Just like me you are going to be one of the millions of foreigners who visit France every month. Most of us are going to Paris and all of us take pictures with the Eiffel Tower. It is a common thing to do and we all love sharing our travels online. So in order to avoid crazy roaming costs best thing to do is to buy a prepaid sim card in France with data.
Mobile operators in France
There are 4 major mobile phone 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 one of these 4, but do they also have the best prepaid sim card in France for tourists?
I also found a place where they sold LycaMobile prepaid sim cards for France and will discuss them as well.
Buying a sim card in France
All of the 4 mobile phone providers have multiple shops around all tourist spots in France and you can buy a sim card at Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris as well. But if you have read my guide to buying a sim card at Frankfurt Airport or Amsterdam Airport you know that buying a sim card at any airport is not the best idea.
Buy a sim card in Paris
In order to write this detailed article about the best sim card for France I roamed around Paris for you. Basically I visited all the 4 mobile operator shops to see who is offering the best tourist sim card in Paris. It is a little challenge as you know French people are not those who speak the best English in the world. At some shops people would only help me in French. That is France, get used to it.
Where to buy a sim card in Paris?
Simply go to Google Maps and type in one of the 4 mobile phone operators and see where is the nearest shop to you. But wait till I show you what is the best prepaid sim card in France, so you know in which direction to go.
Network coverage France sim card in 2018
First of all lets have a look at the 4G coverage maps for Orange, Free Mobile, Bouygues Telecom and SFR.
4G Coverage map of Bouygues Telecom
4G Coverage map of SFR
4G Coverage map of Orange
4G Coverage map of Free Mobile
From the 4G coverage maps we can clearly see that Free Mobile has a way smaller network than Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom. In all famous tourist spots in France Free Mobile has still great 4G coverage, but if you go off the beaten path this may be not the best prepaid sim card in France.
If you are simply looking for the best network coverage then you should go for a Bouygues Telecom prepaid sim card. But first lets have a look at the prices for sim cards in France. You might change your mind! And oh yeah almost forgot to mention Lycamobile France! More about it later…
Prices France data sim in 2018
Walking in to the Orange shop they straight away claimed to have the best package prepaid sim card package for France. Mostly when a too actively selling guy is claiming this, he is lying! So was this guy, because Orange does not offer the best France data sim package.
There is only 1 package available for tourists:
- 10GB data in Europe
- 2 hours calling (from Europe to anywhere)
- 1000 text messages (from Europe to anywhere)
Be careful this sim card is only valid for 14 days!
I must admit the Orange shop at Champs Elysees is a pretty nice one.
At Bouygues Telecom they were really helpful and basically told me the prepaid sim cards for France they were offering were not the best options on the market. And they were right about it.
These were the data packages available
- 1GB in France only
- Valid for 1 month
- 2GB in France only
- Valid for 1 month
- 5GB in France only
- Valid for 2 months
For calling you need to pay extra packages, see the chart down below.
As you can understand this is not the best prepaid data sim card for France available.
I went to two SFR shops and at both of them the prepaid sim cards were sold out. Strange because their data packages are not that spectacular! Sim cards cost €10 to activate and these are the available data packages for tourists.
Data package 1
- 1GB data only in France
- Valid for 10 days
- No calling credit
Data package 2
- 8GB data only in France
- Valid for 30 days
- No calling credit
Package SFR Kit Welcome
- 5GB data only in France
- 2h calling time to any number in the world
- Valid for 30 days
As you can see the restriction of data only being available in France makes a SFR sim card a no-go for travelers on a trip through Europe.
They might have the smallest network of all 4 but you should see the France data sim Free Mobile is offering.
Free mobile sells only one prepaid sim card with data, but that is a great package:
- €10 for a prepaid sim card in France
- €20 package
- Total costs €30
- Unlimited calling and texting in France
- 100GB data in France
- 25GB data in Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, China and some more countries
- Unlimited calling and texting in these countries
This data packages from Free Mobile definitely seems like a winner to me! Plus you can recharge your Free Mobile prepaid sim card online after 30 days, so basically keep on traveling with this data package.
And then there is also Lycamobile, which operates on the network of Bouygues Telecom and offers France prepaid sim cards as well. Lycamobile sim cards are sold randomly in phone shops. Mostly they have a sign hanging outside to show they are 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 + 3GB
Pass national M: €15 - unlimited calling and texting in France + 10GB (BEST BUY)
Pass national L: €20 - unlimited calling and texting in France + 12GB
Connection is 4G and data packages are valid for 30 days all across Europe.
Portable WiFi device for up to 5 connections: TEP Wireless
May be you want to consider buying a protable WiFi device so you dont have to switch sim cards and mobile numbers. Have a look at TEP Wireless, a devices with unlimited data for a couple dollars per day in more than 100 countries and it lets you connect 5 devices (laptops, smartphones and tablets) at the same time. All your family members online in one go with TEP Wireless.
Best France data sim for tourists in 2018
Now we have seen the prices, the data packages and the network coverage for all 4 mobile providers in France and Lycamobile we can come to a conclusion and find the best-prepaid sim card in France for tourists.
- If you are traveling around Europe then I would not recommend buying a Bouygues Telecom or a SFR sim card as their data is only valid for France.
- If you are traveling in France/Europe for longer than 14 days then I would not recommend you to buy a Orange sim card as they are only valid for 14 days.
- Orange offers a bigger package then SFR, but is only valid for 14 days instead of 30 days for SFR.
- The French mobile internet providers offers large data packages, great plus. For example buying a German prepaid sim card, a 3GB data package is the biggest one available.
In my opinion the best prepaid sim card for France in 2018 is Free Mobile!
Their data packages are huge and can be considered unlimited and the price is cheaper than all the other 3 mobile providers SFR, Orange and Bouygues Telecom. I love the flexibility of the Free Mobile sim card for tourists, almost everything is included plus after 30 days you are able to renew your prepaid package online. How good is that?
If you stick to the main tourist spots in France you will enjoy a 4G signal with Free Mobile, if you go off the beaten path you might have to deal with 3G, but that is still alright I would say.
At least buying a French sim card is cheaper than buying a prepaid sim card in Netherlands. Value for money is way less and believe me I did the math for you. Click to see the prices in Holland for a prepaid sim card.
If buying a new sim card upon arrival is too much hassle for you then have a look at the European traveler SIM card from SIMEASY. You order your sim card online and it will be send to your home address. As soon as the plane touches the ground in Paris you are online! Oh and the price? €25 for 4GB! :)
As being connected to the internet is vital to me I always research for the best sim card available in countries I travel to. That is why I also wrote guides for the best sim card in Greece, Turkey, etc.
I hope this article was helpful for you. Please let me know your experiences with buying a sim card in Paris.