Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thrifty Week - Clothes Shopping in France

I'm joining in with Betty's Thrifty Week again, and continuing to post on the theme of Thrifty Living in Foreign Climes. Today I wanted to post about where I buy clothes. I have some serious criteria for clothes shopping, so here goes:

  • our clothes should be good quality and last well, at least for adults - the boys grow out of their clothes so fast that it's less important for them!

  • our clothes should good for the environment

  • our clothes should not bought from people who ran sweatshops to make them

  • we should look good in them!
Because cheaply bought new clothes are usually neither good-quality, good for the environment, nor fairly traded, I try to buy second-hand as much as possible. It's the 'reuse' part of 'reduce, reuse and recycle' and it works!

However, both the practicalities and the thrill of Charity Shopping seemed lost to me when we moved to France. I was actually speaking to a French mum this Saturday who commented: 'Of course, in England you have all those great little Charity Shops on the high street...' and we both got quite nostalgic over them. But there are Charity Shops in France, if you know where to look for them - you won't find them on the high street! They are big warehouses, more like the American Goodwill, I think, and they are on small trading estates, often near to the organic supermarkets, which is quite convenient... Why not ake a tour of one of my two regular Charity Shops with me here?

The other thing that the French really excell at is the town-wide second hand sale. These are called braderies or even, locally, the Troc Broc Sold, which probably inspired my blog's name! They are incredibly complicated affairs (see photo of the volunteers above), which I have explained here, but money is made for charity and good quality clothes are sold to the benefit of the donors (so better than a jumble sale, in that way). At the biannual Troc Broc Sold this weekend, which is where I got chatting to the French mum about Charity Shops, I bought enough shorts to last both boys all summer. I bought less for myself - my tastes and figure remain resolutely British, so I always do better in Charity Shops when visiting my father!


It's not possible to buy all our clothes second hand, of course, and whilst at first I had no idea where to buy cheap but decent clothes and shoes for the boys in France, over the years I've learned a lot, and now spend most of my 'new clothes' money at Decathlon, the major sports dealer which also runs fantastic 'Trocathlon' events twice a year - you've guessed it - second hand sports equipment sales! Once you get to know a country, you can find some very good thrifty deals. Just don't expect it to work the way your country of origin does...


Below is my second prayer for our children. Do have a look if you have children of your own, and want to be praying for them - maybe it will be of some use!


Carole said...

Emmaüs is a great place, and if there is a Terre des Hommes collection center they also have lots of clothes that they sell. And of course all the marchés aux puces and braderies... you can also check the Clothes section in your region at www.leboncoin.fr (or .com ?)

Elizabethd said...

We do have a local Emmaus, but no such thing as a Veti relais, sadly. Decathlon is such a good shop, and does stock larger shoe sizes (for we English!)

Lola Nova said...

Thank you for sharing this. I am in desperate need of clothes and while I am sure if I dedicated myself to the task, I could easily enough find some things at our "thrift stores". I just hate trying on clothes and am rather picky about them. So, it's mending time again I think!

VintageVicki said...

I can often find things in the charity shops for me and occasionally little son but rarely is there anything suitable for long/lanky big son and ''bulky'' MrVV.

Serenata said...

Such an interesting post. I too tend to get most of my clothes from CS, as that is where I can buy the quality clothes. I have been able to get some really gorgeous dresses that I will be enjoying wearing this summer.

I don't tend to find things so much for the boys now as they are so much older and more difficult to buy for, but I have been known to get the odd shirt which they have appreciated.

Betty said...

This is such a great post Floss - I am coming back to read the links later in my lunch time. I am thinking now if we get the chance to visit France I would like to find a warehouse and explore charity shopping French style. You could probably write a book on your Frugal Year and thrift experiences you know! Bettyx