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Domestic electricity in France and what you need to know about it


If you’re from the UK, the US or Australia or a whole raft of places where electricity is just something that comes into your house and you use – then the French system may surprise you…

Domestic Electricity in France is restricted

When you buy a home in France – it’s likely to have an electricity supply already. Of course it might not, there are plenty of ancient properties that expats love to do up and they might need a supply laid on. And new builds will also need a new supply.

But, let’s just assume, you’ve bought a house and it’s got electricity.

Now, here’s where things might be a bit different from home. The electricity supply into your home is not unlimited. You choose how much electricity you’re going to use and you pay accordingly.

Take me, when I bought my bargain basement cow shed/ farmhouse in France the previous owner’s tariff was for 3KW of electricity per day which I didn’t know. For months it drove me mad when I would turn the kettle on and all the power would die.

Because I had a hot water heater on, lights, the TV and a few everyday items, just one tiny bit over the 3KW limit and bang – the fuse box blew. Eventually a neighbour kindly explained that I just had to ask EDF, the French electricity board, to upgrade my tariff and of course it would cost more money. I did and it was all fine.

Check your electricity tariff

Until that is, the house renovations moved on another stage. An old and decrepit pig sty in the garden became my office. It’s lovely, all my books are there, my computer, phone and heaters. Quite big heaters as it gets cold here in rural northern France.

I moved in with big smiles, turned everything on and bang. It all went off. My husband was walking around scratching his head until it occurred to us that we’re using more electricity with the new heaters. We turned them off and turned everything else on and – it all worked. It was time to call EDF again. We worked out how much electricity we’d need, EDF may advise you to get an electrician to do that, and I phoned for an upgrade. An EDF workman arrived within 5 days at the specified time. Whilst waiting I worked in the cold, bobble hat on, fingerless gloves and 4 jumpers – it wasn’t easy. The EDF man fiddled with the fuse box and it was fixed in minutes. Everything works now.

So, if you’re wondering “why does my electricity keep going off in France” – it might be your tariff needs upgrading!

Read about EDF and the EDF English language helpline number.


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