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Wifi connection in France & Buying a Phone

I am going to Lorraine and Metz Region in France soon.

I am going to take my Samsung Note wifi-only tablet with me. My question is how much free wifi is available in France?

Since I cannot get my smartphone unlocked prior to the trip, how much does a prepaid phone cost? And does the prepaid phone usually come in a smart phone format? Will the prepaid phone include a data plan? I am thinking about purchasing a phone there, since I do plan on returning to Europe.

Thanks.

Posted by
12040 posts

"how much does a prepaid phone cost? And does the prepaid phone usually come in a smart phone format?" I can't help you with smart phone stuff, but a basic pay-as-you-go phone only costs about €25-30. But the minutes cost about as much.

Posted by
31288 posts

Julie,

A few comments on your questions.....

  • "How much free Wi-Fi is available in France" - where are you planning on accessing Wi-Fi? Many hotels offer free Wi-Fi with the cost of the room (although more upscale hotels often charge for it). Places like Starbucks or McDonalds often provide free Wi-Fi (I haven't checked recently). You may find it interesting to read THIS article.
  • How much does a prepaid phone cost" - I checked one of the networks (Bouygues Telecom) in France, and they had a number of basic phones in the €9.90 range. Another option would be to buy a phone from one of the "travel phone" firms such as Roam Simple, Cellular Abroad, Telestial, Mobal, Lebara or EuroBuzz. For example, I checked Roam Simple and they have offer a SIM for $5 and a basic phone for $29. That option would provide you with a working phone as soon as you step off the plane. It will be a U.K.-based number but will work fine in France.
  • "Does the prepaid phone usually come in a smart phone format" - I'm not entirely clear on your meaning for "smart phone format". Could you clarify?
  • "Will the prepaid phone include a data plan" - the basic answer is that you'll only be able to have a data plan if you purchase a smart phone rather than a basic phone. I don't know if data plans are available on PAYG plans in France? Data tends to be available only for those on contract plans, but there could be exceptions.

The cheapest option will be to limit internet access to Wi-Fi areas using your Samsung Note. What network are you with on your home cell phone? If you're planning on making only a few calls or texts, roaming with your home network may be a reasonably cost effective option.

Happy travels!

Posted by
2828 posts

Julie, if you are referring to purchasing a phone device that will work there, you are better buying an unlocked cellphone device in US (check Amazon or e-Bay), and then just buying a pre-paid Simcard in France.

Posted by
11798 posts

I'll disagree with Andre somewhat on this. I looked at purchasing an unlocked Motorola Razr phone online to replace my dead one. The phones were reasonably priced. When I read reviews, however, there were far too many saying the phone either didn't work at all or wasn't unlocked. If either is the case, the phone is no more than an expensive paper weight and you have to buy a phone in Europe anyway.

It's easy to find something in the 25 euro range that includes phone, charger, SIM card, and usually ten euros of call credit. If you have the clerk set the phone up before you leave the store, you won't have to worry whether you can use it or not - and minutes in the country you purchased the SIM are cheap. The only down side is having to visit a store to add minutes (seemed to be true of Vodaphone and Orange). If you travel through multiple countries, use up your minutes then get a new, local, SIM.

The cheap phones are basic, they aren't smart phones. So plan to use your tablet for other things. WiFi is widely available in hotels, restaurants, and bars.

Posted by
21 posts

Thanks for all that have replied to my question. I decided to just bring my own Smart Phone and get a prepaid SIM while in France. I will be staying at my friend's house in France, so I guess I will just use his wifi. When on the road, I just have to see if I can score a SIM that includes some cheap data minutes.

I appreciate all your input!

Posted by
2081 posts

@ julie,

Its been my experience that you can get a PAYG card and buy data minutes as you need it.

happy trails.