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7 must-have experiences in Paris this winter

1. Go to a Fashion Freak Show

Eccentric, scandalous and funny, designer Jean-Paul Gaultier is shaking up Paris with a whole new genre of show, bridging the gap between magazines and catwalk displays at the Folies Bergères (until 29 December). Experience 50 years of pop culture through the eyes and life of the ‘enfant terrible’ of fashion. Gaultier has designed dozens of exclusive outfits for the show, and has collaborated with Nile Rodgers for the accompanying music.

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2. Step into Pretty Woman's shoes at a department store

Now that thoughts are turning to stocking fillers and pretty packages to pad out the tree, there’s even more reason to visit the French capital. Paris’ department stores are hard to beat in terms of sensory delights at Christmas: Galeries Lafayette, Le Printemps, Le BHV, Citadium and Le Bon Marché are decorated to festive perfection, and groaning with gifts for everyone from grandparents to newborns. These one-stop-shop collections will give you plenty of inspiration if you’re struggling.

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3. Take a selfie with the Mona Lisa

The world-renowned Louvre is far trendier than you might think: did you know Beyoncé and Jay-Z shot a music video there this year? Follow their art trail by starting under the Pyramid and heading towards the Denon wing. After the ticket check, continue on up the stairs and take the spiral staircase on your right to the Salle du Manège – then go up another flight of stairs on the right and cross the Galerie Daru.

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4. Kiss at the Eiffel Tower

Few urban landmarks are more iconic – and with its glittering hourly light display and a winter ice rink on the first floor, the Eiffel Tower has to be on your list this season. There are restaurants at first- and second-floor levels, and if you make all 276 metres to the very top, the views are truly spectacular. Beneath the tower in the Champ de Mars, make time to see the Monument to Peace, an ultra-modern memorial consisting of 32 columns and two glass structures upon which the word ‘peace’ is written in 32 languages and 18 alphabets.

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5. Experience a brand new temple of gastronomy

Open since August this year, Beaupassage is a new spot devoted to food and wellbeing in the 7th arrondissement. Enjoy a wine cellar from Yannick Alleno, a gourmet lounge by master pâtissier Pierre Hermé, a bakery by Thierry Marx, cheese from Fromagerie Barthélémy and street seafood by Olivier Bellin. All this is complemented by quirky art installations and plant-filled spaces, making it a haven of indulgence far from the city hubbub.

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6. See the Christmas lights from a 2CV

It’s not nicknamed the ‘City of Light’ for nothing: Paris’ Christmas lights are a major attraction for locals and tourists alike, with avenues and boulevards decked out in magical colours for the festive season. Why not hop into an open-topped Citroën ‘deux-chevaux’ for a night-time tour of the highlights of central Paris? Tours pass the Champs-Élysées (where the light switch-on is scheduled for 21 November), Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Grand Palais, Opéra and Louvre – so you’ll get an excellent overview of the city sparkle from the comfort of this iconic vehicle.

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7. Burn your feet on a trendy Parisian dancefloor

Paris boasts plenty of places to put on your dancing shoes. At La Bellevilloise, learn the tango, the swing or even the lindy hop in true 1920s spirit. Some places, such as the Théâtre de Verre, offer classes a few hours before the weekend dance shows. The Chalet des Îles, on the banks of a lake in the Bois de Boulogne, offers a cosy setting in winter with its lovely fireplace – with the additional charm of being accessible only by boat.

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