Sim Card for touring in France? - CycleBlaze

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Sim Card for touring in France?

Jacquie Gaudet

I'll be in France for 9 weeks.  Living in Canada, we have some of the highest if not the highest cell phone rates in the world.  If I use my phone for travelling, I either get charged roaming fees or, if I sign up for my provider's "easy roam" plan, I get charged $12 PER DAY for every day I use my phone, charged against the minutes, texts, and data included in my regular plan. There's a cap at $150 per billing cycle (on top of my regular $60 per month) but this still doesn't include much data (my plan includes 500 MB per month).

I think I can do a lot better by getting a local sim card.  I know this will work since I used the Orange Holiday Sim in 2017 but that one is only good for 2 weeks and topping up is challenging.

I'm looking at Free Mobile (http://mobile.free.fr) and Lycamobile (https://www.lycamobile.fr/en/bundle/pass-national-m/).  I note that the most expensive Free Mobile plan is about half the cost of my Canadian plan and includes a lot more.

Has anyone used either of these?  Anything I should watch out for?

Jacquie

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3 weeks ago
John SaxbyTo Jacquie Gaudet

Jacquie, a possible Plan B if you encounter some incompatibility between your phone and your new SIM card:  you might be able to buy an inexpensive phone with a prepaid plan.  (Note that I offer this comment without cellphone experience in France, and your 2017 example suggests that incompatibility may not be a problem.)

Good luck in any case.

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3 weeks ago
Jacquie GaudetTo John Saxby

Thanks, John.  I've been using an iPhone for years, after my provider changed systems and offered me a deal I couldn't resist to switch from my old flip phone.  My current SE is unlocked and shouldn't be a problem.

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3 weeks ago
John SaxbyTo Jacquie Gaudet

Thanks, Jacquie.  That sounds encouraging -- sometimes global hegemony works in your favour  :)

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3 weeks ago
Keith KleinTo Jacquie Gaudet

Hi Jacquie,

Before settling on a company check what level of area coverage they have. Some companies are difficult to connect to if you aren't near one of their towers. There are "white areas" in France where NO coverage is available, but if you avoid the mountains that should not be a problem. In rural areas I find that SFR, Orange, Bouyges and probably Free are the best. 

Cheers,

Keith

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3 weeks ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Keith Klein

Hi Keith

I looked at the maps when I was researching and had a laugh!  I live in British Columbia and most of the coverage map here is white, no matter which network you are with.  France has incredible coverage in comparison with any of the top four.

My real question, I guess, is whether either of the options I'm looking at  require a French address or bank account.

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3 weeks ago
Keith KleinTo Jacquie Gaudet

hi again,

I checked with my network and the answer is no, you don't need a local address or bank acct. credit cards work, as does cash.

You do need a GSM enabled phone. The US/Japanese standard is not compatible with European networks. Your phone may be already equiped with GSM, so don't panic yet. 

Hope that helps.

Cheers,

Keith

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3 weeks ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Keith Klein

Great!  On my last trip, only 2 years ago, there was very little available for visitors.

Looking for information about Free Mobile in English, I found only some social media posts about how it would work to get an account with them and use it as a Canadian resident because the deals are so much better than anything available here.  When I asked my son (who did French Immersion in school) to look over the web page, he couldn't believe how inexpensive the plans were.

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3 weeks ago
Susan CarpenterTo Jacquie Gaudet

Jacquie

I lived in France for 6 months in 2015 and used Le French Mobile (https://www.lefrenchmobile.com/). I've kept the same number/sim card and have use it whenever I return to France/Europe.  I do use it in my iPhone, and sometimes bring an older iPhone with me so that I have a dedicated "French phone"

You can pay using a credit card to set up an account.  Then you can buy data, or add more credit, using an App.  The plans last 30 days and range in price from 15-49€ for 1-20 GB data.  I've used it all around France and in Germany and Italy.  Had some troubles while sailing in Scotland, but that may be a UK vs EU problem.

I'm happy to answer any more questions.  I look forward t reading about your upcoming trip!  Best, Susan

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3 weeks ago
Kathleen ClassenTo Jacquie Gaudet

Hi Jacquie. Last fall when Keith and I were in Europe he bought a SIM in Switzerland and then we each bought a SIM card from Vodafone in Italy.  When we were in Switzerland at the beginning and end of the trip we used Swisscom and only bought a plan for Keith. We both bought from Vodafone as soon as we crossed into Italy.  We have purchased from Vodafone in Italy and Germany. When we have been in France in the past we have used Orange. The wonderful thing about the European SIM cards now is that they are good for all the EU countries. Yup 😀. So unless you bike into Switzerland you are golden. I looked up my visa bills so I could be accurate...for my plan I paid 30 Euro and Visa charged me $47.02 (1.56733 exchange). This plan gave me a staggering 18GB of data, unlimited text and calling in the EU, call display etc.  It was good for a month. There was a special going on which, if I recall correctly, gave me an extra 5 GB of data, but in our experience there is always a special going on. Keith’s plan was the same. There were no issues this trip with slow hotel wifi, as I simply tethered my phone to my iPad when blogging  and had lightening fast picture downloading. 

The intriguing thing was that about a week before we were heading back into Switzerland for the flight home my month was up...into Vodafone I went and for 10 Euro ($15.31) I got another 18 GB of data, also good for a month.  Sheesh. I could have downloaded movies all week with that. 

 We were back in Zurich for two nights at the end of the trip and we put Keith’s Swisscom card back in his phone. We had purchased 10 days of unlimited data each day you used it and that was good for a year (19.90 CHF, $27.25).  So then I just tethered to his phone on both my iPad and iPhone. 

The only thing I have to add is that we have found airports are not usually the best place to buy SIM cards. We usually wait until we can go to the actual Vodafone, Orange or Swisscom store. They are easy to find.

Hope this helps. We get so overcharged in Canada. 

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2 weeks ago