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French Senate Approves Sunday Trading Law

Relax on shopping ban must next clear Constitutional Council.

PARIS – The French senate narrowly passed a law that will allow more stores to open for business on Sundays, relaxing a ban that has been in place since 1906.
 
The law, which was passed 165 to 159, is far from being applied, however. The opposition Socialist party has asked the Constitutional Council to examine whether the law, which has been backed by President Nicolas Sarkozy, is constitutionally sound. 

If introduced, the law would allow all stores in certain designated areas – for example, in large cities like Paris, Lille and Marseille – to open on Sundays, marking a major cultural shift in a country where Sundays traditionally have been dedicated to rest and family activities.

French shops are currently required by law to stay closed on Sundays, unless they sell food or are located in tourist areas and are deemed to have “recreational” or “cultural” value, such as bookstores.