Getting set up in terms of telecommunications is probably one of the first things you should take care of. I remember that on my second day, I went to an Orange shop and purchased a SIM card and internet box. Why Orange? Because I used them in London and was happy with their services. Also, they had an English hotline. In that regard, getting a phone plan is a must !
What are the main French networks ?
- Orange is the main network with customer service advisors and physical locations. Sosh operates on the Orange network, but is online-based only and you manage everything from an online portal
- SFR is the main network with customer service advisors and physical locations. RED operates on the SFR network, but is online-based only and you manage everything from an online portal
- Bouygues is the main network with customer service advisors and physical locations. B&YOU operates on the Bouygues network, but is online-based only and you manage everything from an online portal
Which mobile network is the best in France ?
In France, there are multiple providers. You probably have already come across Orange, SFR, Bouygues and Free. You may have also seen advertising for other providers like RED and Sosh.
Choosing your phone/mobile plan
Here’s a quick checklist:
- Do you need a phone or just a SIM card?
- How much data do you need?
- Where will you be calling?
- What’s your budget?
Depending on what you have selected above, you can feed those filters into any mobile contract provider and see what pops out and go with that. At any time there are hundreds of different offers available and they change regularly. If you don’t like what you get (and you have a “sans engagement” plan), you can easily switch back and forth.
I recommend to head to one of the comparison sites using the info you have collected above. There are several, I usually find mine by googling “meilleur forfait mobile” or “forfait mobil pas cher” and it’ll come up, top choices being touslesforfaits, lemon, or selectra
Here are the keywords to look out for:
- “Sans engagement” – meaning you can cancel at any time
- “Prix fixe” – fixed price. A lot of offers increase after 12/24 months, look out for this!
The provider will usually post you a SIM card and the contract begins on a date you decide. It’s quite easy. There may be an included cost for the SIM card (normally around 10€). Don’t forget to include that in your budget.
Tips and tricks
- If you want to change your mobile phone provider but keep your number, you will need your RIO number (Relevé Identité Opérateur). You can find out what yours is by calling 3179 for free. It’s a 12-digit code including numbers and capital letters, so keep a pen handy (some will send you an SMS at the same time, that’s A LOT easier). If you enter this number when signing up for a new contract (and if your original one is sans engagement), the new provider will automatically cancel the old contract for you. Vive la France and it’s customer friendliness!
- Traditional providers offer full contracts, usually including television and a personal customer service. But the savvy user will probably want to go with a subsidiary as it’s much cheaper. The only downside is that you’ll need to chat with an advisor rather than to speak with one.