Emmaus Europe


Emmaus in France

Emmaus started off in France in 1949 and the movement now has 220 member groups in the country. There are many different types of structures in France, providing a response tailored to the local situation (communities, social action and housing structures, SOS Families, friends committees and reintegration structures). The groups in the country benefit from the support of the national organisation, Emmaus France.


In November 1949, called to the side of a desperate man who had tried to commit suicide, Abbé Pierre spontaneously offered “the opposite of charity” by suggesting he come to “help him help others”  by building accommodation for homeless families. Georges Legay agreed to do so. Soon, other men joined him at the Emmaus house in Neuilly-Plaisance and the first community was then set up. In January 1951, five companions built the first accommodation. In June 1951, Abbé Pierre was not re-elected as an MP. With money running short, Abbé Pierre went begging on the streets of Paris. A companion came up with the answer: to become rag-pickers. From then onwards, the community lived off collecting and selling raw materials and second-hand items. Little by little, rules came into being as the community gained in experience. “Never shall we accept that our subsistence depend on anything else than our work”. At the end of 1953, there were 180 companions in eight communities. With little means at their disposal, they housed 141 families. On 1 February 1954, in response to the authorities’ lack of action, Abbé Pierre gave his well-known radio appeal.

Main Activities

  • Welcome, providing accommodation, reintegration
  • Collecting, reusing, recycling and selling on objects
  • Political campaigning and awareness raising
  • Social action and housing (emergency accommodation, social housing, fighting against excessive debt, etc.)
  • Local, european and international solidarity initiatives

Secondary Activities

  • Fixing objects, upcycling
  • Farming, farms for the reintegration of former convicts and for those towards the end of their sentences
  • Solidarity driving schools
  • Design of furniture and objects, styling
  • The online sales platform Label Emmaüs


47, avenue de la Résistance
F-93104 Montreuil Cedex

+33 (0)1 41 58 25 00

+33 (0)1 48 57 45 95


Check out their website


Key numbers

220 member groups

20 trial member groups

30,000 stakeholders involved with Emmaus (including companions, volunteers and employees)

270,000 tons of merchandise collected every year

240 Local groups
Click to see more information about a group



Annick Berthier
National delegate for France

The Challenges in France

“The classic Emmaus activity of collecting, reusing and selling on second-hand objects remains our main model but other activities are starting to emerge and we want to encourage and support the development of such initiatives. Examples include the farms launched in several Emmaus communities or Pages Solidaires (Solidarity Pages) which involves selling books online, but there are many others. We need fresh ideas, we need imagination and innovation to create different ways to help people. This process is now underway and I trust the groups of the movement to do this well. Emmaus France will always be here to support them.”

With pictures

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Emmaus Bussières-et-Pruns, a welcome centre for asylum seekers

Let’s take a look at a different facet of our movement with the Bussières-et-Pruns group and their initiative to provide a dignified welcome to asylum seekers.

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Defending human rights / Migration 


Emmaus on Reunion Island

Dialogue based on interviews held with William Caro, Bernard Grondin, Sandrine Techer and Nelly Calimoutou of Emmaus Reunion as well as with Emmanuel Cazeau and Wilfrid Bertille of Emmaus Grand Sud and with Bruno Pichon of Agame.

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Emmaus Ruffec, solidarity mobility

Since 2009 Emmaus Ruffec has been leading an initiative to tackle a widespread issue, that of mobility. This group is based in a very rural area classified by the French government as a ‘rural area to be revitalised’ and where the unemployed and poor people suffer from mobility issues.

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Tackling Poverty / Solidarity


Emmaus Alternatives: Solidarity Lockers for the Homeless

The group worked alongside the authorities in Montreuil and Portuguese association ACA to install 12 lockers in October 2018 before adding another 12 in November 2020.

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Tackling Poverty / Solidarity