Politicians in France are once again debating one of the more contentious issues in France – whether shops should be allowed to open on Sundays.
French laws are much more restrictive than those in the US and UK, for example. Sundays have been protected since 1906, although bakers, butchers and other small shops are allowed to open until noon.
Carole Landry, a journalist based in Paris, says keeping retail businesses closed has helped cement the tradition of the Sunday family meal that many in France still hold dear.
But there has been a clamour for change over the past twenty years, with recent polls suggesting that a majority of the French believe shops should have the freedom to open on Sundays. Paris’s temple of shopping, Galeries Lafayette, has said this would create between 300 and 400 jobs and boost sales by 10 per cent.
If passed, this amendment to the law would allow shops in designated tourist areas and special commercial zones to open on Sundays.
President Sarkozy has long been a strong supporter of change. After a recent visit by Michelle Obama, President Sarkozy asked: “Is it normal that on a Sunday, when Madame Obama wants to go shopping in Paris with her girls, I have to make phone calls to get them to open?”
by Andy Moreton
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