Fashion-conscious bargain hunters, sharpen your elbows: the Paris winter sales are underway. Over a six-week period running through Feb. 16 in 2016, stores throughout the capital (and other French cities as well) offer drastically reduced prices. Discounts of 70% or more are not unheard of during these legally regulated sales periods that are held twice a year, in both the winter and summer months. It’s not only the large department stores that offer sales, nor are the bargains confined to clothing. Boutiques, designer outlets, shops for electronics and housewares, and other retail establishments all use this period to shift stock.

There are different advantages to shopping throughout the life cycle of the “soldes.” During the first weeks, the choice of items and sizes is greatest, but as the sales progress, prices are slashed yet further. As the end of the sale period looms, the range of styles and sizes is obviously greatly reduced.

While countless blogs and forums address topics such as how to cope with crowds and where to begin the search for the handbag of your dreams, common suggestions include shopping mid-week, preferably in the morning; dressing smartly to allow for quick changes in the dressing room; avoiding impulse purchases in light of some stores’ no-return policies; and wearing comfortable footwear to cope with miles of walking.

To help shoppers orient themselves, The French Office of Tourism offers a free guide titled “The Shopping Book,” containing store addresses, themed shopping routes and other priceless info. Pick one up from one of six official tourist information points scattered through town, or learn about the sales at

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