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Snail-pace data, good deal: Which French mobile operator do you use?

Our readers give their opinions on phone networks, from coverage to cost to internet speed

France’s four mobile four network operators are Orange, SFR, Bouygues Télécom and Free Mobile Pic: Sylv1rob1, ricochet64, Karolis Kavolelis / Shutterstock

Several Connexion readers have written in to give their opinions on the mobile operators that they use, including Bouygues, Orange, Free, Lebara and Sosh. 

Some reported being satisfied with the internet speed and price, while others complained about lack of coverage and expensive tarifs. 

There are over 70 mobile operators in France, although there are only four network operators – Orange, SFR, Bouygues Télécom and Free Mobile. These four own the wireless network infrastructure in France. 

Other operators, known as mobile virtual network operators, rent the networks of the four main companies. 

We highlight below some of the responses you gave, including where possible the user’s location. 

Read more: Can I use my French mobile in the UK without roaming fees?

T.H, Manche (Normandy): Orange

We use Orange.

What do we think of them? Not much. But then we do not have much choice as Orange almost has a monopoly.  

Our fixed service (also Orange) is absolute rubbish too. We live in rural Normandy and when you see the state of the copper wire running between the poles it is a wonder the telephones work at all.

I recently tried to upload an 18-minute video to Youtube and it took over five hours!  

When I went on the forum (you can’t contact Orange directly for advice) to ask why our internet service was so slow I was told by [forum users] there that ‘what do you expect, you live in the country!’. 

So we are expected to just accept poor service.

As for the mobile service, there is talk about 5G throughout France. We are lucky if we get 3G. We are told we live in a ‘white zone’ (zone blanche, an area with poor internet connection). So that’s it, tough. 

Douglas Snowden, Creuse (Nouvelle-Aquitaine): Lebara

At the recommendation of a French relative, I took out a contract with Lebara over a year ago and have been extremely happy with the service. 

There are several deals available, and I use the monthly plan costing €9.99. 

This gives me 20Gb of data, unlimited calls in France to fixed and mobile numbers and up to four hours to most international numbers (e.g. the UK), including mobiles. 

There are also unlimited text messages within France. I chose this mostly because the cost is so reasonable, and I have not been disappointed with the quality of calls. 

I believe Lebara uses the Orange network, so most of France is covered.

Mark Bennett, Morbihan (Brittany): Sosh

I now use Sosh in preference to my previous service provider, La Poste. 

The Orange network used by the former gives me so much better local coverage than SFR did with the latter, it’s considerably cheaper too.

I did have a lot of trouble persuading La Poste to give me my PAC number (RIO, in French) so I could retain my number. They tried all sorts of arguments to get me to stay with them and continue using their service, which simply didn’t give me sufficient coverage . 

I gather that the RIO can now be obtained for free by dialling 3179.

Colin Trickett, Herault: Bouygues

My wife and I both use Bouygues and have found them excellent.

Bob Loomes, central France: Lebara

I use Lebara when I'm in France. 

We spend (Covid-permitting) five months or so (with a visa since Brexit) on our boat on the canals in central France and have dual sim phones. 

We use Giffgaff for England and Lebara for France. Both have monthly rolling contracts so we can stop paying for one while we use the other. 

Lebara recently changed their network, necessitating new sim cards which they would not send to England. The new sims therefore sat in the marina office waiting for us for several months. 

It was quite a complex process setting them up for data but customer services were fairly prompt at replying to emails (sent with roaming Giffgaff) to sort us out. 

Much better value for data than we can get in England and overall I’m pleased with the choices we made.

Stephen Sullivan: Orange

I use orange as they were more responsive than my previous provider. 

As for satisfaction, it is not that good for mobile signal and the internet is about as quick as a snail. So much for high-speed internet throughout France!

Phillippa C, Aveyron: Free

I, as do many French people I know, use free at €2 per month. The coverage here in this part [of France] isn't brilliant. We do have to reboot our phones every so often as we lose the signal and then the phone doesn't automatically reconnect afterwards. But at only €2 per month I'm prepared to put up with that. At the moment, it does allow us to call UK numbers whilst in the UK, for no extra charge, where it has better coverage. I don't know how long that will continue.

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