Furnishing your French home and gites on the cheap!

As D-Day for our house move gets ever closer, one of the challenges facing us is that we are moving from three houses (our own house plus two gites) to a single house, and we have a large number of things we have accumulated over the years and will no longer need.

For example, we have four dining tables (and about 20 dining chairs); three barbecues; eight sofas, six picnic tables etc. and not surprisingly our new house will look like a furniture shop if we take it all with us…

So we have been delving into the wonderful world of selling things second-hand in France, with at least a reasonable degree of success. It turns out that quite a few people furnish their houses and gites with perfectly reasonable furnishings by buying second-hand furniture and goods, and at a fraction of the cost of buying now.

The smartest people even furnish kitchens in a ‘freestanding furniture’ style by keeping an eye out for buffets and tables etc that are of the same height or general style and then mixing them together, and staining or painting them as necessary to give a sense of consistency, and of course saving lots of money.

If you are planning on selling furniture (or pretty much anything else) or looking to furnish somewhere yourself, we have found the most successful options to be leboncoin.fr, and angloinfo for the appropriate region. Both are free to place your small ads and seem to have a high number of responses.

We haven’t tried putting ads in the supermarket, although many have popular notice boards and we have been told these can be successful – sometimes we forget how many people don’t use the internet to do everything!

We have also found that the most things are very price sensitive – if the price you advertise at is too low you get lots of enquiries, and if it’s too high you get none! This might sound obvious, but it is also a clue that you can sell most things if you get the price just right.

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On the plus side nobody seems to arrive expecting to haggle – they either want it for the set-price or not – so that potential ‘complication’ is avoided. Another advantage is that people who come to buy one thing often get tempted by something else they see in the room!

Setting the price of something, especially when it is a bit unusual, is of course the big challenge, but with a bit of research you can usually find similar articles to get an idea of a ‘guide price’.

So if you have just bought a house in France, remember that you can perhaps avoid an otherwise inevitable trip to IKEA and save lots of money just by checking the small ads – although you will probably need a trailer or a big enough car to collect things in, because most sellers won’t be keen on delivering, especially if you live a long way away!

One thing we haven’t tried yet but has been suggested to us is an ‘open-day’ where anything unsold and no longer needed is put on show for the day and people can come around and take a look. I’d be interested if anyone has experience of these before we go ahead, likewise of you have any other ideas for disposing of spare items and furnishings!