France Travel Planner Logo   Electrical Plugs & Outlets in France
 They're not the same as the rest of Europe—they're hermaphroditic....

 

Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Eiffel Tower, Paris.

 


 

In most of the world, electrical plugs and 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, meaning that both plugs and outlets have prongs and receptacles.

Why?

Parce que...

Conspiracy theorists among us might believe it serves to secure the French electrical device market to French manufacturers, but in any case, you'll have to deal with the hermaphrodites.

French Electrical Plug

Look at the photos above and on the right side of this page. Note how the outlet/point has a protruding prong. Note how the plug has a hole to receive it. This is the ground connection, recommended but not essential for most appliances.

This means a full-sized plug that will fit a socket in Germany (for example) will not fit a socket in France.

Of course you can buy adapters designed to fit hermaphroditic French outlets, but a simple two-prong adapter solves several problems at once. For many North American appliances, this sort of flat adapter will work in French outlets as well as in those of other European countries:

Electrical Adapter for France

...because it bypasses the outlet's protruding prong:

Electrical adapter for France

It may even work to adapt North American grounded (3-prong) plugs: the third prong (ground) would go on the bottom side of the adapter.

Note that once the flat adapter is inserted into the French outlet/point, you can insert either a North American flat-prong plug, or a traditional European round-prong plug into the flat adapter.

These flat adapters are sold in European electrical shops, and in North America at hardware stores, and in places that sell travel supplies.



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French Electrical Outlet/Points

Above, French electrical outlet/points.

Below, French electrical plug.