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  Garage sales (boot sales) in Paris  

In an expensive city like Paris you might wonder how the poor manage to survive. The answer is in the numerous garage sales held all over the city every weekend. Known also as yard sales or boot sales they are more in the form of an assortment of used articles spread out on tables or simply lying on the ground than being displayed from car boots.
It is here that the poor do their "shopping" for clothes, shoes, kitchen utensils and household items including furniture and TV.
But even if you are buying nothing, a leisurely stroll here will do you no harm. In fact where nothing is free in Paris (it costs 12 euros just to enter the yearly Foire de Paris trade exposition) this is a good place to pass your Sunday, especially on a fine day.
There is always some kind of magic in the air at such boot sales, putting one in a sort of holiday mood. Bargaining is always done good-naturedly here and part of the fun lies in this though to some people it is not complete unless it is sealed with a victory i.e. obtaining the highly envied object at the price YOU offered and not the price THEY offered!
If you do not know where the boot sale is held in Paris this Sunday just check out this site (it's in French so get hold of someone who reads French if you don't). It tells in which part of Paris or its suburbs you can find a boot sale as there is always one somewhere in Paris practically every Sunday throughout the year.

La Braderie de Houilles
About the second biggest garage sales in France (after the one at Lille) is held in Houilles, on the suburbs of Paris. It is only 15-20 minutes from Paris with RER A or the train at the St. Lazare railway station. Whether you take the RER or the train you will get down at the station called Houilles - Carrieres-sur-Seine. Go here for a full report.

Called brocante, braderie or vide-grenier in French, one never knows what one will come back home with after a visit to one such. In fact you'll not only find everything under the sun but also out-of-the-world things you never imagine existed.
Even when you think you have everything you ever need or want in the world, more often than not you'll end up finding (and buying!) something that you never thought existed. What's more, in most cases you would have bought it at a bargain price for many of the sellers are amateurs who once a year are allowed to take part in such a sale without paying the taxman anything. In fact many sell not with the intention of making as much money as they can but simply to get rid of things they no longer need in order to make way for new acquisitions. Among them are mothers selling off the toys and clothing of their children who have since outgrown their childhood needs.
It's also not uncommon to find computers or even a mezzanine bed for sale. But before you think you've got a bargain when you purchase a computer at a boot sale make sure you make the seller agree to take it back if it doesn't work. Then make a rush home to test it so you'll have time to bring it back. No sensible person will want to buy a computer from a garage sale but sometimes the price asked is so ridiculously low that you just can't resist the offer.
Another huge brocante is the one at Issy-les-Moulineaux. It's called Printemps d’Issy and it's usually held in the month of May (or early June). It's just on the fringe of Paris. Take Line 12 of the métro and get down at the terminus called Mairie d'Issy. The vide-grenier is right in front of your eyes as you come out of the underground station. Just wander where your fancy takes you but make sure you have the whole morning or afternoon to kill. You can start at the main road called Rue du General Leclerc which is filled with stalls on both sides and will take you to the Corentin Celton metro station where you can stop for a coffee in the animated square before continuing. There are very few professional sellers here. Almost all are families laying out their redundant or discarded objects for sale. And there are over 1,600 stalls.
At a time when everybody is complaining that the euro has pushed prices up no end this is one place where lots of things (books, household items and especially clothing) are sold for as little as one euro apiece.
Although it has a similar aspect, the brocante is not the same as the marché aux puces. You might have heard of the famous flea market at Porte de Clignancourt in Paris. The difference between garage sales and flea markets is that more often than not you get ripped off in the flea markets since the stallholders, almost all of whom are professionals, know that most of the visitors there are tourists.
Also flea markets are favourite haunts of people selling counterfeit or stolen goods. In fact if you were robbed of your mobile phone or bicycle you might be able to find them up for sale at a flea market the next Sunday!

LA GRANDE BRADERIE DE LILLE: Lille is just one hour by train from Paris. The first weekend of September each year, this northern city of France is home to some two million bargain hunters from all over France. But even if you're just looking around it is going to be a weekend well-spent as the whole city takes on a festive mood.

Wonder where you can go to get used clothing (in good condition) and other household items real cheap? You can get them from the yearly church sales in Paris. One such place is at 92bis Boulevard du Montparnasse (Tel: 01 43 22 75 89). The sales are often held in April, early June, October and early December. Although the sales open at 14h00 a queue is already forming half an hour before the opening time so be there early if you hope to find the best bargains. As the saying goes "The early bird catches the worm!"
The Saint-Augustin church near the Saint Augustin metro organizes a similar sale twice a year (in April and again in early October). Tel. 0142932052 for the exact dates. Besides clothing, you will also be able to find used shoes, books, toys and furnishings at give-away prices. There is also a room here where you can have food and drinks prepared by the volunteers.
Yet another place where you can find used clothing in very good condition but at cheap prices the whole year round is at this Emmaüs (name of charitable organisation to help the poor and homeless people in France) shop near the Reuilly-Diderot metro station: 17 rue Chaligny in the 12th district of Paris. Its opening hours are as follows: Monday 16h00-19h30; Tuesday to Saturday 10h-19h.
There is another Emmaus at 204 Rue de Crimée in the 19th district. This one has a very good selection of house furniture.