As we mentioned in Your Paris Perfect Sunday Part One, Sunday can be quiet days in Paris. But that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of things to see and do during your stay. We suggest staying away from the major museums since they tend to be extra crowded on weekends and instead head to smaller museums to soak up the atmosphere. One of our favorite ways to spend Sunday morning is enjoying the delicious Sunday brunch in the luxe dining room of the Jacquemart André Museum and then exploring their marvelous collection. Take a peek at the menu and find out more here.
Now that you have finished your brunch and tour of the mansion with its world-class art collection, it's time to move on to the second half of your Paris Perfect Sunday. You have some fun choices to make about how to spend your Sunday in Paris. What kind of afternoon appeals to you? Shopping … strolling along the Seine … perhaps a bit of people-watching … or more museums? Maybe Sunday evening Mass at Notre Dame? Even for a quieter day, there are a lot of choices!
From the Jacquemart Andre museum, walk a few blocks west and south to the Miromesnil station on Metro line 13 and take the train in the direction of Chatillon Montrouge. At the first stop, exit at Champs Élysées-Clemenceau and change to Metro line 1, in the direction of Chateau Vincennes. This will take you toward the center of Paris.
Now you need to make some choices … and since it's Paris the options are all very tempting!
Sunday Shopping in Paris
If shopping is your thing, jump off Metro Line 1 at the stop for Palais Royal – Louvre. Exit the metro and follow the signs for Carrousel du Louvre. This underground shopping mall, built below the Louvre, is one of the few shopping centers in Paris that is open on Sunday.
Here you'll find a lovely selection of shops, including L'Occitane, Fragonard Perfumes, a giant two-level Apple store and nice boutiques, such as Arteum for great art-themed gifts, and Pylones for whimsical, eye-popping colorful designer housewares, and high quality Paris souvenirs.
Be sure to look for the glass Pyramid Inversée (remember the movie The Da Vinci Code?) at the end of the mall. It is an inverted version of the famous I.M. Pei glass pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre. Great photo op, as you can get quite close, and on a sunny day with the light streaming in…beautiful! You will also notice a secondary entrance to the Louvre from this level as well.
The mall also has a food court for quick snacks, and even a Starbucks, so you can use their free wi-fi to check your email or post photos. After shopping, take a 30 minute stroll along the Seine toward Ile la Cite, and stop in Notre Dame cathedral, the iconic Gothic masterpiece, which is celebrating 850 years in 2013. Read about the new bells commissioned and installed in Notre Dame earlier this year.
Vespers begin at 5:45 pm and Sunday evening Mass is at 6:30 pm. Visitors are welcome to attend the Mass, or else tour quietly. (If you're not up to walking all the way to Notre Dame, get back on metro line 1 from the Carrousel du Louvre, exit at the Hotel de Ville stop and cross over to the Ile de la Cite.)
Travel Tip: Be wary of pick pickets near the Louvre and Notre Dame, asking you to take a “survey”, or inquiring if you dropped a gold ring. Wave them off.
Sunday Strolling, People-Watching & More Museums
If shopping is not your thing, then stay on Metro line 1 and exit at the Bastille stop. Stroll a few blocks north and west, and you will find yourself in the Place des Vosges, one of the most historic and lovely squares in Paris. Here you can enjoy a sidewalk cafe, watch children playing in the park, listen to live music in the square, and dream of living in one of the beautiful apartments that form the historical architectural quadrangle.
In the southeast corner of the Place des Vosges, stop in at the Maison de Victor Hugo. You can tour the restored apartments where one of France's most beloved authors lived with his family. Hugo lived here when he began writing Les Misérables. Read more about the Maison Victor Hugo museum here. Admission is free, and the audio guide is 5Euro.
Now head back diagonally across the Place, and out the Northwest corner, into the bustling pedestrian zone of the Marais, the historic Jewish quarter of Paris. The Marais is now a very trendy area of Paris, with narrow streets that team with shoppers and strollers on Sunday afternoons.
Most merchants in this quartier observe the Sabbath and are closed on Saturday, but open for business on Sunday, and this place is hopping! If you like crowds, this is your area for Sunday afternoon. Boutiques, restaurants and shops are all bustling.
If you're not into jostling on the sidewalk, stop in at the Carnavalet Museum, which tells the history of Paris from prehistoric times until the mid-20th century. You will find art, sculpture, artifacts, large rooms with period furnishings and so much more. Admission is free, and the last entrance is at 5:30.
With all the strolling, shopping and sightseeing, you are probably working up an appetite, so stay tuned for Part Three of Your Paris Perfect Sunday for some of our favorite dinner recommendations.
Thank you to Mary Ann Grisham for this post!
Image Credits: Place des Vosges by Luctor, Jacquemart André Museum by Christophe Recoura, La Carrousel du Louvre sign by jimmyweee, Notre Dame Cathedral by Jean-Marie Hullot, Place des Vosges by Poulpy, Marais street by Andrea Schaffer, Carnavalet Museum by David Monniaux, Pyramid Inversée and all other photos by author