|Electrical Plugs & Sockets in France
|They're not the same as the rest of Europe—they're hermaphroditic (prongs in both plug and socket), presenting a special challenge...
FranceTravelPlanner.com shows you how to adapt to France's special hermaphroditic (male+female) electrical plugs and sockets/points.
French Plugs & Sockets: Hermaphroditic!
In most of the world, electrical plugs and sockets (outlets, points) are termed male and female: the male is the one with the prongs, the female with the receptacles for the prongs.
In France, plugs and outlets are hermaphroditic ("both sexes in one"), meaning that both plugs and sockets have prongs and receptacles (like snails).
Conspiracy theorists among us might believe it means that French manufacturers keep the French electrical device market to themselves because plugs and sockets imported from other countries won't work in France.
Gastronomes may think it's because the French love escargots.
In any case, you'll have to deal with these hermaphroditic French plugs and sockets.
Look at the photos above and on the right side of this page. Note how the plug has a hole to receive a prong, and the socket/outlet/point has a protruding prong. This is the ground (earth) connection, recommended but not essential for most small appliances. (The ground/earth prong carries no electricity; it acts as a safety in case of a short circuit.)
This means a full-sized plug that will fit a socket in Germany (or any other European country) will not fit a socket in France. (Don't even think of using a British plug anywhere in Europe without a special adapter...)
The Simple Adapter Solution
If your needs are simple, and if you're only going to travel in France and other continental countries (not the UK), a simple 2-prong adapter solves several problems at once, and less expensively. This sort of flat 2-prong adapter works in French outlets as well as in those of other European countries:
...because it bypasses the outlet's protruding prong.
It even works to adapt North American grounded (3-prong) plugs: the third prong (ground) would go on the bottom side of the adapter:
Note that you can also use the flat 2-prong adapter with standard large 2-prong Euro plugs that would not otherwise fit in, and connect to, a French hermaphroditic socket because of the France-only ground prong coming out of the outlet:
These simple 2-prong flat adapters are sold in airports, European electrical shops, and in North America at hardware stores, and in places that sell travel supplies. Or you can order an adapter online.
It's a good idea to make a complete list of the electrical appliances you'll be taking to France so you'll know what sort of adapters to bring: smartphones, cameras, tablets, Kindles, computers, tooth brushes, earbuds...the devices add up these days. You may be surprised at the total number.
Of course, you probably won't have to charge all of them at once (say, overnight), so it may be they won't all need to be plugged in at the same time. You may not need as many sockets as you have devices.
You can buy elaborate Multi-adapters designed to receive North American, UK, all Euro and many other plugs, and to fit into hermaphroditic French sockets as well as into other outlets. But if you just want to convert a French/European outlet for North American plugs, here's a simple solution:
You get four North American sockets for any appliance (three 2-prong and one 3-prong) plus two USB2 sockets and one USB3 socket for small items such as smartphones, cameras, tablets, Kindles, earbuds, etc.
Even better? Get the North American version of this multi-adapter and stick one of those simple, cheap, 2-prong flat adapters on it; or, better, a larger cylindrical adapter which stays in the wall outlet more securely.
This way, you can use the multi-adapter in North America before and after your flight, and also use it in France.
Extension Cords & 3-Socket Cubes
Sometimes in French hotels, B&Bs and apartments, the only electrical outlet available is inconvenient to access—behind the bed or bureau—so you need an extension cord.
Take a 6-foot (2-meter) 2-prong extension cord, connect a 3-socket cube to the single-socket side, and you've got five sockets, three of which are suitable for chargers/power supplies. Add another cube to the cobe and you've got seven!
Put a 3-prong-to-2-prong adapter on your multi-adapter, plug that into the cord, and you have five plug sockets and two USB ports:
We've bought and used all the devices described on this page and we've found them good, which is why we recommend them to you. If you purchase devices via a link from this page, we may receive a small (and I mean SMALL) commission from Amazon.com. It doesn't raise the price you pay (it just lowers Amazon's take a fraction), and this small commission helps to support all the information we provide to you for free on FranceTravelPlanner.com. Thank you!
Here's how to use multi-outlet adapters, outlet extenders, power cord splitters or a power strip to set up a charging station to charge all of your electronic devices. (You've got a lot more than one, right?) More...
And...what about washing laundry (and not paying outrageous hotel-laundry prices)?