The streets are calmer, the crowds are smaller and the city seems sleepier. It’s Sunday in Paris.
Unlike the United States, the customer does not always come first in Paris. Most restaurants, grocery stores and shopping centers all close or have shortened hours on Sundays.
That’s right, no 24-hour Krogers.
Though staring at an empty fridge on Sunday night can be inconvenient, it can also be challenging to figure out how to spend a Sunday in Paris.
After my time here, I have come to realize Sundays are best saved for flânerie, or the act of strolling.
The French noun “flâneur” translates to stroller, or lounger. The term first came about in the 19th century as a literary type.
It became associated with the man of leisure or the urban explorer, essential to the streets of Paris.
It might seem difficult to exercise this essential Parisian skill on a Sunday, but you just have to know where to look.
Most museums, including the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay, remain open on Sundays.
Though those two have an entry cost, there are many museums that are free to enjoy.
The Paris Modern Art Museum provides free admission to its permanent collection.
The Musée Carnavalet, which illustrates Paris’ complex history, also has free admission to its permanent collection.
Musée Cernuschi (an Asian art museum), Maison de Victor Hugo (Victor Hugo’s residence) and the Paris Police Museum are also on the list.
Flea markets (marchés aux puces)
Flea markets are the perfect place to wander aimlessly, but still manage to find a knick-knack or two.
Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen is one of the most well-known flea markets in Paris, but smaller ones can be found throughout the city. I explored Marché Vernaison, which is a smaller division of Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen.
I was able to find old vintage postcards with pictures of the Sacré-Coeur and the Arc de Triomphe for a euro each. It’s easy to wander for hours but walk out with gifts for just about anyone on your list.
Many quarters in Paris are fairly calm on a Sunday, but the Marais is bustling with people.
It’s a great place to grab a falafel, walk around, shop a little or just take a seat at a local café.
The historically Jewish quarter now is a prime location for fashion boutiques, thrift shopping (friperie) as well as some great restaurants. The area is also home to Victor Hugo’s home and the Musée Picasso.
Follow columnist Anu Kumar on Twitter @AnuKumar23.