Whether you’re a homeowner or a renter, selecting the best French electricity provider and tariff can significantly affect your monthly expenses. From metre readings and bill payments to foreign electric devices, here’s everything you need to know about electricity in France.

Electricity In France: An Introduction

In France, electricity is a big business. France is the world’s largest net electricity exporter and a major supplier to neighbouring countries such as Spain, Italy, Germany, and the United Kingdom. In contrast to other Western countries, France generates approximately 70% of its electricity from nuclear power, with approximately 12% from hydroelectric power stations and approximately 17% from recycled nuclear fuel*. This means that France’s electricity is among the cheapest in Europe, which is great news for homeowners.

The state-owned EDF (Electricité de France) supplies the vast majority of electricity in France, but there are now many other electricity providers. So, it is worth looking around for the best deal. We will share more about that in a moment.

First, let’s go over the fundamentals of installing and connecting electricity in your French home.

Quick Comparison Of Some Electricity Providers In France

What do you want?What we recommendFor more info
 SupplierWhat you get 
I want very competitive prices, even if these are subject to variations
Offre Online
A 100% online offer, which guarantees you 10% off the RT at all times.Call 01 86 26 53 46
I want to pay a stable yet quite competitive price
Astucio Eco
A 3-year plan, which you can cancel anytime.Prices are initially fixed and won’t ever increase during your contract, but can decrease every 12 months if the RT decreasesCall 01 86 26 53 46
I want to practise eco-friendliness
Offre Eco
Up to 20% off the price of the subscription, before tax.Planète Oui will invest in renewable energy for each kWh you consume.Call 01 86 26 53 46
I want to also get gas supplyOffre Duo10% off the RT price, for the gas and electricity you consumePrices are fixed for 12 monthsBoth the gas and electricity are from renewable sourcesCall 01 86 26 53 46

Setting Up Electricity In Your French Home

Whether you have just signed the Acte de Vente on the French property or are living in a rented apartment, connecting your electricity is one of the few things you’ll do when you move in.

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Moving Home: Setting Up Your Electricity

When you shift into a new place, you should contact EDF or your preferred electricity provider quickly (or a minimum of two days before moving). Request a date and a metre reading (relevé de compteur) to take over the existing contract or begin your new one (if you choose a different energy provider).

You will need all the details of your property and the move-in date. Ideally, you will also need the Point de Livraison (PDL). It is the 14-digit metre number found on electricity bills to set this up over the phone or online. You should ask the previous seller or occupant about this.

Expect to be asked for ID, proof of residence or ownership (such as your Compromis de Vente or rental contract), your residence permit (carte de séjour) if you possess one, and your bank account RIB when you set up your contract. To change the existing electricity supply into your name, there is an ‘access’ fee (Frais d’accès) of €18.46, including tax. Remember, if you are not a French resident, you will be asked to submit a deposit that will be applied to future bills.

Likewise, if you are leaving a French property, you must notify your current electricity provider at least two days in advance and arrange a metre reading.

Connecting Electricity In A New Property

Enedis is France’s electricity grid operator. It is a subsidiary of EDF, and it is responsible for more than 95% of the country’s electricity. This is the organisation in charge of connecting metres, metre readings, and power outages. If you are connecting a completely new house to the electricity grid, you can contact Enedis and request a metre connection (Demande de raccordement). This can be done online or on the phone. EDF and other electricity suppliers may also be able to help you with this.

Linky Smart Meters

The LinkyTM Meter is a smart electricity metre that monitors your daily electricity consumption and sends the data directly to Enedis. This allows your electricity provider to receive real-time data on your energy usage. This basically means that your bills can be calculated based on actual usage rather than the estimate based on periodic readings. So, by the end of 2021, 35 million Linky metres were installed across France, and those are the standard metre for all future homes.

Electricity Providers In France: Market-Based And Regulated Tariffs

When selecting an energy provider, it pays to shop around, just as it does in other countries. France has two main options: choose one of the two state-owned companies that offer regulated tariffs (tarifs réglementés) or another provider that offers market-based prices (tarifs de marché).

Let’s take a look at both options.

EDF And Engie

EDF and Engie are two state-owned energy companies providing both electricity and gas to residential and commercial properties. Historically, EDF has supplied all of France’s electricity needs. Then, the market was deregulated for consumers in 2007, and a number of competitors have emerged since then.

EDF was also divided into two companies in 2007, EDF (which provides electricity) and GDF, which is now Engie. EDF and Engie now compete for electricity and gas, though EDF remains the dominant provider of electricity, supplying the vast majority of French homes and businesses.

In fact, EDF is a synonym for electricity supply in France. Your landlord or Notaire may advise you to “appelez EDF” (call the EDF) in order to set up your electricity—this step assumes that you will choose this provider. So, many French citizens are still sceptical of, or even unaware of, the numerous options available, but this is gradually changing.

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Regulated Tariffs

Only EDF and Engie can offer regulated tariffs (Tariff Bleu). These are fixed rates set by the French government. The advantage of these is that the rates are fixed, though there are usually annual increases and occasionally additional tax increases to account for.

It should be noted that regulated electricity tariffs for businesses and professional accounts will be discontinued on January 1, 2021. Individuals and micro-entrepreneurs with contracts of less than 36 kVA can still get regulated tariffs.

Whether or not this is the ideal solution for your household is determined by your power and energy consumption requirements (which we’ll discuss later). However, if you only consider the per-unit rate (kWh), market-based tariffs are likely to offer more competitive prices.

One notable advantage of EDF for expats in France is that they offer a comprehensive English-language service. This includes English-speaking advisors on call six days a week, an English website, and flexible payment options that do not penalise non-residents. All of these factors make them a strong competitor for second-home owners or those who find it difficult to communicate in French.

Other Energy Providers

All of France’s other energy providers offer market-based tariffs, which means that prices fluctuate with the energy market. In practice, this means that EDF’s prices are frequently lower than those of the average domestic household. There are some providers who also offer fixed-rate contracts for an initial period, providing some rate security, and there is frequently a range of options available.

Alternative energy providers can be a good choice for those individuals concerned about using green and renewable energy options because they offer competitive prices. Some also offer additional deals, promotions, or incentives, so compare multiple providers before making your decision. 

Alternate And Green Energy Providers

Numerous electricity providers are available today, and you may also find small, local businesses offering competitive rates. Some of the most notable are as follows:

  • Total Direct Energie: With over 5 million customers nationwide, this is the largest competitor to the state-owned suppliers. So, Total Direct Energie’s electricity offers are all guaranteed to be lower than the pre-tax regulated tariff (at the time of subscription), and the electricity is 100% renewable. A one-year fixed-rate contract is included in the offers.
  • OHM Energie: Electricity is derived entirely from renewable sources, and some competitive offers are available to encourage customers to reduce their energy consumption and save money.
  • Leclerc Energies: Customers can use the mobile app along with the supermarket chain to check their consumption and the market rate. Then they can adjust their usage based on fees. Prices are market-based. So, you can also earn money on your E.Leclerc card when you pay your bills, which means you save money on groceries as well.
  • Alterna: Alterna offers both individuals and businesses electricity and green energy options, with rates based on supplier costs rather than regulated tariffs.
  • Proxelia: This one is only for people who live in the north of France. Proxelia offers domestic and commercial contracts with guaranteed percentage tariff reductions.
  • ilek: ilek, one of the market’s most innovative and transparent green energy providers, allows you to select your energy source: hydro, wind, or solar, and encourages customers to install their own solar panels.
  • Plüm Energie: Plum, which specialises in green and locally sourced energy, provides some novel ways to monitor and conserve your energy usage. It’s also one of the few suppliers that accept payments from European (non-French) bank accounts.
  • Enercoop: A green energy cooperative in which electricity is generated locally from 100% renewable sources. Rates are based on production costs and are slightly higher, but it is one of the greenest energy providers on the market, and Greenpeace has designated it as ‘truly green.’
  • Planète Oui: Greenpeace recognises 100% green electricity with rates that match or beat regulated tariffs. Rates are best for those with low energy consumption requirements.
  • Mint Energie: Using their real-time app, you can manage your energy consumption and save up to 15% on your regulated tariffs. Electricity is 100% green and local, with a portion of the proceeds going to reforestation projects.
  • Greenyellow: Greenyellow, in collaboration with the supermarket chain Casino (Monoprix), provides green electricity at competitive prices as well as real-time app access to monitor your subscription.

How To Select An Electricity Supplier In France: Rates And Tariffs

The amount you pay for electricity is determined by the electricity provider you select and the power supply needed (the amount of electricity supplied to your home), and the tariff you select.

Power Consumption

The first thing you’ll need to figure out is how much power you’ll need for your home. Most domestic electricity providers offer options ranging from 3kVA to 36kVA, and your standing charge (abonnement) will be determined by both this rate of supply and the tariff you select.

The power setting is typically displayed on your metre (compteur), and the available ratings are 3, 6, 9, 24, 12, 15, 18, 30, and 36 kVA.

Make a list of all your electrical appliances (as well as those you plan on installing, such as an electric dishwasher or shower) and their power consumption. Add the power consumption of the appliances you’re likely to use at the same time to get the total number of kilowatts needed. The lowest rates (3 and 6kVA.) do not cover electric heating, which requires a power supply ranging from 9 kVA to 18 kVA. It depends on the heating system. In general, a small apartment may be able to get by with 3kVA, whereas most family homes will require at least 9kVA.

Tariffs

Many electricity suppliers offer various tariffs, which typically fall into one of three categories:

Basic Tariff

Electricity rates remain constant 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and you pay a monthly fee based on your electricity usage.

Peak Or Off-Peak Tariff (Option Heures Pleines Or Heures Creuses)

Electricity rates range from low overnight to higher day rates. The low rate is commonly used to heat hot water and power night storage heaters. Make sure to double-check the time frames. This tariff is typically only available for supplies of 6kVA or greater.

Tariff ‘Tempo’ (Option Tempo)

The year is divided into ‘white’, ‘red’, and ‘blue’ days (jours Bleus/Blancs/rouges), each with its own set of charges for peak and off-peak use as described above. This means that you may have lower rates on weekends or higher rates during colder months. This tariff is typically only available for supplies of 9kVA or greater.

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Changing Electricity Providers: Can I Change at Any Time?

Unlike in many other contracts, where a minimum engagement period is often imposed, French law prohibits electricity providers from imposing a mandatory commitment. This means that your electricity contract cannot impose a minimum 12 or 24-month commitment. So, you can switch electricity providers at any instance without incurring any fees or being required to provide a reason. (It should be noted that while this law protects domestic consumers, it may differ for business contracts with high-power consumption requirements.)

If you want to change providers, you should sign a contract with your new electricity supplier and let them terminate the old contract on your behalf. This prevents your electricity from being turned off during the transfer process and ensures that your new provider handles all of the formalities and paperwork.

Comparing Energy Providers

All of the suppliers mentioned above will allow you to estimate your tariffs and power usage online for free. Another option is a price comparison website, such as Le Lynx or Les Furets. You must provide information such as your postcode, phone number, and email address, as well as your PDL (if available) and annual consumption.

What Is Included In A French Electricity Bill?

The first thing to know about French electricity contracts is that they are composed of two distinct charges that will be deducted from your account on a monthly basis.

The subscription price is also known as the prix de l’abonnement in French. This is a set monthly fee that covers your provider’s administrative costs as well as those of the energy grid operator, ENEDIS. This price will vary depending on the provider, capacity, and tariff you choose.

The price per kWh, or the charge you pay for each kWh consumed.This price is determined by your supplier and the type of offer selected. Typically, you can choose between regulated tariffs and competitive tariffs.

Paying Your Electricity Bills

You can usually pay your electricity bills (factures) monthly or quarterly, depending on your supplier. Some suppliers offer fixed monthly rates that are then adjusted quarterly based on your actual consumption; others bill based on your actual consumption. Many suppliers will be looking to move toward billing based on your real-time consumption with the installation of the new Linky metres.

Your French electricity bill is made up of three parts. First, the standing charge (abonnement) is determined by the installed power supply. The second factor is the consumption of electricity units. TVA (Value Added Tax) is levied at a rate of 5.5% on the standing charge and a rate of 20% on consumption.

A number of local taxes (communale/départementale) and then a Contribution au Service Public de l’Electricité (CSPE) will also be added. These taxes must be paid in the same amounts regardless of the supplier.

You can pay your bills using a credit card online, by phone, or by check, but the most common method is a direct debit (prélèvement).

Electric Devices, Plugs, And Electricity Supply In Your French Home

In France, electricity is supplied to homes at 380/440 volts through three major separate phases (rather than one, as in some countries). It is then shared among the three phases at 220/240 volts at a frequency of 50 Hertz. For example, large immersion heaters and cookers require power contribution from all three phases.

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French Plugs And Appliances

The French System uses both earthed three-pin and unearthed two-pin plugs and sockets. While two-pin sockets are now illegal, they are still found in many older homes. All high-power appliances should have three-pin plugs and sockets. Although adapter plugs are available in DIY stores, it is less expensive (and safer) to change foreign plugs with the appropriate French plugs.

When buying electrical appliances, look for the PROMETELEC label to ensure their safety. The safety standards association in France has the initials ‘NF’ (Normes Françaises). These are commonly used to indicate the safety of electrical materials.

Light Fittings

Check the light fittings before shifting into your new home in France. When moving, most French people remove not only the bulbs but also the bulb holders, ceiling roses, and occasionally the flex, leaving you with live and bare wires dropping from the ceiling! This isn’t just for frugality; in France, lampshades are typically sold with a bulb holder, flex, and ceiling rose, though these can be purchased separately.

A word of caution for UK expats: French bulbs are similar to the ones sold in the UK. Bulb-holders (douille) have a larger diameter and will not fit British lampshades, so if you wish to bring lampshades from the UK, make sure you also bring a good supply of bulb-holders.

Using US Electric Devices In France

If you’re moving from a country with a 110V supply (such as the US), you’ll need a converter or a transformer (transformateur) to convert your electrical equipment to 240V, though some electrical appliances (for example hair dryers and electric razors) have a 110/240-volt switch. Before connecting it to the power supply, look for the switch, which may be located inside the casing, and ensure that it is set to 240V.

Converters are only appropriate for appliances without circuit boards or microchips that do not need to be plugged in for longer. Electronic appliances such as computers, fax machines, televisions, and video/DVD players must be powered by a step-down transformer.

Add the wattage of the devices you intend to connect to the transformer and ensure that the transformer’s power rating exceeds this sum. Most DIY stores sell converters and transformers, but it’s usually easier to buy new appliances in France.

Another issue with some electrical equipment is the frequency rating, which is designed in some countries, such as the United States, to run at 60 Hertz (Hz) rather than France’s 50Hz. Electrical equipment that does not have a motor is generally unaffected by the frequency reduction to 50Hz (except televisions). Motorised equipment may operate with a 20% speed reduction; however, automatic washing machines, cookers, electric clocks, and hi-fi equipment are only usable in France if designed for 50Hz operation.

Examine the label on the back of the equipment to find out. It should work if it says 50/60Hz. If it says 60Hz, you could try it anyway, but first, make sure the voltage is correct, as described above. Keep in mind that transformers and motors in electrical devices designed to run at 60Hz will run hotter at 50Hz, so make sure there is enough space around the equipment for cooling.

Power Cuts And Power Stabilisers

In many rural areas, the lights flicker and occasionally turn off and on almost instantly (long enough to cause your computer to crash!). Power outages of several minutes or hours are fairly common in some areas, particularly during thunderstorms, and there is a high risk of lightning strikes in some departments.

If you live in a region with an unstable power supply, getting a power stabiliser for your computer or other important equipment is a good idea to keep it from being turned off when the power goes out. If you use a computer, it’s also a good idea to install an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) with a backup battery, which gives you enough time (about five minutes) to save your work and shut down your computer after a power outage.

If you’re concerned about lightning strikes, you can install a ‘lightning-protection’ device (parafoudre) in your fuse box. (You should also have torches, candles, and, ideally, a gas lamp on hand!)

If the power keeps tripping when you try to use several high-powered appliances simultaneously, it is likely that your power supply’s rating (puissance) is insufficient. This is a widespread issue in France. If this is the case, you must request that the EDF upgrade the power supply to your property, which may result in a 40% increase in your standing charge.

Conclusion

EDF and Engie are two state-owned energy companies providing both electricity and gas to residential and commercial properties. Ideally, these are your best options to get electricity in France because they have regulated tariffs. All of France’s other energy providers offer market-based tariffs, which means that prices fluctuate with the energy market. Alternative energy providers can be a good choice for those individuals concerned about using green and renewable energy options because they offer competitive prices. Total Direct Energie, OHM Energie and Leclerc énergies are excellent options. So, we hope our guide helped you in finding the best Electricity supplier suitable for your needs in France!