If you’re keen to hire a car that leaves the smallest carbon footprint possible, you’ll find France is well-equipped for supporting electric vehicles.
The country offers up over 10,000km (6200 miles) of roads to explore, plus you’ll find close to 30,000 charging points where you can effortlessly recharge your car’s battery. If you’re a little apprehensive about your trip, we’re here to put you at ease with our guide on everything you need to know about driving an EV (electric vehicle) in France.
Is there any disadvantage to driving an EV over a petrol or diesel car in France?
France is one of the most developed countries in Europe when it comes to electric vehicles, making it entirely possible to enjoy a driving holiday there if you own or have chosen to rent one. There are a few things you’ll need to consider if you have opted for an electric car. These are:
– Working out where to charge it.
– Finding the right charging stations for your vehicle type.
– Mapping out routes which take you close to suitable charging points.
– Setting up payment for charging your car.
Where do I charge my electric car in France?
There are plenty of points across the country where you can recharge your hire car, including superchargers at Tesla dealerships if you’ve got a Tesla. In general, you’ll find the majority of charging points in France are located in cities and larger towns. Look out for points near big hotels, shopping centres, supermarkets, tourist attractions, large public carparks, and service stations.
As some charging stations are only suitable for certain electric vehicles, it’s important that you ask about the charging compatibility of your hire car when you pick it up. Remember charging your EV can take time so you’ll need to account for longer rest stops than you would in a petrol or diesel car. Planning these overnight or around meals are two time-saving solutions.
How can I find charging points?
You’ll discover that there are several apps you can use which tell you the locations of the closest EV charging points. The most popular are Chargemap, Plug Share and Izivia – register your vehicle before or at the beginning of your trip to make payments easier.
As well as showing you where the nearest charging stations are, these apps also have brilliant features such as telling you if the charger is in use/out of order, what type of connectors it supports and how long it’s likely to take.
So, how do I pay for my EV charging?
Unlike petrol stations where you can typically pay in cash, EV chargers are self-service and paid for with a credit/debit card or using one of the apps mentioned above. If you’re keen to try out an app, you’ll need to keep your account consistently topped up with money, so you don’t fall short when you come to pay.
Driving in cities in France in an electric vehicle
If you’re keen to fit in one or more of France’s historic cities into your trip itinerary, you’ll find they’re generally well-equipped for EVs. Most – especially Paris – will have numerous charging points, however the increased likelihood of being stuck in traffic can make using an EV less efficient in a city. Try to avoid driving during peak times, especially if you’re short on battery life.
Driving on open roads in France in an electric vehicle
As you can travel much further, much faster on open roads, you’ll want to be a little bit more cautious in an EV if you’re using motorways. Typically, the average electric car has a driving range of between 250km (150 miles) to 300km (180 miles). This sounds like quite a lot of miles to potentially cover! Nevertheless, you’ll eat up more of your car’s battery power when you’re driving faster and for things such as using the heating or air conditioning, having the radio on, or even charging any electronic devices.
In general, it’s safest to leave some leeway between your estimated driving distances and how far your car says it can run for. The last thing you want on holiday is to be caught out and have to wait on the side of the road for assistance!
Four key tips for driving an electric car in France
1. Always map out your routes in advance so you can plan stops at charging points along the way.
2. Pre-register to use and pay for charging points where necessary.
3. Avoid busy traffic times in built-up areas (such as big commuter cities) as sitting in queues with your aircon/heating and radio on can drain an EV battery very quickly.
4. Plan to charge your electric car overnight (if possible) or coincide it with meals so you don’t have to wait.
Persuaded that an EV might be the right fit for your upcoming road trip around France? Now you know what to expect, start planning your holiday using our inspiring guides to popular monuments, little known beauty spots and glorious coastal locales across this vast and varied country.