Are you planning to travel to France and looking for an e-sim card for your trip to stay connected and not waste money on high roaming charges? This is a complete guide with everything you need to know before buying an e-sim card for traveling in France in 2023.
In this guide you can find a comparison of the best e-sim cards for France with up to date prices as per October 2023, including specifications per e-sim card, my recommendation and everything you need to know about using e-sim cards for traveling in France.
Also find out where and when to order an e-sim card, a comparison with local prepaid sim cards and of course links to directly order your e-sim card for traveling to France on the internet.
Already since 2012 I am a full time nomadic travel blogger traveling the world continuously. That is how I constantly get to a different country and pretty much every week I need to look for a new sim card. In 2022 I visited for example 62 different countries in 1 year so imagine how many different prepaid and e-sim cards I used.
In the past I used to buy a local prepaid sim card on arrival in every country, but nowadays I mostly use e-sim cards for staying connected when traveling abroad.
Helping other travelers to save money while traveling the world is one of the reasons I started this travel blog. Providing essential travel tips is what made me start writing sim card guides from every country I visited and now on Traveltomtom you can already find more than 200 sim card guides from all over the world.
Of course I also wrote a complete guide for buying a sim card for France in 2023.
Recently Traveltomtom also started writing specific guides for buying e-sim cards: USA, Canada, Turkey, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Egypt, Thailand, Asia, China, Malaysia, Australia, Europe, e-sim cards for traveling internationally and many more.
So next time you are planning your adventure abroad come check out Traveltomtom for the latest prepaid sim card and e-sim card advice for your holiday destination.
Let me first give you my e-sim card recommendation and a comparison of all the e-sim card plans for France with up to date prices as per October 2023. Then I will explain how e-sim cards work, more about the network coverage and 4G/5G data speed, some FAQ about e-sim cards, the difference between e-sim cards and local prepaid sim cards and everything else you need to know.
Traveltomtom recommends the following two e-sim cards for traveling to France in 2023:
1. My European eSIM from Bouygues Telecom - $44.90 USD
- 30 GB data in all of Europe
- Unlimited calling/texting in all of Europe
- Valid for 30 days
2. Nomad 10 GB data-only - $16 USD
- 10 GB data-only e-sim
- Valid in France only
- Valid for 30 days
The Nomad e-sim card for France is data-only and does not support calling and texting and it does not come with a phone number. However, it is the best buy e-sim card for France with $1.60 USD per Gigabyte.
My first recommendation for a France e-sim card is the Bouygues Telecom e-sim card. This e-sim card comes with unlimited calls in Europe and free EU data roaming as well.
If you are going on a Europe trip and visiting multiple countries then check out my list of the best prepaid and e-sim cards for traveling in Europe.
There are 2 very important things to check before ordering an e-sim card for France or in general before using an e-sim card.
Unlocked phones only
Make sure your phone is unlocked. E-sim cards only work in unlocked phones. If you are not sure if your phone is unlocked then contact your mobile internet provider in your home country.
In general phones from Europe, Asia and the Middle East tend to be unlocked. Phones from North America are often locked.
If your smartphone is locked that means it does not allow another prepaid sim card or e-sim card to operate in the device. You can easily unlock your phone, but depending on your mobile internet provider you will be charged a fee for unlocking your phone.
E-sim compatible phones only
Second, and equally important: e-sim cards only work if your smartphone supports e-sim cards, also called e-sim compatible. All newer smartphones support e-sim cards. If you are not sure if your phone is e-sim compatible then simply go to Google and type in your mobile phone model in the search bar and ask if it is e-sim compatible. You will get the answer instantly.
If your phone is NOT e-sim compatible then there is no other solution and you can NOT use an e-sim card for traveling to France.
However, you can still order a sim card for France on the internet before your trip. Check out Traveltomtom’s complete guide for buying a sim card for France in 2023 or find out everything you need to know about international sim cards for traveling abroad in 2023.
France e-sim card comparison
There are multiple website on the internet that sell e-sim cards for France. Traveltomtom recommends ordering an e-sim card for traveling in France from one of the well-known e-sim card providers that have proven to be reliable operators.
These are the 3 big e-sim card providers and they sell great e-sim card plans for France:
Nowadays, you can buy an e-sim card for pretty much every country around the world. Order directly from one of the above e-sim card providers and instantly receive your e-sim card in your email. But before you buy an e-sim card first read all my tips below.
SimOptions also offers international prepaid sim cards for France. These are pre-activated physical prepaid sim cards and will be delivered to your home address before your trip to France and it is plug and play when you arrive in the France.
Airalo and Nomad only sell e-sim cards for France.
SimOptions is a very reliable e-sim card provider and Traveltomtom has used SimOptions uncountable times in more than 50 countries around the world. I can totally recommend using SimOptions for ordering your France e-sim card.
Here are the SimOptions data-only e-sim card plans for France for 2023:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $4.90 USD
- 5 GB data for 15 days = $14.90 USD
- 15 GB data-only valid for 15 days = $18.90 USD
The first two data-only e-sim cards are provided by SimOptions and are only valid in France. Unfortunately they don’t specify which mobile network operator in France they use. The max data speed on these France e-sim cards from SimOptions is 4G/LTE, they are not 5G ready.
The SimOptions e-sim cards for France do NOT come with a phone number and they do not offer incoming/outgoing calls or sms. The validity of these e-sim cards is 1 year and the credit validity starts instantly after installing the e-sim card, even if you are not in France.
The same counts for the third e-sim card shown in the picture above. It is a data-only e-sim card from Bouygues Telecom: 4G-LTE, no calling and texting, just data.
Click here to order one of these SimOptions e-sim card for France.
But wait there are much better ones available.
SimOptions also provides international e-sim cards for traveling to France, which are valid in all of Europe and beyond and now some are even 5G ready! Check out the following plans from SimOptions:
- 15 GB data + unlimited calls/sms valid for 15 days = $21.90 USD
- 10 GB data (5G ready) + $2 calling credit valid for 30 days = $24.90 USD
- 12 GB data + 30 minutes international + unlimited calls/text for 14 days = $29.90 USD
- 30 GB data + unlimited calls/text for 30 days = $44.90 USD
- 30 GB data + 120 minutes international + unlimited calls/text for 14 days = $49.90 USD
- 50 GB data (5G ready) + unlimited calls/text for 28 days = $59.90 USD
Click here to order an international e-sim card for France directly online.
These e-sim cards are valid all over Europe and they include free EU-roaming. The best thing about these e-sim cards for France is that they also include calling and texting and some of them are even 5G ready.
These international e-sim cards for France are also valid for 1 year, but the credit validity starts only when the e-sim card connects the first time to a supported network. So you can instal the e-sim card even when you are not in Europe yet. For more info check the SimOptions website.
Airalo is another very reputable e-sim card provider that is very much recommended by Traveltomtom. Ordering your e-sim card for France through Airalo is done fast and easy. Traveltomtom has used Airalo uncountable times for staying connected when traveling abroad. Very reliable, never an issue and often some of the cheapest e-sim card deals.
Why using Airalo? I found out that Airalo has sometimes cheaper e-sim card deals compared to SimOptions.
Especially if you only use a little bit of data while traveling and need just 1 or 2 GB to stay in touch through WhatsApp, check your email and get directions from Google Maps, Airalo is a great e-sim card for traveling in France.
Here are France e-sim card plans from Airalo for 2023:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $4.5 USD
- 2 GB data for 15 days = $7.5 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $10 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $14 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $23 USD
- 20 GB data for 30 days = $36 USD
Click here to order an e-sim card for France from Airalo.
The Airalo e-sim cards for France are through BonBon Mobile and they operate on the Orange, Bouygues and SFR 4G/LTE network in France. Unfortunately the Airalo e-sim cards for France are not 5G ready. It is a data-only sim card without a phone number, so any phone/sms service is NOT supported. An Airalo e-sim card has to be installed within 1 month and after activation the credit validity starts when it connects the first time to a supported network.
For more info check out the Airalo website.
Traveltomtom only recently discovered Nomad e-sim cards when looking for the best e-sim card deals and comparing e-sim cards for traveling to France. Traveltomtom has only used Nomad a few times now and is keen on experiencing more about Nomad e-sim cards because Nomad has some of the cheapest France e-sim card plans.
Here are the Nomad e-sim card plans for France:
- 1 GB data for 30 days = $6 USD
- 3 GB data for 30 days = $12 USD
- 5 GB data for 30 days = $14 USD
- 10 GB data for 30 days = $19 USD
- 15 GB data for 30 days = $27 USD
- 20 GB data for 30 days = $33 USD
Click here to order an e-sim card for France from Nomad.
The Nomad e-sim cards for France are either from Orange or from SFR and are also NOT 5G ready, only 4G/LTE network is supported. Traveltomtom recommends to avoid the e-sim card plans from Thruphone. They are through a third-party provider. Orange and SFR are mobile internet operators in France, Thruphone is a global sim card provider.
The Nomad France e-sim cards have to be installed on your phone within 30 days and after installation its validity starts when it connects for the first time to a supported network in France. Basically when the plane lands.
For more info check the Nomad website.
Why did Traveltomtom already used more than 100s of e-sim cards? I told you before that I travel full time and I am on the road constantly which means I literally use about 40 to 50 sim cards per year. No better sim card specialist out there than Traveltomtom.
Traveltomtom is on the road to 197, meaning I would like to travel to every country in the world. As of October 2023 I have visited more than 155 countries, still more than 40 to go, but no rush.
What is the cheapest e-sim card for France
The cheapest e-sim card for France is an Airalo e-sim card plan with 1 GB data for 7 days for just $4.5 USD. It is only valid in France and it does not support calling and texting.
Why ordering an e-sim card for traveling in France
E-sim cards are the easiest way to stay connected when traveling to France in 2023 and you can arrange everything online in just a couple clicks. No more visiting a sim card shop and swapping physical sim cards. Order online, scan the QR code, follow the steps and you are connected in less than 2 minutes.
The most important reason to get an e-sim card is because we would like to stay connected on our trip to France without wasting money on high roaming costs. Our smartphones are pretty useless without a working data connection. Think about ordering a taxi through an app (Uber is Grab in France), finding nearby friends, restaurants, bars. Get directions from Google Maps or simply stay in touch with family back home, check out social media apps on long bus rides or check your banking apps when paying contactless.
One of the best things about arriving in France with an activated e-sim card is that you are online as soon as the plane lands and you connect to a network. More about when to instal your e-sim card later.
There are so many reasons to stay connected when traveling to France, but the most important reason is that it makes your trip to France so much more convenient and fun!
At the same time we don’t want to waste money on high roaming charges. Many mobile internet operators still charge $2 USD per MB for data roaming, that means just opening the Instagram app will already cost you 25 MB * $2 USD = $50 USD! Not kidding… it still is very common in 2023.
E-sim cards are the easiest way to avoid high roaming charges!
So what about overseas data roaming plans? Well, not recommended! Why? Did you read the small letters at what data speed you can use data roaming? Pretty much all mobile internet operators limit the data speed for overseas data roaming plans, which means you end up with 3G data speed, but there is 4G/LTE and even 5G in France everywhere!
Uncountable times (mostly American) travel friends asked me: “can I use your hotspot? My data roaming plan is so slow, it is barely working!” Trust me, get yourself an e-sim card or an international prepaid sim card for traveling to France.
Where to buy an e-sim card for France?
You can only buy an e-sim card for France on the internet through an e-sim card provider. There are multiple e-sim card providers for France. Traveltomtom compared 6 e-sim card providers and concluded that the above mentioned ones (SimOptions, Airalo and Nomad) are the best e-sim card providers for traveling to France in 2023.
On arrival in France
When you arrive in France and you want to buy an e-sim card for tourists then you are unlucky. As of November 2023 none of the mobile internet providers in France sells e-sim cards for tourists. Only physical prepaid sim cards are available.
Traveltomtom shopped around himself in Marseille as well as Paris and in all stores it was a clear: No, e-sim cards for prepaid tourist sim cards available.
For the best prepaid sim card for tourists in France in 2023 click on the link to read my complete guide and comparison of all the mobile internet providers in France, including a comparison of the 4G/5G network.
How to activate an e-sim card
Installing and activating an e-sim card is made as simple as possible. Everyone can activate an e-sim card and the instructions on how to are very detailed and will be send to you instantly by email.
When you order an e-sim card plan for France you instantly receive a summery of your order including a QR-code after the payment is processed.
You will see a summary of your e-sim card order including a QR code on your screen and at the same time you will also receive an email with the same QR code. The email contains instructions on how to instal and activate your France e-sim card.
But installing an activating an e-sim card is as easy as scanning the QR code with the same phone where you want to activate the e-sim card on. The QR contains all the information about your France e-sim card.
Once you scan the code you will be guided through a couple simple steps and within less than 1 minute your e-sim card is successfully installed. Very important is that you are connected to the internet when installing your e-sim card otherwise you will get an error and issues can occur.
Tip: if you order an e-sim card with the same phone where you want to instal the e-sim card on then ask a friend or someone nearby to take a photo of the QR code and then you scan the QR code from his/her phone and start the installation.
When to order an e-sim card for France?
You can order an e-sim card for France pretty much any time you want. Most e-sim cards have to be installed on a phone within 1 month after purchasing, some even within 1 year, so you have time.
More important therefore is when do you instal/activate the e-sim card. The validity of some e-sims start straight after the installation, other e-sim cards only start their validity when they connect the first time to a supported network.
Traveltomtom advices to instal your e-sim card on the day of departure to France. Or if you want to maximise your validity then activate your France e-sim card on arrival after you connect to the free WiFi of the airport on arrival in France. All international airports in France have free public WiFi.
Things to know before ordering an e-sim card for France
Here are some general tips for using e-sim cards when traveling abroad. These tips do not only apply for France e-sim cards, but are things you have to know before buying an e-sim card in general.
Make sure your phone is unlocked
To make sure you didn’t miss this, let me say this again: e-sim cards only work in UNLOCKED phones. If your phone is unlocked then you can use any e-sim card without any problems.
If your phone is locked then ask your mobile internet provider from your home country to unlock your phone before your trip to France. It is likely that your mobile internet provider will charge you a fee for unlocking your smartphone.
If you are unable to unlock your phone you can look into getting a pocket WiFi for staying connected when traveling to France or bring a second unlocked phone on your trip to France and use it as a portable WiFi device.
Which smartphones support e-sim cards?
Another very important thing you have to check before buying an e-sim card is if your smartphone supports e-sim cards. If you have any of the latest mobile phones then there is no need to worry, all new smartphones support e-sim cards.
The fastest way to find out if your phone is e-sim compatible is by asking Google the question: is my (your phone model) e-sim compatible? Simple as that!
Can I trust these e-sim card providers?
All the e-sim card providers for France recommended above (SimOptions, Airalo and Nomad) are reputable e-sim card providers reviewed and tested by Traveltomtom. All of them are licensed third party companies and resellers that partner or work directly with the mobile internet providers in France.
Traveltomtom has successfully partnered for several consecutive years with SimOptions and Airalo. Nomad is a fairly new partner of Traveltomtom, but has so far proven to be a reliable e-sim card provider. All e-sim card providers have their own Helpdesk which you can contact may you encounter any problems or in case you want to claim a refund.
Traveltomtom does NOT sell France e-sim cards, only RECOMMENDS you to use e-sim cards for traveling to France.
Can I keep my phone number from home with a France e-sim card?
Yes, you can and this is for many people a reason to order an e-sim card to stay connected when traveling to France. An e-sim card can be used next to your physical or e-sim card from your home country at the same time. You do not need a dual-sim phone for using an e-sim card.
So you can have multiple e-sim cards installed on your phone? Yes, no problem at all!
For example: you can turn off the mobile data from your sim card from home but still use it for texting and calling. France e-sim card you can be used at the same time just for data to ensure you are not wasting money on high roaming costs.
If your France e-sim card also allows you to make phone calls and you want to make a local call in France, you simply switch between the sim cards and make a local phone call with your France e-sim card.
Switching between physical and e-sim cards is a matter of turning them on/off in the settings.
Can I make phone calls with a France e-sim card?
This depends on the type of e-sim card that you order. Only the international e-sim cards for France from SimOptions offer calling and texting. All the e-sim cards from Nomad and Airalo are data-only.
Does a France e-sim card come with a phone number?
This also depends on the type of e-sim card that you buy. E-sims that support calls and sms they come with a phone number.
In the above France e-sim card comparison you can find all the specifications per e-sim card. All the international e-sim cards from SimOptions come with a phone number, which means they can also receive calls and sms.
Can I use 5G on a France e-sim card?
Unfortunately, most of the France e-sim cards are not 5G ready yet. All the e-sim cards for France you buy from Nomad and Airalo are only 4G/LTE and do NOT support 5G in France.
But SimOptions offers an amazing e-sim card deal for France that supports 5G:
Orange Holiday Europe with 50 GB data for 28 days and unlimited calling and texting for $59.90 USD. This e-sim card is valid in all of Europe and therefore also rated as one of the best sim cards for traveling to Europe.
Are there e-sim cards for France with unlimited data?
None of the by Traveltomtom recommended France e-sim cards for tourists include unlimited data.
There are e-sim card providers that offer e-sim cards for France with unlimited data but always make sure the unlimited data is on max data speed. I can tell you already that is pretty much never the case, the data speed is capped after you used X amount of Gigabytes in total or per day.
Holafly is an e-sim card provider that sells e-sim cards with unlimited data, but does NOT specify what is the exact so-called Fair Use Policy (FUP).
Traveltomtom does NOT recommend France e-sim cards with unlimited data plans. There are always restrictions. And on Holafly sim cards I experienced a reduce in data speed after using more than 2 GB per day. When I contacted support they explained me that I had to wait for 24 hours until my data speed was restored to normal.
Those 24 hours were a nightmare as my data speed was barely enough to use WhatsApp. Social media apps were not even loading!
There are a lot of different specifications per e-sim card. Another reason why I advice you to take a close at my comparison of the best e-sim cards for traveling to France in 2023 before choosing your favorite.
Best way to stay connected when traveling to France
E-sim cards are the easiest and fastest way to get data on your phone when traveling to France, but are they also the best way to stay connected when traveling to France?
There are 3 ways to stay connected when traveling to France:
- Local prepaid sim cards
- International prepaid sim cards
- E-sim cards
Let’s compare e-sim cards, local prepaid sim cards and international prepaid sim cards for you to make understand what is your preferred way to stay connected.
Local prepaid sim cards
If you use a lot of data then local prepaid sim cards are probably a cheaper way to stay connected, depending on the length of your trip. Local prepaid sim cards often offer bigger data plans than e-sim cards. However, local prepaid sim cards can only be purchased on arrival in France.
More info about the best France sim cards for tourists can be found in my complete guide for buying a sim card for France in 2023.
If this sounds like something you want then be prepared to find a sim card store on arrival nearby your hotel or buy a sim card at Paris Airport.
On Traveltomtom you can also find a guide for buying a sim card at Paris Airport. There is one place at Paris Airport were they have e-sim cards for tourists.
The advantage of local prepaid sim cards is that you buy them directly from the mobile internet provider. You get the cheapest prices, unlimited local calls & sms included, the biggest data packages and the fastest data speed. Local prepaid sim cards for tourists in France are NOT all 5G ready.
Free Mobile is the only operator that allows prepaid users to use the 5G network. All other mobile internet operators only offer 4G/LTE max data speed. Local prepaid sim cards for tourists only come as physical prepaid sim cards, e-sim cards are not available.
International prepaid sim cards
If your smartphone is not e-sim compatible you can order an international prepaid sim card for traveling abroad. Some of them are great for using in France and in Europe and you can easily order them online.
Traveltomtom also put together a list of the best sim cards for traveling in Europe in 2023.
A pre-activated physical sim card will be delivered to your home address before your trip. You put this physical sim card in your phone and as soon as the plane touches the ground and the sim card connects to a supported network you are online. Plug and play!
The advantage of an international prepaid sim card is that it often includes calling and texting. E-sim cards are mostly data-only sim cards.
There are two different e-sim cards:
- E-sim cards that you buy on the internet through a third party
- E-sim cards that you buy in France in a mobile internet provider store (NOT AVAILABLE)
The big difference is that e-sim cards provided by the local internet operators in France: SFR, Bouygues Telecom, Free Mobile and Orange can only be purchased at one of their phone stores around France.
However, as of October 2023 e-sim cards are not available for prepaid tourist sim cards. Traveltomtom personally shopped around to find out if e-sim cards were available for tourists and in every store I got a NO!
Also see my vlog about buying a sim card in France, which was just recently filmed.
There is one exception and that is when buying a sim card at Paris Airport. At Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport they sell Bouygues Telecom and Orange sim cards for tourists. The Tourist Information is the only place that sells an e-sim card, but only from Bouygues Telecom.
Read all about it in my detailed guide about buying a sim card at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport.
Or watch my vlog below about my arrival at Charles de Gaulle and my experiences buying a sim card for France.
E-sim cards vs. local prepaid sim cards
Getting an e-sim card is the easiest way to stay connected when traveling to France, no doubt! You arrange everything online within just a couple clicks. Right here, right now and you are all set for your trip to France. You arrive prepared and there is no need to visit a sim card shop. As soon as the plane lands, you are online.
But what is cheaper? An e-sim card or a local prepaid sim card for tourists? When we compare France e-sim card prices with local prepaid sim cards for France Traveltomtom comes to the conclusion that in fact e-sim cards for France are cheaper as they already start from just $4.5 USD. However, if you are a heavy data user local prepaid sim cards are better value for money as for €19.90 EUR you already get 200 GB data on 5G network, including unlimited calling and texting.
After a long flight you just want to go to your hotel and it is often a big task to go to a sim card store and get connected. Reminder that the cheapest e-sim cards at Paris Airport start from €39.90 EUR.
Therefore a lot of travelers simply get an e-sim card for France. Faster, easier and less stress and depending on your needs sometimes even cheaper.
Another difference between a local prepaid sim card and an e-sim card is that e-sim cards are often through a third party, a so called MVNO (Mobile Virtual Network Operator). These MVNO’s operate on the network of one of the main mobile internet operators and basically buy bandwidth.
This may sound a little bit too technical, but what it means is that e-sim cards through an MVNO are the last ones in line when the line is busy. Especially during peak times, the performance of an e-sim cards is less compared to a local prepaid sim card from a mobile internet operator.
Bottomline: the data speed of e-sim cards can be less compared to a local prepaid sim card.
I am sure some of the above tips for finding the best e-sim card for your trip to France were helpful. I hope that after reading through my comparison, tips and tricks it was easier to make a decision and order your e-sim card right away.
If you still have any questions about e-sim cards for France then please leave me a comment below or reach out to me on social media and I am more than happy to help you out.
Curious what it looks like trying to visit every country in the world? Go check out my Instagram account @traveltomtom and follow along. As of October 2023 I have visited more than 155 countries, so still a long way to go.
Enjoy your trip to France!
Some links in this article about the best e-sim cards for France are affiliate links. If you buy any product after clicking on an affiliate link I will earn a small commission. Don’t worry this is at absolutely no extra cost to you!