inexpensive 3g internet in France
June 19, 2011 4:30 AM   Subscribe

What is the best option for inexpensive/prepaid 3G mobile internet (on an Android phone) in France? Preferably with SFR.

I checked the SFR website and I found a prepaid offer there that is 0,55 EUR/minute. That seems very expensive to me, and even with that option your prepaid balance expires quickly. Vodafone Ireland has a pay as you go plan for 3 EUR/day. This Orange plan seems like a better deal, and it says that it is "sans engagement" so I assume that means that it can be cancelled any time. SFR also has a sans engagement plan, but that's much more expensive.

I am looking for the least expensive option for 3G (I am not interested in Wifi plans) internet on an Android phone in France for a couple of months. Any options I am missing? My French is not good, unfortunately.
posted by blub to Travel & Transportation around France (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
One option might be to use one of the services which will step you through the whole thing in English and then send you a French SIM card - I have tried this one recently (from CellHire). Some caveats:
1. I have linked to a monthly plan since they do not appear to supply data on their PAYG plans - but you can sign up for just a month.
2. The value for money on the data plan is, I believe, poor - but it might be OK if you are just going to use it a little.
3. They use Orange rather than SFR.

- There are other similar operators in this vein in both the UK and USA.

The French mobile carriers tend to require more paperwork than other countries to get you signed up - even for PAYG - and the the best value for money deals are often only available to those who are signed up to the sort of agreements that require local bank accounts and credit references at sign-up.

A third option might be to look at whether you can simply extend any existing mobile contract you might have to do data roaming in France. You could compare the prices with those quoted in the link above for example.
posted by rongorongo at 6:01 AM on June 19, 2011

I asked French friends about this sort of thing recently and they recommended just going into an Orange store upon arrival, and explaining what I wanted. (But then I ended up being able to just use my American plan while there, so I can't comment on experience.) I saw that your French is not strong; is there anyone you could take with you? Are you staying in a hotel with a concierge that could help you? In a larger city, they may well speak English so it couldn't hurt to try. The package you're looking at is without commitment, 200 minutes/month,and there is some sort of rollover. However, do you need to call internationally? Will you be going outside France at all? These things may not be part of the plan, so I'd want to ask before signing up.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 6:56 AM on June 19, 2011

FYI, the Orange plan you linked to is for a 3G key, not a sim card (i.e. it's for a USB device that brings 3G to your laptop or tablet), so no phone service would be included, if that matters, and you'd have to buy a 3G key. Where are you going to be in France? If you'll be in Paris, there is a lot of free wifi about; almost all the parks have it, and all the public libraries. Also in Paris you should easily be able to find someone who speaks English in a phone shop, either one affiliated with a brand (SFR or Orange, for example) or a third-party one, which might be a better choice because you could go in and compare plans.
posted by tractorfeed at 8:19 AM on June 19, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for your replies! Unfortunately this is not for Paris but a small town in the Dordogne, but it is great to know that free wifi is so common in Paris, so thanks for that info. That CellHire plan looks great, except for the cost... I think walking into a store looks like the best option indeed.
posted by blub at 11:11 AM on June 19, 2011

Oh the Dordogne is a very popular holiday destination for the British; I would not be surprised if you could find someone in a phone shop down there who speaks enough English to get you what you need. Have a great time, and enjoy the food (it's fantastic).
posted by tractorfeed at 11:25 AM on June 19, 2011

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