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Eight ideas for what to do with your old Christmas tree in France

Leaving your tree on the pavement without authorisation is illegal. Here are some suggestions of what to do with your ‘sapin’ instead

A photo of a discarded Christmas tree on a street

Leaving your tree in a public place without authorisation or a proper pick-up collection planned is not allowed in France Pic: Sjstudio6 / Shutterstock

All good things come to an end and with the arrival of the New Year it will soon be time to take down your festive decorations and Christmas tree. 

Here are some ideas for what you can do with your sapin in France.

Council rubbish collection

Check when (or if) your local council is operating a Christmas tree collection and leave your tree where specified. Double-check the dates on your mairie website, local social media accounts or municipal magazines to be sure of when your area is covered. 

Many mairies have interactive maps on their website to help.

Some local associations and recycling teams may also be offering collection dates or places where you can drop off your tree.

Attention: Do not leave your tree out for rubbish collection, in a public place, or on the pavement, without authorisation or for an official collection. This can be punished by a fine of up to €150.

Take it back to the place you bought it

Some garden centres and Christmas tree farms will take back their trees after Christmas. Be sure to check before you go. Most will require the receipt from the original purchase too.

Some may even give you a voucher to spend in the centre in return for the tree.

Read more: French nursery looks after Christmas trees for next year

Replant the tree in your garden

This may be possible if your tree still has its root ball attached.

This option takes longer, but it means your tree will stay alive. You may also be able to reuse it next year by digging it up and potting it.

Try these steps:

  • Give the tree time to acclimatise to the change between the warmth of a house and the cold winter temperatures. To do this, place it in a bright room at around 10C.

  • After a week, place it outside in a pot in a sheltered area of your garden and water it copiously.

  • The day of planting must be a frost-free day.

  • Soak the root ball of the tree for 15 minutes in a bucket of rainwater, drain it and place it in the centre of the planting hole. 

  • It should be planted in a well-cleared spot. Mix the soil with universal potting soil or well-rotted compost.

Chop it up and use as firewood

If you have a tree-cutting saw, you can cut the tree up into fireplace-suitable logs and dry them out ready to be burnt. It may make your house smell lovely. However, watch out for excess smoke.

Shred it and use it in your garden

If you have a shredder, you can shred the tree and use it as mulch. The plants may appreciate its slightly acidic quality. It can also protect your plants from the cold and stop weeds from growing.

Use it as animal feed

Fir trees are good sources of food for animals such as camels and dromedaries. If you do happen to have a local camel rescue centre or similar (such as the Camélerie near Maubeuge, Hauts-de-France), they may welcome the donation.

Last year, almost 1,500 trees were donated to the Camélerie.

Similarly, tree trunks can be shredded and used as bedding to pad out bird cages.

Similarly, goats enjoy fir trees as food, and see them as a treat. Any trees (without any decorations or fake snow or similar) on them could be of use to local farmers. They may be advertising drop off times in your local area.

Use it as sea protection

Trees can be used to create sea obstacles in coastal areas. For example, for the third year running, Fort-Mahon-Plage (Hauts-de-France) is using donated trees to create a pile at the foot of the dunes to prevent the sand from running off when the sea retreats. 

Help reduce noise pollution

In Nord, since 2015, the local council has had an original use for recycled Christmas trees; using them to construct a plant ‘wall’ as anti-noise protection along the border of the A23 road.

Check if there are any council initiatives in your area.

Related articles

Savoie: Christmas trees collected with help of horse-drawn carriages

Gardening in France: French history and care of Christmas trees

Cost of Christmas trees up by 20%: how to find best option in France

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