Chapter 9: Poubelles

“What the heck is a poubelle?” you might be wondering.  Well, it’s French for trash or garbage bins.  And yes, you need them, but who’d have thought getting a trash bin would be a big deal, but such is the way of things in France where one simple detail can consume more of your life than you can imagine.  You think, “I need to get my trash bins”, which you are told you will need to request at the office of the Maire. (this is the Mayor’s office, a town office of sorts)  Next, you go to the Maire (armed with your tax and electric bills to prove you own this house), who says you need to go to the decheterie.  What’s a decheterie you ask?  Well, it’s a big dump/recycling location where you take all your trash.  You show up at the decheterie and they want your numbers.  Numbers?  Evidently, the trash bins (and there are two – one for kitchen garbage and one for paper, plastic & metal), have a serial number.  That tells the trucks doing the pick-up who you are, that you legally can have your trash picked up, and who to invoice for the pick-ups.  Two bins, two trucks arriving roughly at 10-20 minutes apart.  These pick-ups will occur in the early AM of a particular morning depending on where you live.  Ours is Monday and the trucks can come as early as 5:30 in the morning, so everyone puts their bins out the night before.  If you have glass or plastic bottles, you are encouraged to drop those in one of the conveniently located receptacles located throughout the various towns and cities.

At the decheterie we’re told until we have our card, we at least need a picture of the numbers from our bins to dump there.  We tell them we have no bins.  We explain further we have just moved and the house formerly had no occupants for a few years, albeit, no bins.  They seem reluctant to believe us, but because we have valid electric and tax bills, they let us bring our trash – but no garbage.  And we bring A LOT of trash since with the many deliveries a new houseful of items entails we have enough cardboard and plastic wrappings to choke a horse.  The kitchen garbage?  Well that’s another thing.  Suffice it to say, by the time we got our bins we had six weeks worth of very fetid garbage given this was during one of the hottest summers in a long while.  Good for the grapes, for the garbage…not so much. Without offering too many grisly details, here’s how it works.  First, if there are bins at the house, please take a picture of the serial numbers on the side.  Second, take those numbers to the Maire and they will register them to your name.  Third, with this same picture of the bins go to your nearest decheterie and apply for a card that you will show each and every time you need to take items to the decheterie.  And, if you need to go to the decheterie before you have this card, take this picture of the serial number and show it to them.  You’ll still need to get the card from them, but at least you’ll be following the rules.  If you buy a property that has no bins, as ours did not, then you will need to apply for the bins at the Maire, but will need to pick them up at the decheterie – and you will have to just keep checking because no one will notify you to let you know they are there.  They simply don’t.


Took us six weeks to get these – one of the happiest days of my life! LOL!

Took us six weeks to get these – one of the happiest days of my life! LOL! Once at the decheterie, there are sorting bins for everything: One for cardboard, one for plastic and Styrofoam, one for paper, one for metal, one for landscape clippings, a place for electronics, a place for hazardous liquids, and so on.  There’s pretty much a sorting bin for everything you can think of.

Oh, and that card?  You will first need to fill out a form in triplicate and will be told it will take a couple of weeks for your card.  Does this card get mailed to you?  No.  You return to the decheterie and pick it up – and no, no one will call you.  When nearly three weeks had passed, I thought it would be safe to return and retrieve my card so I drive to the decheterie, wait in line, explain I am only there to pick up my card and show them my copy of the form I filled out.  They indicate I am to park and go into the office.  Once in the office, there is a man there who has just filled out my name and address onto the back of a plastic card.  This confuses me because if the cards were there all along, why was he just filling out my name onto it now?  Did they have to wait for the card and just waited until I returned before finishing it?  I have no idea – maybe they do some sort of checking to verify you’re who you say you are?  It does have numbers, and no, they don’t match the serial numbers on the bin.  The card they gave me looks old and used – or at least like it’s been lying around for some time which leads me to believe it and many others are lying around in the decheterie office for some time.  This is one I file in the bin labeled, “may never know or understand,” but truly, sometimes I just feel like they’re messing with me because they can.

access denied. Decheterie.

This long awaited card gives me access to bring my trash to the dump. It took eight months to get this card.

And lastly, as with most places in rural France, the decheterie will be open Tuesday through Saturday; 9am – 5:45pm but closed from 12:15 – 1:30.