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Not sure what’s available in France? Take a look at our guide to the places to find DIY materials, furniture and accessories

***DIY & DECORATION***

The DIY market in France has long had the reputation of being short on choice. But this is changing – and today, you will find a reasonable range to choose from. Kitchens, in particular, are excellent quality. Prices vary – some items such as paint are a lot more expensive (double, sometimes even triple and of different quality to the UK) while other items such as tools may be less expensive.

A couple of tips for DIY-ers. If you need assistance you ask for a renseignment – a meeting with an assistant. Assistants are assigned to different areas – one will deal with plumbing materials, another with paint.
If you are buying items such as tiles or wood cut to size, the assistant will prepare a hand written invoice that you take to the checkout – caisse.

Modern furniture is often sold in big chain stores, supermarkets and hypermarkets such as Carrefour and Super U (see below). Prices are very competitive and some provide the free loan of a van. Interest free credit or deferred payment is common and goods can usually be paid for with instalments.

Other stores worth knowing about:

Bricorama: similar to Mr Bricolage (see below).

But: a wide of products from furniture to white goods plus kitchens, bathrooms and computer equipment;

Cash Affaires: cheap prices for ornaments, curtains, cupboards, rugs, saucepans, candles, crockery and toys among many other items. For example, a quality, ceramic bathroom set of mug, toilet roll holder and brush holder decorated with roses costs from €13 (£9). Stores at Begard, Carhaix, Dinan, Guingamp, Landerneau, Landivisiau, Lannio, Paimpol, Saint-Brieuc, Saint Pol de Leon, Concarneau, Bayeux and Mayenne.

Castorama: a major store for a large range of renovation materials and tools, decorating materials including paint and tiles plus interior accessories such as lighting.

Conforama: lots of pine furniture plus accessories such as lamps, tracked lighting and linen baskets.

Farrow and Ball suppliers in France

Fly: Fly is fun – a sort of French IKEA – and they have huge stores with vast floor areas. It is well worth the walk, though, as FLY caters for all tastes, and the young and trendy in particular. They sell furnishings and household accessories plus gift items and stationery. There are 130 stores throughout France.

La Foir Fouille: packed full of cheap, cheap items. Expect to buy a lot of products that become immediately obsolete on your return home! But there are real bargains so it’s definitely worth a look.

GiFi: cheap, bargain style goods including household accessories;

GP Decors: as well as decorating materials, it has a limited range of fabrics, carpets, wallpaper as well as lamps, voiles, cushions, wrought iron and cane funriture.

IKEA: if you know IKEA in the UK, you’ll know what to expect. A range of modern furniture and accessories for all rooms and good prices. Kitchen units are excellent. Expect to have to assemble furniture yourself – the instructions are no less easy to understand. It does deliver, but it costs.

LaPeyre: building wholesalers but their kitchen units are really something else! As well as more traditional styles, it also offers modern units in strong colours such as royal blue and pillar box red combined with oak. It also has a great range of bathroom suites and accessories.

La Redoute: the mail-order catalogue that as well as clothing has a good furniture furnishings section, from tablecloths and bedlinen to rugs and furniture;

Leroy Merlin: a wide range of DIY products from decorating including curtains to electrical, heating and plumbing.

Mr Bricolage: a chain selling a variety of DIY products as well as a limited range of interior accessories.

ScrewPak: an English speaking hardware store and website in France supplying top quality tools & fixings for both professional and DIY requirements. Shop is in Department 46 (Lot), near Gourdon. Online at www.screwpak.com. Delivery all over France at very reasonable rates. Fast, Friendly service.

***SUPERMARKETS***

Bricomarché: part of the Les Mousquetaires chain that sells DIY materials from paint to wallpaper, tools and garden products;

Carrefour: a worldwide chain with hypermarkets and supermarkets around the world, including China. It carries a range of household goods from multi-media to electrical products. The website begins in English but does revert to French for specific information.

Systeme U: part of the chain that includes Hyper U, Marché U and Super U. Hyper U is a hypermarket that sells electrical, household and garden products. The Super U supermarkets carry a less comprehensive range of electrical goods, clothing and DIY;

***BUILDERS WHOLESALERS & SPECIALIST SUPPLIERS***

Cedeo: plumbing and heating materials;

Point P: general building supplies;

ScrewPak: an English speaking hardware store and website in France supplying top quality tools & fixings for both professional and DIY requirements. Shop is in Department 46 (Lot), near Gourdon. Online at www.screwpak.com. Delivery all over France at very reasonable rates. Fast, Friendly service.

***SECOND-HAND AND VINTAGE FURNITURE***

For vintage and antique furniture, the best places to look are brocantes, which can be found in all towns and often villages. To find one near you, see Brocantes and/or Dépôts-vente in the pages jaunes (yellow pages) of your phone book. Remember that bartering is commonplace – there is always room for negotiation!

Another alternative is the vide grenier, France’s equivalent to the British car boot sale. Go to to locate one near you.

By Sonja Tipping

More information on shopping in France

Shopping online in France

Tips for shopping in Paris at Christmas

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