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How to Spend the Perfect Sunday in Paris

Last Updated on 6th January 2023 by Sophie Nadeau

On Sundays in Paris, you can expect to find most businesses shuttered and closed. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t have a good time! Indeed, far from it. Instead, you can expect to enjoy a more local experience, how to spend a laidback day in the French capital, and discover some of the more relaxing activities that Paris has to offer. Here’s how to spend the perfect Sunday in Paris.

How to Spend the Perfect Sunday in Paris

Is Paris busy on a Sunday?

Paris is pretty much an empty ghost town on Sunday mornings. Even in the most popular places such as Le Marais or Montmartre, you’ll see few people with the exception of early morning joggers or photographers doing photos shoots.

However, this is most certainly not the case come Sunday afternoon (post lunch) when many French families and friends partake in the pastime of a post Sunday lunch stroll.

Ironically, if you want to see the French capital without the crowds, then Sunday morning is probably the best time to head out and explore thanks to the fact that many people are having a lie in post a Saturday night outing!

Free museum day

One of the most exciting things to note about Sundays in Paris (the first Sunday of the month to be precise) is that museums are free for anyone to visit. Of course, this means that even more people try to visit a museum on the first Sunday of the month than normally and so it can get pretty busy.

As such, be sure to turn up for the museum you wish to visit’s opening hour (or even slightly earlier) so as to avoid having to queue for too long. Some of the more popular museums to participate in the free museum Sunday include the Louvre Museum, the Orangerie (where you’ll find Monet’s waterlilies), and the Musée d’Orsay.

10+ Things to Know Before Visiting the Musée d'Orsay

Is everything closed in Paris on a Sunday?

Luckily for visitors, not everything in Paris is closed on a Sunday. Most museums and large department stores remain open all day. However, you should note that many smaller boutiques and supermarkets will be closed or will operate at severely reduced opening hours.

Best things to do on a Sunday in Paris

Enjoy brunch with friends

Though once more commonly found in London or New York, over the past decade or so, more and more foodie spots which specialise in brunch have been cropping up around the city.

While some take reservations, most don’t and so be sure to head to your chosen dining venue at opening time so as to avoid disappointment (and wasting your precious time in Paris queuing).

One of my all-time favourite brunch spots in Paris is that of Sunday in Soho, which can be found in the second arrondissement of the city. I personally love the vegetarian avocado toast. If you want to splurge out during your weekend in the city, then you can even opt to order a mimosa to accompany your brunch.

sunday in soho

Enjoy a picnic in the park/ along the Seine

Whether you’re looking for a more laid back meal or are looking to save money on your trip, then another option instead of brunch is to have a lazy picnic in the park or along the banks of the River Seine.

Perfecting the Parisian picnic is pretty easy: simply pick up supplies (strawberries, drinks, a baguette from a local boulangerie- check out the best bakeries in Paris here, and a plethora of other goods).

There’s no shortage of cool spots to hang out for a picnic, though I personally recommend heading to the 19th-century Parc des Buttes Chaumont or to the banks of the river Seine.

picnic spots in paris

Discover a small museum

Though many boutiques and independent shops are closed on a Sunday, many museums remain open and are instead closed on Monday or Tuesday. After checking out the Louvre or the Musée d’Orsay, I highly recommend checking out a smaller and off the beaten path museum in Paris.

It may surprise many visitors to the city, but there are well over a hundred museums in Paris, meaning that there’s quite literally a cultural hub to interest everyone. Visiting a smaller lesser known museum in Paris often means that there will be fewer people during your visit and that you’ll have more of the place to yourself.

One of my personal favourite museums in the city is that of Musée de Montmartre. Set against the backdrop of a former home, the museum boasts a glimpse into Renoir’s former artist atelier and stunning gardens which offer views onto one of the coolest hidden gems of Montmartre, that of the Montmartre vineyard.

la musee de la vie romantique

Get lost in Le Marais

Though there are some areas of the city that lack any kind of movement during Sundays in the French capital, Le Marais is simply buzzing with life. If you’re walking around Paris on a Sunday and are wondering where everyone has gone, there’s a good chance that you’ll find them in Le Marais!

From brocantes which pop up around the district to the many cafés and coffee shops spilling out onto the sidewalks of the 3rd and 4th arrondissements, there’s no shortage of things to see and do.

Truth be told, one of the best ways to discover Le Marais is on foot by allowing yourself to get a little lost and guide you wherever they feel like. Le Marais is literally translated into ‘the marsh’ in English and the name derives from the fact that, prior to the Middle Ages, the area was a marshy swamp.

Monks drained the swamp during Medieval times so that the city could expand and soon enough many wealthy Parisians constructed their mansions there. Many of these mansion houses still exist to this day and are known as ‘hôtels’.

During the 19th-century, the area largely escaped the Haussmannian architecture that led to the wide boulevards that Paris is synonymous with today. If you’re looking for spots to visit in the area, be sure to follow our free self-guided Le Marais walking tour.

Hidden Gems & Secret Spots in Le Marais You'll Love! Delightful offbeat and unusual things to do in Le Marais, Paris, France

Discover the village vibe of Montmartre

If you fancy escaping the hustle and bustle of busy city life but don’t want to leave the confines of the city by taking a Paris day trip, then the solution is simple: head to the butte of Montmartre. The 18th arrondissement is often known as the ‘village of Paris’ thanks to its quaint architecture, cobbled lanes, and slower pace of life.

Of course, the top attractions in Montmartre include the sparkling domes of the Sacré-Coeur Basilica, watching the artists painting ‘en plein air’ on Place du Tertre and spying the iconic La Maison Rose for yourself.

Other places worth checking out in Montmartre include Place Dalida and Le Consulat Café. During the autumn, Montmartre is one of the best places to check out fall foliage in Paris.

If you’ve already seen Montmartre and want to truly escape the crowds of Paris, then it’s worth noting that there are plenty of smaller pockets known as micro-arrondissements in the 13th and 14th districts of the French capital. Check out our guide to the best villages in Paris to discover more about these off the beaten path village-vibe spots in the city.

Go in search of antiques at a brocante

One of the top things to do during the weekend in Paris is to check out one of the many brocantes and antique fairs that pop up around the city. If you’ve ever spent any time during France during Brocante season (i.e. the late summer right through until Early fall), then no doubt you’ll have spied the little white tents, under which vendors from all corners of l’Hexagone (and often beyond) sell their wares.

From second-hand clothing to vintage porcelain and antiquarian books, there are entire treasure troves worth discovering when it comes to going to the antique markets of Paris.

For a look at where the next antique market in Paris will be held, you’ll want to check out Otherwise, be sure to check out our French brocante guide for top tips to know before checking out a vintage fair and our guide to the best brocantes in Paris to know where to go!

French Antique Market Guide: What to Buy at a Brocante in France

Head to a book market

Though brocantes often have a stand or two that’s dedicated exclusively to books, there’s nothing quite like heading to a book market that’s dedicated exclusively to books, such as that on the fringes of Georges Brassens park.

Known in French as the Marché du Livre Ancien et d’Occasion Georges Brassens, the book market has been in operation on a weekly basis since 1987. Previous to this, the location (a closed roof top with open sides pavilion dating back to the 19th-century) was used by butchers.

The book market is only open on the weekend; on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 AM – 6 PM. You should also note that the book market at Georges Brassens is almost entirely undercover, making it a great rainy day activity.

Old and Used Book Market George Brassens

Go on a Seine River Cruise

A particular activity that I recently had the pleasure of discovering was a Seine River Cruise. Though there are plenty of things to do in Paris on a Sunday, there’s one activity that I highly recommend to get a better feel for the city: a Seine River cruise.

One of the most affordable options is to take a one hour cruise which will take you past Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral, and other iconic sights. Find out more details here.

Otherwise, if you’re looking to celebrate an extra special occasion (or someone), then I highly recommend taking an evening dinner cruise. The evening cruises take just over two and a half hours and include drinks, as well as a three course meal (with vegetarian options available). Check prices and availability here.

For even more information, be sure to check out our complete guide to the best Seine River Cruises (for pros and cons and comparisons between the various tickets and cruises available).

river seine dinner cruise

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