Phones in Paris
November 10, 2012 4:44 PM   Subscribe

Going to Paris next spring 2013, traveling with parents who will be staying at a different hotel on other side of city. Would like to be able to call them to coordinate, what's the best option?

I've seen similar past questions and it looks like folks recommend getting a prepaid mobile phone there. Is there anywhere in particular you recommend going to buy these phones? What can I expect to pay for the phone and minutes in country and to the USA?
posted by lirael2008 to Travel & Transportation around Paris, France (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
- Do you speak French?

- How long do you plan to stay?
posted by amtho at 4:55 PM on November 10, 2012

Option 1: Can you text them? I did this on my last trip to Paris, using a phone with a SIM card to call the landlord of the flat I was renting AND to text Mr. theBRKP back home in the US. My bill went up by $10.00 for two weeks worth of texts, but was still less expensive then calling.

Option 2 (the more quaint option): Get an international calling card and call the hotel using a land line. We did this several times for calls back to the states and to places while in Paris and it worked out very, very well.

Have a great trip!
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 4:58 PM on November 10, 2012

I've heard of these SIM cards but don't understand how they work. I will be staying there for 5 days and another 5 days in London after that, where the phone is less crucial because my parents and I will be sharing a hotel room. I do speak french reasonably fluently.
posted by lirael2008 at 7:40 PM on November 10, 2012

We just went to Paris and tried to buy temporary data SIMs there to put in world phones we owned already, and it was a HUGE pain in the butt. They took a long time to activate and the salespeople did not understand the concept that we, Americans, might want to use our phones for data in France with French SIM cards.

If you want voice calling and SMS only it may be easier, though. The data seemed to be the sticking point. We bought prepaid SIMs at an Orange store in a mall. I want to say it was pretty easy to just prepay for a few euro worth of time on the SIM and they took our credit cards so it was easy to top up our accounts with more money once they actually got activated. If you don't already own a quad band phone you will probably need to get one either here before you leave or possibly you can just get the whole package from the Orange store there. If you don't care about data, there are other options than Orange out there that may be cheaper.
posted by town of cats at 8:06 PM on November 10, 2012

My husband and I tried to do something very similar in Paris this summer (he was at a conference all day and I was being a tourist). What ended up working for us was just emailing using free wifi. He had a computer at the conference and I had our ipad, so we would just email each other. Much more convenient than trying to get cell phones there (which we looked into after our own ask mefi question). So if you have wifi at your hotels and tablets, that could work for you.
posted by McPuppington the Third at 12:07 AM on November 11, 2012

We always do local prepaid with data when we travel. Twenty quid and you're covered. Not done it in France though. Most difficult so far was US. Just found this site, seems very interesting, even if I can't vouch for it personally.
Prepaid with data Wiki
posted by Iteki at 2:13 AM on November 11, 2012

Noting that the Irish entry misses O2, and the Swedish one misses Tele2 makes me feel it's a little incomplete as these are two major providers. It should still give you an idea on what to check for though.
posted by Iteki at 2:19 AM on November 11, 2012

I got a SIM card in Paris -- didn't use data -- and it worked fine. The trick is a) to just let the clerk put it in the phone and help you activate it; and b) they'll only work for a short period (I think 2 weeks) unless you send copies of your ID to some central bureau (hence my question about how long you were staying).

You must have a GSM phone (AT&T, T-Mobile -- if you live in the US you need to understand about "GSM" vs. "CDMA" to make sure you have the right phone). And the phone must be unlocked.
posted by amtho at 11:08 AM on November 11, 2012

We ended up getting cheap (around $20 each) basic cell phones at the FNAC in Paris as well as a 10-day unlimited texting prepaid plan. We also bought a few minutes for voice calls just in case. In sum, we probably spent about $60-80, which is kinda pricey but the phones did come in handy for coordinating with each other AND bonus was the phones worked in England too even though the store clerk said they wouldn't.
posted by lirael2008 at 11:00 PM on June 15, 2013

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