What shops can open in France on Sundays and does it vary by region?

From supermarkets and DIY stores to the local butcher and bakery, we take a look at which shops open when most are closed in France

Many shops in France close on Sundays

Visitors to France are often surprised that many shops cannot open on Sundays. Traditional opening hours are observed in many areas of the country, not just smaller towns and villages. 

But some shops are allowed to open on Sundays. This can depend on what they are selling and where they are located. 

Sunday opening hours 

The general rule in France is that shops and other businesses are not allowed to open on Sundays. 

However, in reality, there are several exceptions. For example, the owner or manager of a shop is allowed to open up, but is not allowed to have any staff working there. This could mean smaller businesses that only need the one owner on site are free to open their doors. 

Read more: The biggest culture shocks for Americans in France

Which shops open on Sundays in France?

Food shops 

Businesses selling food such as bakeries, cheese shops, butchers, patisseries, and fishmongers are allowed to open until 13:00 on Sundays, according to the official government website

In larger food stores, employees must have their pay increased by at least 30% for working on Sundays. 

Read more: Which supermarket do French people prefer for food shopping?

Cafes and restaurants 

Cafes and restaurants can open all day on Sunday. 

Shops that fulfil a public need 

Certain shops that provide an important service are allowed to open all day on Sundays. They include:

  • DIY shops

  • Pharmacies

  • Newsstands

  • Tobacco stands

  • Garden centres and florists

  • Furniture shops

  • Cultural and sports centres

Read more: Where can I find cheap DIY tools in France?

Where do shops open on Sundays in France? 

Location can be the deciding factor when it comes to whether a shop will open or not on Sundays.

Areas that are popular with tourists have special dispensation to allow their shops to open on the traditional day of rest. 

These areas include:

International Tourist Zones

These areas are designated by the French government as particularly popular with international tourists. They include:

  • Several areas within Paris including Les Halles, Le Marais, and Montmartre 

  • Deauville in Normandy

  • La Baule-Escoublac in Pays de la Loire

  • Antibes, Cagnes-sur-Mer, Cannes, Nice, Saint Laurent-du-Var in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur 

The usual rules do not apply in these areas, so businesses are allowed to open on Sundays. 

Some shops are also allowed to open in other touristy areas, which are designated “simple tourist zones” by the French government. You can check if your town or destination is included on the government website

Large train stations 

Shops located in these busy transport hubs are allowed to open on Sundays:

  • Paris Saint-Lazare, Paris Gare du Nord, Paris Gare de l'Est, Paris Montparnasse, Paris Gare de Lyon and Paris Austerlitz

  • Avignon-TGV

  • Bordeaux Saint Jean

  • Lyon Part-Dieu

  • Marseille Saint-Charles

  • Montpellier Saint-Roch

  • Nice-Ville

Read more: What surprises people when they move to France?

Commercial zones / shopping centres 

Shops in specific commercial zones or shopping centres are permitted to open on Sundays. The shopping centre must be over 20,000 square metres and have more than two million visitors per year to qualify. 

Geographical exceptions 

The general rule in the departments of Haut-Rhin, Bas-Rhin and Moselle is that no shops are allowed to open on Sundays. 

However, there are some exemptions, most related to tourism and/or services for the local population. These include florists, bakeries, souvenir shops. And general food shops can open until 13:00.