Budget home decor in Paris, really? Yes, absolutely. Paris is actually a treasure trove of second hand delights for your home, if you know where to look. And why buy new when you can buy unique, wonderful things, and also be saving the environment? Cheap decor is often eco decor, it’s win win.
What are the budget home decor shops in Paris?
So where should you start your search for quality, interesting and budget home decor? Or even free stuff? Let’s look at the French versions of second hand shops, how to find home decor for free, and then my special secret for getting amazing home decor on a budget in Paris…
Second hand shops
When it comes to house and home, where are the second hand shops in Paris? There are not as many around as one might find in the USA and Canada, with Goodwills and thrift shops, or in the UK, with the endless charity shops on every corner. But they are out there! You need to look for ‘Emmaus’, ‘donneries’, and ‘ressourceries’.
What is Emmaus?
Emmaus is basically the French version of Goodwill. They take everyone’s unwanted, well, anything, from furniture to toys and clothes to bras. And they are also a social enterprise, so not only do their profits go towards helping the homeless and poor, they help the marginalised into employment and a social life.
Note that they have welfare offices around the city, and most of the smaller boutiques dotted around the city only sell clothes. For furniture and household items the go-to place is their giant warehouse, ‘Emmaus Défi’, near metro Riquet at 6 rue Archereau, 75019.
Find your local ‘Ressourcerie’
A ‘ressourcerie’ is basically a local resource share, a community resource to repair and recycle your unwanted goods, keep things out of landfill, and help those in the area on a low budget. It’s lovely to see them spotted around Paris. Ressourceries are generally run by volunteers from the community, and things are sold for very low prices, just enough cover the overhead of keeping the place running. A great place to pick up dishes, small electronic goods, decor, toys, etc.
See if your area has a ‘Donnerie’ group
Check Facebook to see if your arrondisement has a ‘donnerie’ group. These are groups where you post what you give away what you don’t need for free, then take what you do for free. They are very generally very convival and community-minded and often are a place to source all sorts for your home for free. Just put your arrondisement and the word ‘donnerie’ in Facebook’s search bar.
Get into the ‘Vide Grenier’ scene
Vide grenier = ’empty the attic’. It’s the French version of a yard sale (USA), garage sale (Canada) or boot sale (UK). Funny all the words we use to describe decluttering and selling our unwanted household goods! Vide greniers in France are on the street. Each area tends to have a yearly vide grenier where local inhabitants can pay a very low fee, from 2 to 10 euros or so, to have a designated area to set up shop and sell their things.
It can be a great way to get a deal… my recent score was a Maison Margiela trenchcoat for a tenner! I fell upon a stall run by a woman who worked in wardrobe in film and was selling off her stash. Anyway, always lots of dishes, paintings, all sorts of decor/household items. You of course do have to be careful as sometimes it’s not locals but pros, who go from one vide grenier to the next, and try to get higher prices. But you can also feel free to haggle, it can work.
You can find online websites that detail all the vide greniers across Paris along with the ‘brocantes’. A great one is videgrenier.org.
A brocante is fun but rarely low budget
A brocante is a flea market. And in Paris this is not generally the place you find low cost items, it is more the place you find antiques, collector items, and unique items. Most vendors will be professionals. Sometimes you will find a hybrid ‘brocante and vide grenier’ which will offer more options, but if you are on a very tight budget or have a habit of overspending when presented with beautiful unique things, give the brocantes a miss.
Although the famous “Marché aux Puces” at Saint Ouen is worth going to as an experience in itself and to drool at all the amazing and unique objects one an find. Give yourself lots of time, it’s huge.
My best kept cheap home decor in Paris secret….
Ok I’ll let you in on a little secret… the auction house in Paris in the 9ème arrondissement, ‘Hotel Drouot‘. It is quite simply wonderful, even just the browsing is a heck of a good time. I’ve seen a rare Van Gough, a stuffed giraffe, even rare sports cars in there. BUT I’ve also snapped up amazing deals. Beautiful lithographs for 25€ with frames alone you could resell for more, lamps for a tenner, and a gorgeous art deco cat statue for 7€, I could go on… It can take some doing, but the entire process is fun. Look out for my article on how to best go about getting budget home decor this way.
Free stuff on the street? Yes, but…
In some countries like Canada there are designated ‘put your unwanted stuff on the street’ nights for each area. Which was always fun, as a student I loved this night, we’d kit out our entire apartments with stuff we found. But in France, there is no designated day. You can put your stuff out to be picked up for landfill any time. You will notice taped on signs with numbers scrawled across them. These are the numbers given by the mairie (local town hall) that registers the item for pickup. You can absolutely take any such item, you are saving it from landfill, and the local collectors will be doing the round of the area so one less thing will not be a big drama.
BUT do note that in Paris, a city where people are piled one on top of the other, with a very high population density per square metre, there is a real problem with… bed bugs. Be wary if you take anything as you might have a traveller along for the ride. Vacuum any nooks very thoroughly, clean carefully, and seriously, take a pass on soft furnishings which are the favourite abode of all things buggy. Simply not worth the risk.