Paris buzzes with activity six days a week, but it's shuttered on the seventh. Turn up on a Sunday and you're likely to see tumbleweeds blowing through the streets. Hungry, desperate visitors can be spotted frowning into their buckets at the city's fast-food restaurants. But don't worry—not all stoves are silent on Sunday. Eating well on the off-day isn't impossible: It just requires a little planning. Here are some strategies, along with a handful of favored addresses, to help you dine à dimanche.
Go to the Market There are more than 100 marchés alimentaires in Paris, and these outdoor markets are at their bustling best on Sunday. There's plenty to buy and eat even if you don't have access to a kitchen. The makings of a great picnic are close at hand: cheese, charcuterie, bread, and fruit—and most markets have a vendor selling sinfully delicious street food. I'm particularly fond of the churros at Bastille, the accras de morue (spicy West Indian fish balls) at Place des Fêtes, and the freshly grilled homemade sausages at Jaurès. A full list of outdoor markets organized by arrondissement can be found at paris.fr; note that most are packing up by 1pm.
Go Ethnic Immigrants tend to be less concerned about the day of rest than the old-time traditionalist French. The city's Chinatown, down in the southeast corner, is positively humming on Sundays. A favorite stop among local foodies is the Thai/Vietnamese hybrid Lao Lane Xang 2. Their lacquered duck breast in a chilli-nuoc cham sauce is a killer (102 Avenue d'Ivry, 13th arrondissement, 011-33/1-58-89-00-00). Less trendy, less expensive, and equally delicious is Pho Banh Cuon 14, a Vietnamese dive that has crowds queuing up on the sidewalk for soup (129 avenue de Choisy, 13th arrondissement, 011-33/1-45-83-61-15). Outside of Chinatown, the restaurant Liza has garnered high praise for its Lebanese dishes (14 rue Banque, 2nd arrondissement, 011-33/1-55-35-00-66), and Chez Omar is a classic for North African couscous (47 rue Bretagne, 3rd arrondissement, 011-33/1- 42-72-36-26). Naniwa-Ya is my new favorite in the Japanese quarter just behind the Palais Royal (11 rue Sainte-Anne, 1st arrondissement, 011-33/1-40-20-43-10). Both shops and restaurants in the Jewish quarter, which goes silent for the sabbath on Friday night, are wide open for business on Sunday. Finally, after five years in Paris I still can't get enough of the sandwiches, served with plenty of hot sauce, at L'As du Falafel (34, rue des Rosiers, 4th arrondissement, 011-33/1-48-87-63-60).
Go to a Brasserie An authentic Parisian brasserie can take your breath away. Historic, romantic, and always open, they're a great way to cap off any visit to the city. The best ones are filled with brass, stained glass, and art nouveau details. The fare ranges from choucroute (a fragrant pile of sauerkraut laden with sausage, knuckles, and pork belly) to more elegant (and pricey) seafood platters. The debate is always raging, but in my opinion Julien is the most beautiful (16 rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 10th arrondissement, 011-33/1-47-70-12-06), and le Gallopin has the best food (40 rue Notre Dame des Victoires, 2nd arrondissement, 011-33/01-42-36-45-38).
Go Gastro (but make reservations) For the most serious food-lovers, here's a handful of stars for Sunday dinner. These are well-loved French establishments, favored by locals and visitors alike, and so booking ahead is essential. Price estimates below do not include wine.
Under €20 ($27)
• Breizh Café, 109 rue Vieille du Temple, 3rd arrondissement, 011-33/1-42-72-13-77
• Le Verre Volé, 67 rue de Lancry, 10th arrondissement, 011-33/1-48-03-17-34
€20-40 (under $55)
• Le Petit Marché, 9 rue Béarn, 3rd arrondissement, 011-33/1-42-72-06-67
• Au Fil des Saisons, 6 rue des Fontaines du Temple, 3rd arrondissement, 011-33/1-42-74-16-60
• Mon Vieil Ami, 69 rue St-Louis-en-l'Ile, 4th arrondissement, 011-33/1-40-46-01-35
• Christophe, 8 rue Descartes, 5th arrondissement, 011-33/1-45-26-72-49
• Astier, 44 Rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud, 11th arrondissement, 011-33/1-43-57-16-35
• Cave de L'Os à Moelle, 181 rue de Lourmel, 15th arrondissement, 011-33/1-45-57-28-28
Over €40 (over $55)
• Drouant, 16–18 place Gaillon, 2nd arrondissement, 011-33/1-42-65-15-16
• Le Comptoir du Relais, 9 carrefour de l'Odéon, 6th arrondissement, 011-33/1-44-27-07-97
• L'Atelier du Joël Robuchon, 5 rue de Montalembert, 7th arrondissement, 011-33/1-42-22-56-56
• Pierre Gagnaire, 6 rue Balzac, 8th arrondissement, 011-33/1-58-36-12-50