Taking your car to France has been a long-standing tradition for British summer holidays (and winter, too) - in fact, did you know that the first car ferry service for crossing the channel was in 1928?
So, with nearly 100 years of driving-to-France history under our belts, why should taking your electric vehicle across the channel be any different? Turns out it isn’t!
To help get you (and your EV) across the channel, we’ve put together this quick guide.
Let’s get plugged in...
Can I take my electric vehicle to France?
Oui! Or, yes!
What’s more, with over 500,000 charge points on the Electroverse network, it’s very easy to take - and charge - your electric car from the UK to France.
The simplest way to get your EV across the channel would either be by train (such as LeShuttle) or by ferry. You can easily plot your journey into France using the Electroverse route planner. Watch our video on how to use the route planner below.
How to use the Octopus Electroverse route planner
Taking your EV on a train to France
LeShuttle (formerly known as Eurotunnel) operates a direct train service from Folkestone, Kent, to Calais, France, with different ticket types priced per vehicle.
This means you’ll be able to book your crossing with as much - or as little - flexibility as you like.
The great thing for EV drivers? There are charge points at either side of the crossing reserved for LeShuttle customers - so if you’re running late, you don’t need to worry about charging before boarding; just do it after the crossing (which only takes 35 mins)!
Which UK ferry ports allow car-crossings to France?
With the UK being so close to France, there are multiple ports (predominantly from the south of England) from which you can board with your EV. These include:
Dover to Calais
Dover to Dunkirk
Newhaven to Dieppe
Plymouth to Roscoff
Poole to Cherbourg
Poole to Saint-Malo
Portsmouth to Caen
Portsmouth to Cherbourg
Portsmouth to Le Havre
Portsmouth to Saint-Malo
Depending on the route you choose and the time you travel, rates and journey length can differ. To compare rates, your best bet is to use a price comparison site or go to the ferry providers directly.
With over 95,000 public chargers in France, you’ll not be short of places to charge. To find which charge points work with Electroverse (fair warning - there’s a lot!), go into the Electroverse app and filter the map to show ‘Electroverse only’.
You can also filter for chargers that will work with the app (but we always recommend taking your Electrocard as back-up in case of poor signal, dead battery etc., etc.)
Psst - if you need hotels, we’ve created this handy guide about hotels in France which have EV chargers on site!
What do I need in my vehicle to drive in France?
When driving in France, there are a few mandatory items that you must have in your car, otherwise, you could be faced with a fine - not what you want on holiday! To avoid fines, you must be carrying:
A warning triangle
Reflective jackets - one for each passenger in the car
Headlamp deflectors - this one is dependent on your car (as it might already be fitted), but worth checking before you go
Spare headlight bulbs - this one isn’t mandated, but it is recommended by the French government
The following don’t necessarily need to be left in your car, but you should also remember to take: your valid UK driving licence, passport, motor insurance documents and V5 registration document
Do I need a GB or UK sticker to drive in France?
Since September 2021, vehicles registered in the UK driving through France must display a UK national identifier.
This doesn’t necessarily mean a sticker - it can be within the number plate - but the letters UK need to be visible on your vehicle. If your number plate doesn’t contain ‘UK’, then you will need to get a sticker and place it next to (not on!) the registration plate.
You can buy UK car stickers online or by popping to your local Post Office.
Some drivers prefer the UK magnets rather than stickers, and this is for two reasons: No sticky residue on your vehicle when you come to remove it & you can remove the magnet when parked overnight to avoid being targeted!
Other road regulations in France
A few other things to keep in mind:
Drive on the right-hand side of the road! In France, you can overtake on the left - and at intersections, give way to oncoming traffic on your right.
Play music solely from your car's sound system, as the wear/use of headphones or earphones has been illegal in France since March 2017
Know your speed limits! Motorways allow up to 110 km/h and dual carriageways 110 km/h.
Make sure you have valid car insurance - third-party insurance is also compulsory in France
Some cities have clean air zones (like the ULEZ in London) and require you to have a Crit'Air vignette displayed on your vehicle to indicate its emissions. Fully electric vehicles will require a green Crit'Air vignette.
Much like the UK, the cost of chargers in France varies from provider to provider. The best way to find the rate you’ll be charged is to check the Electroverse app. All you need to do is open the charge point information, and the rates will be displayed. Be sure to check if there are any warning messages for parking restrictions, time-based fees, etc.
All French charge points will be billed in Euros - this means the rate will be converted to Pound Sterling through Electroverse. You can check the conversion rate on your receipt, which will be visible in your app within 24 hours of the charging session ending.
If you have a debit or credit card attached to your Electroverse account, you’ll need to check if non-sterling transaction fees apply. Your bank will charge this fee if you charge abroad - similar to when you use certain bank cards to pay for food, drinks, boat trips to see octopuses (etc.) on holiday outside the UK
Road trip tips and tricks
If you’d like a few more tips and tricks for taking your EV on a road trip, feel free to check out the below blogs: