Electric Plugs and Sockets

Had fondly supposed that plugs and sockets were standardised across mainland Europe - but seems not ?

My Italian 2-pin plugs happily fit/work with French sockets. But not so 3-pin - arranged in-line in Italy…but seemingly kind-of triangular in France ? Are these 3-pin plugs readily available in DIY stores for self-rewiring ? Strangely, although UK - and even US - adaptors are readily available in Italy, doesn’t seem to be the case for Italy>>>France .

You can buy replacement plugs everywhere, supermarkets and bricos stock them.

@Aquitaine Good news - thanks

They are but Italy didn’t get the memo :slight_smile:

As David says, you won’t have any difficulty buying replacements. For anything which has a “kettle” style, clover-leaf or Phillips two pin lead supermarkets and bricos sell the leads and re- wireable plugs are also readily available. ISTR that Castorama do kits for re-wiring lamps as well (other Brico’s probably have something similar).

They’re not standard in other parts of Europe either. In Germany the two pins on the plugs are exactly like in France but the earth is carried by strips on the outside of the plug and earthed German plugs will not fit in French sockets. Dutch plugs are slightly different again. Luckily many products are double insulated and have no earth and their plugs are designed to work in both Germany and France.

3 pin plugs I think are the monophase ones, the usual sort of plug is either 2 pin in a narrow case or in a round case with an extra metal strip and a hole for the earth in the socket. There are others though.
I looked on the Leroy Merlin site, if you google fiches électriques (mâles) you will see what there is.

The socket has a pin for the earth.

Yes, I expressed myself badly, I meant a hole in the plug to receive the earth pin which is in the socket.

@anon88169868 Italy actually did get the memo about Euro plug/socket standardisation, but thought it was all a Franco-German stitch-up and decided to ignore it…


They didn’t realise the whole EU is a Franco /German stichup

Plugs are a good example of how the EU gives individual countries a lot of freedom despite what you might read in the Sun or the Express.


Yes, just like EU cable harmonisation :grin:

Hi David so can I ask a very simplistic question I guess. When we finally move from the UK to France will my electrical items work by simply changing the plug on my machines or will I need to rewire them or replace the items when coming from the UK. It’s a simple question I know but probably a pretty important one for me to consider. Thanks

Changing plugs is all that’s needed. Some people use plug adaptors for some low powered things but changing plugs is straightforward.

Brilliant news thanks David, I wasn’t sure if our three strand wiring was the same as France so that’s good to know thank you.


We saw the Bricomarche has lots of cables in stock for rewiring the house, do I have to use an certified electrician or am I allowed to do it myself?

The first question is, is the house connected to the mains already? If so that makes life easier. You are allowed to wire your house to French norms yourself . There are a couple of experts on the forum, hopefully they will see this. It might be worth asking that question as a new topic.

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The only things you cant change the plugs on are chargers with moulded transformers. Rather than using adaptors, maybe think about changing the plug on the end of a uk multiblock extension lead.


Yes we are connected, our agent signed us up to EDF on Tuesday. They think we have a digital metre I assured them we do not! They are coming out in a couple of weeks to check! This is what they will find! Fairly confident digital didn’t exist when this was fitted! Lol

We dropped the supply to 6kw from 12kw whilst we renovate to save some money. Thanks again that’s really useful stuff David.

Great idea thanks Mark.