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For centuries, French design has set the standard for style and class. Today, that traditional elegance can be found in Paris right along with the latest, cutting-edge designs.

Fans of contemporary design will find great shops all over Paris, but the current hotbed is in the Northeast section of the Marais neighborhood, referred to as Haut Marais (Upper Marais):

Shop in Style for Modern Furnishings

Fabulous product and furniture designers Jean-François Dingjian and Eloi Chafai of the Normal Studio (www.normalstudio.fr) recommend these shops in Paris for the latest chic offerings:

Galerie BSL (23 rue Charlot; tel. 01/44-78-94-14; www.galeriebsl.com; 3rd arrondissement, Metro: Saint-Sébastien-Froissart)

Head to this store in the Haut Marais district for a selection of cutting-edge designer furniture and other interesting creations.

FR 66 (25 rue du Renard; tel. 01/44-54-35-36; www.fr66.com; 4th arrondissement, Metro: Hotel de Ville or Rambuteau)

FR66 provides interior design advice along with their snazzy furniture collection.

Merci (111 Blvd Beaumarchais, tel. 01/42-77-00-33; www.merci-merci.com; 3rd arrondissement, Metro: Saint-Sébastien-Froissart)

This is a "concept store." The proceeds on everything for sale -- trendy men's and women's fashions, fabrics, vintage clothes, and housewares -- benefit children's charities.

Silvera (41 Ave de Wagram; tel. 01/56-68-76-00; www.silvera.fr; 17th arrondissement, Metro: Ternes or Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile)

There are seven Silvera design stores in different Paris neighborhoods, each with a unique selection of products and modern furniture from well-known European designers as well as up-and-coming young talent.

Explore Design Centers & Museums with Style

Design specialist Andrée Fraiderik-Vertino (www.andreefraiderikvertino.com) suggests checking these out:

Les Ateliers de Paris (30 rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine; tel. 01/44-73-83-50; www.ateliersdeparis.com; 11th arrondissement, Metro: Bastille) Open for exhibitions: 1pm-7pm Tuesdays-Saturdays

View design exhibitions in the gallery and use the interactive map on the website to find designers' studios open to the public. (In French, but the photos make it easy to understand.)

Le Lieu du Design (74 rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine; tel. 01/40-41-51-02; www.lelieududesign.com; 12th arrondissement, Metro: Bastille) Open for exhibitions: 1pm-6pm Mondays-Fridays; 11am-6pm Saturdays

This shop was created to raise public awareness of all aspects of design, from new talent and new materials to industrial design and eco-design.

Musée des Arts Décoratifs (107 rue de Rivoli; tel. 01/44-55-57-50; www.lesartsdecoratifs.fr; 1st arrondissement, Metro: Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre) Open: 11am-6pm Tuesdays-Sundays

In this museum, trace the history of the decorative arts such as furniture, tableware, and objets d'arts. Start on the third floor and work your way through the various styles from the Middle Ages right up through Art Nouveau and Art Deco to the present. An informative audio guide is included in the admission fee. Also, stop by the gift shop for contemporary design items and accessories such as housewares, toys, and gifts.

Gallery S. Bensimon (111 rue de Turenne; tel. 01/42-74-50-77; www.bensimon.com; 3rd arrondissement, Metro: Filles du Calvaire) Open: 11am-1pm & 2:30pm-7pm Tuesdays-Saturdays

Serge Bensimon -- fashion designer, art collector and the brains behind the design concept store Home Autour Du Monde (12 rue des Francs Bourgeois) -- launched this gallery to exhibit his own collection, highlight the work of others, and create an incubator for unique design ideas.

Paris Hotels With Style

Get inspired by staying at a stylish Paris hotel, such as the recently-renovated Le Royal Monceau (37 Ave Hoche; www.leroyalmonceau.com) or the elegant Hôtel Raphael (17 Ave Kléber; www.raphael-hotel.com).

You'll find a nice selection of hotels with panache on these two sites: Design Hotels (www.designhotels.com) and Splendia (www.splendia.com)

Renaissance Paris Arc de Triomphe (39 Ave de Wagram; tel. 01/55-37-55-37; www.renaissancearcdetriomphe.com; 17th arrondissement, Metro: Ternes or Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile)

Steps away from the Arc de Triomphe, this very modern hotel brings contemporary flair to a traditional neighborhood. Architect Christian de Portzamparc designed a wavy, glass façade, creating bay windows for the guest rooms. The interior design by Era Studio continues the "Paris City of Light" theme with white furniture contrasted with bright cerise accents. The hotel staff is as pleasant and upbeat as the surroundings.