There are four physical network operators (MNOs) in France which are listed according to history and their number of subscribers:
- Orange (by France Télécom)
- SFR (by Numericable)
- Bouygues Télecom
- Free Mobile (by Iliad)
Other providers are virtual mobile operators (MVNOs) or other resellers of the MNOs. You may notice, that prices for data on prepaid are somewhat higher in France than in most other European nations. This is because many locals prefer contracts (called forfaits, see below) to prepaid SIM cards. Unfortunately, most operators ban foreigners from subscribing to a contract. You'll need to have a French payment system for it. That's why the contracts of many providers like
Simyo, B&You, Sosh, Virgin and those of most MNOs which give better data rates can't be listed here as we don't list options which are inaccessible to foreigners.
2G (= GSM, GPRS, EDGE) is on 900 and 1800 MHz, 3G (= UMTS, HSPA, HSPA+ and DC-HSPA+) is on 900 and 2100 MHz. According to the telecom authority (l'ARCEP), Orange and SFR both cover 99 % of the population, Bouygues is at 97% and Free Mobile at 85% of the population (not counting the roaming agreement with Orange). In practice, France has a 3G coverage in urban areas and most parts of the countryside. Some rural places with few inhabitants may only have EDGE.
Some small rural places purposes "F-CONTACT" network which is a common network 2G/3G for the four operator in countryside. if you have access to it, there are no addittional fees.
Uptodate coverage maps in 2G, 3G and 4G provided by the network operators can be found here:
Orange continues to show the best network quality in France, followed closely by SFR and Bouygues Telecom, with Free Mobile still trailing, according to the latest tests by regulator Arcep published in 2016.
The four MNOs have rolled out their 4G/LTE nationwide. 800 MHz mostly in the countryside, 1800 MHz and 2600 MHz in the cities are used. In the next years 700 MHz will be added, after having left by digital TV. In 2016 Orange has the best LTE coverage with 76% and LTE+ in 17 cities, closely followed by Bouygues with 72%, SFR with 64% and Free with 68%.
SIM card activationEdit
Activating a SIM card on a network may take up to 48 hours. You will need to show a photo ID at point of purchase to activate SIM cards in France, as it is a legal requirement. A passport or driving licence usually suffice.
Rolling Contracts (forfait sans engagement)Edit
This French particularity called "forfait sans engagement" = rolling contract or auto-renewing monthly offer is featured in the following articles and needs some explanation for non-French visitors. A rolling contract is a kind of hybrid tariff between pre- and post-paid: You pay in advance and have cost control like prepay, but you have to enable an automatically recurring payment system. This can be linked e.g. to a French bank account or sometimes to an international credit card. But the contract can be terminated at any time by free will. You can change the plan monthly, but usually you cannot turn of automatic plan renewal completely. That means in the end that you have to pay a certain amount every month, even if you don't use the SIM card at all that specific month.
These rolling contracts normally give you a much better rate for data in France than regular prepaid cards. The problem is the payment system that is often not accessible to foreigners without French credit cards or bank accounts. Creating a French payment system will set you back more than 40 EUR. To draw a line here, offers which are confirmed to have been purchased at least by a single non-French payment system are shown while providers requiring French-only requisites are taken off the list. Please have this in mind, when you add an offer, that it needs to be accessible for foreigners too!
This French particularity is a variant of "forfait sans engagement". If you used your amount of data, call minutes or number of included texts further access will be blocked automatically. Without forfait bloqué you will pay per MB, minute or text message, which is rather expensive.
The French section has been restructured to be in line with other countries. The first part consists of the four MNOs in the order described above. This is followed in the 2nd part by all resellers, MVNOs or other providers listed in alphabetical order. The last part is devoted to rental agencies, again sorted in alpha order, who rent SIM cards, routers or other devices for those travellers who prefer to rent.
- Orange: prepaid voice/data SIM card (Mobicarte), prepaid data SIM card (Pochette prêt à surfer)
- SFR: prepaid voice/data SIM card (La Carte), prepaid data SIM card (Kit á surfer), rolling contracts (forfaits sans engagement)
- Bouygues Télécom: prepaid voice/data SIM card (Carte XL)
- Free Mobile: contracts, either rolling (forfait sans engagement) or prepaid for one month only (prépayé)
(2) Other Providers:
- La Poste Mobile: prepaid voice/data SIM card (Carte prépayée classique)
- Le French Mobile: prepaid voice/data SIM card (Euro SIM), prepaid data SIM card (Data SIM)
- Lebara mobile: prepaid voice/data SIM card
- Lycamobile: prepaid voice/data SIM card
- Réglo Mobile: prepaid voice/data SIM card (Carte prépayée, forfaits)
- Syma Mobile: prepaid voice/data SIM card (Carte prépayée)
(3) Rental Agencies:
- INSIDR Paris: Smartphone rental with unlimited data & calls
- Bienvenue WiFi: WIFI router rental
- Cellhire: SIM card and WIFI router rental
- Dataroam: SIM card rental
- Moxx: WIFI router rental
- MY WEBSPOT: WIFI router rental
- Travel Wifi: WIFI router rental
The order of this listing does not represent any kind of ranking or recommendation.
OrangeEditOrange S.A., formerly France Télécom S.A. is a French multinational telecommunications corporation. Back in history, France Télécom was the French public operator. Nowadays its still the market leader with the best coverage and most subscribers. 4G/LTE is now accessible for all prepaid plans.
Mobicarte (Voice & data SIM)Edit
This is the Orange prepaid SIM card that allows making calls, sending SMS and internet usage in 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE (for new Mobicarte subscribers).
You can buy Orange prepaid Mobicarte SIM online from sites like velonomad.com, although this is much more expensive. On the other hand you get your number, before you depart and your card is activated to use your service as soon as you arrive.
To buy a SIM from an Orange Boutique (store locator) in France for 3.90 EUR, you must bring your ID card or passport to register. The bonus of that is that the card will work straight away and has 5 EUR credit. If you buy from anywhere else, you will have to send in a copy of your ID and it can take several days to be able to access data.
Dialing #123# for the first time gives you a menu of options on the Welcome / Information ("Accueil") screen. Here you see some options with offers, an entry to access a sort of account overview / usage ("suivi conso"), one to enter Mobicarte top-up codes called recharges ("recharger"), and finally where you manage your account's features ("Mon espace"). If you don't know French, it can be a bit daunting as it seems every menu presents options you can purchase. It is definitely over-complicated, just as every French site. To add credit to your SIM, buy one of the classic recharge vouchers "Les recharges classiques" from a tabac shop, magazine shop, or grocery store (the big ones like Monoprix, Franprix, etc. should have them). These are common everywhere, including airports and train stations (at CDG international terminal, you can buy them at the Relay newspaper stand at the RER-B station). To add credit, dial #123# then find the "recharger" option and enter the 14-digit code.
Default data rateEdit
Without a data plan, internet is very expensive at 0.50 € per MB.
Data feature packagesEdit
If you plan on going to a boutique to buy a SIM, you can purchase these packs there too. It is recommended that you load the recharge options page on your phone beforehand so you can show them exactly what you want. Some stores have employees who are not familiar with the packs or may not even know that data is available for pre-paid so it is helpful to show them the site, particularly if your French is not very good.
Since 2016 7 million hotspots of Orange Wi-Fi in France and the French Caribbean are added for free (locator). To obtain your free password you need to dial #125#.
Les recharges maxEdit
|5 EUR||20 MB||1 week||1 hour of free calls, free SMS|
|10 EUR||100 MB||1 week||free dom. calls, SMS, MMS|
|20 EUR||600 MB||1 month||free dom. calls, SMS, MMS|
|30 EUR||2 GB||1 month||free dom. calls, SMS, MMS|
All free calls, SMS and MMS are domestic only.
Les recharges internet mobileEdit
These top-ups are available:
- 5 EUR: 150 MB for one week - line stays active for another month thereafter
- 10 EUR: 1 GB for two weeks - line stays active for another 6 months thereafter
- 25 EUR: 3 GB for one month - line stays active for another 6 months thereafter
You can buy several at a time and enter a new code to re-enable the feature once the old one expires.
For visitors and travellers Orange offers its Orange Holiday (formerly called Mobicarte Holiday). It's sold for 39.99 EUR and is valid for 14 days including:
- 2 hours of international calls from anywhere in Europe to anywhere in the world
- 1000 international SMS from anywhere in Europe to anywhere in the world
- 1 GB data within Europe (all EU/EEA countries)
- Unlimited Orange Wi-Fi in France
If you still got an old active Mobicarte or need a recharge, they offer a recharge Orange Holiday for 20 EUR including 1 hour of EU calls, 500 interntl. SMS unlimited Orange Wi-Fr and 500 MB data, all vaild for another 14 days. Line stays active for another 6 months thereafter.
This plan is for mobile phones and may or may not work on other devices. If you're interested in data for a WiFi hotspot or dongle, you would be better off with the Pochette Pret-a-surfer option (see below). P2P, VoIP and USENET are specifically banned. VoiP services will fail to initialize properly. There's risk getting your plan cancelled as well as the loss of any call credit remaining on your account if you use P2P, VoIP, or USENET services.
As for VPN, it may or may not work. There are examples when VPN worked, one of them is OpenVPN 2.1.1 on Windows 7 and VPN on iPhone worked in July 2012.
Supposedly you are to be notified by SMS as soon as it is activated but users have never received this in the 5 years they had their plan. The safest way to confirm an option is by looking at your account online .
Mobicarte SIM card credit expires, if no recharge is applied during this period. After registering your SIM for the first time and topping it up with credits, the SIM number will stay in operation for max. 6 months. You can check the expiration date online when you create an account, but you will probably also get an SMS stating the expiration date. If you'd like to keep your number active, add a minimum 10 Euro recharge before the expiration date and it'll be extended another 6 months.
Expiration of recharge credits depends on the amount. For example, 10 EUR electronic recharge should be used within 12 days of adding to the SIM. Topping up further extends existing credit to match the new credit. Also, recharge codes have a time limit before they must be added (up to 2 years, read the ticket).
Triple-cut mini, micro, nano SIM available
Tethering / WIFI-hotspot is not included in data usage (tested on iPhone and Android Galaxy 4S). iPhone will NOT allow tethering, and you are redirected to a purchase page (25 € for 1 GB, 30 days) if you try to enable it. The page must be accessed over cellular and not WIFI.
It is possible to achieve tethering on Android devices by using the WIFI hotspot in conjunction with a proxy app, e.g. proxy server by Ice Cold Apps. The use of a 3rd party tethering app on an Android phone, or a jailbroken iPhone may just get you around this.
Pochette Prêt à surfer (= Data-Only SIM) Edit
This SIM was previously called Let's Go and is the data-only SIM offer from Orange to be used in a tablet, portable WIFI hotspot (MiFi), USB dongle or any other kind of modem only. Orange prohibits the use in a phone. It's not clear, if this ban can be circumvented and how. When you are able to use this SIM in a phone, please add here how (See the next paragraph). For the meantime a mobile hotspot is recommended if you still want to use your phone.
SIM cards are available from Orange Boutiques throughout France (see locator above), but not every boutique may have it in store. Just ask for the 'Pochette prêt à surfer'. They will want to know on what device you will use it and what SIM size you require. At the time of purchase in the boutique, you will need to provide a passport or driving licence which is a requirement under French law.
Starter pack costs € 14.90 and includes 2 GB valid for one month. It takes on average 24 hours to fully update the system with your details and during that time you will not be able to top up. However the original 2 GB will work as soon as you walk out of the shop.
Data feature packagesEdit
There are three values of recharges for domestic data and one for EU/EEA roaming data:
|10 EUR||1 GB||14 days|
|25 EUR||3 GB||31 days|
|40 EUR||5 GB||6 months|
|20 EUR||1 GB for EU Roaming||14 days|
All packages include unlimited Orange WI-FI from hotspots in France. Orange lets you join its 4G/LTE network on high speed. But you may need an E-SIM support for this (that only iPhones usually have).
To obtain a recharge you must again visit the Orange Boutique (or some Bureaux de Tabac or Relay) and ask for a rechargement for the pochette. There may be some faffing about whilst they work out amongst themselves exactly what you want, but show them your SIM or documentation with your Orange internet number and they will soon get there. Often they will print out a sheet of paper for you which contains a telephone number for you to ring to activate the top up and a 14 digit top up number.
Topping up is also possible online once your new SIM card has been fully registered (go to the 'mon espace' section on the orange.fr website to set up your account). This seems to be possible now for some non-French credit cards as well.
It is also possible to top up using vouchers for the standard prepaid phone service called Mobicarte. You can then convert the account balance online to Pochette packages. The Orange site is far from user friendly, so this is not recommended unless you are well versed in French. Top-ups are often available on eBay and may well prove to be a good option for you to save messing about in shops upon arrival. But you will pay a premium for this option in so much as you will be paying extra for the time of the seller to obtain the vouchers etc. Note, you can also buy pre-activated SIM cards on eBay.
Restrictions and allowancesEdit
This SIM card does not allow the use of Peer to Peer downloads eg. Torrents, or the use of some binary newsgroups . However for email, browsing and almost everything else it works just fine. You can receive SMS on your SIM which can be viewed in the control panel for your device, but the option to send SMS will not be available.
On the other hand, tethering is not restricted and VoIP is allowed. It seems the data SIM card stays valid for one year, vs. 6 months only for the Mobicarte without a recharge.
Orange Mobile HotspotEdit
Orange sells it's own portable 4G WIFI hotspot previously called Domino, now Coffret prêt à surfer. Currently it's a Huawei E5573 also called Airbox. This allows you to set up WIFI for multiple devices, i.e. to get around the issue of not being able to tether with the Mobicarte, and you don't need to set up data service on your phone. Cost is 59.90 EUR for the 4G device including 3 GB valid for a month. Recharge with "prêt à surfer" vouchers (see above).
Authentication: the blurb inside says you need to provide authentication, i.e. fill in a form and send a photocopy of a passport to Orange. If you buy from an Orange boutique, they should activate it for you. If you get it from elsewhere, then you will have to mail off copies of your ID docs. The device is locked to Orange France and won't be of much use elsewhere unless you get it unlocked, but for less than one Euro you will be able to purchase an unlock code on Ebay.
In order to top up by phone, call 0800 224 from a mobile or landline. Free from Orange lines, a fee may be charged from others. You will be immediately asked by a female voice in French to enter your Orange number. This is the telephone number assigned to your SIM and normally begins with 06 or 07.
You will then be presented with two options, the first to top up by credit card. Ignore this, the second option is to top up using voucher. Press 2 on your keypad. The same voice will ask you for your 14-digit voucher number. Enter that and depending on which service you got connected to, you may have the number read back to you with the option to confirm or try again.
You will then have a confirmation in the same voice but with a triumphant timbre to it. The process should take about 30 seconds from start to finish. The top up should then be applied to your SIM and you will be ready to go.
Orange online account (Espace client)Edit
You will automatically have a personal account called Espace client on the orange.fr website, you can log onto your account using the SIM telephone number. For your first visit click on "identifiez-vous" on the top right corner of their site. Once done, you can edit your personal information, email address etc. You can even set up an Orange France email address if you like. It is important to note that you cannot top up online using a credit card that is not registered in France. But you can buy top-ups in the boutique using foreign credit cards.
- for Mobicarte:
- APN, password and username: orange
- for Pochette Prêt à surfer:
- APN: orange.fr
- Password and username: orange
SFREditSFR is the second largest network in France and the biggest rival of Orange. It used to belong to Vivendi, but has been sold to the cable company Numericable. It has good coverage nationwide in 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE slightly less than Orange. SFR is the local partner of Vodafone in France. 4G/LTE has just recently been made available to prepaid cards.
Their prepaid SIM is simply called la Carte. The starter pack called “Kit SFR la Carte” is available online to be send to a French postal address or in their shops (shop locator). The start-up price is officially 9.99 EUR, mostly discounted to 3.99 EUR or less, but it comes without credit in mini, micro or nano size.
When you buy it in their shops, let them activate it there showing your photo ID. Bought online or at other shops, you can activate it on their website or by calling 963 for free (in French only).
Recharges can be bought at many places like bureaux de tabac, Relay and big chains like Auchan, Carrefour, Leclers, FNAC. They can be bought online too, but you need at least an European credit card with a chip for payment. For an English recharge menu call 958. But it’s best to purchase your recharges at the automated top-up terminals in some SFR shops. Otherwise it may take up to 24 hours until the recharge actually is activated.
These recharge packs all include domestic calls, unlimited domestic SMS, a data quota and unlimited SFR WIFI at 4 million access points:
|5 EUR||1 hour||20 MB||5 days|
|10 EUR||unlimited||100 MB||10 days|
|20 EUR||unlimited||500 MB||30 days|
|30 EUR||unlimited||2 GB||30 days|
All packages include unlimited domestic SMS. To get Wi-Fi access call 963 for free and download the SFR WiFi app (list of hotspots).
Three top-ups are offered for data-only:
|5 EUR||200 MB||2 days|
|10 EUR||1 GB||10 days|
|35 EUR||4 GB||30 days|
Data is cut off when quota is reached. Speed is up to 4G/LTE.
Like Orange and Bouygues, they have a tourist SIM for visitors. It’s only available from Tabacs and Relay stores (not SFR shops) for up to 34.99 EUR, is valid for 14 days and preloaded with:
- 1 hour of voice to France and Europe, the US and China
- 500 SMS to France and Europe, the US and China
- 2 GB of domestic data
All the recharges whether Ilimitées, Internet or Welcome can be renewed anytime to get more data or validity. Tethering and modem use is now allowed. You can buy an add-on for more allowances for 20 EUR including another hours of calls, 500 SMS and 1 GB all valid for 14 days.
Prepaid data-only SIMEdit
SFR's prepaid data option for tablets and modems is the "Carte SIM prête à surfer" with 200 MB for 15 days on its starter, sold at 9.99 EUR. But it will be on 3G (DC-HSPA) up to 42 Mbps only. It can be recharged with these “SFR Recharge Internet” vouchers:
- 2 EUR: 200 MB for 1 day
- 10 EUR: 1 GB for 7 days
- 35 EUR: 4 GB for 30 days
These recharges must be bought in the shops and loaded on the card on your SFR account online. You will automatically directed to their http://moncompte.sfr.fr landing page, even without any credit left. Otherwise, data is cut off when quota is reached.
SFR also offers cheaper “forfaits sans engagement” = rolling contracts (see Basics above) for data in modems, routers or tablets. They can be terminated anytime in writing and have access to 4G/LTE with speeds up to 115 Mbps. Free unlimited Wi-Fi is included after calling 963.
SFR offers rolling contracts (sans engagement) for data SIMs ained at tablets and modems too. This starter kit is called
- Connecté Partout Starter 1 Go for monthly 8.99 EUR with 1 GB and unlimited SFR Wi-Fi
- Connecté Partout Starter 10 Go for monthly 15.99 EUR with 10 GB and 1 GB per year roaming in the EU and unlimited SFR Wi-Fi.
Unlimited SFR WiFi at 4 million access points is added and speed is up to 112.5 Mbps on 4G/LTE. For more data you can add 200 MB bundles for 3 EUR each up to 4 times per month/ billing cyle through the landing page http://moncompte.sfr.fr.
The problem with rolling contracts is that SFR likes to see a French credit card or bank account linked to it, though some SFR shops are willing to mark your payment method as "other" to allow you to come in and pay by cash or credit card in person. With international cards they accept at least American Express credit cards on your name as a confirmed payment method. If you only have a Visa or MasterCard from out of the country, your only option is to pay in store; for foreign cards paying over the phone is only possible with AmEx and not at all online.
Cancellation is not as easy as it's not possible online, you must do that in writing in French and send a resilation with your number to SFR Service Client, Courrier SFR Mobile, TSA 73917, 62978 Arras Cedex 9. SFR promises to terminate your contract within 10 days after having received your letter. It's advised to provide your address overseas as any refund of excess charges will be mailed in the form of a cheque. The dedicated English-language customer service line is only for La Carte customers.
- APN: sl2sfr /or/ slsfr /or/ wapsfr /or/ websfr - (if one does not work, try another)
- English speaking customer service: 1026 available Mon-Sat 8-20 hrs (this is for la Carte only)
Bouygues Télécom is the 3rd largest network operator in France. Unlike the other players, its 4G/LTE is mainly on 1800 MHz (and to a lesser extent 2600 MHz and 800 MHz) and is open for all prepaid users without surcharge (coverage map.) Their old prepaid card Formule 20/20 has been discontinued in January 2015. They now only sell Card XL and Classique prepaid SIMs. The classic line doesn't include data. So it's not mentioned any further.
Prepaid Card XL Edit
Their prepaid line is available in their stores (store locator) with 12 months validity after the last top-up. Starter pack is sold for 10 € with around 4 € credit for calls. It can be topped by these three packs.
- 5 €: including; unlimited domestic text and voice, 500 MB data and 3 € for international calls, valid for 3 days - see remarks further below
- 10 €: including: unlimited domestic text and voice, 500 MB data and 5 € for International calls, valid for 10 days
- 20 €: including unlimited domestic text and voice, 500 MB data and 10 € for international calls, valid for 30 days
- 40 €: including unlimited domestic text and voice, 2 GB data and 25 € for international calls, valid for two months
All packages include 4G/LTE speed, unlimited domestic calls and domestic texts. The bonus credit can be used for international calling. Recharging of 10 € or 20 € can be done online, by calling 630 or by buying a prepaid card in stores (e.g. 'tabac') in France. Be aware that the 5 € reload can only be topped up by a French credit card which must be added online or by calling 630. International credit cards are not accepted for the 5 € recharge.
When topped up after the validity of the old package has expired, the new top up will be effective right away giving more validity. So you can top-up 3 times 5 € for 3 days each and get 1.5 GB data for 15 € in a week (but only top up after 2 days or when the 500 MB data has been used, it does not add up). They give a bonus of 10 € for top-ups of more than 50 € within two consecutive months.
All of their other options are not accessible to foreigners without a French bank card or account.
More info Edit
- APN: mmsbouygtel.com (this is for web too, not only MMS)
- Bouygues Télécom blocks OpenVPN and some other protocols by deep packet inspection, so you won't be able to use those protocols, even when you're changing to non-standard ports.
- Website in French only
Free MobileEditFree Mobile shook the French market when it arrived on the scene in 2012 with very low prices and new marketing methods.
Free Mobile has the smallest network and is still in the process of growing up: as of June 2016, the 3G coverage is 85% of population whereas all of its other competitors cover 98+% of population. But as Free Mobile both uses the Orange network as a roaming network for 3G data, texts and voice and its own, the coverage is equal to Orange's. In 2016 an average Free user spend 30% of its time roaming on Orange. This national roaming will gradually come to an end 2016-20. The max. speed for roaming on Orange network will be throttled to 5 Mbps in 2016, 1 Mbps in 2017 and 786 kbps in 2019 and 384 kbps in 2020.
Free Mobile also offers 4G/LTE. Their network has a lower coverage (at 68% of population as of June 2016), but is still expanding. Take care: in their offers, you have plenty of data on their 4G plan, which is only activated if a 4G/LTE device is exclusively compatible with the 2600 MHz band. If not, you will only have 3 GB of data on your plan, on 3G or 4G frequencies (700 and 1800 MHz when exist) . Free mobile is not roaming on the 4G LTE/network from Orange, roaming only applies to their 2G and 3G networks. Therefore Free Mobile is a good option if you have a 4G/LTE enabled device.
Free Mobile owns spectrum in 700 MHz, 1800 Mhz, and 2600 MHz bands. This allows theoretical download speeds of 150 Mbps with average speeds of 22 Mbps using LTE cat.4 (no aggregated bands), or more with recent smartphones supporting carrier aggregation (LTE cat. 6 and cat. 9). For locations check here and tick the boxes.
Free mobile offers only two plans. Theses two plans can be either, prepaid or rolling contracts without commitment ("forfait sans engagement"). Please see the Prepaid vs Rolling contract section for details.
2 € plan: Edit
- 2 hours of calls to France and to landlines of lot of countries and mobile lines of a few countries;
- unlimited SMS to France from France;
- unlimited MMS in France;
- 50 MB of data, thereafter charged at 5 ct per MB (which adds up to 50 EUR per GB)
- automatic connection to EAP-SIM WiFi networks "Freewifi_Secure", emitted by all the set top boxes of the operator (more than 5 million hotspots);
19.99 € plan: Edit
- Unlimited calls to France and landlines of lot of countries and mobile lines of a few countries;
- Unlimited SMS to France from France & the EU;
- Unlimited MMS in France;
- With a 3G-only or a non 4G/LTE band 3 or band 7 capable handset : 3 GB of data in 3G (Orange roaming + Free network);
- With a 4G/LTE capable handset (most recent phones and dongles) : on contract, up to 20 GB of data in 3G (Orange roaming + Free network) or up to 50 GB of data in 4G (Free network only). In practice the 50 GB allowance is usable on all networks (3G Orange and 3G/4G Free mobile);
- after the allowance is used up, internet speed is reduced (approx 128 kbps) but no overcharges apply;
- automatic connection to EAP-SIM WiFi networks "Freewifi_Secure", emitted by all the set top boxes of the operator (more than 5 million hotspots);
- Pass Destination: 3 GB of 3G roaming data (debited from your monthly national allowance) in all of the EU, Norway, Iceland, Israel, Australia, Canada and the USA. You also get unlimited call & text roaming (to France and within the roaming country). Roaming allowance is for maximum of 35 days per country per calendar year. It's one of the best roaming options on the French market, and can be a very good option, if you travel across the EU or North America.
On both plans tethering is allowed. The free WiFi hotspot use on Freewifi_Secure requires that your device supports the EAP-SIM protocol for verification. This is done on all Apple products from iOS 5, but on very few other devices so far. While all hardware sold by Free have it implemented by a firmware branding, it's missing on most Android and Windows phones.
The SIM comes ready for all phones/dongles (in micro + mini size). A nano SIM is on offer when you order online or within stores / vending machine.
Prepaid Plan compared to Rolling Contract Edit
In both cases, there are no fines for cancelling early and no activation fees. All credit/debit cards, not limited to French issued ones, should function fine - though this is questioned by some forum users. (Automatic direct debit on a French bank account is also possible, as well as some other countries).
Prepaid Plan Edit
The prepaid option is only available from their automated vending machines located both in their "Free center" stores and "Mag press" shops (map). You won't have to worry about cancellation after your leave. This SIM card can be topped up online for one or two another months. If you decide to extend the validity, you will be charged on the credit/debit card that you have initially provided at the vending machine.
You can continue to top up the account each month, or decide to remove the expiration and switch to a rolling contract, which will involve to send a written notice if you wish to terminate the contract later (see below).
Rolling Contract Edit
The Rolling Contract is available either online or at a vending machine. In the case of a rolling contract be aware that you sign a legal contract in France with Free that needs to be terminated later unlike the other prepaid offers on this WIKI. To cancel the contract, you have to write a "signed for" letter with your name, number and termination date to: Free Mobile, Résiliation, 75371 PARIS Cedex 08. Model of termination letter can be found here, and French national post online service (for at least 3.77 €) can be used to send the letter. Allow at least one week of processing within France or using the online post service, and two weeks if you send by mail from abroad.
Getting the SIM at their automated vending machine Edit
This is the most convenient option for travellers. As of January 2016, more than 1600 vending machines called 'bornes' are available around the country in the operator stores called Free center and in Maison de Press / Mag Press stores (locator). They sell both rolling contracts and one-month prepaid plans. Using the automated machine, you will pay a non-refundable 10 € upfront charge on top of the chosen plan to cover issuing fees. Be sure to get the correct SIM size for your phone because reissuing the SIM card costs 5 €. Out-of-France credit cards (Visa, Mastercard) are verified to be accepted.
Getting a SIM card online or in a Free store Edit
This option is available only, if you want a rolling contract, not a prepaid. The SIM card can be sent to a French postal address only. Online default payment is by French bank account. To pay by debit/credit card, at "paiement de votre commande" on the right hand side under the box there is a link which says "payer par carte bancaire". Click it and it will then change the box to one that allows you to enter the details of any credit/debit card. Your bank or credit card company may charge a transaction fee for using this. There is also a 10 € charge for delivery if you're not opening an account with Free Mobile while transferring an existing number.
- APN: free
- iOS devices and most recent Androids ship the correct network settings.
- The access provided is totally unlimited (no DPI or limited ports/services), but using the Orange 3G roaming there is reported throttling, especially on video services.
- Website in French only
La Poste Mobile Edit
La Poste Mobile is the MVNO of the French Postal System called La Poste. It uses the network of SFR in 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE (for details see SFR). It is sold in more than 10,000 postal offices (bureaux de poste) throughout the country, where you can find top-up vouchers too.
Prepaid Card Edit
Their prepaid cards are sold in two different tariff lines called classique (classic) and international. While the international card gives better rates for international calls, it doesn't contain data. Only the classique line can be loaded with data and both lines can't be mixed. Start-up price is 9.90 € with 5 € credit included. Top-ups can be found at post offices and many press kiosks.
Data feature packs Edit
All data packs for the classic line are matched with a recharge. There are again two lines of vouchers: recharges triplées and recharges illimitées. Again, only the recharges illimitées contain data:
- 10 EUR: 100 MB and 'unlimited' dom. calls and texts for 10 days
- 20 EUR: 200 MB and 'unlimited' dom. calls and texts for 20 days
- 30 EUR: 2 GB and 'unlimited' dom. calls and texts for 30 days
'Unlimited' calls are limited to 129 per month with 3 hrs max. and up to SMS per month. Data is on 4G/LTE too, but limited to 14.4 Mbit/s. All data use outside of the recharge packs is charged at high 0.50 € per MB.
More info Edit
- APN: sl2sfr
- La Poste also sells forfaits, but not to foreigners
LeFrenchMobile managed by the Transatel group runs on the good Orange network on 2G and 3G, but not 4G/LTE. It's an MVNO designed for foreigners travelling to France. with customer service in English, Arabic and French. Their website is also available in English.
The SIM card is a triple-cut blank SIM Card (mini-micro-nano in one). Furthermore it's possible to buy 3G USB dongles and WiFi hotspots such as AutoBox and HomeBox with SIM cards included.
Purchase is only online via their website or in a few stores (locator). Delivery is free within the European Union and € 2 to the rest of the world. Payments can be made with any international Visa or MasterCard. Top-up online through their website.
Data SIM Edit
Their Data SIM has a purchase price of € 19.95 with 1 GB included and € 2 valid for 14 days. Default rate for data is € 0.18 per MB. These top-ups are available:
|€ 9||500 MB||7 days||FR500|
|€ 15||1 GB||14 days||FR1GB|
|€ 35||3 GB||30 days||FR3GB|
Activation of bundles is online on your account or by texting code to 22213. Note, that they charge a monthly fee of € 0.90, if the account is inactive for more then 1 month.
Euro SIM Edit
Their EuroSIM is available for calls, texts and data. Purchase price is either € 19 which includes 200 MB EU roaming data. You can also get the SIM at € 30 to have the same credit included.
Top-up online or in Tabac shops and newsagents that sell Paysafecards. A bonus credit is given to any online top-up over € 25. Any credit for the EuroSIM has no expiry date. The same packages as for the French Data SIM apply for refills valid in France. To activate a data bundle go online on your account or text the code to 22213.
On this card European Data bundles are also offered for roaming in the EU/EEA (for area see European Union). Take care, that outside these bundles roaming rates in the EU are at € 0.23 per MB.
|EU Roaming Packages|
|€ 19||200 MB||7 days||EU200|
|€ 39||1 GB||14 days||EU1GB|
Technical settings Edit
- APN: netgprs.com
- Username and password: tsl
- Though their prices may be higher than SIM cards bought within the country, their products can be ordered from overseas and will be delivered already activated to any foreign postal address. Arriving in France, they can be used right away without having to activate them first.
- Warning: you can only top-up (i.e. buy a new) French data bundle when you have less than 50 MB remaining on your current bundle. Once the existing bundle is used up, any cash credit on your account will be very quickly consumed at their high per-MB rates. Make sure to top-up the bundle as soon as you hit 50 MB left, or perhaps don't keep any cash balance on the account.
Lebara mobile is a British-based MVNO with operations in several countries. In France, they resell Bouygues Télécom's service in 2G and 3G only. The website and customer service are available for a change in both French and English, making it a good choice for those with limited French language skills.
Lebara mobile SIM cards can be ordered free of charge through Lebara's website, mailed to a French postal address. Some users report that after a delay of 1-2 weeks, they may be mailed to a foreign address too, if it is typed into the online form. Alternatively, they can be purchased for 10 EUR (including 5 EUR of credit) from many French tabacs (tobacconists and kiosks), including the Relay outlets for instance at CDG airport. Print-your-own Eurostar tickets include a voucher for a free SIM with € 1 of credit and 100 MB in a couple of shops at the Gare du Nord station in Paris. Recharges are available through the same channels or by international credit card online. The SIM is a dual-cut standard and micro SIM, nano SIMs are available on request. Credit lasts from 30-90 days depending top-up amount. SIM cards that have not been used or topped up for 90 days will expire.
New SIM cards must be activated by providing an email address, phone number, and ID number (e.g passport). Foreign details are accepted. SIM cards ordered online and received on mail will be pre-activated as the phone company has these details from the online form. SIMs bought from a shop can be activated by calling 2333 from your phone. This activation should be instant. You can select English on the voice menu (option 2). When you activate your SIM you are requested for your name, passport number and address. You can ask on the same call to buy your data package or any additional asistance.
Data feature packagesEdit
These 30 day data packages are on offer:
|Data Volume||Price||Activation Code|
|400 MB||4.99 EUR||WEB400 to 22241|
|1 GB||9.99 EUR||WEB1GO to 22241|
|3 GB||19.99 EUR||WEB3GO to 22241|
All packages renew automatically if there is credit. To stop, send <Package Code>*STOP to 22241. Default data rate outside packages is 0.15 EUR per MB.
- APN: fr.lebara.mobi
- User: wap
- Password: 1234
- Check credit balance and data allowance: *133#
- Support line: 2300 (option 2 on voice menu for English), support chat on the website ("Chat en ligne", ask for English language)
- Website: switch to English on top left
LycamobileEditLycamobile is the biggest competitor of Lebara (see above) on the ethno market from Britain. It has a very similar prepaid offer like Lebara and acts as a MVNO on Bouygues Télécom's network in 2G and 3G and new on 4G/LTE too. Website and customer service are available in both French and English, making it a good choice for those with limited French language skills. Lycamobile actively blocks tethering from iPhones as well as Android phones and also 3G modems, though setting TTL to 65 solves this problem. The only way to use Lycamobile is on a smartphone.
Lycamobile SIM cards can be ordered free of charge through Lycamobile's website, mailed to a French postal address. Alternatively, they can be purchased from many French tabacs (tobacconists and kiosks) and chain stores including Relay, Monoprix, Carrefour and others (store locator). Recharges are available through the same channels or by international credit card online. PIN codes need to be entered in your phone like this: *131*<PIN>#. The SIM is a dual-cut mini and micro SIM, nano SIMs are available on request. Credit lasts from 30-90 days depending top-up amount. SIM cards that have not been used or topped up for 90 days will expire.
New SIM cards must be activated by calling 323 (in French) from your phone or online here (in English) providing a mail address, phone number, and ID number (e.g. passport).
Data feature packagesEdit
Default data rate outside of packages is 0.09 € per MB and are open to 4G/LTE:
|Data Package||Price||Data||Time||Activation Code|
|WebPass 100||2.99 €||100 MB||14 days||29100 to 3535|
|WebPass 500||6.99 €||500 MB||30 days||29250 to 3535|
|WebPass 1000||9.99 €||1 GB||30 days||81000 to 3535|
|WebPass 3000||19.99 €||4 GB||30 days||15300 to 3535|
For extra data you can add these add-ons valid for the rest of the base pass:
- 500 MB: 4.99 €, activation: 5001 to 3535
- 1 GB: 8.99 €, activation: 5002 to 3535
- 3 GB: 19 €, activation: 5003 to 3535
- APN: data.lycamobile.fr
- User: lmfr (that's lowercase L, not capital i)
- Password: plus
- Check credit balance and data allowance *131#
- Support: 322 (for 0.15 €/min), in English 9am - 9pm (- 6pm on weekends)
- It does not seem possible to tether with Android. Not even with a rooted phone! NB: Their terms and conditions exclude tethering explicitly and Lycamobile is known to block it.
- Cheap data roaming bundles are offered to most neighboring countries and more. For details see Euro5.
- Website switch to English on top left "Langue"
Réglo Mobile (formerly Leclerc Mobile) Edit
Réglo Mobile, previously known as Leclerc Mobile, is the MVNO of the French retail chain E.Leclerc. It operates on the network of SFR in 2G and 3G and partly on 4G/LTE too (for coverage see SFR). While it sells forfaits (plans) like many other operators, it stays strictly on a prepaid basis. Therefore it doesn't need to be linked to a French bank card, but can be loaded by cash too. It gives great rates, but has some restrictions summed up at the end.
Start up Edit
The SIM card is exclusively sold at the stores of the E.Leclerc chain, especially in their hypermarkets (= mega stores) (for a store locator: click on trouver un magasin). It costs 10 € for the default rate MINI+ with 5 € credit. All the different forfaits shown below are offered too. For a start, they are each sold with a 5 € surcharge for the SIM and remain valid for the rest of the calendar month. The non-used portion of the month will be refunded to your account. Mini, micro and nano sizes are available.
You can buy the starter online too to be sent to a French postal address. But you should better buy it in a store as you can register your SIM at the point of purchase showing your ID. Bought online, you need to mail them an ID form and a copy of your ID within 15 days or your line will be suspended.
For top-ups you can link your account to a French bank card or bank account only or you need to go back to an E.Lecerc store where you can top up 3 - 200 € at the check out by cash. You can choose direct load or a voucher. Some foreign credit cards are also verifed to work on their website. So you might give it a try. A topped up balance will stay valid forever, but a printed voucher needs to be redeemed within 3 months.
To check your balance, send an empty SMS to 950 or check your personal account (called Espace client).
Default rate: Mini+ Edit
Their default rate for voice, text and data is called MINI+. It's on 2G and 3G only and valid, when no other plan is booked. Data is at a low 5ct per MB. But they charge a minimum consumption fee of 1.50 € per calendar month. This will be completely credited on your consumption.
But if there is no usage, 1.50 € will be charged at the 1st of each month. If you are running low on credit, your line will be suspended after 90 days.
Combined plans: Forfaits Réglo Edit
The forfaits (plans) of Réglo offer much better rates and are not postpaid like with other operators. They stay strictly prepaid and are charged from your account. Réglo has a strict billing cycle according to calendar months. The plan is debited on the 1st of the month (or at purchase of the starter pack) and runs for the rest of the calendar month. Their combined plans can be customized according to your anticipated usage and can be changed for every month. But you must do this online on your account by the last day of the previous month. If you don't change them, they will auto-renew. These monthly plans are offered:
|Value||Data Volume||max. Speed||domestic Voice|
|3.50 €||100 MB||3G (42 Mbps)||1 hour|
|7.95 €||500 MB||3G (42 Mbps)||3 hours|
|9.95 €||1 GB||3G (42 Mbps)||3 hours|
|14.95 €||2 GB||4G/LTE (187 Mbps)||unlimited|
|18.95 €||5 GB||4G/LTE (187 Mbps)||unlimited|
|24.95 €||10 GB||4G/LTE (187 Mbps)||unlimited|
All plans include unlimited domestic SMS. Overuse on the 3G packs is charged at 0.19 € per MB, on the 4G packs speed will be throttled. "Unlimited" calls only refers to calls of less than 3 hours. Plans can be changed only online in the previous for the following month. If you are running low on credit having booked a plan, your line will be suspended on the 28th of the month.
You can upsize your data during the running month by adding data add-ons which are called Rallonges:
- 100 MB add-on: 2 €
- 1 GB add-on: 5 €
These add-ons can be booked several times either online on your account or by calling 437. They cumulate, but won't roll over to the next month. Their max. speed depends on the max. speed of the original plan.
While their rates look great at first sight, you should be aware of certain disadvantages:
- You need to go an E.Leclerc hypermarket for purchase and possibly top-up (if recharge by credit card is not working). They are inconveniently located in industrial areas out of town. This may be an option travelling through France by car. But it's no choice for a Paris weekend as there are no stores within the city limits of the capital.
- While their plans are strictly prepaid and can be customized, they stay linked to a calendar month. This makes them quite inconvenient for short-term users.
- They have a very rigid suspension policy of the SIM. If you are running low on credit, your SIM will be switched off very soon. Remember, possibly you can't top up from abroad without a French bank card. So they can't be maintained for another visit.
- In their T&Cs they ban modem use (this probably includes tethering), VoIP, P2P and even newsgroups.
More info Edit
- APN: wap66
Syma Mobile Edit
Syma Mobile by Symacom is a MVNO targeting the ethno market. They sell contracts and prepaid SIM cards to be added by passes. It operates on the good network of Orange in 2G and 3G. It's 4G/LTE is open only for contracts, not for prepaid so far (for details see Basics and Orange chapters).
Syma Mobile prepaid SIM cards can be ordered free of charge through their website, mailed to a French postal address. They come with 15 MB data, 15 dom. mins and 15 dom. SMS preloaded valid for a month. Alternatively, they can be purchased from many French tabacs (tobacconists and kiosks) and chain stores e.g. at train stations for 4.90 € with 5 € starter credit included.
Recharges are available through vouchers sold at the same shops and 50,000 sales points like Tabac stores, Relay and Press kiosks, Postefone and Dia supermarkets from 5 to 35 €.
New SIM cards must be activated by making a call in France. PIN code is set by default to 0000. The SIM stays vaild for 6 months initially to be extended for 12 months by any recharge.
Check credit by entering *148#.
Default data rate outside of packages is 0.15 € per MB. They sell these packages called passes each valid for 30 days:
|5 €||60 MB, 60 mins, 60 SMS, 60 MB||P5|
|10 €||300 MB, 240 mins, 300 SMS||P10|
|10 €||1 GB||1G|
|20 €||3 GB, unlimited mins and SMS||P20|
For activation, text activation code to 20555 or do it online on your account. All allowances are domestic only. They also sell packages with discounted call rates to some African countries.
- APN: symacom.fr
Virgin Mobile Edit
Virgin Mobile sold prepaid cards, but discontinued them in 2015. It still sells contracts (forfaits) which can or cannot be suspended (forfaits sans engagement, forfaits bloqués). In May 2016 it was announced that the whole Virgin mobile brand in France is going to be discountinued and all remaining customers transfered to SFR.
Bienvenue WiFi Edit
They provide access through a Mifi router called "miniBox" establishing a Wi-Fi connection. Up to 10 devices can be connected on a 4G/LTE connection in France. The miniBox is delivered within three hours by express anywhere in Paris, in two days anywhere in France. After the rental, it need to be returned by mail.
|1 month||€ 150|
|1 week||€ 50|
|1 day||€ 10|
Standard delivery is 9 €, by express 12 €. Internet plan comes with a FUP of 1 GB per day. Beyond this limit you can still use the service without any additional fees but it will be throttled. miniBox has a minimum autonomy of 6 hours in intensive use.
Bienvenue has a partnership with Bouygues Télécom and uses their network in 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE. For coverage information, please refer to Bouygues above.
- Website: http://bienvenue-wifi.com
Cellhire offers a data SIM card for France for rental (as well as for other countries). It's a 4G French data SIM card with 3 GB or 6 GB of data on a 30 day rolling contract on the Orange network (for coverage see Orange above). When the data bundle runs out, the speed is reduced but you can continue to use data at no extra charge.
- 3 GB, 30 days rolling rental contract: £29.99
- 6 GB, 30 days rolling rental contract: £64.99
A 3G MiFi device can be added for £10 or a 4G MiFi device for £19. You'll need to pay £10 in advance as a refundable deposit.
Delivery is available to the UK for £4.99 and includes return delivery. To other countries, rates may be higher, check with them. The 30-day rolling contract continues until you return the MiFi with SIM card.
- Website: Cellhire.co.uk
dataroamEditDataroam provides an international SIM card rental service in France (as well as in other countries). They sell French data SIM cards which give data for a period of 30 days on a rolling contract basis on the Orange network. There is an additional £10 set-up fee. The data plan cannot be used in a smartphone without heavy surcharges, but only in tablets, Mifis and dongles.
- £19.99 with 200MB
- £39.99 incl. 1GB
The data SIM card can be sent to any UK or French address. You will need to provide proof of ID and the SIM card needs to be returned to conclude the rental contract.
- Website: Dataroam.co.uk
Moxx rents out mobile WIFI hotspots (4G Mifis) on a short term basis for travellers in France (from 3 days up to 6 months) with internet access. Their Mifi is only 9x6 cm of size and allows to connect up to 10 devices. You can order online via www.moxx.fr .
They've got 2 offers: the first one PLAN A with 4G speed and a 20 GB limit (after which speed will be throttled) for a flat rate at 6.99 € per rental day. The second one PLAN B with 4G+ speed and a 50 GB limit in France and 3 GB roaming data in Europe for 9.99 € per day.
|Rental Period||Plan A||Plan B|
|1 month||€ 131||€ 186|
|2 weeks||€ 69||€ 98|
|1 day||€ 6.99||€ 9.99|
Delivery is by mail within France, takes up to three days and is free if you rent for at least one week, otherwise for 7 €, rendez-vous delivery within Paris for 9 € or by express (means same day delivery) for 24 €. Return is by mail in an insured, prepaid and registered envelope.
Moxx connection uses the network of Bouygues Télécom (coverage see above) in up to 4G where available and allows VoIP. Their internet has a Fair Use Policy of 20 GB or 50 GB (for the rental period) after which speed will be throttled to GPRS speed.
- Website: https://www.moxx.fr
MY WEBSPOT Edit
MY WEBSPOT rents pocket WiFi routers which allow travellers to stay connected.
Clients can order online on my-webspot.com. The hotspot including SIM card can be delivered everywhere in Europe in 24 hours, or customers can stop by MY WEBSPOT office next to Madeleine area in Paris. Standard delivery in France is 7€, to or from Europe 15 €, to and from Europe 25 € and by express in Paris for 25 €.
The 3G hotspot can be shared by up to 5 devices and battery lasts for 6 hours. On the 4G hotspot 10 devices can share for 8 hours. My Webspot uses the Bouygues Télécom network in up to 3G or 4G/LTE depending on plan.
A prepaid envelope is given for the return and can be used from everywhere in France or Europe. A deposit of 60 € for a 3G device and 120 € for a 4G device is debited on your credit card, if you don't return the device.
The fares are flat:
|500 MB/day||1GB/day||"Unlimited" data||"Unlimited" data|
|in France||in France||in France||in "Europe"|
|5 € per day||7.5 € per day||9 € per day||10 € per day|
|max. 3G+||max. 4G/LTE||max. 4G/LTE||max. 4G/LTE|
FUP for the "unlimited" plan in France is 32 GB for rentals below 20 days and 50 GB above. For the "unlimited" "Europe" plan its 10 GB in "Europe" plus 10 GB in France for rentals below 15 days and 20 GB in "Europe" and 20 GB in France above. Speed will be throttled beyond. Note that "Europe" covers EU and EEA countries only.
- Website: my-webspot.com
Travel Wifi rents personal WiFi hotspots giving a 3G/4G connection on the Bouygues Télécom network (for coverage see above).
If the hotspot is booked on the website, it will be delivered via regular mail to any French postal address for 6 €. Clients can also choose to pick up their device at Travel Wifi's office the same day in Paris themselves. Once you have received your hotspot, the WiFi signal can be shared with up to 10 devices at the same time. The return is in a provided prepaid envelope, that the user need to drop in a mailbox to conclude the rental. They have charges according to the rental duration.
FUP: 3 GB/day
Limit: 500 MB/day
|3 days||30 €||18 €|
|7 days||56 €||37.10 €|
|20 days||140 €||80 €|
|30+ days||6 €/ day||3 €/ day|
The 'Unlimited plan' has a fair usage policy that if a data consumption remains over 3 GB per day, they may restrict the speed or simply suspend the line. The Starter Plan has a strict limit of 500 MB per day.
- Website in English: http://www.travel-wifi.com/en