How and where to shop in France for your new French home: our tips on making your new home beautiful
I can still remember the feeling of glee when I finally held the keys to my first French home in my hand: a real feeling of “wow, I have done it!” Quite often a property sale in France may include some of the furniture and contents, but whether that is the case or not, it is great fun to start sourcing your own furnishings, whether you are looking for large items such as beds and sofas or simply accessories and knick-knacks.
So where do you start to look for homewares? Major towns usually have large shopping outlets on the outskirts and there is always IKEA, which we have found to be excellent for larger items and kitchens (their kitchens are excellent quality). Having furnished two French homes now, I have a few great tips for where to look for bargain and quality furniture and smaller items:
Centrakor is good for all household and garden goods. We got a couple of superb parasols from here at great prices.
A little more upmarket is Maisons du Monde, a little like John Lewis and great for china and tableware.
If you see signs saying “brocante” or “trocante”, follow them! These are usually warehouses with second-hand furniture for sale, often at knock down prices.
Before you commit yourself to totally kitting out your home from actual shops however, take full advantage of the many car boot sales, second hand shops and antique shops. “Vide greniers” (literally “attic sales”) are incredibly popular in France and it is often possible to find some true bargains. We have two large table lamps with shades which we bought for just €5 each recently in a local vide grenier. Not only can you often strike lucky with finding some good items but it is fun to browse around the stalls. Be brave about haggling; sellers expect to have their suggested prices bargained with!
If you see signs saying “brocante” or “trocante”, follow them! These are usually warehouses with second-hand furniture for sale, often at knock down prices. Many older French homes which have been sold will have had large wardrobes and chests of drawers, reminiscent of a bygone age, which can be found in these places. Don’t be put off by dark wood! My husband painted a lovely chest of drawers and a free-standing wardrobe in cream paint which totally transformed them.
Shopping for your new French home should be a real adventure! The style may be completely different from your English one, so keep an open mind on how to furnish in France.
Carpets are far less common in France. Many older homes will have retained their wonderful original flooring in which case all you will need is a few attractive rugs. As for floor coverings, think about large tiles or solid wood, again usually found in edge of town shops such as Union Materiaux and Weldom. Le Bon Coin is very popular in France too, a little like Ebay, you can find everything on here from homewares to cars.
Paint can be expensive in France and is not the best quality either. We have found the UK Paint Depot to be one of the best. You can buy paint online and have it sent to you. The quality is good and they will match any colour from most known makes of paint.
Shopping for your new French home should be a real adventure. Remember that the style of your new home may be completely different from your English one and so you need to keep an open mind on how to furnish in France. Interestingly many French people look up to us British people as they feel “le style anglais” is far more glamorous than the French style. Maybe it works the other way around also!
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Buying a property in France is extremely exciting, but it can be nerve-wracking: in what ways is the process different to the UK, how do you cope with the language difference, what fees should you expect and just who is the notaire? That’s why we’ve put together our France Buying Guide, to help you through the process, step by step.
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