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How to dispose of your Christmas tree in France

The Local France
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How to dispose of your Christmas tree in France
How to get rid of your Christmas tree in France. Photo: AFP

As the festive season draws to a close, here's how to get rid of your Christmas tree and ensure that it is recycled.


If you had an artificial tree then the answer to this question is easy - stuff it back in its box and put it back in the cupboard.

If, however, you had a real tree, then you have several options for disposal - and of course if you bought a living tree then now is the time to plant it outside.


The exact details vary according to the area, but local authorities across France all provide some kind of recycling and collection service for les sapins (Christmas trees).

In cities this usually involves creating collection points on the streets where you take your tree, and a few days later it will be taken away.


In smaller towns or villages some mairies offer roadside collection where trees left on the kerb on a certain date will be collected, while others create a collection point (usually alongside existing recycling facilities such as a bottle bank).

The easiest way to find exact details, is to head to the website for your mairie and search 'Où déposer mon sapin après Noël ?'

For example, if you're in Paris, you can find an interactive map of Christmas tree collection points here.


Again, exact dates vary according to area, but most areas start the service just after Christmas and continue well into January.

Although the traditional day to take down Christmas decorations is January 6th (Epiphany), most Christmas tree collection points stay open until late January.

If you miss the collection, you can chop up your Christmas tree and put it into the garden waste collection, or take it to the local déchetterie (recycling centre or tip) and dispose of it with garden waste - make sure all decoration are stripped of first.

Dechetterie: What to know about visiting the recycling centre

What happens to them?

Local authorities recycle the trees in various ways - some burn them as biofuel but the most common use is chipping them and using the wood chips in the municipal parks and gardens.

This not only reuses the trees and saves the mairie money, but it has the added benefits of making the parks smell lovely.


Unfortunately, however, France does not follow the tradition in Vienna, where Christmas trees are chopped up and served to the elephants in the zoo as a seasonal treat.


And if taking down the Christmas tree all seems quite sad then don't worry - France has one final festive treat in store. January 6th marks the Christian festival of epiphany, which means Galette des rois cakes, cider (or Champagne) and the ritual of the fève.

Galette des rois: What you need to know about France's royal tart


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