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Shopping or not on Sundays in France?

media French Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault. Reuters/Charles Platiau

French Prime Minister says a new law on Sunday shopping will be introduced for debate in 2014.

As the French debate over Sunday working continues to cause problems for the government, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault declared that the principle of Sunday as a day off would remain but he favoured clarifying the conditions for Sunday working, though he declared "it's not about extending" Sunday working, but "creating better conditions, cleaner and simpler".

He was comenting on the recommendation of a report into the subject by Jean-Paul Bailly released today.

In recent weeks some large shops have flouted the existing rules on Sunday trading.

In a recent court decision DIY stores Castorama and Leroy Merlin were ordered to close 15 Paris-area locations on Sundays following a complaint by rival Bricorama, which had been instructed last November to keep its own regional stores closed on Sundays after being sued by a labour union.

Another court complied with a different labour union’s request to force perfume chain Sephora to close its flagship location on the Champs-Elysée at 9pm on Sunday, rather than midnight.

Sunday has been legally protected as a day of rest since 1906, though there are exceptions for fishmongers, florists and other types of commerce, including those in designated tourist areas like Paris’s Montmartre.

Business operating on Sunday without authorisation are liable to fines of 6,000 euros.

Shopping on Sundays across Europe

  • Germany: Sundays and public holidays are rest days, except in emergency services, restaurants, pubs, theatre and artistic activities.
  • United Kingdom: Almost full freedom since the 'Sunday Trading Act' in 1994.
  • Italy: Eight Sundays per year and any time in December. Less restrictive in tourist zones.
  • Spain: Legal for any shops under 300m². Restrictions for larger shops except in Madrid.
  • Portugal: Since 2010, self regulation by the local councils.
  • Austria: No work on Sunday at all.
  • Belgium: Nine Sundays per year. Dates imposed by government and local councils.
  • Czech republic, Ireland, Sweden and Croatia: No restrictions.
  • Poland, Denmark: No work on public holidays but no restrictions on regular Sundays.
  • The Netherlands: Decided by local councils.
  • Finland: No restrictions for shops under 400m², since 2010.


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