Traveling to France soon? Don't get fooled by slow overseas data plan. Buy a local prepaid sim card in France or get an e-sim card to avoid high roaming charges. This is a complete guide for the best ways to stay connected when traveling to France.
Find out where to buy a prepaid sim card in France, up to date prices as per June 2023, my recommendation, the best 4G/5G network in France, the best e-sim cards for France, info about EU roaming and international sim cards and more.
As I am on a journey to travel to every country in the world I get to see a lot of countries and that is how I already wrote more than 200 articles about sim cards for tourists: USA, New York, Miami, Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, South Africa, Egypt, UK, Germany, Spain, Poland, Rome, Amsterdam, London, Frankfurt, Dubai, Cameroon, Pakistan, Marrakech, Bali, Cameroon, Brazil, Colombia and many more.
So whenever you are planning your next travel adventure come check out Traveltomtom for the latest prepaid sim card and e-sim card advice for your destination. Bookmark me!
Why buying a sim card for France
Nowadays every hotel, bar, restaurant and even taxis in France offer free WiFi, but the simple question is: do you want to rely on this? What if the WiFi signal in your hotel room is very weak, or the restaurants WiFi is too slow to even stream a video? Frustrating! Right? Also another reminder that public WiFi is an UNSECURED connection, the use of a VPN in these cases is recommended to protect your data & privacy.
Ordering an Uber, getting directions from Google Maps, finding a nearby restaurant... I can come up with a ton of reasons why I recommend you to stay connected when traveling to France.
High roaming charges can easily be avoided by getting a local prepaid sim card with data or an e-sim card. These are much cheaper ways to stay connected than slow overseas data plans. Prepaid sim cards for tourists or e-sim cards for France are very affordable.
Traveltomtom recommends a Free Mobile sim card for France. Free Mobile has the cheapest prepaid sim card plans, 5G ready sim cards and the best 4G/5G mobile data network in France in 2023.
However, a Free Mobile sim card can ONLY be bought in person when in France. Ordering a sim card or e-sim card for France directly online and arriving prepared in France is very tempting. Bouygues Telecom has a prepaid sim card that can be ordered directly online for $39.90 USD and it gives you 30 GB data and unlimited calls in France and the rest of Europe. There is also an e-sim card version of this Bouygues Telecom plan.
If you are traveling onwards to Europe or other countries after visiting France then you might want to look into buying an international sim card with global coverage. In my comparison of the best international sim cards in 2023 you can find the best ones on the market or check out my list of the best prepaid and e-sim cards to travel to Europe in 2023.
Best e-sim cards for France
Without a doubt the easiest way to get internet on your phone when traveling to France in 2023 is an e-sim card. You arrange everything online in just a couple minutes. You receive a QR code after ordering, apply the settings, follow the instructions and voila, done! Check out the following e-sim card deals for France:
- 1 GB data for 7 days = $4.5 USD
- 2 GB data for 14 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 a France e-sim card directly online.
The above e-sim cards from Bonbon Mobile are data-only and only valid in France. They operate on the 4G/LTE networks of Bouygues Telecom, SFR and Orange.
Check out the following amazing international e-sim cards that also allowing calling and texting and that are valid in more than 70 countries including France. These international e-sim cards are great for traveling to France:
- 15 GB data for 15 days = $16.90 USD
- 15 GB data + unlimited calling/texting for 15 days = $19.90 USD
- 30 GB data + unlimited calling/texting for 30 days = $39.90 USD
Click here to order an international e-sim card for France directly online.
With an e-sim card you keep your own phone number but keep in mind that not all phones are e-sim card compatible. Always check your phone model before ordering an e-sim card for France. How to find out? Ask Google.
E-sim cards are not compatible with all types of phones and some people just prefer a physical sim card. For those people I recommend buying a physical sim card for France online. For $39.90 you get 30 GB data including unlimited texting and calling all over Europe. Click here to order this France sim card directly online or find more info in the link.
France sim cards and EU roaming
All prepaid sim cards in France include free EU roaming. That means if you buy a sim card in Paris and then travel to Frankfurt in Germany you can use your France sim card for calling, texting and data without any extra charges. Find more info and tips in my guide for buying a local prepaid sim card in Europe or go directly to my list of the best sim cards for traveling in Europe in 2023.
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Mobile operators in France
There are 4 mobile internet providers in France and all of them are offering prepaid sim cards for tourists:
- Free Mobile
- Bouygues Telecom
Orange is the former France Telecom and the biggest mobile operator in France. On top of that there are a bunch of smaller so called MVNO's. They operate independently but use the mobile network of one of the above internet providers, an example is Lebara Mobile and Lycamobile.
Where to buy a sim card in France
Buying a sim card at Paris Airport
The easiest and fastest place to buy a France sim card is of course on arrival at the international airport. Paris has two international airports. Are you landing at Charles de Gaulle then check out my complete guide for buying a sim card for France at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. If you land Paris Orly Airport don't worry there are also sim card shops there, but I don't have a specific guide for it yet.
At all other major airports in France you can buy prepaid sim cards at all Relay shops. At these book shops / convenience stores they sell sim cards for tourists. It can be a bit hectic as it is mostly busy and there are many people in line. So asking a couple questions gets you impatient faces. Another reason why I recommend buying a sim card for France on the internet and arrive prepared.
Great thing about buying a sim card for France at the any airport is that they will most probably speak English, in the city center that can sometimes be an issue!
Every city in France has uncountable phone stores located across the city center which sell prepaid sim cards for tourists. However, on my recent trip to France I learned that you can NOT buy a prepaid sim card in an Orange or in an SFR store. Orange and SFR prepaid sim cards are only sold in tobacco shops or kiosks.
Advantage is that these shops are open on Sundays when the official retail stores are closed, but don't expect any service. When I asked in several convenience stores for example if Orange or SFR prepaid sim cards support 5G, they obviously had no clue.
Therefore even more reasons why Traveltomtom recommends an Bouygues Telecom or a Free Mobile sim card for France.
However, when looking for the nearest phone store then simply use Google Maps to locate the nearest store to you. Keep in mind that English is NOT very well spoken in France, even in 2023, so expect language barriers.
In the above I just gave you multiple reasons why I strongly recommend buying a sim card for traveling in France online. It just makes it all easier, prices are more or less the same and no hassle to get a prepaid sim card while enjoying your holiday in France. International prepaid sim cards for France can be ordered online and will be shipped to your home address before your trip and if you prefer to use a data-only e-sim card for France you arrange everything online within just a couple minutes or click here to order an international e-sim card for France including calls.
Best 4G/5G network in France in 2023
First of all let's have a look at the 4G/5G network coverage maps for France updated for 2023. We don't want to get stuck with a 3G signal anymore, we want 5G!
Bouygues Telecom 4G/5G Network map
SFR 4G/5G Network map
Orange 4G/5G Network map
Free Mobile 4G/5G Network map
What comes to mind first is that France has a very strong and extensive 4G/5G network all across the country, it is very impressive for such a big country. France has one of the best 5G networks in Europe as per 2023. Every tourist destination in France is pretty much covered with a 5G signal.
Free Mobile has by far the best best 5G network in France in 2023. Orange is miles behind and SFR and Bouygues Telecom are very good runner ups when it comes to the best 4G/5G network in France.
Based on the 5G network Traveltomtom recommends a Free Mobile prepaid sim card for traveling in France. But wait till my final conclusion about the best prepaid sim card for France in 2023.
Prices France sim cards in 2023
All the below prices for France prepaid sim cards are up to date as per June 2023. Prices are in Euros: $1 USD = €0.93 EUR and €1 EUR = $1.07 USD.
Orange France sim card
Orange France lures costumers by claimed to have the best prepaid sim card package deals for France. Well, nice try Orange, but you are NOT! Let's forget quickly about the first two prepaid sim card deals and check out the other 2:
- €29.99 = 10 GB data in up to more than 80 countries around the world
- €39.99 = 20 GB data in Europe + unlimited calls/sms + 120 international minutes
This last option with 20 GB you can order directly online and get the sim card shipped to your home address. Click here to order this Orange sim card directly online.
Not a bad prepaid sim card deal, but not the best either! Orange prepaid sim cards are NOT 5G ready, they only offer 4G/LTE max data speed. Check their website for the Orange France website.
Bouygues Telecom France sim card
At Bouygues Telecom they actually have a designated prepaid sim card for tourists. They were also very helpful at their store and explained me everything about the Bouygues Telecom tourist prepaid sim card:
- 30 GB data plus unlimited calls and texts in Europe + €25 credit for international calls = €39.90
You can order this physical prepaid sim card directly online in this link. Or click here to order the above sim card plan as an e-sim card.
A Bouygues Telecom prepaid sim card is NOT 5G ready and only offers 4G/LTE.
You can use this France sim card all over Europe and therefore it is an amazing option for tourists traveling to Europe. This (e)-sim card needs to be activated in France first before you can use it in the rest of Europe. For more info check out the Bouygues Telecom website.
SFR France sim card
A SFR prepaid sim card cost €9,99 and comes with €5 credit and 50 MB internet. That of course is nothing and you will need to top up with one of the following packages.
- Mobile Internet Pass: 2 GB data valid for 10 days = €10
- World Pass: 2 GB data + unlimited international calling minutes valid for 30 days = €20
- 5G-enabled pass: 150 GB data + unlimited calls/sms in France valid for 30 days = €40
As SFR prepaid sim cards do NOT allow free EU roaming these sim cards are ok for traveling in France, but useless for traveling in Europe. The SFR prepaid sim cards are NOT 5G ready, unless you buy the most expensive prepaid sim card plan from €40 EUR. For more info check the SFR website.
Free Mobile France prepaid plans
Free Mobile France has one of the cheapest sim card deals in Europe! They offer a 5G plan with 210 GB data in France (25 GB free EU roaming included + many more countries), plus unlimited calls/texts and that only for €19,99.
When buying a prepaid sim card from Free Mobile, you also pay €10 EUR for the prepaid sim card itself, so add that to the package you are going to buy.
Great thing about Free Mobile is that their prepaid sim cards are 5G ready!
For more information check the Free Mobile website.
*After several complaints from Traveltomtom readers I decided dive deeper into buying a Free Mobile prepaid sim card. Some people would complain about Free Mobile charging them a recurrent payment after their holiday in France.
See the picture above! This ONLY happens when you are NOT careful when buying a FREE Mobile sim card in France. At the Free Mobile stores there are machines for buying a prepaid sim card and they are very easy. However, they are NOT in English, only in French!
There is a question in the process (on the machine) that asks you whether you a prepaid sim card that is unlimited valid or just valid for 1 month. Of course you have to opt for the 1 month payment otherwise you sign up for a 1 year contract.
I understand it is kind of confusing, but if there is a language barrier please ask for help from one of the Free Mobile employees that speak English.
It may seem that Free Mobile lures tourists into signing a yearly contract, but it is just a matter of being careful when ordering your prepaid sim card from the machine inside the Free Mobile store. Getting out of that 1 year contract seems to be very difficult / not possible. You have been warned!
Lycamobile France prepaid sim card
There is also Lycamobile, which operates on the network of Bouygues Telecom and offers France prepaid sim cards for tourists as well. Lycamobile sim cards are sold randomly in phone shops and convenience stores. Mostly they have a sign hanging outside to show they are Lycamobile resellers. To activate a Lycamobile sim card you have to pay €10.
Lycamobile France has 3 different packages:
- Pass national S: €10 - unlimited calling and texting in France + 3 GB
- Pass national M: €15 - unlimited calling and texting in France + 10 GB
- Pass national L: €20 - unlimited calling and texting in France + 12 GB
Connection is 4G/LTE and data packages are valid for 30 days all across Europe.
Best France data sim for tourists in 2023
After comparing the best prepaid sim cards in France we can come to the conclusion that FREE Mobile has the best prepaid sim card deals for France and the best 4G/5G network coverage in France, so normally it would be an easy conclusion! However...
As said above a bunch of my readers have reported problems with FREE Mobile and signed unwillingly a year long 'prepaid' contract. Initially paying just €9.99 but then ending up with recurring charges on their credit cards and getting out of it after contacting FREE Mobile seems to be very difficult.
Therefore Traveltomtom is a bit on the edge about recommending Free Mobile for traveling in France. But if you do it right or find the right person to help you then this is this best prepaid sim card for getting connected when traveling to France.
When comparing the other mobile internet operators in France, it turns out that Orange and Bouygues Telecom pretty much offer the same prepaid sim card deal for €39.90 with 20 GB data in all of Europe. Lycamobile is a little cheaper, but their data allowance is only valid in France and NOT in Europe.
Since Bouygues Telecom also has great 4G/5G network coverage Traveltomtom rates Bouygues Telecom as the best prepaid sim card in France in 2023, especially since they also offer the same sim card deal as an international prepaid sim card and an e-sim card and you can order them directly online and arrive prepared for your trip to France.
Here is also a vlog about my experiences buying a sim card in France on my recent trip.
Buy a sim card for France online
However, if you have very limited time for traveling to France you don't want to waste your time finding a Bouygues Telecom or Free Mobile store near your hotel. Therefore I recommend buying a sim card for France online. Get yourself an international travel sim card with coverage in France. These pre-activated prepaid sim card will be send to your home address before your trip.
Check out the following international prepaid sim card deals for France:
1. Orange Holiday ZEN - $29.90
- 8 GB data in all of Europe and UK
- Unlimited calls/sms in Europe and UK
- 30 minutes worldwide
- 200 sms worldwide
- Valid 14 days
2. O2 Go Card - $24.90
- 10 GB data in all of Europe and UK
- $2 calling credit in Europe and UK
- Valid for 30 days
3. Three Data Pack 12 GB - $29.90
- 12 GB data in all of Europe and UK
- Unlimited calls/sms within Europe and UK
- Valid 30 days
4. Orange Holiday Europe - $49.90
- 20 GB data in Europe and UK
- Unlimited calls/sms in Europe and UK
- 120 minutes worldwide
- 1,000 sms worldwide
- Valid 14 days
5. Bouygues Telecom My Europe Sim - $39.90
- 30 GB data in Europe and UK
- Unlimited calls/sms within Europe
- Valid 30 days
Click here to order an international prepaid sim card for France directly online or find more deals and info.
As you can see this last prepaid sim card deal for France from Bouygues Telecom is one of the best ones and recommended personally for traveling to France.
Also another last reminder that you can order an e-sim card for traveling in France and arrange everything online. For France data-only e-sim cards click here and for international e-sim cards for France including calls and text click here.
Let me know if you have any questions about traveling to France or France sim cards. I am happy to help you out so please leave me a comment below and I will do my best to get you an answer.
If you are curious what it looks like to travel to every country in the world then have a look at my Instagram account @traveltomtom and get fuelled with wanderlust. As of June 2023 I visited more than 155 countries.
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Enjoy your trip to France!
Some links in this article about the best ways to stay connected when traveling to France are affiliate links. If you buy any of the products after using an affiliate link I earn a small commission. This is at absolutely no extra cost to you!