Paris has a reputation for being super boring on Sundays because *everything* is closed. However, if you know where to go, you can actually have an incredibly lovely time. I was recently there on a 36hr layover and created this guide for anyone wanting to spend a Sunday in my favorite city: Paris.
Disclaimer: If you’re looking to do the typical touristy stuff in Paris, this post is not going to be useful at all. I used to live in Paris, so it’s been decades since I have visited any tourist site other than a museum.
The best neighborhood on Sunday is Le Marais which was traditionally the Jewish quarter has special permits to operate on Sundays given that a lot of the shops close on Friday afternoons and remain closed on Saturday.
6 am: land at CDG
I was coming from the US, so I arrived at CDG painfully early. In fact, my flight arrived 45 minutes early which put me on the ground by 6 am. Thanks to my EU passport and strict “no checked bags” policy, I was out by 6:15. Knowing that no hotel would let me check in this early, I tried to waste as much time as possible in getting into the city.
The cheapest and IMHO most efficient way to get to the city is by taking advantage of Paris’ great public transportation system. When exiting your gate, follow the signs for the RER.
Once you’ve reached the Sheraton, grab a mandatory croissant at Paul, and head down the two flights of escalators where you will find RATP ticket purchasing machines. A ticket to Paris will set you back 10.50€ (I think you save a few cents if you buy a two-way fare… but then you have to make sure you don’t lose your return ticket.)
Follow the signs to Paris and hop on the train – you are on the RER line B. Depending on where you are staying, you may want switch over to the metro. I hate changing from the RER to the Metro in Chatelet, so I chose to walk the rest of the way.
7:30 am: check-in
I decided to stay in one of my favorite neighborhoods: Le Maris. I found a great little boutique hotel which is in a fantastic location, at a great price, and with impressively good service.
Hotel Jacques de Molay – http://www.hotelmolay.fr/en/
I got there obnoxiously early and as to be expected, my room wasn’t ready. But the staff was incredibly nice and immediately made me a coffee to help fight jet lag. I recharged my phone and rested for a while.
10 am: Un p’tit (huge) brunch
If I were a brunch, I would be Paperboy’s “Le Healthy” it’s basically all the things I love in the world.
You first get a basket of carbs along with delicious butter, salted caramel, and homemade peanut butter as well as a custom juice and coffee or tea.
Then come the oeufs a la coque and the accompanying avo toast with a salad.
I had been traveling for 10 hours before I got here, refusing to eat airplane food, and even so, I was unable to eat the whole breakfast all by myself.
11:30 am: un peu de shopping
For shopping, try La Rue des Francs Bourgeois which has everything from traditional French boutiques, to European chain stores like Sandro and Women’s Secret, to the beloved Japanese exports: Muji and Uniqlo.
I wasn’t quite hungry just yet, but a dear friend recommended Minzon. I went in there and everything looked and smelled incredible. This is on the top of my list of things to try next time I am in Paris. It had a line out the door (always a good sign) which seemed to be moving quickly.
Alternatively, you could go by the Marché Couvert Des Enfants Rouges at 39 Rue de Bretagne and pick up a baguette tradition, some cheese, and fruit and head to the little park across the street for a picnic.
3 pm: walk
Get lost in the alleys around le Marais, walk into the hidden courtyards and public gardens.
You could also go to the Centre Pompidou and take a look at some of the craziest modern art exhibits around. If you want to avoid the droves of tourists but still see cool art, check out the Hôtel de Ville for temporary exhibits that might suit your interests.
5 pm: tea time
Ok, this one may be touristy, but I love tea, so I try to stop by Mariage Frères for some tea and a snack.
8 pm: Dinner
A visit to Paris is not complete without some crêpes. Head to Breizh Cafe for some oysters, savory crêpes (galetes), dessert crêpes, wine, or cider. The place is cozy, modern, and very reasonably priced.
If you can, make a reservation, otherwise budget 20-30 minutes to stand in line depending on the time of day and size of your party.
10 pm: crash
I returned to my hotel where, upon seeing me return freezing and wet from the rain, the receptionist made me some peppermint tea and sent me off for a good night’s sleep. Who said Parisians aren’t nice?!!!
8 am: Wake up
Find a bakery – any bakery – grab a croissant or a pain au chocolat and head back to the RER to get on your way to the airport. In my case, the 45 min ride to the airport is a chance to reflect on how thankful I was to get to spend in the city I was once lucky enough to call home 💟