Book Review - Electricity in your French House
by Thomas Malcolm, published by Eyrolles in 2010
All the main subjects are covered; tariffs, the main components, wiring, earthing and even TV and networking and there are even small, but useful glossaries of the main terms (English/French and French/English) but there is no detail at all and very little information about how to do anything. This book concentrates on what must be done, what must not be done and highlighting differences to the UK system, and in these aspects it is clear and helpful, but for many people this isn't enough. It doesn't tell you how to add a couple of extra sockets in the kitchen, nor give you enough detail to re-wire your house (not even if you are an electrician from the UK).
If you are only going to buy one book on this subject, this shouldn't be it. As a supplement to a proper installation guide, or as a summary for a UK electrician this book is pretty good but as a guide itself it is thin indeed. The subtitle "Rules and techniques explained in English" may be misleading: Sure it is in English and it does covers the main rules and some techniques but it is far from comprehensive - there is not enough detail to allow a DIY reader to do electrical work to the norme. You should not expect to pick up this book, your new French cheque book and the address of the nearest Brico and be able to wire your barn conversion.
Perhaps I'm being overly harsh. This book is more similar to those small booklets you can pick up in most DIY stores and if compared to them it stands tall and would be a far better purchase. It wins over these volumes in three heavy blows: It is totally up-to-date for 2010, it warns about using English methods and materials that aren't acceptable in France and, of course, it is written in English.
It doesn't guide you through DIY tasks and so can't be put in the same class as, nor seen as a replacement for, L'installation électrique, which remains my strong recommendation. It should be noted that these two books, and for that matter the one for le tableau, have the same publisher, who I expect will be happy for you to buy all three. Indeed, that is perhaps just what you should do. At about €14, it is a cheap and enjoyable read and well worth popping into your basket when you buy the other two.