I tried to track down similar information a couple of years ago, and also found it quite difficult.
I believe our own IEE used to carry an English version of the French wiring rules handbook. I can't track it down on their website, but it might be worth asking if it's still available. The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org, or telephone (020) 7240-1871. (Be warned, their publications are not cheap!)
Another place you might try is Legrand Electric in Dunstable. I recall seeing their catalog of foreign fittings and it included a few pages in the front with some general wiring information on France and Germany. (I'm afraid I no longer have a copy; this was 2 or 3 years ago.) I can't find a contact e-mail address on their website, but it might be worth giving them a call -- (01582) 676767.
I can't quote all the detailed information on current French standards, but I can give you a few general pointers that I've gleaned from various sources and discussions while over there.
As in the U.K. and unlike most of Europe, they run separate circuits for lighting and sockets. Lighting circuits are generally fed from a 10A C/B and run with 1.5 sq. mm cable. Branch circuits for sockets are the radial type (no British rings!) and fed from a 16 or 20A breaker and run in 2.5 sq. mm cable. Outlets are limited to 8 per circuit (a duplex counts as one).
Dedicated circuits are run for large appliances, such as washing machine, fixed wall heaters, etc. An electric range/cooker will most likely be 3-phase.
As TT earthing (i.e. earthed only to a local rod) is employed, the installation has to be protected by a main RCD. Don't quote this as definite, but I believe the current rules (at least those of EDF) require it to be 500mA trip or less. I believe also that all outlets in a bathroom, including lights and fixed appliances, have to be fed via a 30mA RCD.
One British engineer who was working in Paris reported that they are now installing double-pole breakers which open the neutral as well, although I'm not sure if that is an actual requirement now.
By the way, in which part of France is your house? I've been thinking about finding a place in the Charente/Dordogne region.
#133421 - 08/01/0204:43 PMRe: French domestic installation
Thanks very much for your information. I will follow up your suggestions. I feel that the current installation, although it looks sound, leaves much to be desired on the safety front. e.g. a mixture of 2 pin and 3 pin outlets.
My house is in the Gironde (Monsegur), near the border with Lot et Garonne and Dordogne. In the Bordeaux and Entre Deux Mers wine appellations.
#133422 - 08/02/0206:47 AMRe: French domestic installation
Yes, there's a lot that I like about France, but their wiring often leaves something to be desired! The cavalier attitude some of them have to home wiring is quite amazing, especially considering that there's 380 volts floating around!
I'd be interested to know if you have any joy with the IEE or Legrand, if you have the time to come back and post a message.
By the way, if you are changing your usage of power (e.g. installing or removing electric heating or something similar) it would probably be a good idea to review your tariff with EDF (I'm assuming you are with EDF and not one of the small independents).
As you're probably aware, EDF has a bewildering range of different tariff structures with a standing charge that varies with the max. power rating of your service, along with complex variable rates such as "Option Tempo."
If you haven't seen it already, the Electricite de France website is at: www.edf.fr
[This message has been edited by pauluk (edited 08-02-2002).]