If the title of this article has you wondering what the big deal is, move along, this isn’t for you. For the rest of us — plant addicts (or repeat offender houseplant murderers) who can’t seem to go a week without bringing home a new green leafy friend — Plantes Pour Tous just might be the best thing to hit Paris since the Métro extended its weekend hours.
The short story: Cheap houseplants of all sizes and types (succulents and cacti included) are sold directly to the public in monthly “Grande Ventes” for €2, €5, €10, and €15 in the 11th arrondissement. Oversized plants (some practically tree-sized at 150cm) can be ordered in advance for €30-€50.
The full story: Plantes pour Tous was started by two landscape gardening friends who adored houseplants but hated going broke from the high cost of buying them as city dwellers. They came up with a simple concept to do Grandes Ventes (Big Sales) once weekend per month where they could sell a large quantity of houseplants at more-than-reasonable prices, sourced only from eco-friendly nurseries.
The Details: Today Plantes pour Tous have Grandes Ventes in 14 of the largest cities in France. Sales are usually three days — Friday through Sunday — unless they run out of plants (it happens). The inexpensive plants are first-come, first-served, but there are also oversized plants that can be paid for in advance on their website and picked up at the sale without waiting in line.
Oh yes, there is a line.
At the last Paris Grande Vente (on the Atelier Basfroi in the 11th) I arrived on a rainy Friday evening at 6pm (the sale closes at 7pm), hoping the rain would keep people away. Nope. There was a long line snaking out the door and everyone huddled in the rain. But I quickly saw that people were being let inside in groups of about 20 every 10-15 minutes, so I only waited about 20 minutes. It didn’t hurt to see all of the happy clients exiting with bags and boxfulls of beautiful plants, smiles on their faces. I read on the FB event page that the plants ran out on Saturday night, so the last day was cancelled (the next one is this coming weekend, February 8-10). I recommend getting there on Friday.
Other Perks: Aside from plants, bags of soil and some simple pots, there are also ateliers you can sign up for on the website, such as “Make Your Own Terranium” or “Hanging Macrame Plant Holders”, usually €35-45 including all of the materials. The FB page has a lot of fun contests to win plants or skip-the-line passes.
Useful Tips: While they have boxes and paper bags, you might want to bring a few sturdy Ikea-style bags to carry your plants, using one one on top to protect your new green-babies from the frigid Parisian wind. Cash and Credit Cards are accepted. If you tend to go a bit too crazy when prices are this good, you may want to come with cash only to avoid any crazy urban-jungle sprees.