Reader question: I would like to hold a sale at my home of various secondhand items as we are moving and downsizing. What would you call this in French and what are the rules for doing it?
The French term for what would in English be referred to as a garage sale is un vide-grenier chez soi or à domicile – a carboot sale at home.
It is also called a vide-maison when you are selling your own items before moving house.
Holding such as sale comes under the rules for a vente au déballage. It is possible if it is for secondhand items belonging to yourself, and is done no more than twice a year.
You need to make a déclaration de vente au déballage to the mairie more than 15 days before the start of the sale, declaring your intention to hold the sale. You should do it by recorded delivery letter with reception slip.
Include a copy of your passport or ID card as proof of identity. There is a form for this purpose. You do not need to complete the sections about a legal representative or Siret number, or ministerial decision. Cross the occasion (secondhand) box, and give address and sale date.
If you wanted to spread out items on the pavement in front of your home, you would have to also apply at least three months before for autorisation d’occupation temporaire du domaine public.
You should make a registre des vendeurs - a list of the people selling at the sale with name/s and address and date of birth and number of ident-ity card or passport.
You also need to sign a paper attesting on your honour that you are not a professional seller (commerçant), you are only selling secondhand goods and you have not taken part in more than one other such sale this year. These should be sent in to the mairie no more than eight days after the sale.
Think about having change ready for your sale, warning neighbours, and how to advertise. Options include listing it free of charge at vide-maisons.org and brocabrac.fr.