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Pilates instructor Annie Venier helps ensure French women don’t get fat.

PILATES IN PARIS French women don't get fat, but is a diet of wine, butter and baguettes really the answer? American in Paris Annie Venier is doing her part to sustain the French paradox by teaching Pilates at her studio on the Left Bank. Like Starbucks, Pilates is a fervently followed trend in Paris, featured at high-priced sports clubs across the city. Venier, who is certified by The Pilates Center in Boulder, Colo., offers a more economical, tailor-made curriculum in private ($84) or small group sessions ($32) by appointment only.; 33 (6) 98-12-64-18

WHEN IN ROME, EAT GELATO Where, among the countless displays of multiflavoured gelato in Italy, will you find the perfect scoop? Pastry chef, author and Chez Panisse alum David Lebovitz delves into gelato as art, science and passion on a three-hour walking tour in Rome, June 7 and 9. Stops include tastings at some of the best gelaterie in the historic centre and a behind-the-scenes lesson on the making of the icy Italian confection at Giolitti, one of the oldest gelato makers in Rome. $84 per person through Context Travel.

BECAUSE YOU DON'T EVEN OWN A BACKPACK ANY MORE Offbeat adventure on a budget isn't for everyone, which is why Lonely Planet has added the Discover series to its guidebook repertoire. The latest edition, Discover Europe ($31.50), features colourful maps and suggested itineraries, a calendar of events (think Turkish camel wrestling in January and Irish oyster tasting in September) and accommodation options that are more luxurious than hostels and B&Bs. Lonely Planet's If You Like tips suggest lesser-known alternatives to major sights. In the Netherlands, for instance, if you like the Rijksmuseum, then you should consider the Bonnefantenmuseum, Groninger Museum and Kroller-Muller Museum.

MAGNIFICENT MEXICAN MEALS Old-fashioned country fare may be out of place in Mexico City's posh and modern Polanco district. But with the imminent opening of Dulce Patria, a sophisticated cantina in the Yabu Pushelberg-designed Las Alcobas hotel, tradition is bound to become trendy. Well-heeled diners can partake in the rustic-chic menu that includes staples such as chicken mole, shrimp soup and corn dough quesadillas with zucchini blossom bouquets. The Miraculous Horchata - a traditional Mexican drink made from peanuts, rice, cinnamon, sugar and water - seems a little less enticing.

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