Mobile Phones in France
Finding the right “mobile phones in France” solution is one of the most vexing of issues for travellers in France, or in fact, anywhere overseas. While we don’t claim to be experts in this field, here are some of the lessons we’ve learned over the last 12 years of travelling to France.
Viber: this is a great service. It’s far from perfect, in that you’ll get frequent drop outs but the fact it’s free for voice calls and texts, makes it worth while putting up with the irritants. To use the service, the originator needs to be on WiFi and both parties need to have a smartphone with the app downloaded.
TravelSIM: we used this service on our 2013 trip to France. It cost $45 to get the SIM, and then you need to load value on the card. The good points about this service are that the cost of calls is about half what you would pay your local Australian provider and your family can call you for free (but you pay) on a 1800 number or text you for free when online. Also, if anyone calls your TravelSIM number, they pay for the call, not you and you can top-up the card’s value online during your travels. The negatives are that the service operates out of Estonia, and we found that the quality of service was sometimes poor, text messages can be delayed, and we couldn’t receive calls at all if our phone carrier was Orange (which is a fairly dominant Telco provider in France).
Pre-Paid SIM in France: we’ve seen variable success with this solution. However, it seems that if you buy from a reputable store (eg Orange) and get them to configure the service for you on your phone, especially choosing the right language to interface with, then it can work out quite well.
Maps-with-Me: if you have a smartphone, this app is fantastic. You can get it free or pay around $5 for an improved version. It’s really good: first, you download the maps of your required countries or regions before you depart or from a WiFi location when you’re travelling. Then, you can access them WITHOUT having global roaming on – ie no access costs. It’s great to use when wandering around cities, and we’ve found it useful sometimes when our Sat Nav isn’t giving us the information we need.