Electrical Appliances in France

Voltage France

Fridge, washing machine, vcr, television. Be careful what you pack - France has it's own systems - SECAM for audio visuel, 220 voltage. Is it better to buy a converter or leave it in storage? Will it fit?

White Goods, Kitchen appliances and motorised devices
Transformers and converters for electrical goods are available from good electrical stores in your home country and in France, there are also some specialised websites for mail order, but it is always worth contacting the manufacturer of the appliance to see what they advise.

The electrical voltage in France is 220 volts, 50 cycles.

Most European appliances will work perfectly with the correct adaptor although a converter may be necessary. Step down transformers can be used for US appliances for 110 to 220 voltage (only recommended on 50 cycle appliances).

You will also find that some older electrical installations do not have an 'earth' and many appliances are not earthed in France. This can cause problems with some adapter plugs due to the shape of the plug itself - try to buy a range of 'two pin' & 'two pin-one hole' adapters.

NEVER overload a single electrical point with multiplug adapters. An idea is to buy a circuit breaker adapter for computer equipment and maybe invest in a UPS - uninterupted power supply - especialy if you work on computers often - It could save you a great deal of frustration in lost work!

In my student days as a tour guide in France I have known one US hair dryer to knock out an entire hotel - Some of the electrical systems in the older buildings here are not up to modern foreign appliances. You could save yourself money by leaving large items in storage or selling them on.

Televisions, DVD and Video players
Home entertainment equipment (TVs, VCRs, DVD players) not only have electrical compatibility issues, but also system issues. The French system is SECAM, for example - does your equipment support this? A lot of modern equipment does read all systems (SECAM, PAL, NTSC) but not run on the 220 voltage.

Think before you come to France with your prized DVD or Video collection - check that the player you use will work not only on French 220 voltage but also reads the correct format.

Size IS important!!
Many newcomers to Paris (especially from the US) are surprised by the size of rooms and the 'efficient' layout of the apartments. IKEA makes a fortune in Paris on its space saving furniture and its fold away everythings. What you may have considered 'quaint' when visiting as a tourist suddenly becomes 'tiny' when you decide to move here.

Property is usually rented in terms of square meters in France. Given that many of the rentals are often conversions, the layout of the properties can be quite strange and often the mesurements are a generous estimate of actual size. Be aware of how much space your furniture will take up before you ship them.

Depending on the length of your stay and the size of property you will be moving into, it is worth asking yourself if you really need to bring everything. Only you can assess this.

I have moved people from a 3000 square foot house in the states to a 130m2 apartment in Paris - it was interesting to say the least when the container arrived!