I'm buying an apartment in France. The building is from the 70s, and the apartment was last renovated 10 years ago and rented since then. The lights in the ceiling are a surprise to me.

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The current owner (from whom I'm buying it) advised me to choose whatever light fixtures I like, and ask a handy-person to install them for me.

  • Is there likely some kind of junction box in there behind the plaster?
  • Do I need to see the junction box before I buy a fixture, or can I go and buy any light fixture?
  • How can many tenants have lived with it like this for years? Is there any kind of fixture that attaches to these as-is without taking apart the plaster (which someone might have removed when they vacated the apartment)?
  • Zut alors! Take these pictures with you when shopping. (And though air splices like that are technically terrible, they’d only injure you if you were grabbing them, which goes a way toward explaining away your third point.) Jun 29, 2023 at 13:23

3 Answers 3


Unless you are answered by a French electrician, or someone very familiar with the type of construction and electric systems in France, everything here is assumptive.

It is presumed that a bulb hanging from just it's wires is something of a danger and archaic. However this may be normal in homes in France when they have been vacated by others. It may be common for new lights to be purchased with all the parts and devices to make them conform to local electric standards.

In the interest of your own safety, I recommend searching out someone local to advise on the proper procedure for installing new lighting.

  • I know in the 90s our electrician put in similar type lights in a very low crawl space. Basically in case you missed hitting your head on the joists and hit the light instead, the light would have some give and not break easy. North America area.
    – crip659
    Jun 29, 2023 at 14:08

That ring, in the first pic, was used to hang some light fitting, usually screwed into something suitably solid.

Not all light fittings need or have boxes or wiring rose - depends on how the wiring was planned. Some will just have the wires coming from the switch, others will use an incoming supply, an outgoing supply for the next light and a switch wire.


As mentioned, the ring would have been used to hold a previous light fitting. . So the assumption is that it is screwed into something strong.

If you can get into the roof space, then investigate what's behind it.

Otherwise, when you have a replacement fitting,

  • mark the holes for it on that plate.
  • use a fine drill and gauge how far the timber behind is.
  • screw it into the pad (without the light) if possible and give it a few good yanks
  • hang double the weight of the lamp on it and shake it
  • if all ok, then go ahead and install the light.

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