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Life In Paris: Household Waste and Recycling, & Home Safety Tips

Updated: Sep 8, 2022

As part of our drive towards greater sustainable practices, we are delighted to announce that our highly popular book, The ABCs of Parenting In Paris, will no longer be available in print form. We are updating and sharing the treasure trove of information from the book in a series of detailed articles on this blog.


Putting Out the Garbage In Paris, household waste is picked up every day except May 1st, and special green garbage bins are used. Pickup times vary by arrondissement.

In Parisian apartment buildings, it is usually the caretaker (gardien) who will put out the communal bins, not the individual tenants. In the suburbs, garbage is normally collected twice a week and in some areas recyclable materials are collected directly from your home on specific days. Large Items There are several options for disposing of cumbersome objects. The city of Paris has a free pick-up service by appointment which can be arranged with a form on the Mairie de Paris website using this Request for removal of bulky items. There are also 250 large bins (caissons) placed around the city from time to time. Call Allô Propreté at 3975, or your individual mairie for an appointment or for information on the current locations of the nearest caissons.


Good to know: More than 50% of bulky items end up recycled

The bulky objects collected are taken to the recycling center to be sorted and taken back by the various waste streams in order to be recovered.

Half of them or their components then find a second life: the wood is transformed into particle board for furniture; scrap metal is used to manufacture metal parts; cardboard and paper are recycled into new cardboard; the mattresses are used to make insulation for the building or sports mats, etc. (Info from the website)


Used Car Batteries and Engine Oil These can be disposed of at certain déchetteries, as well as one of a number of specified garages called Relais-Verts-Auto. A complete list of the available locations is on the website under “Produits dangereux et déchets toxiques”. Small Batteries and Button Batteries These can be recycled at any of the Paris recycling stations, at many collection points in photo and electronic shops such as FNAC and Nature et Découvertes, as well as most supermarkets. Coming soon: a post all about recycling!

HOME SAFETY Electricity The domestic electricity supply in France is 220v/50Hz compared with 110v/60Hz in North America and 240v/50Hz in the UK. The 220V system is more powerful than the 110, so you have to be careful. To use electrical appliances from North America in France, it is possible to buy a transformer (transformateur) to reduce the voltage. Adapters (adaptateurs) are also available for non-French plugs. Remember, if you are using a non-French lamp, change the bulb to one that is 220v. Also, remember that non-French electrical items will run slower because of the voltage difference. Adapters and transformers can be bought from any hardware store, including BHV and furniture stores such as Castorama and Ikea. With a transformer or simply an adapter your non-French computer should work in France, however some North American models of printers or computers only work with 110 volts, so feeding them the 220 volts may cause real damage. Consult the manufacturer for more details. If your apartment has outdated wiring, you should probably have it checked out by a specialist. Remember that expenses from any work done to bring your wiring up to modern standards can usually be deducted from your income taxes. If you are renting, discuss the issue with your landlord before beginning any work. Also, if you are living with very small children, remember to buy safety-covers for electrical outlets - these are available in most supermarkets and hardware stores. Safety Assessment Company— Promotelec 0141974222 This is an association that comes to your home and evaluates electrical safety and security hazards. They will also verify that any renovations are up to safety codes. Gas The gas distributed by GDF (Gaz de France) does have a smell. Should you suspect a gas leak either in the home or a public place, call the Fire Department (dial 18) and open the windows immediately. For any other problems regarding your gas supply, call the telephone number indicated on your gas bill for emergency repair services (dépannage). Fire

If you live in an apartment, check the fire procedure with your gardien (if you have one) and learn what the escape routes are. Have an escape plan and make sure everyone in the family understands what to do. Also make sure you have your heating system checked annually, as well as all the chimneys swept out. This is not only a safety measure—it is also necessary for home insurance. (Many buildings will organize this service, un ramonage, for their tenants once a year. Look for postings in your building to sign up.)

Smoke, gas and carbon monoxide detectors, fire blankets and small fire extinguishers suitable for the kitchen can be found at IKEA, BHV, or any other major hardware store. Windows and Balconies For those new to apartment living, the biggest hazard can be the windows. Very few windows have screens and they are often full-size windows that are just too easy to get out of. Do not put furniture in front of windows as it makes it too easy for little ones to climb.

Another thing to consider is putting locks or babyproofing window stoppers to prevent access by curious children. If you have radiators under the windows that children could potentially climb, put locks on the windows. If you are lucky enough to have the beautiful Haussmanian balconies, you may want to consider installing a child-safe barrier or netting, as they are very easy to climb!

If you wish to install a child-safe barrier on your balcony or window railing, you may need to get permission from the landlord or tenants’ association. Though the request is rarely refused, you may be required to use certain materials or colors and landlords usually do not cover this expense. Protecting the windows and balconies is a good thing to do before you move in! Bathrooms Many Paris apartment buildings have extremely hot tap water. It is unlikely your landlord will lower the temperature, so you must be very vigilant about bath temperatures. If you do control your own water temperature, 50-55 degree Celsius or 120-130 degree Fahrenheit is the recommended maximum for safety.

Kitchen European ovens can be less insulated than North American ones, so the outside oven door can be hotter to the touch than you are used to. Something to remember for tiny kitchen helpers! PRACTICAL STUFF Poisons In case of any poison-related emergency, do not give your child anything to drink, including the syrups that induce vomiting, until you have checked with the Poison Control Centre (SOS Anti-Poison) at 01 40 05 48 48. They have English speakers who can handle your call. If the situation is serious, call the SAMU 15 for ambulance assistance. Remember, cleaning products are not the only poisonous things found in a household and you may not notice or be able to understand warning notices on products in French. Keep an eye out for words such as nocif (harmful) or toxique (poisonous). Keys and Locks

Most exterior doors to Paris apartments lock automatically when closed, so when the door closes you need a key to get back in even if it is not locked. Another unique feature is that if a key is left in the lock on the inside of the door, it may block a key on the exterior from being used. In both cases, a locksmith (serrurier) will be required to get back in, and as a warning, they are very expensive! It is wise to leave a key with your gardien or a trusted neighbor as a backup. Be careful when selecting a locksmith as apparently there are many that are highly overpriced and, unfortunately, fraud is common. It is best to call your insurance company for recommendations and to check if the cost falls under your policy.

Do you have more tips to add? Share them in the comments below!


This article was originally published in The ABCs of Parenting In Paris - filled with insiders' tips and practical information, written by a team of experienced parents. Many thanks to all those who contributed their valuable time and effort to the publication of this book.

Message cannot be held responsible for any information contained in or omitted from this article.



Laura  Guillaumin
Laura Guillaumin
Sep 13, 2022

Great article. Regarding the extra apartment key, sadly our beloved guardian retired. They have decided not to hire another one despite our pleas. Anyway, we like to keep a spare key with the automated key exchange-storage. We use and have been quite happy. The only disadvantage is they comply with the operating hours of the store hosting them. For example, I use a monkey lucky in a mall which doesn’t open until 10 am.


Sep 11, 2022

Very complete article! I have some remarks and suggestions, but overall it's great. " In the suburbs, garbage is normally collected twice a week and in some areas recyclable materials are collected directly from your home on specific days. " : now most places do collect recyclable trash the same way than regular trash. Maybe could be replaced by something like : "In most places there are bins in each house/building for recyclable waste (most packaging, paper, plastic, metal) and regular waste. Glass is recycled separately, either collected directly from home or in special containers in the street, depending on the city. In many places, there are also bins for compostable or green waste. " Just before:"  green garbage bins …

Sep 11, 2022
Replying to

Sorry, the copy paste is not working well on the app. Last bit: In the paragraph about " Smoke, gas and carbon monoxide detectors,", could add: Detectors installation is an obligation of the landlords, if there is no detector yet in your rented home, you may ask the landlord to install one free of charge."

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