iPhone in Paris (Xmas 2013 edition)
December 9, 2013 8:24 AM   Subscribe

Which French mobile SIM should I get for my one week in Paris later this month?

I've got an unlocked iPhone 5 and have purchased nano-SIMs in international destinations before. I'll be in Paris for a week and need to be able to call the US and Israel and have access to email for work, plus all the usual smartphone apps for tourists. I'll use Wifi when possible, but do want data, international and domestic voice calls, and international and domestic text capability. I'd like to use my own phone, not purchase a throwaway PAYG. Finally, I'd prefer not to use AT&T's international roaming, but I will if the costs for a week of French service aren't reasonable.

Any recommendations for a local carrier? Just pick whoever I find at the airport? Anyone used LeFrench Mobile?

PS We're staying in the 5th, near Notre Dame, and need a local cafe/patisserie for breakfasts! Suggestions?
posted by jindc to Travel & Transportation around Paris, France (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: LeFrench worked for me without a glitch.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:50 AM on December 9, 2013

Best answer: This is something I have investigated extensively. Your situation is a bit more tricky because you want both data and international calling. If you didn't need international calling, you would definitely want to get the Bouygues telecom one week 24/24 plan. It will cost you one euro for the sim card which will fit in your iphone, and if you put ten euros on it you will get unlimited calls/SMS in France and 300 Mb of data for a week. This might still be your best plan because it's likely that they have an add-on that gives you some amount of international calling.

I have at various times owned payg sims for my unlocked iphone from Orange, SFR, and a few other companies as well as Bouygues, and Bouygues was by far the easiest to purchase and set up, as well as the best deal. For example, after a week with the SFR sim I just gave up trying to get cellular data to work.

Another option is that you could use skype for your international calling. It works for me through cellular data on my unlocked iphone with the Bouygues payg sim, so I just have the 24/24 plan and when I need to make an international call I fire up skype. You can also send texts with skype but I think they'll show up with your skype name as the sender (as opposed to your number).

A few things to keep in mind when you are buying your sim: you will need your passport to buy a sim and it will take a little time to set up because your information needs to be entered in, including an address which should be local (give your hotel or airbnb address, this is fine). Also the way French PAYG typically works is that the amount of money you pay doesn't increase the amount of minutes/data you get, it just increases the validity period (for most PAYG plans). So on the 24/24 plan you pay ten euros and get 300 Mb of data which is valid for a week, but if you were to pay twenty euros you'd get the same amount of data, only it would be valid for a month.

If you're going to be using skype and doing a lot of maps, photos, etc. you might consider the 24/24 plan and pay 35 euros, which gives you 2 gigs of 4G data (along with unlimited calling/sms in France) which is valid for a month.
posted by tractorfeed at 8:51 AM on December 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

We went with Orange. Expensive by the standard of other countries, but worked immediately. They have a lot of shops around.
posted by kjs4 at 2:30 PM on December 9, 2013

Best answer: Another vote for Orange. I got a PAYGO SIM that gave me 500 MB of data and more international calling than I knew what to do with for (IIRC) 40 Euros. The only issue was that without a French credit card I couldn't top it up over the phone; I had to go into a store and buy a topup voucher.

As far as cafés go, if you're willing to walk a little way, La Caféothèque is about 10 minutes from Notre Dame and has better coffee than anything else you'll find in the area.
posted by asterix at 6:31 PM on December 9, 2013

I've had the best luck with Free Mobile.
posted by mollywas at 9:54 PM on December 9, 2013

Another vote for Orange. I got mine in Fnac, but had a little trouble setting up the internet. Try getting them to do it in an Orange shop.

Here's a post about Orange
posted by nevan at 2:10 AM on December 10, 2013

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