Nothing to do on a Sunday in Paris? Here are nine cheap, cheerful and interesting ways to keep you occupied.
On Sundays, Paris is closed. Closed in a way the modern – or at least capitalist – world often finds it difficult to comprehend.
This can be extremely limiting if you are just passing through for a weekend, particularly as many great restaurants and bars are increasingly opening for dinner only Monday to Friday.
Sure you can hit the galleries, wander the parks or ascend one of Paris’s famed monuments, but if that’s your game plan I doubt you would be reading this website.
Avoid cinemas and museums. Avoid the Marais. Avoid planning some huge itinerary as Sunday’s are lazy in France. Succumb to the moment when time stops and profité from calm in the city.
Here are a few things to do on a Sunday that don’t involve ridiculous queues or pre-recorded audio tours.
Paris is slowly stepping up its breakfast game but you still need to know where to go. Our favourite is The Bottle Shop for a full english fry up and truly spicy bloody mary. The best of all is the Marché d’Aligre is in close proximity for those looking for a hit of ‘real Paris’ before breakfast.
The Bottle Shop, 5 Rue Trousseau 75011
From 9am – 5pm on Sundays many of the roads are closed to traffic in favour of bicycles, under a regime called Paris Respire. Notably most of central Paris along the Seine, the Canal Saint Martin, rue des Martyrs and a small area around Sentier. For those not wanting to brave the mid-week traffic, its a great time to grab a Velib and explore the city like a local.
Most tourists hit the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen near Clignancourt, but since when did flea markets have restaurants designed by Philippe Starck and vintage Cartier watches for €11,000? We prefer Porte de Vanves, where there are far less chic people and far less zeros on price tags. Particularly good for snaring Le Creuset cookware at astoundingly low prices.
Porte de Vanves, Avenue Georges Lafenestre 75014
Saturday & Sunday, 7am – 2pm
Paris is full of disused railway lines and tunnels, overflowing with street art and hidden stairways and general frivolity. La Petite Ceinture is perhaps one of the lesser known, less official stretches that traverses the north of Paris, dipping down into the 12th under the Buttes Charmont. The Promenade plantée is an official parkway following the old Vincennes railway line, adorned with greenery and quintessential iron arches.
The Chemin de fer de Petite Ceinture, 2 Rue Cauchy, 75015
One tourist trap we wholeheartedly endorse is the Vendettes de Pont Neuf, a smaller alternative to cargo-ship-sized cruisers that crawl the River Seine. It’s more interesting than being stuck in traffic on the roof of a brightly coloured bus and gives you a good perspective of how the city is built. For just €10 it gives you spectacular views of the Eiffel Tower & park that sits on Pont Neuf itself.
Vendettes de Pont Neuf, Square du Vert Galant 75001
If you are a local in Paris perhaps Sunday on a Seine cruise is not your idea of a great time. Instead you could rent an electric boat near Parc de la Villette and explore some of Paris’ northern canals. They go surprisingly far so be sure to pack some pâte and rosé for the ride.
Marin d’eau Douce, 37 quai de la Seine 75019
In the absence of authentic pubs (with the exception of The Green Goose) a good place to while away an afternoon with a pool table is at La Quille. This pool hall in Oberkampf is blessed with five tables and €13 jugs of Kronenbourg on the weekends, open 2pm – 2am. Best of all if you get really bored (or tipsy) you can head downstairs for mini bowling.
La Quille, 111 rue Saint Maur 75011
Beer in Belleville (or Mint Tea)
When the sun shines – and even when it doesn’t – Paris’ weird and wonderful gather on the terrace at Aux Folies to drink €5 pints of Stella Artois or hot sugary glasses of Mint Tea. Whether your beat is fashion, politics, video games or music, you are likely to find members of your tribe in this historical blue-collar café. Best of all its great for noisy boozy groups of people in a Sunday frame of mind.
Aux Folies, 8 rue de Belleville 75020
There is no better way to end a Sunday than with a regretfully full stomach of comfort food. One of our favourite places to achieve such goals is within the sprawling walls of Le Pacifique. This cantonese joint does dumplings, Chinese BBQ pork and the blessed ceremony that is Peking duck. Start with the crispy skin in pancakes with Hoi Sin sauce and asked your loved one to carry you home when you overdose on meaty broth and various stir fries.
Le Pacifique, 35 rue de Belleville 75019