Paris uses a different electrical standard in that it has a higher voltage and it uses a differently shaped plug. It is based on 200-220 volts (60 cycles) and uses two round prongs (see photo), rather than the US 110 volts and spade plugs.
Most of today’s electronic items you bring with you, especially battery chargers and power cords with a transformer/”brick”, will operate on 100-240 volts. For these items all you will need is a adapter plug like the one shown below. This device will not change the voltage, just allows you to plug your device into French outlets. I would make a point of bringing an extension cord. This would allow you to power multiple items from one adapter.
Don’t bring you hair-dryer. Most US high wattage and motorized appliances won’t work on France’s 220 volts. If you need one check to see if it is multi-voltage. Some have selection switches.
If you have items that are specifically 110 volts you will need a converter or transformer. They vary in power based on wattage needs. Don’t buy a transformer unless you really need one. I’m using one here on this trip. Why? I don’t know…guess I just wanted to see what it was like to haul this 15 lb hunk of metal half-way around the globe. I must have been crazy. This unit is nice in that it has a USB charging plug on the front. But I don’t really need it.
As for money. Having both a charge/debit card and cash Euros is important. I left home with some Euros in my pocket, a debit card charged with Euros, ATM card and a couple of credit cards.
Before departure I asked my Bank Of America banker about getting Euros and he directed me to their website. I was able to get 400 Euros for $571us. They delivered the bills to my local bank for pick-up. They charged a service fee of $7.50, which they drop if you order over $1000us of currency.
A day later I went to a local Travelex, www.travelex.com , currency outlet and picked up a Cash Passport Debit Card, www.cashpassport.com . We had them load it with 400 Euros which cost me $617us. The difference between this and the BofA Euros is the exchange rate. Travelex did not charge a service fee but they make it up on the exchange rate. This card also offers an online account balance. And if stolen you can shut it down and get a new card. This card can also be recharged. My understanding is that the best way is to give your card number to someone in the US and have them go to a Travelex office in the US with a hand full of cash. I’m told you can’t add cash to the account here in Europe.
After comments made here I shortened my ATM PIN from 5 digits to 4. So far no problems. Bank Of America has an ATM relationship with BNP Paribas here in France so they don’t charge a transaction fee on my Euro withdrawals. The ATMs I’ve been using limit my maximum withdraw to 100 Euros. I checked with my account online to calculate the exchange rate. For comparison 400 Euros would cost me $549us. The US dollar has strengthened since we left the states.
Credit cards have been hit or miss, mostly miss, when in restaurants. I then give them the Euro Cash Passport debit card and it always works. But in a store like Office Depot my credit card works fine. I suspect the small portable handheld devices they use here in restaurants, about the size of a large calculator, don’t have a my credit data.
I’m not able to tell you the exchange rate my credit card has been charging. Been unable to access one of my credit card accounts online. Be ready to respond to some security questions when your credit card/banks computers sense you are no longer in the US. One of mine wants to call my home or cell phone numbers and give me an automated security confirmation number while I’m here in Paris.
Best bet for a 30 Days In Paris is to have several sources of money.