Last updated: 12 March 2021
What type of plugs and sockets are used in France?
When you are going on a trip to France, be sure to pack the appropriate travel plug adapter that fits the local sockets. But what do those electrical outlets look like? In France, types C and E are the official standards. Since type F plugs are identical to type E plugs, they can also be used with French type E sockets.
- commonly used in Europe, South America & Asia
- 2 pins
- not grounded
- 2.5 A, 10 A & 16 A
- almost always 220 – 240 V
- socket compatible with plug type C
What is the mains voltage in France?
Just like the rest of Europe, the voltage in France is 230 volts and the frequency is 50 Hz.
230 V ~ 50 Hz
France has standardized on type E sockets and plugs. Type C and type F plugs can also be used thanks to their compatibility with type E sockets. However, it is not permitted to install type C nor type F wall outlets. But why is that?
Power plug & outlet Type C
Typically, type C plug sockets are not allowed to be installed in France: these outlets are not earthed and are therefore considered dangerous. Only type E power points are permitted because they are grounded and therefore significantly safer.
The only (and rare) exception to this rule, is that an old type C outlet should be replaced by a new one. After all, if you hook up a grounded wall outlet (i.e. type E) on a two-wire circuit, the socket will not be grounded, but people will get the impression that it actually is grounded. No need to say, this is a potentially dangerous situation.
Nowadays, however, type C receptacles are not frequently installed anymore, since older properties are almost always completely rewired when they are renovated or significantly altered.
Power plug & outlet Type E
Most European countries don’t have the same plug and socket standard as France; they use the German type F system instead. This used to be a problem because type E plugs and sockets were initially incompatible with type F. The reason for the incompatibility was that grounding in the type E socket is accomplished with a round male pin, which is permanently mounted in the socket. Type F outlets, on the other hand, are earthed by means of two sprung metal strips on the inside edge of the recessed socket which make a friction connection with similar metal strips on the sides of the plug body.
Old type F plugs did not have a grounding hole to accept the earth pin of the type E socket and old type E plugs did not have top and bottom indentations with earthing clips to mate with the type F socket. Moreover, old type E plugs were perfectly round and lacked a necessary pair of plastic notches on the left and right side to fit the type F socket.
Fortunately, the now standard hybrid E/F plug (officially called CEE 7/7) was developed in order to bridge the differences between E and F sockets, so technically type E and F plugs (not the sockets) have now become 100% identical.
Power plug & outlet Type F
It is not allowed to install type F sockets in French properties, even though they are equally safe and 100% compatible with type C and type E plugs. The reason is economic: France wants to protect its own domestic receptacle manufacturers. Other European companies currently only sell the universal Continental European type F wall outlets and are not really interested in producing type E plug sockets as well. Allowing the installation of type F receptacles would significantly increase competition for French manufacturers.
Click here for a global map showing the spread of the different plug types used around the world.
Click here for a detailed list of the countries of the world with their respective plug and outlet types, voltage and frequency.