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Shop Till You Drop In Paris

Loose yourself at Le Grand ComptoirIf you find yourself in the 7th district, take some time to stop by 116 Rue du Bac and check out the Grand Comptoir (the Big Counter), a luminous and refined shopping place filled with a motley of weird and wonderful Parisian items.

The entrance courtyard is lined with a variety of cow pictures in tribute to "Vach'art", the French version of CowParade, a movement that started in Zurich in 1998 and now spans the entire globe (and for cow fans, you'll find some miniatures for sale inside).

The top level of the Grand Comptoir offers a full array of ready-to-wear clothes for men and women. Beauty products and foodstuffs are on the ground floor, along with many shops selling indoor and outdoor house accessories and a host of other things: old style photos albums with pictures of Paris, pillows with your own black and white photo printed on them, dinner sets, wine bottle boxes, lights, linens, art, etc. You can also shop for gorgeous rustic pieces of heavy wooden furniture and wrought-iron (and typically Parisian) benches. These items are of course unlikely to fit into your suitcase, but they are rather nice to look at anyways.

Prices are all over the place, but there's plenty of affordable stuff for bargain hunters.

Le Grand Comptoir is located at 116 rue du Bac, 75007 Paris, and can be accessed from the 'Sevres-Babylone' metro station. Their phone number is: 33 (0)1 4049 0095.

Free concerts in an awesome setting!Free music anyone? While in Paris you can attend free concerts twice a week at Saint-Merri Church in downtown rue Saint-Martin. This church dates back to 1550. Its architecture has been inspired by Notre-Dame's, and in fact it is known as 'Notre-Dame la petite' (the little Notre-Dame). It is chock-a-block with impressive stained-glass windows, frescos, bas-reliefs, sculptures, tapestries and paintings, not to mention its beautiful musical center-piece, an awesome organ with a long and distinguished history.

Concerts last around an hour and start on Saturdays at 9:00 pm and on Sundays at 4:00 pm. Although the musical genre is predominately classical, they do play jazz from time to time, and even rarer kinds of music: classical Indian, Chinese, Armenian, and medieval music. Donations are appreciated but entirely at your discretion.

On the first and third Sundays of every month the Church offers a guided visit of the building after the concert.

The Saint-Merri Church is situated at 78 rue Saint-Martin, 75004 Paris. The phone number is: 33 (0)1 4271 9393. The two closest metro stations are: Hotel de Ville (take exit Rue du Renard); and Chatelet (take exit Place Sainte Opportune).

Parisian designer leather & fur - direct from the manufacturers!I couldnt believe my luck when, wandering through the Rue de Paradis on the lookout for yet more shopping bargains for the readers of, I spotted the workshop exhibition of Jekel. Since 1947, Jekel has been bringing French fashion know-how to designer leather and fur.

I know fur isn't the most popular item in the United States, and it is much less worn in Europe than in the 1920-50s. The art of designing fur coats and accessories is quickly disappearing, a less than a hundred craftsmen remain in activity in Paris. Finding fur clothing may soon be as difficult as finding a genuine Rembrandt in an attic.

I met with the owner of Jekel, Sylvain Jekel himself who explained that his workshop creates and sells exclusive designer leather models, and fur clothing and accessories. Jekel distribute their goods internationally to ready-to-wear names and quality retailers such as Galeries Lafayette, Sonya Rykiel, Darel, Apostrophe, etc. The workshop is situated at No. 22 Rue de Paradis. The ready-to-wear clothing available off the rack is not tailor-made, but Sabrina, the lovely assistant I met, confirmed that Jekel could adjust items on the spot for you (and indeed, she was busily adding a button for a customer as we were speaking).

Prices start at 300 euros, and they can even ship your purchases oversees so you dont have to overload your suitcases.

Once again, the address of the Jekel workshop is 22 Rue de Paradis, 75010 Paris. Their phone number is 33 (O)1 4770 7390, and you can get there from the following stations: 'Gare de l'Est', 'Poissonniere', and 'Chateau d'Eau'.

Discover your very own Paris: dont miss the next issue of newsletter by Phil Chavanne, Paris veteran and author. Each issue brings you tips on everything Paris, from great spots for a stroll to off-the-beaten-track attractions, to the best in real Parisian eateries.

About The Author With thirty years of on-the-ground experience, Phil Chavanne has helped many travelers to make the best of their stay in Paris and shares many useful advices on the city at
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