When preparing for a travel in France, it is very important to check how to stay connected and how to get the best deal for Internet data. Roaming data can be very expensive and using only offline apps can be very frustrating! Here is a guide to help you organize and compare the main option to stay connected in France.
FREE WIFI and free internet access IN FRANCE
When traveling in France, it can be difficult to find accommodation with a good internet access. Most of local holiday rentals will not have a steady internet connection. If you plan to stay in a small hotel or a bed-and-breakfast outside of the main cities, make sure to check that they have WiFi available for the guests.
In most of the local cafés and restaurants outside of the biggest cities, it may be difficult to get free internet access provided.
In the biggest cities, it is easier: public librairies, the biggest museums, trains stations and airports have free internet access most of the time. Don’t expect full speed internet but you might be able to check emails and send instant messages. The connection may not be very secured so we recommend to be wise when connecting yourself to public WiFi in free WiFi zones.
Usually French people only use their personal phones to access to the internet when traveling in France.
all about French networks and cheap data plan
The 4 main telecom company in France are Orange, Bouygues, SFR and Free. The 4G coverage depends on the telecom company and the area ( <– see on the left ). SFR and Orange use the same network and therefore have the same coverage. Bouygues has its own and it covering almost all of France. Free is the low-cost telecom which has a good 3G coverage but not a good 4G coverage.
To be able to use your own phone while traveling in France for calls and internet access, you have make sure that your phone is unlocked and compatible with tri-band/GSM. Your phone should automatically connect itself on one of the 3 main networks (Orange, Bouygues, SFR). Depending on your telecom company back home the French network will change. Make sure roaming data is off in your phone settings and un-sync your apps updates or you may have a bad and expensive surprise when you’ll come back home!
One option to remain connected, if you don’t have much need in term of amount of data, is to buy a local sim card at a telco/mobile store such as Orange, SFR boutique and Free. In every main cities and local shopping mall in France you’ll find these stores. You can save money by getting a sim card – only if you need to make or receive a few local phone calls. Be careful, for international calls and mobile data usage it will get very expensive fast!