The Utilities


Heating and Electricity

  • Chauffage Centrale: Central heating. The best part with central heating is that it’s included in the monthly charges, so if you’re cold blooded, you can blast the heat and it won’t cost you a dime more (if you have a dial).
  • Chauffage electrique: Electric heating – do not put anything on or touching these heaters, for risk of fire. The most expensive!
  • Chauffage au gaz: Gas heating. This can also seriously drive up your bills during the winter months, especially if your windows are only single-paned. Your wall units, along with the hot showers, hot sink water, etc. are all gas heated.


Visit the Énergie-info site for comparisons on providers, both electricity and gas. ErDF and GrDF are the Electricity and Gas, respectively, Network Distributors that manage the distribution network to these companies.


Whenever you move to a new place, you’ll need to register with an electricity company. It all used to be through EDF, now there are some spin-off companies. Generally, you will have to speak with a phone operator and either set an appointment for someone to read your meter, or it has been read when the last tenant left. On the phone you will tell them the size of your apartment and your appliances (for example a washer or dryer). From this information, EDF will deduce a monthly “consumption estimate.” You will be asked for your apartment number in the building, or if you don’t have that, the name of the last renter in the apartment, or the last customer ID (it’s good to ask your landlord for this information). If you are moving flats in Paris, you can maintain your customer ID and have them transfer it to your new flat.


If anything in your apartment uses gas, you’ll have to do the same thing as with a gas company.


In France, landlines, Internet and TV (and now, cell phones) are included in monthly packages. Operators such as (but not limited to) SFR, Orange, Bouyges, Free and Numéricable all have competing offers. Generally, you can find a deal giving you TV, land-line and Internet for about 30-40 euros per month. What’s more, most landlines have great offers for calls to foreign countries. Sam and Brenna can call landlines and cell phones in the US for free, this is the same for their expat friends from Argentina, Mexico and Japan. The irony is, it’s an extra fee to call a French cell phone from a land-line (unless, sometimes, it’s a Bouyges land line to a Bouyges cell phone, Free land-line to Free cell phone, etc. Check to see if you get special rates for a cell phone, too, while you’re at it. Sometimes the packages are well worth it! Need to CANCEL these services? Make sure you follow protocol or else you’ll be paying for months of service long after you thought you’d canceled. Send them a lettre de résiliation using a template form here.

For information on Mobile phones, visit our section on that.


Every apartment building has a local poubelle where you can dispose of your garbage and recycling. This is emptied once or twice a week. If you need to get rid of larger items (like furniture), just go to the “Encombrants” website and schedule a pick-up time for a dump truck to come and pick up whatever you need to be taken away.

Seem like we’re forgetting something? Air conditioning, perhaps? Not an oversight, simply not all that common. If you happen to find a flat with air conditioning (and it’s not a soulless, modern flat with little aesthetic charm) please invite Sam and Brenna over. AC will be charged to your electricity bill. Or, you could save the money and leave Paris the month of August like all the real Parisians do.


About Author


I've lived in France since August 2006 with a stint back in Washington, DC for a year. Ten months of my time in France were spent in Rouen - the Normandy town known for, among other things, Joan of Arc's death and Monet's study of light. With the years that pass, Paris is constantly transformed by the interesting people I meet who open up new doors in this amazing city.

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