Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Coping with French utilities

One of the more more daunting tasks facing new arrivals in France whose French may be less than perfect, is learning how to cope with the French utilities - electricity, gas, water, telephone etc. Although they all have websites and hot-lines (sometimes including English speaking) - many of them thankfully have maintained walk-in offices and showrooms in larger town and cities.

Only yesterday, I was able to sort out a complicated problem in 20 minutes face-to-face with a charming and helpful lady assistant in my nearest EDF boutique (www.boutiques.edf.com to find your nearest). The problem concerned identifying the owner of a meter inside a block of flats and arranging re-connexion. The identification number of an EDF meter is shown on the unit itself, and the assistant was able immediately to trace it. A new contract was signed and all that remains is for an electrician to make the final connexion - for around 100 (one hundred) euros.

France Telecom/Orange and all the other main suppliers also maintain local offices/showrooms, and armed with proof of identity and details of your (new) address you can order a fixed line, internet connexion etc and a mobile phone contract - all done over the counter within a few minutes. If you have just bought a property and are moving in it helps the telephone company to identiy the precise location if you know the number of the previous occupier. You also need to produce a copy of the 'attestation' provided by your Notaire to establish that you are the new owner of the property, or a letting contract if you are renting.