Thrifty French life

Hello Dear Reader,

We’re still tidying up the back of the house. We had a great discussion with our neighbours on one side, who luckily for us are English teachers (they’re French) and are a bit less shy with us and told us all about the land at the back of our house. They’d been in touch with the mayor and notaire and the owner has long passed away and no inheritor can be found. This is common in France and land and property is just left unowned and houses just rot and fall down. Sometimes, the local council, called the commune, take over the property and then sell it. If you see a pile of stones and a hectare of land being renovated, it’s usually a British family who want a piece of France for about 15,000€. I ask repeatedly why the French don’t do this and just get the answer that they want new houses that are warm and cheap to run.

So, the immediate bit of land behind our house was so over grown that the willow branches were resting on our roof. We had them trimmed back by a local tree surgeon as soon as we bought the house in December 2015. We also had the trees cut down in the garden, then finally, at Easter last year, had the fir trees cut down at the end of the garden. We’ve long since stacked the wood messily in the front garden and finally got round to pulling the willow logs out of the undergrowth behind the house. We’re still cutting back the brambles so the wild flowers can pop up. In the spirit of thriftiness, we’re also collecting sacks of kindling and they’ll be stacked in wooden vegetables crates in the shed.

After lunch, we headed to the outside of Morlaix to the large charity shop called Emmaüs. We are great fans. They sell furniture, household items, bedding, clothing…..i could go on, you get the picture.

People get there early and the crowd are a bit enthusiastic when they open the doors. It’s only open Wednesday and Saturday and they get new donations all the time. The car park and the roadside outside was soon rammed with cars, vans and Brits with roof racks. It’s quite an experience shopping there. You find what you like, find a member of staff who marks it as sold, then you get a ticket. At the end you take your tickets to the pay booth and brace yourself. The man who takes your money: doesn’t like cards and doesn’t like it unless you have the right cash and will give you a complete telling off. Just accept, he’s like that and emmaüs give people the chance to work when no one else would employ them due to a whole loads of personal issues and just take people as you find them.

Glasses – were about 2€ for ten.

Essential escargot serving set. We really love butter and garlic cooked escargot. But we didn’t buy the set.

You cook them on the tray, hold them with springy clampy thingies and pull them out with the little forks. You may well crinkle your nose, I know I did, but we like them. Sadly, a snail eating kit wasn’t on the list! 

Nor were retro pots or coloured glass.

Nor were God, saints or voodoo! 

No tapestry ladies for me.

Oh my, if you like kitsch- you’d be in heaven.

We were sensible and spent our 50€ budget on some pieces of furniture, squished it in the back of the car and drove the thirty minutes home. 

Here’s what we bought. A small sideboard, a hall cupboard, a bedside table and a picture. 44€ in total. Eventually, they’ll it’ll be painted.

So, a thrifty fun day.

Until tomorrow,

Love Froogs xxx


18 thoughts on “Thrifty French life

  1. See – just marvellous isn’t it? However much you needed to be thrifty at the beginning just look where you are now. Sending you a big hug and well done to the pair of you. xx


  2. Those are nice. I think the finish on those pieces looks fine, at least from the picture. I would bother painting, but that’s my preference. I like wood to look like wood. I am so enjoying reading about your adventures! Thank you.


  3. The Communities Emmaüs were founded by “l’abbé Pierre” an ecclesiastic who was the personnality that French people preferred for very numerous years. His community makes work a lot of people who effectively are in insertion.(’abbé Pierre is very knowed for his “Appel de l’Abbé Pierre ” that he pronounced on february the 1st in 1954 on Radio-Luxembourg. This is a very beautiful text.If you can have a translation…Amically , Catherine from south of France.


  4. I would have bought the pot in a heartbeat because it would have made me happy every time I used it. The flowers are so happy. Years ago, I bought a vintage Fire King casserole dish because it made me feel happy which I have since used almost every day.


    • Sorry trying to comment on my phone – I love 2nd hand shopping – its my go to relaxing hobby. That shop sounds like heaven. Those pieces of furniture are going to look really good when painted. They look pretty good already. Am enjoying your French blogs / thanks


  5. There’s an Emmaus store near Cambridge which I get to when I can.. Second hand is brilliant…it’s so exciting to find a perfect piece. . Our local tip has a shop for saleable items, too …… latest bargain is a solid oak cupboard just right for my sewing stuff for £5. I reread your post about your chalk paint for your pieces in Cornwall, but have decided to just polish it, instead. Thanks for all the tips and recipes …..I’m off to bake some of your biscuits.


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