Head for Paris and shop till you drop.

Nowhere do the shops have such style as in Paris. In the run up to Christmas, the French capital is especially wonderful for window shopping, and families gravitate towards the Boulevard Haussmann to peer at the spectacular designer-created displays at the department stores of Printemps and Galeries Lafayette, which has a theme of musicals this year. The annual displays are a must-see for locals and visitors.

Come January however, people are thinking more about real shopping than just looking, as the winter sales ((les soldes d'hiver) swing into action at 8am on Wednesday, the 12th of January, reports the Telegraph. The good news is that they last for just over a month (dates are controlled by the state) continuing until Tuesday, the 15th of February, giving you plenty of time to book a few days in the capital for a little retail therapy.

Department stores are practical but if you’re prepared to try out your school French, there are some big bargains up for grabs in the designer boutiques of rues Faubourg St-Honoré, St-Germain-des-Prés, Palais-Royal and the Marais.

Take the Eurostar from London St Pancras to Paris and stay at the new and tastefully decorated Hôtel de l'Athénée (www.hotel-athenee.com; doubles from £187), which is conveniently close to the big department stores.

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