A lot of visitors find that it is a shame most shops in France close on Sundays, but there is finally some good news: however, a while back, France passed a law which allows shops to open regardless of the districts they are based in on Sundays, subject however to a number of restrictions.
For the time being, only 7 districts in Paris have open shops on Sundays, and until the law becomes fully enforced and most shops get to open like they do in London, here is how I like to spend a Sunday in Paris.
In particular, Le Marais is very popular. It has developed a lot in the last few years, and though it retains some of the original vibes: it was Paris' traditional Jewish district and you can see it still around rue des Rosiers with its traditional jewish bakeries, and the 1980s saw its re-gentrification driven by the gay community. However it is now filled with tourists on Sundays so if you want to visit on a quieter day and you have time try a week day, you'll have more space to walk around and discover the area. You'll find this little district is filled with an incredible number of shops, from mainstream high-street to smaller more boutique finds.
If you have to wait, take a tour of the shop which stocks the most comprehensive variety of teas, but also some specialties such as tea jellies and tea-perfumed candles. My favourites? That's easy:
1) 100g of Russian Breakfast tea (especially in the summer, as this makes the yummiest iced tea with a few slices of lemon and some agave nectar thrown in)
2) 100g of Rose Himalaya tea (my favourite for afternoon tea at home)
3) A couple of "chaussettes" (the cotton filters to infuse tea)
4) A tin of matcha powder
5) Some tea jelly (spread this on some brioche toasts and feel yourself float up to heaven)
I love family brunches here. I usually order a Lapsang to accompany it and sometimes I also ask for a Mariage's cocktail. Yum!!! Do leave some space for a slice of Coup de Soleil, the Mariage Freres special dessert: a tart of summer berries topped with a creme brulee layer. Another plus: the service is one of the best you'll find in the French capital.
30 rue du Bourg-Tibourg
01 42 72 28 11
Once fed, it's time to think about some serious shopping therapy...
Up first, a couple doors to the left of Mariage Frères, is the answer to the Parisian recessionista's prayers: a Zadig & Voltaire Outlet. It stocks old collections at very reduced prices (jumpers from 50€, jackets from 100€). I once bought a sheepskin jacket for 150€ here. One word of caution: the shop is small and usually full (think overcrowded, then take it up a notch) on Sunday afternoons.
Zadig & Voltaire Stock
22 rue du Bourg-Tibourg
01 44 53 39 64
Moving on, make your way to rue Vieille du Temple (it runs parallel to rue du Bourg-Tibourg, to the East) to make a couple of stops. There is Les Petites, where I come for modern yet feminine and romantic clothes, especially dainty dresses to warm knitwear. The eveningwear options are particularly good this season.
98 rue Vieille du Temple
On the same street I also like to stop at Vanessa Bruno, where I am particularly fond of the cabas bags, in particular the all leather ones and the corduroy ones. Hubby Dearest got me the largest model in wine red corduroy a few Christmases ago, it is a fantastic shopping bag for when I'm going around the shops. I also like the collection's layering options.
100 rue Vielle du Temple
Another shop I love to pop into: Abou d'Abi Bazar. This shop has an amazing selection from Antik Batik to Isabel Marant and American Vintage, and is regularly on sale offering great discounts to other shops.
Abou d'Abi Bazar
125 rue Vieille du Temple
01 42 71 13 26
Another fantastic find here is Bains Plus, my go-to place for all things related to bath time, from soaps to towels, designer robes and classic pyjamas. Come here if you're in the market for expensive-looking bathroom staples such as towel stands.
51 rue des Francs-Bourgeois
01 48 87 83 07
If you're a vintage fan, steer away from the crowded shops on the main streets and go find La Jolie Garde-Robe, where you will find a gorgeous little shop filled with clothes and accessories from 1900-1980. Unlike the shops in the lower Marais area, the items here are very lightly worn, and you can find some serious bargains including designer.
One word of caution though: last time I checked they were only opened Monday to Saturday...
La Jolie Garde-Robe
15 rue Commines
01 42 72 13 90
But a visit to this part of town should not be just about the shopping, so if you have time book some time at the Bains du Marais, a luxurious spa with a moroccan-style hammam. If you're wondering where the smooth and glowy skin from your youth went (I sometimes do!), this is the place you'll find it again. On week-ends the access to the hammam is to both sexes, week-days are split (Monday to Wednesday for women, Thursday and Friday for men).
Les Bains du Marais
31-33 rue des Blancs-Manteaux
01 44 61 02 02
Another must-see is the Musée Picasso, where you can admire the largest existing Picasso collection, with over 200 paintings, 150 sculptures etc. You'll also be able to see some of Picasso's personal notebooks, as well as some pieces the master himself collected. Musée Picasso
5 rue de Thorigny
01 42 71 25 21