The French are known for their long Sunday lunches en famille that stretch into the afternoons.
After washing down a multiple course meal of tempting appetizers, hearty mains, cheese platters, and dessert with a bouteille de vin or two, the French toddle home sated—bellies and ears decidedly full. But where does that leave the rest of us?
It’s not entirely cliché to say France shuts down on Sundays. Forgetting to stock up on groceries before the market closes on Saturday can bring disappointment come Sunday. Even though certain areas of Paris act as an exception—think touristy: Châtelet Les Halles, Champs-Elysées, Montmartre—turning up to find shops, museums and grocery stores closed is a somewhat common experience if you don’t take care to look up opening days and hours in advance.
Rather than tussle with the crowds squeezing into open museums and shops, slip on your walking shoes and take to the streets! Spend your Sunday strolling to take in the best of what Paris has to offer.
Getting Out & About on Sundays in Paris
Whether you prefer wandering along the cobblestone quai de Seine or embracing the natural beauty of lush, statue-studded gardens like the Jardin du Luxembourg or the sprawling hills of Buttes Chaumont, there is much to gain by opting outside.
Rather than traveling by métro, walking through the city can illuminate how each arrondissement fits together and help you grasp the unique personality of the quartier. It only takes about three hours to cross Paris on foot, and along the way, you’ll find new architectural feats to examine from commemorative plaques en francais of famous former residents marking buildings (12 rue de l’Odéon marks where Sylvia Beach published James Joyce’s “Ulysses”), stone caryatides (one of my favorites resides at 55 rue de Turbigo), or ornate turrets reminding us of Paris’ medieval past (44 Rue des Francs-Bourgeois is not to be missed).
While most visitors will skip straight to celebrated monuments like the Palais Garnier Opera House, the Eiffel Tower, and the Arc de Triomphe, there’s much to see even when it comes to so-called anonymous architecture scattered all over the city. Take in the sculptural wrought iron and carved stone flourishes on the buildings—they’re somewhat commonplace for the Parisians, but to fresh eyes, even the quotidian can be awe-inspiring.
And don’t forget to welcome detours on your way. Tucked away behind Métro Saint Paul, you’ll discover two poky half-timbered townhouses on rue Francis Miron considered to be Paris’ oldest residences, dating from the 14th century. Taking a shortcut through Square René Vivani on your way to Shakespeare & Company is also well worth your time. You’ll take in views of Notre Dame from another angle, and pay a visit to Paris’ oldest planted tree at the foot of the Gothic Église Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre de Paris.
Where to Eat on Sundays in Paris
Though walking through Paris can offer a feast for the eyes, it can also work up quite the appetite. Where can you find a good meal out on Sundays in Paris? Give one of these tasty eateries a go.
Tucked away in the 14th arrondissement, this dreamy French bistro makes a perfect stop after experiencing some of the quartier’s far-flung tourist destinations like visiting Cimetière Montparnasse or the Catacombs. L’Assiette serves up classics like ballotine de volaille fermière, cassoulet, and escargot for hungry locals.
The brainchild of American chef Jody Williams, Buvette fits right into South Pigalle (So-Pi)’s hip atmosphere. Their Franco-American fusion menu has something for everyone. Opt for breakfast dishes, like their egg and waffle sandwich, at any time of day, or try the savory yogurt-topped vegetable tagine.
While the colorful tile-lined restaurant may depict cheerful circus clowns, there’s nothing funny about Clown Bar (114 rue Amelot). Known for their whimsical Belle Époque decor and inventive menu, their range includes fresh seafood, pâté en croute, and yes, veal brain.
The sister restaurant to the popular Jeanne A, Jeanne B offers a seasonal menu focusing on French fare. Think terrine de campagne, roast country chicken—the specialty—and gluten-free moelleux au chocolat.Want our insider’s guide to eating in Paris? Just add your email address in the form below! ADD_THIS_TEXT
Lauren Sarazen is a Paris-based writer and graduate student in literature at Université Sorbonne Nouvelle. Falling in love with the French capital during her semester abroad, she has called Paris her home since 2014. She contributes to publications such as The Washington Post, Los Angeles Review of Books, and Shondaland, and intermittently blogs at her website.