots or rue du Faubourg St-Honoré. Equally crammed with exclusive retailers is St-Germain, which has all the major chains as well as more small-time treasure troves. Its history of literary greats still gives the Left Bank the edge for books as well as children's clothes and toys. For a laid-back browse, head to the Marais in the 4th and explore its hip shoe, jewellery, gift and lifestyle boutiques. For ultra-street accessories try rue Française and neighbouring streets around Etienne Marcel in the 2nd. On a sunny day, stroll along the Canal St Martin in the 10th, where you'll find second-hand bookshops and eccentric clothing outlets. For devoted foodies, first stop is place de la Madeleine in the 8th, home to Maison de la Truffe and Fauchon. Antique-lovers should scout out the 7th, and Imelda Marcos wannabes can bolster their collection on rue de Grenelle. But before you get so laden with bags you can no longer totter on your Gucci heels, there is one serious fact to remember. Crime has risen sharply in Paris in the past year, so watch out for pickpockets on escalators, Métro stations and busy shopping districts. Happy shopping!

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