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sim card question

hi all,
i have question about sim cards.
how do i get sim card once i am in paris?
can i get one from airport itself?
i will be travelling to two other countries besides France so would like to get one which will work in Italy and Austria as well.
thank you for your time.

Posted by
3 posts

Last September, my wife and I did a week in Italy (Rome and Sorrento) and four days in Paris. In Italy, we bought SIM cards from TIM Mobile. I had bought a tourist SIM package and I think it cost $40 per SIM.

I printed off a voucher to bring to a TIM store to get our cards. I tried the TIM store at the airport in Rome (FCO) but they did not take part in that deal. We had to find a TIM store somewhere in Rome to get our cards. After several hours of walking around and wasting time at free wifi cafes to find a TIM store, we finally stumbled into one and got our SIM cards. We traveled with several other family members and they all got SIM from other mobile companies and trying to call one another with our "Italian" numbers was a crapshoot. The calls would only go through half the time and sending text messages would fail constantly. For our stay in Paris, I decided ahead of time that we would pay the $10 per day per phone to have international calling and data for our phones (Verizon). This worked flawlessly. We are in the early stages of planning a trip to France next August with our young kids and will most likely do the $10 per day international plan from Verizon.

As for you, you may find it hard to find one SIM card that will cover all of the countries you want to visit. If you are able to buy your SIM card ahead of time, great! The only problem is that most mobile companies will make you come to the store to get them. If you want to hit the ground running when you get to your destination, I suggest you just use an international plan from your existing provider. It'll probably cost a little more but you it'll be reliable and you won't waste time trying to find a store to get your SIM cards. My brother-in-law travels all over the world for business and it didn't take him long before he realized buying SIM cards was a hassle. He activates his international plan before he flies and deactivates it when he is coming home so he's only paying when he uses the plan.

Posted by
12154 posts

There are quite a few options for picking up a SIM card, kiosks in the airport that will sell you a SIM, kiosks in shopping malls in town, department stores have a department with phones and SIMs, electronic stores sell SIMs, boutique phone stores sell SIMs - some places sell SIMs for a particular company, some have options.

My main advice is don't pay for the SIM without having the sales person help you get it up and running. Once you pay, real customer service can be difficult to obtain.

My next best advice is use WiFi when you can so you don't burn data when you don't need to. Turn data off unless you have a specific need for it. You can always add more data to your card, but why spend more money if you don't need to?

I typically try to stay in one country with a SIM because calls are very inexpensive in the country you purchased the SIM, but roaming when you cross the border. Roaming with a European SIM isn't nearly as bad as roaming with a SIM from the US.

My plan for my next trip (I leave next Thursday) is to try the Orange Holiday plan. I'm in France for 16 nights and the SIM is for 14 days. I'm not sure how much of an inconvenience that will be? The Orange plan may be good for you because it might be good for crossing borders. What I read about it led me to believe it will work in multiple countries but I may not be correct.

Posted by
509 posts

If you type "SIM card" in the Search field above, scroll down to Forum topics, you'll find lots of info on the subject -- one pretty recently as I recall. You'll see that the cards are readily available at the airports as well as storefronts in Paris. I understand the EU disallowed "roaming" fees recently, so one card should give you all the access you need as long as you purchase sufficient "minutes" on the plan.

Posted by
3112 posts

There's lots of info (probably too much!) on this site under "Tips & Trip Reports" in the Technology division.

I echo the advice to make sure they get your phone up & running when you buy the card. I wouldn't buy it at the airport, because if you encounter a problem it will be a big pain to go back. If you buy from a chain like Boutique Orange, and take your phone to a different store for help, they may tell you you have to return to the store where you bought your card. (It happened to me.)

I believe T-Mobil has multi-country cards you can buy in the US before you go, which has the advantage that you'll know ahead of time what your European phone number will be. However, not all cell phone providers allow their phones to be loaded with a multi-country SIM.

Posted by
2466 posts

Go to the Orange boutique.

Google the options on "Mobicarte" or "Orange Holiday".
Print out the pages to be sure the agent knows what you want.
The agent will unlock your SIM card for you so you know it works.
Bring your actual passport - a copy will not do.

The option for Mobicarte will allow you to top it up via some ATM machines or call a number (in French) to do the same with a credit card.

Posted by
28 posts

I mentioned this in a different post just now, but figured it might be helpful in case someone comes across this one later...

We just got back from our trip and found that all Orange wanted to sell us was the Orange Holiday. It's only good for 14 days (not long enough for our trip), and costs 40 euros to get the SIM card and the phone/data plan. We wanted to just buy a SIM card and then get a top-up Mobicarte plan for 20 euros instead. On the Orange website, they have a deal to order a SIM card online for only 3 euros. If you can plan in advance, perhaps see if you can order it and have it delivered to your hotel. Alternatively, the only Orange store location in Paris we were able to find that sells an individual SIM card, independent of any plan, is the one by the Opera Garnier. They charge 10 euros, and then you can buy any prepaid plan you want after that.

All that being said, because of unforeseen issues with our phone, we ended up not getting a SIM card and prepaid plan until we left Paris, and wow, was it cheaper in Germany! 10 euros for the Vodafone SIM card, 1.25 GB data, and 200 talk/text, which was plenty for us. Free roaming in the EU included now as well--it's a new rule in the EU. So if you are travelling to multiple countries on your trip, I'd try to see which has the best deals if you have that flexibility.