Which French SIM to buy?
March 8, 2010 5:38 AM   Subscribe

Which French prepaid SIM to buy?

I'll be in Paris for a week in April. I have an unlocked quad-band cell phone (actually, an HTC Kaiser smartphone) which is no longer on any active US plan. Which French mobile provider should I buy a SIM card from? When I was in London a few years ago, one provider was giving away the SIM cards for free when buying only 5 euros call credit. Am I likely to find anything like that in Paris? What will a SIM cost and how little credit can I put on it?
posted by Joleta to Technology (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm on Orange in France. I have not seen any free sim deals. Indeed mobile deals as a whole seem to be hard to come by here.

The Orange sim card ("Mobicarte") is I think 15 euros for a card alone with 5 euros credit.

Beware - the French love bureaucracy. I had to show my passport in the Orange shop to get the card + phone.
posted by handee at 6:10 AM on March 8, 2010

i just got a SIM from SFR for 20 euros. Came with 5 euro credit.

I see Orange is still giving away free SIMs in the UK, not sure if they do the same here.
posted by tip120 at 6:14 AM on March 8, 2010

There is Simplicime: 10 euros for the sim card and 5 euros credit. They work on the SFR network. Their costs per minute are cheaper than the big other names, but I have no idea how they compare for internet usage (if that is what you are after). You will probably have to buy the sim from the internet though, they used to have shops under the name Debitel but I am not sure they do anymore. Disclaimer: I use them when in France.

There is also Breizh Mobile: 7 euros for the sim and 10 minutes of communication or 12 euros with 5 euros credit. Their cost per minute is also quite low for communication. I have no idea how they are or if you can find a shop or have to order online.

Finally, there is Simyo: 5 euros for the sim card with 7 euros credit. As far as I know, they are brand new in France (they are called KPN or Simyo elsewhere in Europe), so they have lot of offers changing every 2 weeks. They use the Bouygues network. They are exclusively selling on the internet.
posted by tweemy at 8:18 AM on March 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

I had to show my passport in the Orange shop to get the card + phone.

Ditto - bring yours. I was turned away for not having one on me and had to come back later.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 11:37 AM on March 8, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks, all. That gave me some good ideas. I only need the phone for voice, not data, and probably won't use up much airtime. I need to call the apartment agent when we land at CDG, and possibly use it for making restaurant reservations when we're out sightseeing. The apartment I rented has a phone for local calls, and we have a laptop with Skype for communicating with family back home. If anyone else has ideas, feel free to chime in.
posted by Joleta at 4:19 PM on March 8, 2010

If you don't intend to receive calls with that phone, maybe you could bypass getting a sim card. You could either get a prepaid (old-fashioned) phone booth card, or use directly your credit card in those; though I would avoid the latter, they have introduced a fixed fee for usage. You can probably buy a card at the airport, they are usually found at newsagents or post offices.
posted by tweemy at 12:02 AM on March 9, 2010

I agree with tweemy - if you're only there for a week and you've already got local calls covered from the appartement, you could do without a cellphone. You can use a payphone from CDG (I'm not sure you'd be able to actually get the SIM in CDG anyway). And for restaurant reservations you will either want to book ahead (in which case you can do it from the appartement) or in many places you'll be able to just walk in.

Surely one of the great pleasures in France is walking past a load of restaurants and going... "Hmm... I fancy... that one."
posted by handee at 2:07 AM on March 9, 2010

Response by poster: There are still pay phone in Paris? And they work?
posted by Joleta at 5:00 AM on March 9, 2010

I can't really speak for Paris, so Parisians could chime in, but usually pay phones in France are still present (if fewer) and work, yes, even if the booths are often vandalized.
posted by tweemy at 9:14 AM on March 9, 2010

I bought an Orange SIM when I was in France. The term you're looking for is "sans engagement" - i.e. no contract, pay as you go.

I think I paid €15 or something similar, which included credit for 8 minutes of calls, or something.

If you buy a pay as you go and your French isn't very good, you might like to ask the seller to tell you the menu options you have to press before you type in the top-up code. They speak quite quickly on the menus.
posted by djgh at 1:02 PM on March 9, 2010

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