You know that old saying, “everything but the kitchen sink.” How about everything missing but the kitchen sink? One of the quirks of the Paris real estate market is that unfurnished apartments may come with no kitchen at all. Oh sure, there’s a room where the kitchen is supposed to be, completely with electrical and water hookups, but little else. So take a deep breath and get ready to put in your own kitchen. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll get to sell it to the next tenant when you move out, or disassemble it and sell it off in parts to newly arriving expats. Here are just a few of the places you need to know about.
Alinéa was described to me by a friend as “like Ikea but with a little more French flair.” About a dozen kitchen styles are currently on offer as well as appliances, sinks, plus kitchen furniture, pots and pans, etcetera. Plus you can design your own Alinéa kitchen on-line. There are five locations in Ile de France, all in fairly far flung suburban communities.
BHV: The three initials stand for Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville after the store’s flagship location opposite the Paris city hall but everyone calls it Bay-Aash-Vay. The basement hardware section is legendary; you just have to go and see it for yourself. The store also has suburban locations in Ivry sur Seine, Montlhéry, the giant Parly 2 mall in Le Chesnay, and another mall in Rosny sous Bois. Appliances (large and small), hardware of every type, shelving, lighting but no kitchen cabinets or countertops. And apparently, you can get a refund if something doesn’t work out.
Castorama may be Home Depot’s French cousin. It sells cabinets, appliances, and all manner of hardware plus everything else you need for other home improvement and gardening projects. There are three locations within the city of Paris (Clichy, Nation, and Flandre: all accessible by metro) and a dozen or more elsewhere in Ile de France.
Conforama: Not to be confused with Castorama (above), Conforama doesn’t have a hardware department but they do sell both large and small appliances, furniture, lighting, rugs, and curtains. The emphasis is on bargains as opposed to design. Not a great match if you consider yourself a style maven although you may save some money by shopping here. There are two locations within the city limits (Pont Neuf and Nation) and more than a dozen other locations in Ile de France.
Darty stocks all manner of household appliances from refrigerators and stoves to food processors and hair dryers. And then there’s the electronics section. There are 10 locations within the city of Paris and dozens more throughout Ile de France. I’m told that Darty makes it very difficult to get your money back (offering instead store credit) if you have a problem. Fair warning.
Ikea. Someone once told me that the word Ikea is Swedish for “allen wrench.” I’m pretty sure that’s not true but those Swedes are laughing all the way to the bank. With dozens of styles from sleek to country, Ikea’s eight Paris area locations do big business. Access by public transportation is limited (for example, you’ll have to take the RER B and then a bus to get to the store closest to Aeroport Charles de Gaulle). Amazingly, Ikea has risen to the challenge here by creating a mechanism for ride sharing for both drivers in search of passengers and passengers in need of a ride.
Leroy Merlin: With one location within Paris (near the Pompidou Centre in the 3rd arrondissement) and others in the suburbs, Leroy Merlin stocks cabinetry, lighting, paint and wallpaper, f looring, appliances, and hardware. More emphasis on function than style.