France daily dilemmas: Should French shops stay closed on a Sunday?

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France daily dilemmas: Should French shops stay closed on a Sunday?
In small town France most shops do not open on a Sunday. Photo: AFP

It's an issue that is proving quite controversial in France at the moment, and has also divided readers of The Local.


Traditionally, it was pretty much impossible to do any shopping on a Sunday in France, as most shops closed their doors on Saturday evening and did not reopen until Monday (or sometimes even Tuesday).

In recent years things have been changing, especially in the bigger cities, but is that really a good thing?

The issue is back in the news because of a trial run by supermarket chain Casino - which is opening some of its hypermarché stores on a Sunday afternoon, albeit with automatic checkouts only.

Several big supermarkets already open on a Sunday morning, and the smaller city centre stores of Casino and Franprix also offer Sunday afternoon opening, but last weekend saw the first ever Sunday afternoon opening of a hypermarché.

And the event was enough to cause protests outside the store in Angers, lead by local unions and a small number of 'yellow vest' protesters.

We asked our readers whether they like the peace and relaxation of a no-shopping Sunday, or whether they just find it inconvenient and annoying, and the results were divided, with the majority plumping for a chilled-out Sunday.


The convenience of the Sunday shopping was a big draw for some.

Diandra Saunders said: "The supermarkets where I live are packed on Sunday mornings, all the checkouts are manned, and there are queues, all year round.

"It's very convenient for working families and provides work for students and parents that need to supplement their income...the world moves on and going by the popularity of it here, why not?"

Terri Morgan agreed, saying: "Surely if you don't like it, don't shop on Sundays! It's too handy for people that work all week, and Saturday it's always packed."

Steve Wodger added: "Opening on Sundays gives other people jobs. What's bad about it? It's 2019 France needs to move with the times."

But many others liked the idea of keeping Sunday as a special day for relaxation and spending time with family and friends.

Margaret Longworth said: "It's one of the many things I enjoy about living in France. A day for family, talking and reflection."

Sally Wheeldon agreed, saying: "Love it that so few shops open on a Sunday morning and most shut for Sunday afternoon. Bliss!"

Sarah Waldgrave said: "In an age where consumerism is literally killing the planet whose resources are now in deficit, I fail to see how Sunday closing is a bad thing. Humans are the ultimate in selfishness."

While Rajan Lad suggested a compromise, saying: "There should be some shops in nearby areas that should be open (especially pharmacies) based on rotation, so if anything is needed in an emergency, one can buy anything quickly from there."

Galeries Lafayette in Paris is a popular shopping destination on a Sunday. Photo: AFP

Sunday shopping in France sill varies greatly according to where you are.

In Paris you will always be able to find something open on a Sunday, and that goes for many clothes shops, bookstores and leisure outlets as well as supermarkets - for example the famous Galeries Lafayette and Printemps stores have opened on a Sunday since 2017.

Stores in Paris benefit from the creation by François Hollande's government of special international tourism zones where shops are permitted to open on a Sunday.

For this reason you'll also find plenty of shops open on a Sunday in tourist hotspots like the French Riviera.

Move into rural or small-town France, however, and it's a very different story.

In smaller towns that are off the tourist trail there generally won't be much open on a Sunday, and what there is will usually only be open in the morning.

Boulangeries and patisseries often open on a Sunday morning, sometimes the tabac or a local bar will be open and some supermarkets do too, but that's about it.

In many towns you will also find plenty of places close on Monday as well, as staff work on a Saturday and then have a two day 'weekend' break on Sunday and Monday.

Casino has started the Sunday-afternoon openings as a pilot at its Angers store, but plans for others to follow suit. But if you are planning a Sunday afternoon shop, bear in mind that only automated checkouts are available meaning that you can only pay by card and you will not be able to buy alcohol.






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