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Be tempted by the Big Apple

New York is a city of skyscrapers, sex and scandal, or so it would seem from what we see on TV and at the movies. Why not sign up for a 'Sex and the City' tour and follow in the footsteps of Carrie and her friends, discovering the locations featured in the series: shopping, drinking and gossiping with the gals.

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Manolo Blahnik store 

SATC, New York Enlarge

SJP as Carrie Bradshaw 

New York Enlarge

The Chysler Building on 42nd St 

Judging from the TV, just about everything is possible in New York – it seems it's even possible to dash around the city wearing electric-blue 'Manolos' with four-inch heels. Fortunately the shoes everyone hankers after aren't de rigueur for tourists on the Sex and the City tour of New York, although a visit to Manolo Blahnik's shop just a few steps from MOMA in Midtown is certain to be on the 'must-visit' itinerary of any true fan.

This is a chance for fashionista fans of Carrie Bradshaw to discover some of her favourite shopping haunts, the boutiques and stores that featured so frequently in the life of the character portrayed on screen by Sarah Jessica Parker. During the six seasons of the series and the two later films, Carrie and her friends have been seen at hot spots all round Manhattan. And if you want the low-down on New York City as seen in the series, just sign up for the Sex and the City tour that takes in some 40 locations, including a stop at the apartment block on Perry Street, the real-life site of Carrie's on-screen home.

Many of the episodes take place in the shadows of the Midtown skyscrapers. Here, on the exclusive Madison Avenue, visitors with a passion for fashion will delight in boutiques such as Balenciaga, Lanvin and the Bridal Salon of Vera Wang, designer of the beautiful creation that Charlotte wore for her wedding to Trey. On Fifth Avenue, you can't miss the legendary Tiffany & Co. where Trey suggests they look for an engagement ring, as well as another of Carrie's favourites: Jimmy Choo.

If you're aiming to follow the style of Carrie – the woman who said “I like my money right where I can see it... hanging in my closet” –  don't miss out on a visit to the store of Patricia Field, the series stylist who was nominated for an Oscar for the costumes for The Devil Wears Prada. The store, with its Sex & The City clothing and accessories line, is in Bowery, a legendary prohibition-era district which has been restored and transformed into a chic neighbourhood, located between the Village and Chinatown.

A few blocks away in West Village, the Helena Rubinstein Beauty Gallery and Marc Jacobs store conjure memories of other scenes and outfits from the series, while a stop at the Magnolia Bakery, where the girls gorged themselves on cupcakes of all colours, is a great chance for a quick breather. We shouldn't forget that the show wasn't all about clothes and fashion, though, and a little farther north, near Union Square, is Pleasure Chest, the erotic toyshop where Charlotte buys her 'rabbit' in season one.

In Union Square itself, the Old Town is another good place to take time out, this time for a traditional burger in an all-American style bar. In Soho, the path for faithful followers of the series leads to Charlotte's workplace, the Louis K. Meisel Gallery. To the south, in Little Italy, who can resist a 'cosmo' at Onieals, the real-life bar that is the setting for Scout, the venue run on-screen by Carrie and Miranda’s ex-boyfriends?

Despite the name, in the southern tip of Manhattan, the Meatpacking District has changed butchery for boutiques, fine restaurants, jewellery stores and galleries. Here, the gastronomic destination for SATC fans is the French restaurant Pastis. Alternatively, though, you could opt for dinner at the Jean George or a bite at the Payard delicatessen over on the Upper East Side at the other end of the island. To get there, just hail one of the city's unmistakeable yellow cabs, and watch out for other sights along the way: not just scenes from Sex and the City, but Central Park – backdrop for the tender kisses of Love Story, the iconic Brooklyn Bridge of Woody Allen's Manhattan, the Empire State Building (though without King Kong), and uncountable other sights from this great city immortalised time and again in TV and movie scenes.

THE PRACTICALITIES

Best time to visit
New York is a city that never sleeps, and it's ready for you, day or night, at any time of year.

Where to stay
A clear favourite is the Plaza Hotel where Carrie said goodbye to Mr. Big. Big's luxury apartment seen in the film is actually the Piano Suite at the Hotel Giraffe.

Where to eat
Enjoy SATC inspired meals and snacks all through the day and all over town: breakfast pastries and chocolates at Payard, muffins and cupcakes at the Magnolia Bakery, burgers at the Old Town bar, brunch at Pastis  dinner at Jean George and cocktails at Onieals.

The Sex and the City trail
On Location Tours run a half-day themed bus tour visiting around 40 locations for $46. Alternatively you could splash out for a personalized tour complete with chauffeured limousine.

Don't miss
Get an overview of the city from the Empire State Building; admire the view of and from Brooklyn Bridge; take a ferry ride to Staten Island and visit the living history village at Historic Richmond Town; visit the Statue of Liberty (access currently restricted due to refurbishment; expected reopening autumn 2012); take a stroll through Central Park, site of the Natural History Museum and the Metropolitan; spend a morning at MOMA, the Museum of Modern Art; take in a Broadway musical; experience the bohemian ambience of Greenwich Village and Soho and the frenetic nightlife of Times Square.

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