To say that Paris moves at a slower pace on Sundays is an understatement. Banks, post offices, restaurants, boulangeries (bakeries), department stores, and most grocery stores close their doors. Even in a bustling metropolis in the 21st century, to the French, Sundays continue to be a sacred day of rest. However, that's not to say that there's nothing to do. Here's a list of my top five favorite things to do on a Sunday in Paris.
Hike Up To Montmartre
Montmartre is the Everest of Paris. Stand on top of this lonely hill, and the City of Lights spreads outward in every direction, a blur of the ancient and the new. Crowning this lookout are the gleaming white walls of the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur. Behind the basilica, the twisting streets of Paris’ most rebellious neighborhood form a maze of little shops and cramped cafés. It truly feels like another city, one distinctly separate and secretly proud of both its elevation and avant garde ideas. The main square swells to the bursting point with artists, some all too eager to capture your portrait on their gray sketching paper.
Visit Monet's House In Giverny
Situated in the small Norman town of Giverny, Claude Monet’s house and famous garden, complete with water lilies and the Japanese bridge. are an interesting detour from a Parisian vacation. Between March and November, the museum and garden are open every day. Although quite touristy, any lover of art, especially of Impressionism, will be enchanted by the whimsical gardens and the famous green bridge that arches gracefully across a waterlily-filled pond. Walking through Monet’s house is like taking a step back in time. It isn't difficult to imagine the old painter sitting in a chair around the next corner.
Picnic In The Jardin Du Luxembourg
Commissioned in 1611 by Marie de Medicis, the widow of King Louis XIII, to imitate the gardens of her childhood home in Florence, Italy, the Jardin de Luxembourg in Paris’ 6th arrondissement certainly seems fit for royalty when you pass through the gates of its tall iron fences. It's the perfect place for a picnic lunch, watching children sail model sailboats on the large fountain at its center, or just enjoying the beautiful flower arrangements that grace the park in the spring and summer. While there are few reasons to get away from Paris, when the hustle and bustle of the City of Lights gets to you, the Jardin de Luxembourg is the perfect place to get away without going very far.
Overload Yourself With Cookies At La Cure Gourmande
It's impossible to miss the bright yellow storefronts of the La Cure Gourmande, a company that specializes in all things French and all things sweet. Offering everything from biscuits to chocolate covered almonds that look like olives, if your sweet tooth desires it, La Cure Gourmande probably has it. Although a chain found all over France, the staff at every store I’ve ever visited are exceptionally friendly, and will never hesitate to offer you a dégustation (tasting) of their products. This tactic is, unfortunately, a double-edged sword. While do you get a free biscuit, you then have to figure out how many dozens you want to buy.
Visit The Eiffel Tower The Right Way
Although an activity on every tourist's list, the most memorable way to visit the Eiffel Tower is not standing over two hours in line for a passable view of Paris. (The views from the top of the Arc de Triomphe are arguably much better, and actually includes the monument that everyone comes to see.) Have a picnic in the park at its base. Snap a photo from the Trocadéro across the river. Wait until nightfall and watch the tower sparkle for five minutes at the top of each hour until 1:00am. Capture it on film. Be stunned by its beauty. Just don't climb it. Sundays are for relaxing, not stressful queuing. The French know that, and so should you.