French power cuts: what about lifts, cash machines or electric locks?

We look at the ways in which you could be affected by one of the controlled cuts while out and about

We look at how potential power cuts could affect devices such as cash machines in France
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Reader Question: What if a power cut occurs when I am trying to use an electricity-dependent device outside of my home - for example, if I’m in a lift?

Controlled two-hour-long power cuts may be required at peak times in France this winter if the electricity network comes under too much strain, causing the risk of widespread blackouts to rise.

Read more:

Power cuts: If required how often would they be?

Will we be notified in advance if in area affected by power cuts?

At what times of the day would the power cuts occur?

If a power cut does occur, it will not only affect household appliances but also the electricity-dependent tools you use when out and about so it is important to be aware if a power cut is planned for your local area.

A cut will only occur in parts of France if the national EcoWatt usage barometer of electricity supply strain reaches a red alert level. If so, a notification will be issued three days in advance, reflecting that a power cut, at least in certain areas, is inevitable if usage does not drop.

You can sign up for free to the EcoWatt app or for SMS alerts if you want to be notified.

Electricity network operators Enedis and RTE will publicise details of addresses which will be affected by power cuts at 17:00 the day before, via their websites.

Enedis has, for example, launched an online tool through which customers can search an address or postcode and see whether it will be included in a power outage.

The cuts will not last longer than two hours. Priority buildings such as hospitals will not be affected.


If there is a power outage, lifts will be affected so if you know a cut is set to occur in your area on a particular day, it is better to take the stairs to avoid getting stuck.

Electronic locking systems

If you need to get into or out of a building that is equipped with an electronic locking system – for example, using a code or a key fob – you will not be able to use your normal method.

However, most of these systems also come with a manual key alternative.

Cash machines and card payments

If a power cut occurs while you are at the shops, you should still be able to continue if you are in a large chain store, as they normally have generators which will keep the lights and other electricity-dependent appliances running.

However, smaller shops may have to close while the electricity is off.

Even if the shop you need is open, you will probably not be able to pay by card, so it might be worth getting cash out beforehand.

Bank cash machines are also likely to be unresponsive during a power cut, so it is better to visit one as soon as you are notified of a future outage.

Public transport and driving

Public transport may also be affected. You can find out more about this in the article below:

Read more: Power cuts in France: what plans for transport, lifts and healthcare?

Drivers should note that traffic lights could be impacted if there is a power cut but this will vary on the location, according to government spokesperson Olivier Véran.

Motorway toll booths should continue to work but petrol stations may have to pause their operations unless they are equipped with a generator.

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