Le bon coin

If you have anything to buy or sell in France, there is only one place to do it: Le Bon Coin, popularly known as Leboncoin.

I stumbled on this essential piece of information when we were exploring ways to sell our house. A real estate agent assured me, in the knowing way that French people do, that Leboncoin was ‘l’incontournable’ site for selling properties.

“Le Bon Coin?” I asked, surprised and somewhat appalled. It seemed a little, well, ringard. Tacky. Why would I list my nice home for sale alongside a bunch of old furniture and used car deals of the week?

“Et oui,” he shrugged in that very French way that says, Hey, life is crazy, but who are we to question it? It’s the place where the most buyers go to look for real estate as well as everything else. “Ça marche.”

It turns out Le Bon Coin is indeed a ‘good spot’ for literally anything. From jobs to houses to farm equipment. Along with the odd mammoth tooth and stuffed pony. So you can rent a holiday flat while booking language lessons and car-sharing on the way.

After hearing the same thing from two other real estate advisors and finally deciding to sell our property on our own, we dutifully placed the first ad for our house on Leboncoin. And while we also put the ad in a few other places, they were all pretty useless. Leboncoin was indeed l’incontournable.

The site owes its success to a ‘free’ ad formula with paid options for ‘les petites annonces’ (classified ads). The French love anything free, so that strategy was a good start. However, when you really want to sell something it’s easy to fall into the temptation to pay, either to add more photos or boost the visibility of your ad. And that’s where they make their money.

I dug into the story behind Le Bon Coin and it’s rather interesting. Owned by a Norwegian conglomerate with similar sites across Europe, it started up in 2006. It seems the early success of the concept is being further fuelled by COVID-19 and the growing trend to doing everything online. The company recently bought out eBay in France.

“We sold our house on Le Bon Coin,” my husband confided to the nice gentleman who came over last week to buy our leather sofa. Which we’ve also listed on the site, along with a bunch of other stuff we aren’t moving to our new place. We were amazed when the buyer showed up after driving for two hours and paid the requested 200 euros in cash. Another young couple had come the day before and left with our dining table.

I was also amazed that my ad for our washing machine, which works perfectly well but was purchased in 2008 so is selling dirt cheap, attracted so many potential buyers. Unfortunately they all wanted to come and get it right away and I still have plenty of dirty laundry to keep it busy for another few weeks. So that’s pending. There’s been almost no interest in the tumble dryer though. The French still mostly line dry their washing.

It is humbling to part with your property, whether it’s a home or furniture. There you are with your stuff, the items you live with each day, and suddenly it’s splayed all over a public website. One minute you’re sitting on your sofa enjoying a cup of tea and your favourite show and the next, you have nowhere to sit. And don’t tell this to any potential buyers but I am terrible at negotiating prices. This is true whether buying or selling. Either I demand too much or pay full price without negotiating, or I cave too quickly and take a low-ball offer. The whole thing makes me uncomfortable. I have no problem with money per se, but haggling over it makes me feel slimy and cheap.

The fact is that moving to a new place is an opportunity to streamline: out with the old, in with the new. And we are downsizing so we have no need, or room, for so much stuff. Plus, we’ll have no garden, so we have a whole load of garden tools and equipment going spare. I haven’t tackled that ad yet.

Anyone want to buy a lawn mower? 

20 comments

  1. margaret21 · August 13

    We liked and used Leboncoin too, though in our case not for our house: we were rather scared of negotiating that particular minefield on our own. But yes, we off-loaded plenty of other stuff that way, though I tended to leave bargaining to my husband as I was useless at it. Good luck with the rest of your sales!

    • MELewis · August 14

      Thanks! Glad to hear there are many more afficionados of the Leboncoin. As for the house sale, we would never have taken that on ourselves had we not already sold one house and discovered how completely unnecessary (and frankly, unhelpful) the agent was.

  2. pedmar10 · August 13

    Never use it but know about it. Just beware of what is put up there.

    • MELewis · August 14

      That’s true! Have heard plenty of ‘arnaques’ and was quite nervous at first about whom we might attract. So far, so good. 🤞

  3. Garfield Hug · August 13

    Interesting share indeed! I have not heard of Leboncoin till now and am glad it is a bona fide entity. Great to hear of this as a platform for people in France to offload what they do not need. Good luck on your sales.

    • MELewis · August 14

      Thanks! I guess it’s a global trend to have these direct sites between private people buying and selling stuff. Do you also do this in Lil Red Dot?

      • Garfield Hug · August 14

        I think my friends use E Bay to sell stuff. We do not have a local platform I think…hmm or at least I am not aware of. What I do know is that there are no second hand shops too as people in lil red dot do not buy much of used goods unless it is at an auction for an art piece or an antique.

  4. phildange · August 13

    Yes it’s a useful tool, I used it sometimes like everyone . But recentlly I discovered another tool . If you use FaceBook, on the left side of your page under Friends, Messenger, there is “Marketplace” . You can choose your area and the stuff you want to sell or buy . To find second hand or old machines, instruments, etc. around you I happened to find it easier, quicker and more practical than “Leboncoin” . I don’t think it works for houses though but for anything else, including cars or tractors it’s worthy .

    • MELewis · August 14

      Good point, Phil! I had neglected FB marketplace as the last time I looked it was nothing but a lot of junk near me. But it seems to have gotten better now so will give it a try. One good thing is that it shows you stuff in geographic proximity to your location rather than by postcode or border.

  5. midihideaways · August 13

    I love le bon coin, it’s more down-to-earth than ebay and all the rest!! If you just want to get rid of things (without getting anything for them) there’s a site called donnons.org – that’s worked very well for me in the past too!

    • MELewis · August 14

      Thanks for that! We will definitely give stuff away rather than move it if if it doesn’t sell so that could well come in handy. 😉

  6. Suzanne et Pierre · August 13

    In Canada, we have a similar site called Kijiji. We have sold many things through this site over the year, including our car when we moved from Toronto to Paris. When we got back to Montreal, we found the apartment we are renting through an ad on Kijiji and sold many things when we sold Pierre’s parents two houses. It is indeed amazing what will sell and for how much. (Suzanne)

    • MELewis · August 14

      That’s interesting, had heard of Craigslist but not Kijiji. It seems it’s owned by eBay. I guess the trend is the same the world over but that each site is locally branded and adapted to the country. How great that you and Pierre were able to move so much stuff that way. I can imagine it could get addictive and will probably not discard things so easily without at least checking if someone would be willing to pay for it.

  7. acflory · August 13

    Glad the move is going so well. And congratulations on selling the house. 🙂

    • MELewis · August 14

      Thanks! I can’t say the move is going well yet but with each day that passes it gets closer. So whatever happens, in a few more weeks we’ll be getting on with it. Just wish it was behind us already! 😅

      • acflory · August 15

        The actual day of the move probably won’t be so hair-raising. It’s the pre-move days of sorting and down sizing that I always find traumatic.

        lol – wouldn’t it be nice if we could wake up and suddenly realise it’s 2021 already?

  8. CompassAndCamera · August 14

    So interesting! Sounds like craigslist (in the U.S.) but far better. Congrats on selling your home!

    • MELewis · August 14

      Thanks! I do feel congrats are deserved considering the pandemic and the fact that we did it on our own. My son lived in Canada as a student and always swore by Craigslist. It is amazing what you can find for cheap!

  9. Colin Bisset · August 14

    I was a bit dismissive of online selling until I put an old armchair on ebay, hoping for $100. I was sort of horrified and amazed when it sold for $750…

    • MELewis · August 14

      Wow, that is enough to change your mind! I suppose it had a patina of brocante about it…

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