A Brief Appliance and Electronics Tutorial….
Hair Dryers, Curling Irons, etc.
- The electrical current is different in France than it is in the US. The US runs on 110 voltage, whereas in France it is 220-240 voltage. That means that most American blow dryers, curling irons, electric shavers, etc. will not work in France without a converter. Many hotels provide hairdryers – especially those rated with three stars and above – for their guests. If you will be staying in a rental property such as an AirBnB, you will want to check to see if a hairdryer is provided.
- Should you need to bring a curling iron or other small appliance, you will need to do one of two things: Either purchase an electrical voltage converter (which can add significant weight to your luggage), or (perhaps more practically) purchase a new model that has dual voltage. On these, you will find a switch somewhere on the handle to make the conversion. Curling irons, for example, can be found on the Internet for around $25.00.
- There is still another option, especially if your trip to France is an extended one, perhaps of two weeks or longer: You can purchase small appliances after you arrive. Chain stores such Monoprix, Carrefour, and LeClerc tend to carry some inexpensive models.
Like all European countries, France operates on a GSM network. Should you want to bring and use your mobile phone in France, you will need to first find out if your phone is tri-band and GSM-compatible. If it is, it should work just fine. However, you will want to contact your mobile service provider to find out several important things:
- Some phones need to be “unlocked” which will allow them to access the French networks for roaming. Your provider can provide a code and instructions for how to do this.
- You will definitely want to check on the costs of using your phone in France. Depending on the provider, this can be VERY expensive, especially if you are accessing the Internet, texting, and/or downloading data of any kind. However, many providers offer short-term plans that will reduce these costs significantly. And some, such as T-Mobile, have broken away from the pack and do not charge anything extra for data roaming. You will also want to find out the fees for making phone calls and texting, both within France and to the US.
- One way to avoid costly roaming and calling charges is to use your phone (as well as other devices) only when you can connect to Wi-Fi. Free Wi-Fi is often available in hotels, and also in many cafés, bistros, and wine bars.
- Still another alternative exists if your carrier’s plan to too costly: If your phone is unlocked, tri-band, and GSM compatible, you can spend about 40 euros when you arrive in France to get a pre-paid SIM card. You would insert this card under your battery (DO make sure you save and protect your existing SIM card. It is very important to keep it safe for your return!). These pre-paid SIM cards can be bought in mobile phone shops in France (the primary companies are Orange, Bouygues Telecom and SFR). You can also buy them from various Internet companies prior to your departure. If your phone isn’t ready for global travel, you can buy an inexpensive phone in France at most internet and phone shops.
- The good news about mobile phones (those that work in both the US and Europe) is that they have the built in capacity to adapt to the different electrical currents, so no converter is necessary.
Computers and Tablets
- More good news in that you will not need to worry about electrical conversion with these devices, either. We do, however, suggest considering whether you want or need to contend with the extra weight that carrying a full-fledged laptop computer will add to your luggage or carry-on bag.
Don’t forget the Plug Adapters!
- Electrical outlets are shaped differently in France, so you will need to buy special adapters that fit onto the plugs of your appliances or device chargers. These are inexpensive, available online or at travel specialty shops, We recommend that you bring at least two, just in case you should misplace one. Without them, you would be completely unable to use your electrical appliances! Here is what US to France adapter plugs look like: