My prior reports on long distance trips in the UK  have been pretty horrific. In fact I didn’t bother to write up my last UK experience (June 2022). Whilst I found signs of improvement, the overall public charging experience was still wholly unacceptable. So remember, the UK experience is there are multiple (many) charging networks, many of which require accounts or apps or both. While contactless chargers are becoming more common, they are still not pervasive. So you need to have numerous accounts set up to ensure you don’t have to spend time battling poor network coverage to register, download an app and transact two stage verification of your credit card in pitch darkness, in driving rain at 11 o’clock at night. Trust me it happens.
So today I’m sitting in the north west of France in my Air BNB writing this post and feeling pretty happy. I left my trip planning rather late, and it was only a couple of weeks ago that I started looking at the French public charging network. Whilst I have read some scare stories about French charging, it seems these are way out of date. In my research I found pretty quickly that the French have done some really sensible things. First there are several organizations that provide pass cards that work on multiple networks. While some of the pass cards are regional, there are definitely ones that are national. I signed up for Chargemap, Izivia and OuestCharge. The latter is as the name implies regional, the others appear to be national. I did panic a bit because I left registration a little late, but all the cards arrived in under a week! Further I found I could communicate with a human being at Chargemap and they were really helpful.
As you signup for a pass you also go through two stage payment card verification, so the pass doubles up as a network independent account and charge card. I used a 22Kw SDEF charger (SDEF are the national electricity company), as soon as I could to establish everything worked, and I can report it did what it says on the tin! What’s really useful is that all charges are registered in one place and instead of getting emails from multiple network organizations, you get emails from one source, AND the ability to look at the pass account, either in the app or online and see your usage and payments.
Now for the biggest news. Remember, France generates some 90% of its electricity from nuclear power. The rate I have been paying here is €25 cents per KWh! Oh, plus €1.09 per charge. This compares with €46 cents in Ireland and 40, 45 and 49p in the UK.
The networks in France are pretty similar to the UK and Ireland. There are perhaps fewer fast chargers, but a very good spread of 22KWh chargers. More importantly my experience to date is 100% usable. I can’t say the same for the UK.
I’m one week into a three week trip. Over the next couple of weeks I will be trying different networks and passes and will report. But initial impressions are that France and French networks have considerable advantages over the UK nd Ireland!