There are 4 'physical' network operators in France (listed according to number of subscribers) :
- Orange (by France Télécom)
- SFR (by Numericable)
- Bouygues Télecom
- Free Mobile (by Iliad)
Other providers are virtual mobile operators (MVNO) based on the Orange, SFR or Bouygues Télécom networks.
In France, the marketing word "3G" should be regarded as the following technologies: UMTS, HSPA, HSPA+ and DC-HSPA+.all on 900 and 2100 Mhz. Under no circumstance, HSPA+ or DC-HSPA+ is advertised as "4G" as it may happens in some countries.
According to the telecom authority (l'arcep), Orange and SFR cover more than 98% of the population, Bouygues is nearly at 95% and Free Mobile at about 37% 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.
4G/LTE roll outEdit
Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom and Free Mobile have mostly rolled out their 4G LTE nationwide. Orange and SFR do not allow access to their new 4G LTE networks to prepaid customers yet, however they all offer rolling contracts which can be cancelled at free will. Both use standard European LTE bands on 800 MHz in the countryside and on 2600 MHz in the cities. Bouygues was recently granted permission to "refarm" it's 1800 MHz 2G network into a 4G LTE network. Free only covers the cities on 2600 Mhz.
SIM card activationEdit
Activating a SIM card on a network can take up to 48 hours. You will need photo ID to activate SIMs in France, as it is a legal requirement. A passport or driving licence usually suffice.
This French speciality called "forfait sans engagement" = rolling contract or auto-renewing monthly offer is prevalent in the following articles and needs some explanation for non-French visitors. A rolling contract is a kind of hybrid tariff between pre- and postpaid: You pay in advance and have cost control like prepay, but you have to enable an automatically recurring payment. This can be linked e.g. to a French bank account or an international credit card. But the contract can be terminated at any time by free will.
These rolling contracts normally give you a much better rate for data in France than regular prepaid cards. The problem is the payment system which is often not accessible for foreigners without French credit cards or bank accounts. To draw a line here, offers which are confirmed to have been purchased at least by any non-French payment system are shown while other companies like B&You, Simyo or Sosh 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.
Summary 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. To make it easier to find the right network on this page below is a summary of all the operators on this page (in alphabetical order).
- Bouygues Télécom - Pay-as-you-go offer
- Data-Roam - Prepaid SIM Card Rental
- Free Mobile - Rolling contract
- Joe Mobile - Rolling Contract
- Le French Mobile - Pay-as-you-go offer
- Lebara mobile - Pay-as-you-go offer
- Lycamobile - Pay-as-you-go offer
- Moxx - WI-Fi hotspot rental service
- My Phone In Paris - Smartphone rental service (only in Paris)
- Orange - Pay-as-you-go offer
- SFR - Pay-as-you-go offer and Rolling Contract
- Travel Wifi - Wi-Fi hotspot rental service
Bouygues TélécomEditBouygues Télécom is the 3rd largest network operator in France. Unlike the other players, its 4G/LTE is on 1800 Mhz only, which is open for all prepaid users without surcharge.
Their prepaid card called "Formule 20/20" is available in their stores (store locator) for 1 EUR with 4 EUR credit. You have to buy a data package for the internet. Default rate outside the packages is 0.10 EUR per MB.
|Recharge||Data Volume||Validity||Bonus Credit|
|10 EUR||300 MB||1 week||2 EUR|
|15 EUR||300 MB||10 days||3 EUR|
|20 EUR||300 MB||1 month||4 EUR|
|25 EUR||500 MB||1 month||5 EUR|
|35 EUR||1 GB||1 month||10 EUR|
|60 EUR||3 GB||2 months||15 EUR|
All packages include 4G/LTE speed, unlimited domestic calls and domestic texts. The bonus credit can be used for international calling. No French bank account or RIB required. international credit card works fine.
They have a prepaid data SIM for tablets but you need to have a French credit card or bank account to charge it up.
In 2014 Bouygues Télécom started their tourist SIM called "Fomule Touristes". It comprises of a SIM card valid for 7 days only sold for 19.99 EUR preloaded with:
- 300 MB of data (up to 4G)
- unlimted domestic voice, texts and MMS
- 4 (rest of the world) to 12 (within the EU) minutes of international calls
- APN: mmsbouygtel.com (this is for web too, not only MMS)
- Website in French only
dataroamEditDataroam.co.uk provides 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 gives 3GB of data for a period of 30 days on a rolling contact basis on the Orange network. There is an additional £10 (€10.14) set up fee. The 3 GB 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 an 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.
Free MobileEditFree Mobile shook the French market when it arrived on the scene a few years ago by very low prices and new marketing methods.
Free Mobile is the smallest network and still in the process of building up. But as Free Mobile both uses the Orange network as a roaming network for 3G data, texts and voice and it's own, the service is equal to Orange's and 3G speed is reported to be even faster than their competitors. Free Mobile 4G/LTE is the smallest network right now with a low coverage. Take care: in their offers, you have plenty of data on their 4G plan, which can only be activated if a 4G LTE2600 enabled device is detected, if not you will only have 3GB of data. Free mobile is not roaming on the 4G LTE network from Orange, roaming only applies to their 2G and 3G networks.
To cut a long story short: Free Mobile is a very good option if you have a LTE2600 enabled device, if not their 3G plan is not so cheap.
Rolling Contract offerEdit
Free Mobile offers only one 1 month rolling contract ("forfait sans engagement") for 19.99 EUR per month. It includes:
- unlimited calls to France and landlines of lot of countries and mobile lines of a few countries
- unlimited SMS to France from France and the EU
- unlimited MMS in France
- 3 GB of data in 3G (Orange roaming + Free Mobile network)
- 20 GB of data in 3G (Orange roaming + Free Mobile network) and 4G (Free Mobile network) if a 4G device is detected and the option is activated in your account(Will only work via your phone).
- Automatic connection to EAP-SIM wifi networks "Freewifi_Secure", emitted by all the set top box of the operator (more than 5M hotspots).
- If you keep the contract during 60+ days : unlimited calls + texts (to France and the country visited), and 3GB of 3G data from specific foreign countries : Germany, Austria, Greece, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Czech Republic, Romania and the French West Indies and French Guiana (35 days per annum per country).
Tethering is allowed. The SIM comes ready for all phones/dongles (Micro + Mini). A Nano SIM is on offer when you order online or within stores.
Free Mobile mobile is a contract without commitment : 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 contested by some forum users. (Automatic payment by a French bank account is also possible without doubt.). Starting from late august, it is also possible to buy a 1-month only (not rolling) SIM from their ATM (see below), so you won't have to worry about cancellation after your leave.
You have basically 2 way to get these SIMs :
- They can be ordered online to be sent to a French postal address, or at brick and mortar locations which can be found in Paris (@ Metro Madeleine) and other locations throughout France called "Free Centers". Default online payment is with bank account details. To pay by debit card, 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.
- Starting on early 2014, Free provides also a new SIM distribution circuit trough completely automated machines located both in their "Free center" stores (map) and "Mag press" shops (map). You just need a debit card to use them, and you can get SIM within 2 minutes, very conveniently. There is an additional fee of 10€ to cover SIM issue charge and ATM maintenance though. More than 500 machines were available on August 2014. Be sure to get the correct SIM for your phone because reissuing the SIM costs 5€.
- APN: free
- Website in French only
Joe MobileEditJoe Mobile is a MVNO venture owned by SFR, the 2nd largest network provider (see SFR), though the network name displayed on your phone will be "Joe".
Joe Mobile is a cheap solution if you want to use a lot of data 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 holding a Western European credit card (see below).
Rolling Contract offerEdit
The Joe Mobile offer is prepaid with auto-renewing from months to months but no commitment.The offer is designed to be customized. For 5 EUR per month, you get:
- 2 hours voice within France
- unlimited domestic SMS and MMS
- 100 MB of 3G data
Data can be added in these denominations:
- 250 MB @ 3G for 3 EUR extra
- 1 GB @ 3G for 6 EUR extra
- 2 GB @ 3G for 10 EUR extra
Access to SFR's 4G/LTE network can be added for a flat 4 EUR extra per month.
A 4G LTE package offer is also available for 20€ :
- unlimited domestic and 40 international destinations voice
- unlimited domestic SMS and MMS
- 3 GB of 4G LTE data in France
- 10 days of voice, SMS/MMS and data roaming (3G only) in Europe for free that could be extended at an additional cost per day
- Data can be added as previously described
Online you can put in your plan 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 for one month and stop it then. The offers could be stopped/paused/restarted/changed at anytime with immediate effect. Only 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 and can be ordered only online. Then you add the prepaid formula you want. SIM card delivery is only possible to a French postal address. They accept hotel addresses too.
Here is the catch: The only way to pay is by a credit card from France or its neigouring countries: UK, Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Spain or the Netherlands. This card is needed even if you don't top up or are not using auto-renew.
Tethering was successfully tested from iPhone or Android smartphones. VoIP is allowed.
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 takes about 2 to 3 days to a French postal address. Here are links. (Contributors to this page are encouraged to add additional links —alpha order— for a healthier proposition. Readers are encouraged to pick a link randomly)
Link 1: https://www.joemobile.fr/invitation?membre=Duster
Link 2: https://www.joemobile.fr/invitation?membre=freddeeer
Link 3: https://www.joemobile.fr/invitation?membre=iGuillaume
Link 4: https://www.joemobile.fr/invitation?membre=koesie
Link 5: https://www.joemobile.fr/invitation?membre=liorophir
Link 6: https://www.joemobile.fr/invitation?membre=niiiico
Link 7: https://www.joemobile.fr/invitation?membre=PeterPlets
Link 8: https://www.joemobile.fr/invitation?membre=volkerg
- APN: sl2sfr
- APN: websfr (this APN is for tethering)
- Website in French only
- Discussion of the offer in English
LeFrenchMobile managed by the Transatel group runs on the good Orange network and it's an MVNO designed for foreigners travelling to France. Its customer service is in English, Arabic and French. Their website is also available in Russian, Japanese and German.
The SIM cards are available in 3 types (Nano as well as a combined Normal/Micro SIM). Furthermore it is possible to buy 3G USB dongles and Wifi hotspots such as AutoBox and HomeBox with SIM cards included.
Purchase online via their website. 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 the website.
Data SIM Edit
Their Data SIM can be used in tablets, smartphones and laptops. Purchase price for the SIM is €15 with 200MB included valid for 30 days or €30 with 1GB included valid for 30 days. These following top ups are available:
|€ 8||200 MB||
|€ 25||1 GB||30 days|
|€ 45||3 GB||15 days|
|€ 8||500 MB||1 day|
Euro SIM Edit
EuroSIM is available for calls, texts and internet data. Purchase price is €40 with the same credit included or €20 with €15 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.
If your monthly credit consumption is under €10 or 30MB there is a monthly recurring credit deduction of €1.40. Credit for the EuroSIM has no expiry date.
These following data packages are available (for domestic use in France):
|€ 49||3 GB||15 days||FR3GB|
|€ 29||1 GB||30 days||FR1GB|
|€ 9||200 MB||30 days||FR200|
|€ 9||500 MB||1 day||FRDailyPass|
Default data outside of packages in France is €0.32 per MB. To activate a data bundle text one of the codes above to 22213.
- APN (for Data SIM): mobiledata
- APN (for Euro SIM): netgprs.com
- Username and password: tsl
- SIM cards have a 'Refer a Friend' scheme which can get an existing client and a new client credit € 20 bonus credit to share. To do this send an email with both names and numbers to email@example.com within 14 days of the sale of the new SIM card
- Though their prices may be higher than SIM cards bought within the country, their products can be ordered from overseas and will be delievered already activated to any foreign postal address. Arriving in France, they can be used right away without having to activate them.
- Available to purchase in Pounds Sterling on eBay
Lebara MobileEditLebara 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 will be mailed to a foreign address, 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 Charles de Gaulle 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. 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 a mail address, phone number, and ID number (e.g passport). Foreign details are OK. SIM cards ordered online and received in the 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 monthly packages are on offer:
|Data Volume||Price||Activation Code|
|500 MB||5 EUR||WEB500 to 22241|
|1 GB||8 EUR||WEB1GB to 22241|
|3 GB||15 EUR||WEB3GB 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.
When adding funds to the account, among the "free bonuses" is data
- top up of €10 = 100 MB free
- top up of €20 or more = 1GB free
- APN: fr.lebara.mobi
- User: wap
- Password: 1234
- Check credit balance and data allowance *133#
- Support 2300 (Option 2 on voice menu for English)
- 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 too. The website and customer service are available in both French and English, making it a good choice for those with limited French language skills.
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 by entering *131*<PIN>#. 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 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 EUR per MB.
|Data Package||Price||Data||Time||Activation Code|
|WebPass 100||2.99 €||100 MB||14 days||29100 to 3535|
|WebPass 500||4.99 €||500 MB||30 days||29250 to 3535|
|WebPass 1000||8 €||1 GB||30 days||81000 to 3535|
|WebPass 3000||15 €||3 GB||30 days||15300 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 (0.15 EUR/min), in English 9 am - 9 pm (- 6 pm on weekends)
- It does not seem possible to tether with Android. Not even with a rooted phone! It must be said that Lycamobile is a strictly "for your smartphone" sort of service. Forget trying to make it work with your computer. You will waste time and money.
- Website switch to English on top left "Langue"
Moxx is specialized in mobile wifi hotspot rental (4G speed connection pocket wifi) on short term basis for travellers in France (3 days to 6 months)
Their 4G mifi allows to connect up to 10 devices to very high speed connection and the size is smaller than a cigaret box (9*6cm)
Order process Edit
Order online via www.moxx.fr for flat rate at 7,99€ per day for unlimited access with free delivery for a week rental. Including several delivery options like mail delivery to hotel or apartment, pick-up at CDG or Orly airport, 24/7 pickup point in central Paris
Return by mail with secured pre-paid tagged envelope.
Moxx connection is powered by a french main operator and allows VoIP. Their operator is not specified, a coverage map is not given.
More information Edit
My Phone in ParisEditMy 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€ per day, no extra fee ncluding free delivery in Paris
More info: http://www.myphoneinparis.com/
OrangeEditOrange S.A., formerly France Télécom S.A. is a French multinational telecommunications corporation. Back in history, France Telecom was the French public operator. Nowadays its still the market leader with the best coverage and most subcribers. 4G/LTE is accessible for Let's Go, but not Mobicarte (see below).
This is the Orange prepaid SIM card that allows making calls, sending SMS and some internet usage in 2G and 3G.
You can buy Orange prepaid Mobicarte SIM online from sites like http://mobipassport.com or velonomad.com, but this this can be more expensive, but you get your number before you depart and your card activated to use your service as soon as you arrive.
To buy a SIM from an Orange Boutique (store locator) 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.
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 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 / 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.
Default Data rateEdit
Without a data plan, Internet is extremely expensive at 50 cents per minute.
Orange restricts the maximum speed attainable on Mobicarte to 384 kbps 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 allows 4G/LTE access.
Data feature packagesEdit
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.
Les recharges maxEdit
|5 EUR||20 MB||1 week||free SMS|
|10 EUR||100 MB||1 week||free calls. SMS, MMS|
|20 EUR||300 MB||1 month||free calls, SMS, MMS|
|30 EUR||1 GB||1 month||free calls, SMS, MMS|
All free calls, SMS and MMS are domestic.
Les recharges internet mobileEdit
- 5 EUR: 100 MB in one week
- 10 EUR: 500 MB in two weeks
You can buy several at a time and enter a new code to re-enable the feature once the old one expires.
For visitors Orange offers its Mobicarte Holiday. It is sold for 20 EUR and valid for 14 days including
- 1 hour of domestic and EU calls
- 500 international SMS
- 500 MB of data
- Unlimited Orange Wifi
For those who need more or want a SIM they can use for a short time outside France, there is a 34.99EUR version, also valid for 14 days, which includes:
- 2 hours of global international calls from anywhere in Europe
- 1000 international SMS from anywhere in Europe
- 1GB data within France
- Unlimited Orange WiFi
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 (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 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 .
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.
Full, micro, nano SIM.
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) Edit
Let's Go is a data-SIM only offering from Orange France. It is designed for use in an tablet, portable wifi hotspot (MiFi) or USB dongle. SIM cards are available from Orange Boutiques throughout France (locator above). Just ask for the 'Pochette prêt à surfer'. They will want to know what device you will use it in and what size you require. The SIM costs € 9.90 and includes 500 MB of data valid for one month. 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. 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 500 MB will work as soon as you walk out of the shop.
Unlike Mobicard, with Let's go Orange lets you join their 4G/LTE network with high speed.
Data feature packagesEdit
There are various values of top ups (recharge):</p>
|3 EUR||200 MB||1 day|
|10 EUR||1 GB||7 days|
|20 EUR||2 GB||31 days|
|35 EUR||3 GB||6 months|
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 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. In this case you DON'T want a Mobicarte topup. 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.
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.
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. Cost: 44.90 EUR for the device + 500 MB valid for a month Recharge options with "Let's Go" vouchers. 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.
In order to top up by phone, call 0800 224 from a mobile or landline. Free from Orange lines, a small 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 personal accountEdit
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. 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 only Mobicarte top ups, but I am yet to find one that sells Let's Go vouchers. I am sure this will change over time.
APN, Password and Username: orange
SFREditSFR is the 2nd 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 similar to Orange. SFR is the local partner of Vodafone in France. 4G/LTE is not accessible for prepaid yet, but only to rolling contracts.
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 at their shops (shop locator). The start-up price has been reduced to 1.99 EUR, but it comes without credit in regular, 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).
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 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
|5 EUR||1 hour||20 MB||5 days|
|10 EUR||unlimited||100 MB||10 days|
|20 EUR||unlimited||300 MB||1 month|
|30 EUR||unlimited||3 GB||1 month|
Only one package is offered for data-only:
- 9 EUR including 1 GB in 7 days.
Data is cut off when quota is reached. Speed is 3G up to DC-HSPA (42 Mbps). No 4G/LTE.
Like Orange and Bouygues, they have a tourist SIM for visitors. It’s sold for 15 EUR (plus 1.99 EUR for the card), is valid for 10 days and preloaded with:
- 1 hour of voice to France and Europe
- 500 SMS to France and Europe
- 500 MB of data
- Unlimited SFR Wifi
All the recharges whether Ilimitées, Internet or Welcome can be renewed anytime to get more data or validity. No tethering or use in modems allowed, strictly for smartphones. The free Wifi must be subscribed once by calling 963 for free.
Prepaid data-only SIMEdit
SFR offers a prepaid data-only SIM for tablets and modems too. The starter kit is called “Kit prêt à surfer SIM standard”. It only comes in regular size SIM, but these can be cut. It’s sold for 9.90 EUR with 200 MB valid for 15 days.
It can be recharged with the “SFR Connecté Partout prepayée” vouchers:
- 3 EUR: 200 MB, 1 day
- 9 EUR: 1 GB, 7 days
- 30 EUR: 4 GB, 30 days
These recharges must be bought in the shops and loaded on the card on your SFR account online. Speed is up to DC-HSPA and 42 Mbps in 3G. Data is cut off when reached quota.
SFR also offers “forfaits sans engagement” = rolling contracts (see introduction) for data in modems, routers or tablets. Unlike prepaid, they have access to 4G/LTE with speeds up to 115 Mbps. Free unlimited Wifi is included after calling 963.
The starter pack for “SFR Connecté Partout forfait sans engagement” is sold for 1 EUR only in their stores, when you make the rolling contract. You can add one of these three packages:
- 1 GB – 7.99 EUR per month
- 5 GB – 14.99 EUR per month
- 12 GB – 24.99 EUR per month.
For those planning on making short trips to other EU countries from France (or visiting overseas departments of France from the mainland) but don't want to bother with getting local SIM cards every time, SFR offers three options:
- 500 MB - 5 EUR daily or 8.99 EUR weekly
- 1 GB - 14.99 EUR weekly
The problem is like always 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 previously said; it is not possible online, you must call SFR customer service at 1023 (domestic landline or SFR mobile) or +33610001023 (from overseas). Wait for two French voice prompts, press 3 for tablets/mobile internet, press 4 for termination, press 2 to be directed to a SFR customer service person (whose English ability will be hit or miss). The cancellation process should take less than an hour, though instead of cancelling straight away the line will be set to automatically cancel in the next few days. It is 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 (for la Carte only)
Travel Wifi rents personal Wifi hotspots (also called Mifi) giving up to 4G speed connection on the Bouygues Télécom network (for coverage see above). It is a small device that fits in your pocket with automatic connectivity and English speaking support services.
To rent your mobile hotspot, log onto their website and book it with a few clicks. The hotspot is delivered via standard mail in France or courier services inside of Paris to any French address (hotel, rental flat or house...). Once you have received your hotspot, the connection is absolutely unlimited in up to 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. The return is very easy in a provided prepaid envelope, that you just drop in any mailbox.
They have charges according to the rental duration: For 3 days, the price is 10€/day. A week is 8€/day going down to 7€/day for 20 days, 6€/day for 30 days or longer.