If you are staying in France as a tourist or for work purposes for at least a week, it is well worth getting a prepaid French SIM card to use in the country.
Having a French telephone number will allow you to make phone calls in France for relatively cheap, and several prepaid plans offer special rates for calling abroad.
What’s more, if you are spending a bit of time in France, having a phone is useful for checking business hours or opening hours for museums, along with confirming reservations and appointments for instance.
Additionally, if you are moving to France, you may have noticed that a French telephone number is required in many bureaucratic processes. Buying a cheap, pay-as-you-go phone for your first month in France can be a helpful short cut to make any of these procedures easier to complete.
There are four main mobile phone providers in France, along with several smaller providers and low-cost offshoots. Each major provider has its own network, and smaller providers rely on one or a combination of the major provider networks.
The main cell phone providers are:
- Orange (pronunciation: “Aw-rawnj“): Formerly France Telecom, Orange is the biggest mobile phone provider in France. The company offers both postpaid and pay-as-you-go mobile phone plan options.
- SFR (pronunciation: “Ess-eff-air“): The second-largest mobile phone provider in France, SFR offers both prepaid and postpaid mobile phone plans
- Bouygues Telecom (pronunciation: “Boo-eeg tel-eh-com“): Bouygues Telecom is the third-largest mobile phone provider in France, and offers both pay-as-you-go as well as postpaid mobile phones
- Free Mobile (pronunciation: “Free maw-beel“): The most recent mobile provider, Free mobile offers low-cost postpaid mobile phone plans, sans engagement (no contract).
You can get a prepaid SIM card and credit, from 5 euro to how much you need, from a mobile phone provider’s boutique (Orange, SFR, or Bouygues Telecom), from an electronics store (Darty or FNAC), tabacs (tobacconist), a post office, or from larger supermarkets. Regardless of whether you need to buy a phone or if you have one already, we recommend buying your prepaid SIM card from a larger electronics store or from a provider’s boutique – you’ll be more likely to find someone who speaks a bit of English than in a supermarket or a tabac.
Voila! insert the SIM card into your phone, and you’re good to go! If you need more dredit, you can easily buy it from different stores.
If you plant to stay more in France, and use more data and telephone, we recommend you to change your prepaid sim card to a “forfait” which you can pay monthly, with lots of interesting options!