Guide to Electrical Plugs, Sockets and Voltage in France

Updated on
min reading

Thinking about moving to France or simply travelling to the country? Wondering whether your laptop, cellphone or hairdryer will keep on working in France? Which type of power plug is used in France? Our guide has you covered.

What kind of plugs are used in France?

power plugs and sockets in France

Power plugs in France have the particularity of being male and female at the same time. In most countries, plugs only have prongs, and sockets are only receptacles for those prongs. However, electric plugs have 2 prongs and a receptacle in France.

Why does French have this unique socket system? The reason is unclear, yet some naysayers consider this is a way for French manufacturers to keep the French electrical device market to themselves. Or maybe the French simply like doing things their own way (like using Azerty keyboards...)

However, this does not mean that your own plug would not work on a French electricity socket. Most European sockets are compatible with the French ones. But if your power plugs do not match this shape, you may need a French plug adapter. However, an adapter only solves the shape issue; it does not change the voltage.

What is the Electricity Voltage in France?

Plug shape is only the tip of the iceberg! Appliances are built for a certain voltage, and will only work at these tensions. Electrical outlets in France usually deliver power at 220-240 volts. It is much stronger than most North American sockets, which usually deliver 110-120 V.

If in doubt, wait before using a French socket!It's always best to double-check voltage and compatibility first. Plugging a 110V hairdryer to a 240V French socket may result in ruining the device or worse, starting a fire!

That being said, it does not mean that your North American appliances will not work in France. It depends on the device!

Is my device compatible with French plugs?

Short answer: you'll need to check on the device itself. But here's a rule of thumb:

  • Most modern, digital items like laptops, cellphones or cameras are designed to be compatible with a vast variety of voltages (from 100 to 240 V usually).
  • However, most household appliances like toasters, vacuum cleaners or lamps are not compatible with multiple voltages. The only way to know for sure is to check what is labelled on the device!

You can find the electrical input specifications on the battery or the appliance itself.

 It should look something like this:

Input: 100-240V 60Hz 65W

This means the device is compatible with any voltage.

 If it reads "Input: 120V", then you will need a voltage converter or transformer to use this device in France.

Moving to France and need a new electricity contract? Our English-speaking advisors will help you find the electricity plan that's best for your needs and budget. Call us at 09 87 67 37 93 or get a free callback (Monday - Friday 8.30am-8pm; Sat 9.30am-6pm).