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France

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IntroductionEdit

There are 4 'physical' network operators in France : Orange, SFR, Bouygues Télecom and Free Mobile. Other providers are virtual mobile operators (MVNO) based on the Orange, SFR or Bouygues Télécom networks.

3G CoverageEdit

In France, the marketing word "3G" should be regarded as the following technologies:
UMTS, HSPA, HSPA+ and DC-HSPA+.

  • 3G (HSPA) & 3G+ (HSPA+). 3G offers are in most cases 3G+ offers.
  • H+ or Dual-Carrier marketing terms refers to DC-HSPA+ and may be sold as a premium.
    In no circumstance, DC-HSPA+ is advertised as "4G" as it may happens in some countries.


According to the telecom authority, the 3G coverage is the following:
Orange and SFR are covering more than 98% of the population, Bouygues is nearly 95% and Free Mobile about 37% of the population (not accounting the roaming aggrement with Orange).

In practice, France has a 3G coverage in urban areas and most parts of the countryside. Some rural places with few inhabitant may only have edge, which is considerably slower than 3G but still allows you to access the internet.

Up to date coverage maps provided by networks operators can be found here: Orange, SFR, Bouygues Télécom and Free Mobile .

SIM ActivationEdit

Activating a SIM card on a network can take up to 48 hours.  You will need ID to activate SIMs in France, it is a legal requirement. Passport or driving licence usually suffice.

4G LTEEdit

Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom and Free Mobile have mostly rolled out their 4G LTE networks and they have mostly nationwide coverage. Orange and SFR do not allow access to their new 4G LTE networks to prepaid customers, however they all offer rolling contracts which can be cancelled at free will. They all use standard European LTE bands (800 MHz and 2600 MHz) however Bouygues was recently granted permission to "refarm" it's 1800 MHz 2G network into a 4G LTE network. This frequency enables iPhone 5 and iPad mini/iPad 4 owners access to the 4G network since the iPhone 5 only contains 1800 MHz European LTE bands.

iPhone 5C and 5S will work on 800 Mhz and 2600 Mhz, so if you have one of these you'll be fine on any network.

Order of NetworksEdit

Operators on this page are strictly listed in alphabetical order (A-Z). No preference is made to their network status or size. This is to allow an impartial guide.

Summary of Networks on this pageEdit

To make it easier to find the right network on this page below is a one sentance summary of all the operators on this page (keep in alphabetical order). 

  1. Bouygues - Pay-as-you-go offer
  2. DataRoam - Prepaid SIM Card Rental
  3. Free Mobile - Auto-renewing monthly offer
  4. Joe - Auto-renewing monthly offer
  5. Lebara - Pay-as-you-go offer for International calls
  6. LeFrenchMobile - Pay-as-you-go offer for foreign visitors
  7. My Phone In Paris - Smartphone rental service (only in Paris)
  8. Orange - Pay-as-you-go & Auto-renewing monthly offer
  9. SFR - Pay-as-you-go offer
  10. SimYo - Pay-as-you-go offer
  11. Sosh - Auto-renewing monthly offer
  12. Travel Wifi - Wi-Fi hotspot rental service

Bouygues TelecomEdit

As of Dec 2013, Bouygues offers a prepaid package called Formule 24/24. For €35, you get 2GB of 4G, unlimited calls and texts, and 10€ of included credit which can be used for international calling. Available at Bouygues stores, no French bank account or RIB required. US credit card works fine. On my iPhone 5S, the 4G was faster than the wifi at my apartment or workplace.

On their prepaid cards Bouygues Telecom offers free of charge POP3/IMAP access for most mail-providers, including gmail - see site , tab Internet Mobile. La liberté en mobilité: "Réception gratuite et illimitée de vos e-mails de votre messagerie Internet directement sur votre mobile en France métropolitaine. Liste des messageries compatibles et paramétrage sur www.bouyguestelecom.fr".

Only catch is that sending mails (SMTP) still costs, but that's quite fair trade. I've been using it for more than a year; it works perfectly fine.

They have a prepaid data SIM for tablets but you need to have a French credit card to charge it up (if I remember correctly it cost 10 or 15 Euros in August 2013, you pay for access by the day or number of hours not by mBs).  However be aware Bouygues' coverage can be patchy and after acquiring one such SIM to use in my dongle I found I couldn't get any signal at home at all so it was worthless.

In July 2011, Bouygues added a low price service, B&You. According to their Web site, https://www.b-and-you.fr/carte-prepayee/, this includes a pre-paid option at 5 cents per MB for data, 10 cents per minute for voice in France, 50 cents per minute to the US, 5 cents per SMS. You can recharge with tickets bought at a tabac. Still unknown are whether you can purchase a B&You SIM without a French bankcard, and whether you can use an existing Bouygues SIM with this new service.

Data Speeds

Bouygues limits prepaid users to HSPA+ speeds but customers on mobile broadband data contracts (AKA Bbox Nomad) have access to their new 4G LTE network if you go for the 10GB rolling plan at €45/month without contract. Rolling plans can be cancelled at will but 5GB and 500MB customers are stuck on HSPA+ speeds.

Dataroam.co.ukEdit

Dataroam.co.uk provide an international SIM card rental service in France as well as many other countries. 


  • They sell a French 30 Day data SIM card for £49.99 (56.99€) which provides 3GB of data usage for a period of 30 days on a rolling contact basis. There is also an additional £10 (€10.14) set up fee. The 3GB plan cannot be used in a smartphone (without heavy surcharges).
  • Also have similar packages for iPhone (£49.99 per 30 days) and Blackberry (£29.99 per 30 days) which include minutes and texts.

The data SIM card can be sent to a UK or French address. You will need to provide proof of ID and the SIM card needs to be returned to conclude the rental contrafct. DataRoam SIMs use the orange network.

Free MobileEdit

http://mobile.free.fr

Free Mobile offers contract free Data/SMS-MMS/Voice service. Very good prices. For those who will be staying for an extended time in france with a smartphone, the 20 Euros a month 3GB/Unlimited Voice - Unlimited to USA-UK landlines and more / Unlimited SMS-MMS is very good. Tethering is allowed. The SIM comes ready for all phones/dongles (Micro + Mini). - A Nano SIM is on offer, although a special request must be made to get one. Either in-store or via phoning customer service.

CoverageEdit

They are still in the process of building their own network. But as Free Mobile both use the ORANGE network as a roaming network for 3G data and voice and it's own, the service is exactly the same as the Orange's one and 3G speed is often reported to be faster than their competitors. Free mobile 4G LTE is the smallest network (as March 2014) with a weak cover. In compensation, you have 20 Gb of data on their 4G network (but only 3Gb on the 3G network). Free mobile is not using the 4G LTE network from Orange. This only apply to the voice and 3G networks.   Free Mobile mobile is a Pay as You Go program, with automatic renewals, but no fines for canceling early, no activation fees, etc. All credit/debit cards, not limited to French issued ones, should function fine. (Automatic payment via a French bank account is also possible.)

[Under 'paiement de votre commande' on the right hand side, under the box there is a link which says payer par carte bancaire. It will then change the box to one that allows you to enter the details of any card. Your bank may charge a transaction fee for using this.]

Brick and mortar locations can be found in Paris (Metro Madeline) and other locations throughout France. Called "Free Centers", they can be found at the following website:  http://www.free.fr/freecenter/.

Joe MobileEdit

http://www.joemobile.fr

Joe Mobile is a MVNO venture owned by SFR. The network name displayed on your phone will be "Joe". 

Joe Mobile is a good and cheap solution in general and especially if you want to use a lot of data (up to 7 Gb for 30€), and stay in touch with other countries. Everything is to be done online. Despite it's not the main objective of the brand, Joe Mobile is a well designed solution for short-term travellers.

Joe mobile offer is a prepaid with auto-renewing from months to months but no commitment. The offer is designed to be customized. Joe Mobile's offers start at 5 euros (incl. 2hr voice, unlimited SMS, 100Mb data - July 2014) and is made to be tuned at any time to add the exact volume of voice, data, sms you need. For example, at 20€ you can get 3 Gb of 4G LTE data, unlimited call to Canada/USA and 40 destinations, unlimited SMS. But you put inside whatever you need.

There is a switch on the "cockpit" (client admin website) to turn it "on" or "off" for auto-renewing the next month. Super easy. This means it's very convinient to use it just one month and stop it. The offers could be stop/pause/restarted/changed at anytime with immediate effect. If you pause/stop more than 6 months, the SIM card is cancelled and you have to order a new one.

The SIM card cost 1 euro and is available in nano/micro/full size. Then you add the prepaid formula you want. SIM card delivery is only possible to a French address, including hotel.

The only way to pay is by a credit card from France, UK, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Spain or the Netherlands. The card seems to be needed even if you don't add topping or not using auto-renew.

Affiliate Programm
You can order your SIM card from an existing member and get the SIM card for free (instead of 1€) plus a 5€ credit. The member also receive 5€. Delivery take about 2 to 3 days and is made only on a French address (including hotels address). Here are links. Contributors to this page are encouraged to add additional links —alpha order— for a healthier proposition.
Link 1: https://www.joemobile.fr/invitation?membre=iGuillaume
Link 2: https://www.joemobile.fr/invitation?membre=Duster
Link 3: https://www.joemobile.fr/invitation?membre=liorophir
Link 4: https://www.joemobile.fr/invitation?membre=koesie
Link 5: https://www.joemobile.fr/invitation?membre=niiiico

LebaraEdit

Lebara is a mobile virtual network operator with operations in several European countries, as well as Australia.  In France, they resell Bouygues Telecom's service.  The website and customer service are available in both French and English, making it a good choice for those with limited French language skills.

Lebara SIM cards can be ordered free of charge through Lebara's website, mailed to a French address. Several correspondants report that after a 1-2 week delay, they will be mailed to a foreign address if it is typed into the online form.  Alternately, they can be purchased for 10 euros (including 5 euros of credit that can be used for 500MB data when calling for activation of SIM) from many French tabacs, including the Relay outlets at Charles de Gaulle airport. Print-your-own Eurostar tickets include a voucher for a free sim with €1 of credit and 100MB in a couple shops in the Gare du Nord (maybe go and ask people leaving the station for their used ticket?)  Credit recharges are available through the same channels, or by credit card online. No problem with a North American credit card as of Sep 2013. The SIM is a dual-cut standard and micro SIM. Credits last from 30-90 days depending on the length of the top-up. Sim cards that have not been used or topped up for 90 days expire.

New SIM cards must be activated by providing a mailing address, phone number, and ID number (e.g passport). Foreign details are OK.  Sim cards ordered online and received in the post 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 assitance. 

Data packages include 100mb over 14 days for Eur2.90, or 250mb over 30 days for Eur4.90, and can be activated by texting WEB100 or WEB250 to 22241, and then sending a confirmation message when requested.  

When adding funds to the account, among the "free bonuses" is data with different expiry dates than the credit (strange...)

  • €5 = 500MB for 7 days (€5 topups can be found online at topendgo.fr)
  • €10 = 1GB for 30 days
  • €20 = 2GB for 30 days

Lebara's data service requires manual APN configuration.  The APN name is fr.lebara.mobi.  Important: Although the support website lists a username of wap with no password and support will send you these APN details over the network on request, as of February 2014 this was not working, and instead required a username of web and password of 1234.

APN settings (April 2014)

  • APN: fr.lebara.mobi
  • User: wap
  • Password: 1234

 

Some useful numbers from your Lebara phone:

  • Check credit balance and data allowance *133#
  • Support 2300 (Option 2 on voice menu for English)
  • Activation 2333 (Option 2 on voice menu for English)

The Unlimited Plan:

Unlimited Bundle €10 Edit

  • Unlimited calls & SMS (Local calls & texts within France)
  • 3GB internet
  • 10 days validity

To activate, make sure you have at least €10 in your account, then text SMS illim10 to 22241

Unlimited Bundle €24,99 Edit

  • Unlimited calls & SMS (Local calls & texts within France)
  • 10GB internet
  • 30 days validity

To activate, make sure you have at least €30 in your account, then text SMS illim30 to 22241

More details here

LeFrenchMobile Edit

LeFrenchMobileEdit

LeFrenchMobile moyen
LeFrenchMobile is a prepaid mobile operator especially designed for foreigners visiting France. Its customer service is in English, Dutch and French. The website is also in Russian and German. LeFrenchMobile runs on the Orange network and is managed by the Transatel group. Orders can be made on LeFrenchMobile's website .

Benefits

A flat calling rate starting at €0.15/min for national calls & international calls to many countries of the world. Calls are billed by the second with no flagfall. The price is 35% lower than the regulated EU rates, and when calling other LeFrenchMobile users, the rates are even lower, just €0.07/min.

Data Bundles which provide a certain amount of data browsing for an unlimited time for use in France. These are activated once the SIM is bought either by text or online.

Stock all 3 types of SIM card (Normal and Micro SIMs come in the same package).

Possibility to buy 3G USB dongles and Wifi hotspots with SIM cards included.

Comments

Easiest to purchase online via their website. Delivery is Free to the European Union and €2 to the rest of the world. Payment can be with any international Visa or MasterCard.

Top-up online or in Tabac shops that sell PaySafeCards. Bonus credit is given to any online top-up over €25.

If monthly credit consumption is under €10 or 30MB there is a monthly recurring credit deduction of €1.40. If you use over either of these stated amounts you will not be charged. Credit has no expiry date.

APN Settings

These normally need to be entered manually as the following:

APN Name: netgprs.com

Username: tsl

Password: tsl

Authentication type: PAPCHAP or NONE

Calling Rates

Call location Cost (per minute)
France -> France from €0.15
France -> The EU, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, India, Russia & Japan from €0.15

Data Bundle RatesEdit

Bundle Cost Data Included for France

(unlimited validity unless specified)

€10 250MB (valid for 2 days)
€25 1GB (valid for 7 days)
€15 250MB
€40 1GB

My Phone in ParisEdit

My Phone in Paris is a smartphone rental solution that includes unlimited phone calls (France and international, mobile and landlines, incl. Europe, US, Canada and China), unlimited text messages, unlimited internet, a wise selection of great apps (GPS, travel guides, communication, social networks, etc.) and exclusive deals.

15€ / day, no extra fee, and including free delivery in Paris.

OrangeEdit

Orange logo
Orange S.A., formerly France Télécom S.A. is a French multinational telecommunications corporation. Back in history, France Telecom was the French public operator.

Mobicarte (PAYG Phone SIM)

This is the Orange PAYG SIM card that allows making calls, sending sms and some internet usage. Reception is good, and works with almost all popular network protocols (restrictions below). Obviously, your phone must be provider-unlocked so it can work with the Orange France service (even if you are with Orange in your country).

Although you can buy an Orange prepaid Mobicarte SIM online with some credit pre-loaded from sites like http://mobipassport.com, this can be more expensive and you might have limited feature options until you're in France. The SIMs comes with detailed usage instructions and they will register it for you. It works overseas so you can test it before you depart by dialing #123# to access the interactive menu (free to use, even overseas), and you get your number before you depart.

Another option is purchasing your SIM from someone like velonomad.com, who sell prepaid SIMs from LeFrenchMobile. With this product you can buy before you fly and activate before arriving, and therefore hit the ground ready to use your service.

To buy a SIM from an Orange Boutique in France, you must bring your drivers license or passport to register. The bonus of that is that the card will work straight away. 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.

(Note, Jan '14: verify this is still valid) If you would like to save yourself the hassle of dealing with Orange France then check out: www.dataroam.co.uk. They offer pre-paid data SIM cards from LeFrenchMobile and a 30 Day Data SIM card from Orange France with 3GB. Another option is to purchase the SIM and plan in a third party cell phone shop, such as Phone House, which has stores all over France, particularly heavy in large cities. (Check http://www.phonehouse.fr/ for store locations). They were able to sell me a SIM, copy my passport, get a number activated with the 1 week data plan, and have me out the door for 15 euros. They were also generally more helpful than Orange store employees. Note that Mobicarte sims are available from third party sellers on ebay, and the sellers will activate the sims and add data packages for you before you arrive so you're ready to go immediately with no hassles. (End Note)

If you need to configure the APN for data access, use:


APN: orange, user: orange, pass: orange

Dialing #123# for the first time presents you a menu of options on the Welcome / Information ("Accueil") screen. Here you'll see some options with offers, an entry to access a sort of account overview / usage ("suivi conso"), one to enter Mobicarte ticket codes ("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 / online service I've ever used. 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 & 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.

(Note: if #123# does not work, you can try dialing 220. This is a spoken menu so it can be even more difficult to get through if you don't speak French. You can also call customer service, but they charge something like 35 cents a minute, and may not speak your language.)

In late 2013, Orange reworked their Mobicarte pricing and plans, replacing them the week / month "Max" plans with two new types: weekly / month internet-only plans ("Recharges Internet Mobile", data only) and the new unlimited voice + SMS + limited data "Recharges Max" combo plans. If you only need usage for a couple of days, there are basic day plans to choose from, Current ones (Jan, '14), for example:


  1. 10 minutes + 10 SMS for 0,9€
  2. 10MB of data for 1 day for 0,9€
  3. 50MB (internet Max), 1 day for 2€

Refer to the available Mobicarte recharge options on their site - the "max" and "internet mobile" packs were initially not available via the menu but have been added since (as of Feb '14). If you plan on going to a Boutique to buy a SIM, you can purchases these packs there too. I recommend 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.

Default data ratesEdit

Without a data plan, Internet is extremely expensive at 50 cents per minute.

Data SpeedsEdit

A heads up that Orange restrict the maximum speed attainable on Mobicarte to 384kbps downstream. If high speeds are important to you, it may be better to look at SFR. It's important to note that Orange's prepaid mobile broadband offer ("Let's Go") does not have this limitation and pricing starts at €10/1GB.

Data feature packsEdit

IMG 2402
If you plan on staying longer or have the time to make it to a Boutique, you can likely get a better deal using the non-"classique" packs. In mid-Jan '14, these were not available via the phone menu. I visited at least 3 tabac shops, several phone stores that sold Mobicarte Classique credit, and two grocery stores and was not able to buy any of these. It seems all the points of sale at the tabacs and phone shops are still only configured for Classique options and the grocery stores only carry those as well (they're usually by the register, available as you check out). The good news: these were available when I checked the phone menu in Feb '14 (see image). If at the time of your visit, the options are not available via the menu, your only choice might be to find an official Orange Boutique to get these.

"Les recharges max"Edit

These packs offer unlimited calls + SMS from one week to 1 month. The more expensive ones also give you some data. In late Jan '14, there was a special running that got you 1GB (this is normally 300MB) for 30€. According to the interactive menu, this seems to be the standard data amount now.

"Les recharges internationales"Edit

Packs for making internation calls from France.

"Les recharges internet mobile"Edit

If you want something less expensive than the "recharges max" offers or you only care about data, this is what you need. The best current deal is, obviously, 500MB for 2 weeks @ 10€. You can buy several at a time and enter a new code to re-enable the feature once the old one expires.  

This data plan is for mobile phones and may or may not work on other gear. If you're interested in data for a WIFI hotspot or dongle, you would be better off with the Let's Go option (scroll down for details). 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 under Windows 7. VPN on iPhone worked in July 2012.

Supposedly you are to be notified by sms as soon as it is activated but I have never received this in the 5 years I've had my SIM. The safest way to confirm an option is active is by looking at your account online .

Mail (IMAP/POP/SMTP)Edit

I'm unsure why this option is still present as the new "recharges max" and "internet mobile" packs seem to include mail access. You used to need it for the old weekly / monthly "Max" plans that only include a small amount of data for email protocols (imap/pop/smtp), after which you were charged absurd rates. It could be that now this is reserved for the "petit prix" (day) data options. If this is the case, you only need it to access email using an email application that is not web-based. You will have to subscribe for an extra €6 per month and it will still work after your normal internet data runs out.

If you're on a short-stay visit and don't plan on buying the mail or one of the current "Max" plans, you should turn off all your email accounts and switch to a browser-view (if your email provider supports it).

ExpirationEdit

MobiCarte SIM card credits expire after some time if no recharge is applied during that period. After registering your SIM for the first time and topping it up with credits, the SIM number will stay in operation for 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 small amount of credit before the expiration date and it'll be extended another 6 months.

Expiration of recharge credits depends on the amount. Also, recharge codes have a time limit before they must be used. For example, 10€ electronic recharge should be activated (i.e. added to account) within 15 days of purchase.

SIM SizesEdit

Full, micro, nano.

TetheringEdit

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 1GB, 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 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.

Let's Go (Data Only Sim) 
Orange Lets Go Voucher
Edit

Let's Go is a SIM only offering from Orange France. It is a data SIM designed for use in an iPad, tablet, portable wifi hotspot (MiFi) or USB 3G dongle.

BenefitsEdit

It is an ideal option for those in France on holiday or on business. SIM cards are available from Orange Boutiques throughout France, see the Orange.fr site for locations. Just ask for the 'Pass Prepaye Let's Go SIM'. They will want to know what device you will use it in and what size you require. The SIM costs €8 and includes 100MB of data to get you going.

The benefit of this option is manyfold. For instance, I use the Let's Go SIM in a portable hotspot and have it permanently connected to my smart phone. This allows me to recieve calls on my UK number and to have internet access without the crazy pricing. Portable hotspots are cheap enough on eBay/Amazon and will pay for themselves in no time at all. Also you can connect other wifi devices to them at the same time, eg tablets, laptops.

PurchasingEdit

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. The shop I bought mine from registered my address as some anomalous hotel. 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 100 MB will work as soon as you walk out of the shop.

There are various values of top ups (recharge), but the most popular appears to be 1GB for €10, lasts 7 days. To obtain this top up you must again visit the Orange Boutique and ask for a rechargement por Let's Go sim. 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 ([tel:0800 224 [tel:224 0800 224 224 0800 224] 224]) to activate the top up and a 14 digit top up number. It is possible to activate your top up online, but only after you have topped up by telephone once. Crazy, but that's how it is. 

You can also topup at Tabacs that have the Orange sign. The important thing to them apart from "Recharge Orange pour un clé 3G" is the "LetsGo" part which lets them search on the topup systems. In this case you DON'T want a Mobicarte topup. The maximum topup is €20 for 2Gb valid for one month. 

If you do not wish to top up by visiting the Orange shop, then you become limited to topping up your account using vouchers for the standard PAYG telephone service called Mobicarte. You can then convert the account balance online to Let's Go packages. The Orange site is far from user friendly so I do not recommend this route unless you are well versed in French.

Let's Go top ups are often avalable 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 Let's Go SIM's on eBay.

This may all sound like a lot of trouble, but when you have done it once, you will see how simple it actually is.

Topping UpEdit

In order to top up by phone, call [tel:0800 224 [tel:224 0800 224 224 0800 224] 224] from a mobile or landline. Free from Orange lines, small fee may be charged from others.

1) 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.

2) 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.

You cannot guarantee the availability of English speaking staff at Orange shops, however the two that I use, both have people who do speak English. Lafayette and Poissonniere . The Lafayette store is about 15 minutes walk south west of Gare du Nord. Poissonniere is in the Opera area of Paris.

You will automatically have an account created for you on the Orange.fr website, you can log into your account using the SIM telephone number. Once done, you can edit your personal information, email address etc. You can even set up an Orange France email address if you like.

Credit Cards and voucher availability: 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 cards. You cannot currently top up a Let's Go SIM at an ATM. Tabacs (French newsagent/cafes) often sell Mobicarte top ups, but I am yet to find one that sells Let's Go vouchers. I am sure this will change over time.

RestrictionsEdit

The Let's Go SIM does not allow the use of VoIP , 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 to your SIM which can be viewed in the control panel for your device, but the option to send SMS will not be available.

TroubleshootEdit

If you cannot call the [tel:0 800 224 [tel:224 0 800 224 224 0 800 224] 224] from your phone, try one of the public phones. 

Also, you might have to configure your network settings (for Huawei E5331 you have to go at http://192.168.1.1 - Profile management): APN: orange.fr, username: orange, password:orange

Domino 3G KeyEdit

Orange sells it's own portable 3G wifi hotspot called a Domino. Currently it is a Huawei E5331. This allows you to set up wifi for multiple device, ie. get around the issue of not being able to tether with the Mobicarte, and means you don't need to set up data service on your phone. Used it for a month and worked fine with 2 phones, 2 tablets and one ipod touch. I'd highly recommend this if you have more than one device, the pricing seems way better than French Connection, which seems to offer a similar deal (3G key) - with the exception that VOIP is banned on Orange but allowed on FC.

Link: http://boutique.orange.fr/ESHOP_mx_orange/?tp=F&ref=54848&IDCible=1&type=11&donnee_appel=ORESH

Cost: 45 euros for the device + 500MB valid for a month (which is plenty for email and such, as long as you remind the kids not to use Youtube ...). Both uploads and downloads count.

Recharge options with "Let's Go" cards (make sure you get the right one):

Re-use: it seems the SIM card stays valid for one year, vs. 6 months for the Mobicarte.

Authentication: the blurb inside says you need to provide authentication, ie. 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.

This 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 wil be able to purchase a unlock code on Ebay.

Orange Store Locator

SFREdit

This information is fully outdated! 1GB @ €7,99/month without obligation -you can cancel any time. See the following link for information about tablet-specific plans:

http://www.sfr.fr/mobile/tablette-cle-internet/forfait-tablette-ipad-cle-3g?vue=000mg0#?explorationModeDirection=offerToDevice&currentTab=sim&currentUsage=intense&currentOffer=012huf01bwxc01bwup01bwy0&currentDevice=Carte-Nano-SIM-avec-Forfait-Pour-iPhone-5-iPhone-5s-et-iPad-Mini&selectedOptions=001mfj%7C0028ax%7C001mhq%7C0157xq%7C001mms%7C006j2l%7C001m9k%7C019dp4%7C0028f4&vue=000mg0

Subscription is called "La carte". An activated SIM card is 9.90 euros (offer at 5€ at the time I write this or even at 0€ for the iPhone5), and the new "Recharge Internet Mobile 5 euros" gives you one week of free Internet access up to 100MB. Text and calls are charged separately. See their site for more information.Some SFR stores have prepaid "top-up" terminals, from here, you can buy a €20-for-20-days pass, or a €24-for-20-days pass that includes an additional €10 of call and text credit. (Note that the card itself already contains a €5 credit, so all in all the €24 option gives you €15 of calling credit as far as I understant). Certain workers in SFR stores don't know about the availability of PAYG data for iPhones, even though their top-up terminals directly sell them. So if the worker seems to have a problem, just point them to the SFR website and navigate to the plan, or go to a store with a top-up terminal.

In order to activate these data passes, you should call the service line (costs call credit, or call from a landline) and tell them your code and to activate the data plan. This usually takes about an hour (actually the process itself took me about an hour, but only two days later did my line actually activate). Also, at least by some accounts the cellular internet connectivity is found to be problematic. Some discussion and possible solutions, including changing the APN settings, can be found on this discussion. If you cannot speak French well enough, SFR have an English and Arab helpdesk which can only be used for SFR La Carte (Prepaid). More information can be found at this webpage.

AvailabilityEdit

In some - but not all - SFR stores. Generally not available at tabacs. Recharges available online, but the site requires an existing SIM card and a European (smart chip) credit card.

SIM sizes: Standard SIM and Nano SIM

Tethering: Not allowedEdit

SimYoEdit

http://www.simyo.fr

SimYo is the prepaid offer by B&You.

SoshEdit

http://www.sosh.fr/

This is a venture owned by Orange but it's not acting like a MVNO. For example, the network name displayed on your phone will be "Orange". Sosh is a prepaid offer, auto-renewing from months to months, with no comitment. You have to chat online with a consellor to cancel the auto-renewing.

The whole process is done online.

All its services are "rolling contract only" with no commitment and require a French bank account (IBAN/RIB).

SIM are available in nano / micro / full. It costs 1 euro. As a bonus, Nano SIM is delivered with 2 platic adapters : "nano to micro" and "nano to full". Micro SIM is also delivered with one adpater : "micro to full".

Travel WifiEdit

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Travel Wifi Hotspot

The easiest solution to get the Internet in France, wherever you go! Rent a personal Wifi hotspot, and enjoy incredibly fast Wifi anytime, anywhere! 4G speed connection. Automatic connectivity. English speaking support services; flexible and customer orientated.

What We Offer?Edit

Travel Wifi rents mobile hotspots (also called mifi). It is a small device that fits in your pocket, and allows you to stay connected for your stay in France without paying the huge data roaming costs, at any moment (hotel, street...).

How It Works?Edit

(1) Book online:Edit

To rent your mobile hotspot, log onto www.travel-wifi.com, book it with a few clicks. 

(2) Receive it:Edit

The hotspot is delivered via standard mail in France or courier services (inside Paris) to your French address (hotel, rental flat or house...).

(3) Enjoy unlimited Internet and share it with friends & family:Edit

Once you have received your hotspot, the connection is absolutely unlimited in 4G speed! Take it in your pocket wherever you go during your visit day. The Wifi signal can be shared with up to 10 devices at the same time.

(4) Return it:Edit

The return is very easy. We provide you with a prepaid envelope, that you just drop in any mailbox.

Hope to hear from you soon!

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