Taking your electric vehicle to France

  • Driving guides
  • France
  • 5 min read
Taking your electric vehicle to France

Going on a road trip in your EV is one of the most sustainable ways to travel in France. Plus, you can charge up at either of our terminals!

Travelling on Le Shuttle is one of the greenest ways to get to France. For the ultimate environmentally friendly road trip, why not take your electric car across the Channel?

It may seem challenging at first, as every country has different charging networks and has adapted to electric vehicles at different speeds. There will certainly be more planning involved, but the rewards are obvious. A long road trip in a petrol or diesel car has the potential to generate significant emissions in a foreign country. Driving an electric car is a far more sustainable – and no more expensive – way to enjoy everything France has to offer.

Planning your journey

  • Does France have enough EV charging stations?
  • What are charging speeds like?
  • How do I pay for charging?

These are the kind of questions you might have if you are planning an EV road trip to France.

It’s very important to spend time before you leave planning your journey. Find out the location of the public charging points on your route, how fast they charge, and how you pay. You may need to plan overnight stops on your route where you can charge overnight. But that is no bad thing, especially if you are on a long road trip through France.

Electric vehicle charging at our terminals

Our charging points cater for all types of EV and size of battery

Electric car drivers can take advantage of the charging points at both our Folkestone and Calais terminals. At Folkestone and Calais the rapid 50 kW chargers are free to use until the 1st June. The cost will then be 0.50 pence per kwh. You can fully charge your EV in 30-60 minutes, depending on your battery size.  Enjoy a coffee in our terminal building while you wait, and start your EV French road trip with maximum range!

We have dedicated Tesla Superchargers at the terminal buildings on both sides of the Channel. We also have eight 250 kW ultra rapid chargers at our Calais terminal as you return to the UK. These can charge your vehicle in no time at all.   

Please note: The UK DBT charger is currently out of service. We ask for your patience until the charger is replaced.

Driving an EV in France

Can I drive a UK-registered electric car in France?

Yes, there are no restrictions on UK electric vehicles across the Channel. You just need to be aware of the documentation and any equipment you need to bring with you on your road trip. Make sure you order your Crit’Air sticker if you are driving in a city with a low emission zone, like Paris.

Finding charging points

Ultra rapid charging points on city streets are becoming a more familiar sight in France

France does not have as many public charging points for electric vehicles as in the UK. There are around 30,000, which means some areas of the country will be less well covered than others. Charging stations are mainly to be found at supermarkets, hotels, motorway service stations, retail parks and leisure attractions, like in the UK. The big cities are well served for charging stations, with plenty of on-street points in city streets.

If you are planning a journey, the best way to find charging points is to use an app or website like Chargemap. This map shows all the charging points in Europe, across all providers. You just need to register on Chargemap for free to see more details about the charging points, such as charging speed, connection types and status updates.  

Paying for EV charging

The system of payment for EV charging is more fragmented in France than it is in the UK. There are more restrictions on usage, with some providers only allowing drivers registered with their app or network to charge up.

To pay you will need an RFID card, key fob or app with one of these charge network providers, some of which will need to be pre-loaded with funds. Not many chargers in France will allow you to pay by credit or debit card. There are some cross-network apps such as Chargemap, PlugShare and Izivia that give drivers access to several different networks. You may need specific apps for certain regions to have greater access to chargers.

Look out for the signs indicating EV charging spaces

Are there charging points on French motorways?

Yes, there are, but again perhaps not as many as you might expect. Coverage is improving but you may find some patchy areas and quirks in the charging infrastructure, like charging stations only being on one side of the carriageway at motorway service stations. There might be queues at motorway charging areas.

Overnight charging points in France

If you’re in no hurry to charge, there are plenty of 3 kW or 22 kW stations to be found at hotels or campsites. Plug in as soon as you park up and you will have a full battery by the next morning.

Tips for driving an electric vehicle in France

Paying to charge up is usually done by phone app in France

  • Keep your app topped up 

As it is harder to pay at charging stations with credit or debit cards in France than it is in the UK, you need to make sure the app you use to charge is topped up with credit. 

  • Don’t take your range to the limit 

If you’re an experienced EV driver you will know that your car’s range does not necessarily translate into driving distances. Try to find a suitable spot to charge up well within your range.

  • Driving in cities will drain your battery 

If you are driving in Paris or another big city, your range will be depleted quicker than on the motorway. 

  • Plan, plan, plan! 

As we have already mentioned, you need to plan your route carefully, so you are always in range of a charging station compatible with your vehicle.

Book your trip with Le Shuttle

Sustainability is very important to us at Le Shuttle, which is why we try to support electric car drivers as much as possible on their trips to France with us. Remember that you can charge up at our terminal before the 35-minute crossing from Folkestone to Calais, and on the return journey too.

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