France to allow Sunday shopping in Paris
Issued on: Modified:
The final details of plans to turn Paris into a 24-hour city by allowing shops to stay open late at night and on Sundays have been unveiled by the French government as it looks to cash in on the capital's vast number of tourists.
The plans will see the creation of 12 so-called “International tourist zones” (ZTI) across Paris where shops will be able to open on Sundays, as well as until midnight.
They include some of the French capital’s most-visited tourist hotspots, such as the Champs-Elysées, Montmartre, Le Marais and Saint-Germain.
A map showing the exact locations of the 12 tourist zones was sent to local officials and unions for consultation earlier this month, Le Parisien newspaper reported Wednesday.
The changes are part of the controversial economic reform bill known as the “Macron law” after Finance Minister Emmanuel Macron and pushed through Parliament in July.
The extended opening hours could come into effect as early as the start of September, according to Le Parisien, with the French government eager to press ahead with reforms that could help breathe new life into the country’s flagging economy and capitalise on France’s vast tourist numbers.
Plans are also in place to allow for extended shop opening hours in three other popular tourist destinations across the country: the Riviera cities of Nice and Cannes, and the Normandy resort of Deauville.
But while the plans have been welcomed by business groups, the government is facing fierce opposition from unions in a country with strict employment laws protecting workers’ rights.
‘Public relations ruse’
Part of the outrage stems from the fact that there are 12 “International tourist zones” planned for Paris, rather than the four the government originally proposed.
Furthermore, while many of the zones are in already well-established shopping and tourist districts, some are in more obscure parts of the city, such as Beaugrenelle in the south-west and Olympiades in the south-east.
These are areas “not exactly known for their international tourist influx”, Clic-P, an organisation representing several Paris trade unions set up to oppose the extension to shop opening hours, said in a press release.
“This confirms what Clic-P has repeated from the start: the Macron project aims to make Sunday working the norm for all shops – international tourism constitutes merely a public relations ruse,” it said.
However, Macron’s office defended the plans.
“All of these areas correspond to important transportation hubs with a significant number of hotels and attractions that contribute to tourist visits to Paris,” the finance minister’s office said in a statement to the AFP news agency.
Under the new rules, shops outside the designated tourist zones will also be allowed to open for nine Sunday’s a year, rising to 12 from 2016, though only with the approval of local authorities.