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Lingerie: the sensuality of it is so quintessentially French that we even use a Gallic word in English to describe it. And it follows that for chic and feminine Gallic charm, where better to start than with lingerie from Paris?

High-end French high street chain Princess Tam Tam is the most accessible, selling pretty and girly sets of underwear, as well as nightwear and swimwear. The collections change seasonally -- right now there is an abundance of zesty brights and delicate pastels for spring, alongside classic black, white and nude staples.

Chantal Thomass has retro pin-up designs that would be fit for the Hollywood starlets of yesteryear. Fifties-style high-waisted knickers, seamed stockings and lashings of glamour -- often in black and red, sometimes in pinks and blues -- make Thomass’ designs suitable attire for any aspiring femme fatale.

Having collaborated with French artists Pierre et Gilles throughout her career, Fifi Chachnil has a fun and slightly kitsch take on lingerie, and is on a quest against miniscule thongs and all associated vulgarity. With her ultra-feminine ruffles, frills and bows decorating lingerie in a soft palette of colours such as pastel blues and pale pinks, Chachnill is for the woman seeking romantic Parisian underwear.

And for the woman after something special, Sabbia Rosa’s intimate boudoir-style shop on Paris’ Left Bank (73 rue des Saints-Pères, 75006) -- the Parisian lingerie-maker’s only boutique worldwide -- stocks ready-to-wear lace-trimmed silk nothings but can also make custom-made pieces to order.

For extremely luxurious and exclusive pieces, Carine Gilson is the destination in Paris for made-to-measure couture lingerie. Gilson creates unique pieces, hand-made from the finest Lyon silk and Chantilly lace, which she says -- borrowing a word from another language -- should be considered not as underwear but as überwear.

Kim Laidlaw Adrey is the Paris Localite for BBC Travel. She also writes unlockparis.blogspot.com.

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