Paris by night
The Four main operators in France are:
- Bouygues Télécom
- Free Mobile
There are also several MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators) like Lebara, Lycamobile, and LeFrenchMobile.
Pay as you go data prices are generally higher in France than the rest of Europe, and contracts are more popular in France, but not possible for foreigners to get.
Where to Buy?
As a foreigner buying a SIM card in France you will need to show your passport. You can buy SIM cards from the mobile stores themselves, or the magazine store RELAY, of which there are many including at Charles de Gaulle airport. If you are worried about the language barrier, you can find people who speak English in the larger mobile stores in Paris.
Free public wifi hotspots are available in all major cities in tourist offices, cafes, restaurants and hotels etc. just fill out a short form to register your e-mail etc.
If you are travelling on business and need to stay close to Wifi; try a service like hippocket or travel-wifi, that provide portable routers for rent.
‘Our top pick for France’
Widely considered the most reliable network with the best coverage, Orange is the descendant of the national telephone company that was known as France Telecom. They offer a prepaid package for travellers called Orange Holiday. While this might be the most expensive option, it is also the most reliable – and has the most extensive 4G coverage in urban and rural areas.
The Orange Holiday SIM card offers 2 hours of calls and 1000 texts (from Europe to anywhere ) along with 10GB of data valid in european zone, and access ro orange wifi hotspots. The credit is valid for 14 days from first use.
Where to Buy?
You can buy from orange boutique or network stores? Find the nearest store to your destination here.
- Most extensive and reliable network
- Includes Wifi hotspots
- Service can be used throughout entire European Union.
- Not the cheapest option
- Questionable customer service
- Cannot order online
- Cannot top up online without french credit card
Orange shops, tobacco shops, gas stations, and supermarkets. Buy your top-up card and then dial the number provided. You cannot top up online without a French credit card.
See full details of the plan here.
Useful USSD Codes
- Get your phone number – 225
- Check Balance -#123#
- Setup Voicemail – 888
Buy on Amazon
Free Mobile is the cheapest option, but doesn’t offer very extensive network coverage. As such, it is a good option for budget travellers visiting only the major cities.
When its own network is not available, Free roams on the orange network, which will be slower for internet.
For 20 euros a month you can sign up to the ‘forfait free’ plan which offers 50gb of 4G and unlimited call and text) including to some international numbers. You can specify the length of this subscription on purchase.
Where to Buy?
SIMs can be purchased from mobile vending machines, where you can use an international credit card, but you can also buy from some newsagents. A Passport or ID card is not required at vending machines. You can find a map of vending machines here.
Lycamobile are another virtual network operator also running on the Bouygues Network. They have a similar offering to Lebara. Calls between Lycamobile phones are free, even internationally.
So which is the best SIM Card for France visitors?
For most users, we would recommend using Orange for their extensive network and reliable service.
For those on a budget, who are sticking only to the major cities, then you could try using the Free network.
Those with language concerns who want an English-speaking customer service hotline could try using LeFrenchMobile or Lebara.
France Phone Numbers
French mobile phone numbers are ten digits long and start with 6 or 7.
The country code for France is 33.
To call your mobile in France from abroad, callers will need to dial 0033 and then your number. 00 (International Access Code) 33 (France Country Code).
General Emergency: 112
Fire Service: 18
Useful French Phrases
Do you speak English? Parlez vous anglais?
I cannot speak French: je ne parle pas français
I don’t understand: Je ne comprends pas
Where are the SIM cards: Où sont les cartes sim?
Thank you: Merci