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Where are the best places for buying second-hand in France?

In these economically and environmentally-straitened times, buying second-hand is well and truly in fashion in France. Here are some tips.

Where are the best places for buying second-hand in France?
(Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

It’s good for the wallet and good for the planet, as second-hand products are cheaper than new, and – in extending the lifespan of a product – you’re helping the planet, too, by cutting down the number of products being thrown away.

Today, a number of online and high street retailers have cottoned-on to the idea that second-hand shopping is increasingly popular. Amazon has its Amazon Warehouse, Vinted is popular among individuals for buying and selling clothes, Troc is a well-known second-hand retailer, Casino-owned C Discount offers a range of refurbished, pre-loved products, as do almost all the mobile phone and electrical goods retailers.

But where else could you go, and maybe help do some further good by helping a worthy cause?

Vides Greniers

The term literally means ‘empty attic’, and it’s basically a sales event that offers anyone who goes a chance to get their hands on some serious bargains, from clothes and shoes, to toys, small electricals and heaven knows what else. 

Think jumble / car boot sale with added French style. You’ll usually see signs advertising them from late spring to early autumn.

READ ALSO Vide grenier and brocante: The written and unwritten rules of France’s second-hand sales

Brocantes/Braderies/marchés aux puces

As well as vides greniers, private individuals can sell items they own at brocantes, braderies, or marchés aux puces – basically, these are all second-hand goods sales, albeit with some slight distinctions.

A brocante is slightly more upmarket vide grenier, and often includes furniture sales, so you may be able to snap up a sofa bargain. It’s also a common term for a shop that sells vintage or second-hand furniture, crockery, or household items

A braderie, on the other hand, is an annual street market. Lille hosts the most famous, but plenty of smaller towns hold braderies – expect to see independent traders selling a few wares at knockdown prices.

A Marché aux puces, meanwhile, is a flea market. You may have to rummage, but there will be second-hand gold in them thar piles of junk.

Emmaus

A charitableassociation founded by French Catholic Priest Abbe Pierre that is, frankly, beloved in France. There are around 175 Emmaus permanent brocante centres across France, where you’ll find all sorts of second-hand furniture, electricals, bicycles, clothes – basically, just about anything you could wish for – for next to nothing. 

Emmaus is online, too, at Label Emmaus, and has a clothing retail offshoot in the ever-popular Ding Fring stores.

Le Bon Coin

Le Bon Coin – literally, the good corner – has become arguably the online reference for classified adverts since it was founded in 2006.

You can buy pretty much anything on the site: property, furniture, cars, clothes, telephones, toys, or bicycles – and it’s very simple to use.

A large search bar allows you to filter what you see, according to product, location, price range, size. Then, once you’ve found what you’re looking for, contact the seller via a secure messaging system, or make an offer.

You can even pay for the goods online using the site’s secure payment system. Alternatively, you can pay the seller direct if you agree to meet to finalise the purchase.

Geev

Cheaper still than Le Bon Coin, there’s Geev which allows individuals to offer their unwanted products free to a good home. Watch out, too, for similar sites, such as Donnons.orgRecupe.net or Toutdonner.com – who knows? You may find something.

Like Le Bon Coin, you can filter your search – but you must first specify your address. And be aware that there’s no option online for having goods delivered. You have to meet face to face.

eBay

And don’t forget eBay, which  has been running for more than 25 years, and sells its fair share of second-hand goods, with a 30-day return guarantee.

GensdeConfiance

This site intends to offer more secure, reliable items. Similar to Le Bon Coin, the things you can sell and purchase are broad reaching, but the primary difference is that in order to access this website you must be recommended by other people who are already members. This is meant to make transactions more reliable. You can also buy and offer services, such as babysitting and childcare, on Gens de Confiance.

Vinted

While Vinted is more geared toward buying and selling used clothes and shoes – with a broad selection of popular and vintage brands – you can also find some household items too. 

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POLITICS

Rugby tickets, coffee and stickers – French presidential candidates chastised over expenses claims

From coffee runs to rugby tickets and professional photos - France's election financing body has revealed some of the items it has refused to reimburse from the 2022 presidential race.

Rugby tickets, coffee and stickers - French presidential candidates chastised over expenses claims

Spending on the election trail is tightly regulated in France, with maximum campaign spends per candidate as well as a list of acceptable expenses that can be reimbursed.

In France the State pays at least some of the election campaign costs, with the budget calculated according to how many votes the candidate ends up getting. 

READ MORE: 5 things to know about French election campaign financing

On Friday, the government body (la Commission nationale des comptes de campagne et des financements politiques – or CNCCFP) released its findings for the 12 candidates who ran in the April 2022 presidential campaign. 

All of the candidates had their accounts approved, but 11 out of the 12 were refused reimbursement on certain items. Here are some of the items that did not get CNCCFP approval;

Rugby tickets 

Jean Lassalle – the wildcard ‘pro farmer’ candidate who received about three percent of votes cast in the first round of the 2022 election – bought “19 tickets to attend a rugby match” according to the CNCCFP’s findings. The organisation said it would not be reimbursing the tickets and questioned “the electoral nature of the event”. 

The total cost of the tickets was €465 (or €24.50 each).

Too many coffees

Socialist candidate, and current mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo reportedly spent at least €1,600 on coffee for her team during the campaign.

According to the CNCCFP, however, the caffeine needed to keep a presidential campaign running did not qualify under the country’s strict campaign financing rules.

Too many stickers

Hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s was told that the 1.2 million stickers that were bought – to the tune of €28,875 – to advertise the campaign would not be reimbursed. Mélenchon justified the purchasing of the stickers – saying that in the vast majority of cases they were used to build up visibility for campaign events, but CNCCFP ruled that “such a large number” was not justified. 

Mélenchon was not the only one to get in trouble for his signage. Extreme-right candidate Éric Zemmour was accused of having put up over 10,000 posters outside official places reserved for signage. The same went for the far-right’s Marine Le Pen, who decided to appeal the CNCCFP’s decision not to reimburse €300,000 spent on putting posters of her face with the phrase “M la France” on 12 campaign buses.

Poster pictures

Emmanuel Macron – who won re-election in 2022 – will not be reimbursed for the €30,000 spent on a professional photographer Soazig de la Moissonière, who works as his official photographer and took the picture for his campaign poster. 

The CNCCFP said that Macron’s team had “not sufficiently justified” the expenditure.

Expensive Airbnbs

Green party member Yannick Jadot reportedly spent €6,048 on Airbnbs in the city of Paris for some of his campaign employees – an expense that the CNCCFP said that public funds would not cover.

Translating posters

The campaign finance body also refused to reimburse the Mélenchon campaign’s decision to translate its programme into several foreign languages at a cost of €5,398.

The CNCCFP said that they did not consider the translations to be “an expense specifically intended to obtain votes” in a French election.

Best and worst in class

The extreme-right pundit Zemmour had the largest amount of money not reimbursed. Zemmour created a campaign video that used film clips and historic news footage without permission and also appeared on CNews without declaring his candidacy – because of these two offences, CNCCFP has reduced his reimbursement by €200,000. He has been hit with a separate bill of €70,000 after he was found guilty of copyright infringement over the campaign video. 

The star pupil was Nathalie Arthaud, high-school teacher and candidate for the far-left Lutte Ouvriere party, who apparently had “completely clean accounts”. A CNCCFP spokesperson told Le Parisien that if all candidate accounts were like Arthauds’, then “we would be unemployed”.

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