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Let's goParis sales

Hang on to some of that Christmas money if you’re a fashion shopper. Starting Jan. 7 in Paris, the state-regulated sales begin and continue for five weeks. Prices are reduced up to 70 percent at both the big department stores and smaller shops, especially in the main shopping zones of Abbesses, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Saint-Paul, Madeleine and Palais Royal.

The Paris Tourist Board has set up five shopping routes based on fashion style. They include "classic," "trendy" (cutting-edge), "bobo-chic" (arty, intellectual), "creative" (up and coming) and "world fusion" (international). During this time, kiosks with multilingual staff will be available in shopping areas for help. The tourist board will also have its 2009 "Shopping Book" available, which will list new shopping locations, maps and special walks.

For more details, check out http://shoppingbyparis.com/EN

Online global shoppingMaybe you can’t travel to all those places you’d like to go. If not, you can take a "virtual safari" and buy locally through a company called Sephari.

The company has organized an online global marketplace formed from a collection of worldwide merchants and artisans, with more than 159 artisans representing 10,150 products from 65 countries. It connects customers not only with worldwide merchants selling crafts and products but also with cultural information about the country and people who make the products.

The money you spend is tax deductible.

The company’s goal is to give people in developing countries better access to developed markets in which to sell their handcrafted products and thus improve their livelihood.

Products include ethnic accessories, jewelry, art, clothes, collectibles, furnishings, music, stationery and toys.

The Web address is www.sephari.com Special in Avignon

Until March 31, the city of Avignon, France, is offering a two-for-one special for visitors: Choose a weekend and stay two nights while paying for one.

Prices depend on the hotel category and range from less than 65 euros (about $90) to more than 160 euros. The price includes breakfast, a free guided tour of the city, one free monument visit and two seats at the theater for the price of one.

See www.bonweekendavignon.com

Best BetsGERMANY: In July 1953, the name of East Berlin’s Charlottenburger Allee was informally changed to Strasse des 17 June (17 June Street) to commemorate those in East Germany who had attempted but failed that year in a rebellion against the communist regime. More than 55 years later, it’s the scene of one of Europe’s biggest New Year’s Eve parties in the united country. On Dec. 31, its 1½-mile pavement between the Brandenburg Gate and Siegessäule will be packed with show stages, food and drink stands, light and laser performances, video screens, DJs and dancing. At midnight, a giant fireworks display over the gate will welcome the New Year. The party’s Web site is www.silvester-berlin.de/English/start.html Berlin’s Web site is www.berlin.de

ENGLAND: The theme of London’s New Year’s Parade is "Rejuvenation and Health." Celebrating its 23rd anniversary, the colorful event starts at noon in Parliament Square and travels to Whitehall, Trafalgar Square, Pall Mall, Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus and Piccadilly before finishing at about 3 p.m. at Berkeley Square. In addition to the floats and an international cast of circus characters, bell ringers, musicians, marching bands and cheerleaders, the parade will feature trained health professionals who will help visitors keep their New Year’s health resolutions by providing information. Details at www.londonparade.co.uk

The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds will lead Friday’s annual Boxing Day pilgrimage from the cathedral in Ripon’s city center through the Yorkshire countryside to Fountains Abbey. The walk commemorates an event in 1132 when 13 Cistercian monks from St. Mary’s Abbey in York stayed in Ripon on Christmas. The day after, they walked the four miles along the River Skell to found the abbey. The walk begins at 9:30 a.m. from the cathedral. For details, call the cathedral office at (+44) (0)1765-603-462.

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