WHETHER or not you are feeling the pinch due to the economic situation, ‘spending power’ continues to be a buzz word in France.
Many people are getting savvy about ways to get more for their money - and you can join them, by trying out some of our tips:
■ Get cheap furniture at one of the 180 branches of www.troc.com - depots where people sell items they don't need or pick up bargains
■ Renovating your home or installing appliances? - Look into tax credits (credit d’impôts) for insulation or green heating systems
■ Buying a car? - get an eco-friendly one attracting a bonus
■ Rent a €1,500 handbag for €100 - www.sacdeluxe.fr
■ Get up to 20% off kitchen white goods with small imperfections, such as a scratch. The home electrical goods chain Darty has shops devoted to this called magasins à défauts d'aspect (appearance defects shops). There is also a chain specialising in this called MDA. See www.darty.com or www.electromenager-mda.com
■ “Chrono-stock” shops are temporary shops, set up for just a few months to sell off low-priced goods for the home. Find ones near you at www.chronostock.fr
■ Buy furniture made from cardboard at www.mobilier-orika.com They do a full student home office set for €99.
■ The Envie network buys slightly-damaged home electric goods, repairs them and sells them at low prices - up to 40% off. Find them at www.envie.org
■ Looking for cheap designer furnishings? Try www.designlowcost.com
■ There is a TV show devoted to money-saving: Combien Ça Coute? on TF1 on Sundays evenings. Watch some past episodes at Combien Ça Coute?
■ Get your hair cut by hairdressing students - you can expect to pay about €5. Try the following training centres: Dessange et Camille Albane in Paris 8th (01 44 70 08 08), Jean-Louis David in various towns (08 25 16 02 16), Jean-Claude Biguine in Paris 8th (01 47 20 85 38) and Saint-Algue in the provinces (08 05 16 00 16). There is also a low-cost salon chain called Tchip www.tchip.fr
■ Discount shop “villages” like McArthur Glenn and Marques Avenue sell off last season designer label clothes or cheap household goods with reductions of 20 - 70%. See www.magasins-usine.info
■ For trendy clothes at bargain prices try Guerissol in Paris, a famous second-hand clothes market. It is at 17 Blvd de Rochechouart in the Barbès district.
■ The lycée hotelier Georges-Baptiste at Canteley near Rouen offers meals served by students, with service “worthy of the finest restaurants” for €7.50 for lunch or €14 - €19 for dinner. They also offer a four-star hotel-style stay for €45 per night. Find a list of hotel schools at www.kelrestaurant.com under écoles hôtelières.
■ Find information on special offers in the shops, like money-off coupons on food brands, on www.madstef.com
■ Get good value wine by buying direct from the vineyards or by looking out for foires aux vins (wine markets)
■ Pay old-fashioned prices for your coffee or aperitif in Paris using this insider guide to good addresses in the capital - www.leguidedesrades.com
■ Get cheap dairy goods by buying direct from a farm - see www.bienvenue-a-la-ferme.com
■ Want a cheap Renault? On the first Sunday of each month the manufacturer's employees sell off their almost-new cars (which they can buy cheaply) with at least 17% discount on the full price. The sales are in the car park of the Renault Sandouville factory in the suburbs of Le Havre. You can also find cheap car deals at the following sites, run by firms which negotiate good prices with dealers: www.concession-direct.com www.auto-ies.com www.elite-auto.fr www.autopromo.com and www.aramisauto.com
■ If you have a diesel car you can mix your fuel with cheap recycled chip oil to make it go further - find out more at www.roulemafrite.org .
■ Get cheap car parts, recuperated from scrapped cars, from www.careco.fr
■ Use the ecocomparateur at www.sncf-voyages.fr to compare the cost of travel around Europe by car, train or plane
■ The following sites offer deals on theatre tickets - www.sortiratousprix.com www.billetreduc.com and www.theatreonline.com
In Paris there are three reduced-price booths for same-day tickets: at l'Esplanade de la Gare Montparnasse, Place des Ternes and Place de la Madeleine (see www.kiosquetheatre.com)
■ A new no-frills gym company has been launched. At present it is only in Fontenay-sous-Bois in Val de Marne, but is set to expand next year. www.neoness-forme.com)
■ Get half-price luxury holidays by joining www.voyage-prive.com, which negotiates good deals direct with hotels and airlines.
■ Make money on holiday by videoing your hotel room on your camera for www.tripr.tv which then posts the clip so people can pick where they want to stay