A Trip to Paris to Steal a Sustainable Idea

By | March 27, 2012 at 3:31 pm | No comments

After being together for almost 2 and a half years, my boyfriend W and I finally took our first proper holiday together last month. For four wonderful days we went to Paris. We took the Eurostar over (or should that be under?) from London, and stayed in a great little hostel within walking distance of just about everything.

The Eurostar is fantastic – instead of the hours and hours waiting at an airport before departure, the boarding time for the Eurostar was 30 minutes before it left the station. I had a normal sized bottle of shampoo in my bag and my Aquatina full of water. Nobody batted an eyelid.

W dozed I stared gleefully out the window like a child. I still love train journeys. Especially when they leave a city. You get to watch the buildings grow lower and further apart, the greyness gently fading out into green, grassy fields. We entered a few dark tunnels and then popped out of them minutes later, each time I prodded W and squealed “Bonjour France!” This happened so many times that I have to admit, I was never exactly sure when we left England and arrived in France. The channel tunnel bit of the journey is only around 20 minutes long, the other two hours is overland. The tell tale owl-like electricity pylons finally gave it away that we no longer en Angleterre. Well, that and seeing a sign for ‘Paris Nord’.

I really can’t fault the Eurostar. It’s so fast, so easy and so much better than flying. We arrived in Paris feeling great. No dry skin from pressurised cabins, no long, slow moving queues for baggage and no fear of falling through the air to my death. Big smiles all round, then.

We stepped off the train and about 5 minutes later were on a Metro heading for our hostel. It all seemed too easy to be true.

We had lists and lists of things to do in Paris from various friends that have visited or lived there over the years. But top of my list was a visit to La Ressourcerie, one of the many new shops popping up in France that takes in anything you don’t want and either sells it, fixes it, makes it into something new or recycles it.

You can take clothes, CD’s, kitchenware, furniture, toys, electrical goods – broken or not. All those bits and bobs that you might not give to a charity shop because they aren’t really worth anything but are still perfectly usable. All the things that you just end up chucking in the rubbish because you don’t know where to recycle them. Basically, anything.

When you walk in it feels like a big junk shop mixed with a charity shop. Anything you can think of you will find in there, including a homemade lampshade fashioned from a pink baby bath.

A key difference between this and a junk shop is all the fixing and upcycling that goes on. In a junk shop, if it’s broken then it stays broken. If its useless then it stays useless. In a Ressourcerie, if it can be fixed or made into something else then it will be. I wished my french was better so I could chat to the owner but instead I made do with having a good old wander around. And resisting the urge to buy all those little things I love but don’t need.

The reason I was so keen to visit La Ressourcerie was because I would love to have something similar in London. A place where people can bring anything and everything, broken, old, new or worn out. I could spend my days fixing and making, hiring people to help me bring things back to life. We could put on simple electrical courses, sewing lessons and DIY days to teach people how to mend and make do. Seeing the french version was really inspiring and I returned home bubbling with enthusiasm.

Could I be the girl to bring La Ressourcerie to London? Watch this space.

All Photos by Jo Corrall

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