Getting connected in France

Getting connected to the internet, obtaining satellite TV and setting up a land line and a mobile phone line are all relatively easy tasks in France.


Getting connected to the internet, obtaining satellite TV and setting up a land line and a mobile phone line are all relatively easy tasks in France. As in the UK, there are many internet and phone providers and it is simply a question of comparing prices and your personal requirements. A little homework will go a long way! 

As the internet market is deregulated in France, there are many providers offering a variety of packages and services.  The main providers are as follows:

  • Alice Adsl
  • Darty Box
  • Free
  • SFR
  • Numericable
  • Orange  
  • Teleconnect

Orange (previously known as Wanadoo, a subsidiary of France Telecom) still represents about half of the French market and they offer a good service for a total internet/telephone package. There are options available such as having an hour’s free call time to foreign land line numbers, which comes in really handy for Brits moving to France. They also offer a good service with a help hotline in English.

Free is a popular network provider in France. Unlike Orange, Alice, SFR, Bouygues or Darty, they do not have shops so your subscription will be wholly carried out on line or by telephone but they do offer a competitive rate. If you prefer talking in person to go over your options, you will find shops for the above five providers in most towns in France. Alice, which historically was Tiscali, account for a small percentage of the market and Bouyges Telecom quite recently became internet providers as well as offering phone service.

Since the end of 2008 France has had over 16 million broadband connections. This means that most towns and villages are well connected now. In fact, France is the second largest ADSL market in Europe.

Satellite TV is widely available in France and if you can’t bear the idea of missing your favourite UK programmes, you can get access easily by installing a satellite dish. This needs to be pointed in the right direction, has to be cabled to your TV and have a satellite receiver – also known as a digibox (a freeview box is a digital receiver for signals via an aerial). If you are bringing your TV over with you from the UK it will work with your UK system in France. Similarly, your DVD player will work with French DVDs.

Note that in France your TV licence, which will cost you around €120 (approx. £93) is paid within your taxe d’habitation bill so if you decide not to have a TV, you will need to opt out and let the tax authorities know so they can deduct the fee.

You can obtain a digibox from most supermarkets and DIY stores quite cheaply in France but our advice would be to enlist the services of a technician to install it as well as your satellite dish because unless you are extremely technically minded, they can be tricky to set up! You may also like to consider Sky digiboxes and Freesat digiboxes. Again, employing the services of a technician will enable you to decide what is right for you. Some boxes will offer both UK and French radio channels – so you should make sure that you make a decision based on what you would like to access.

Many people are convinced that it is illegal to have Sky in France but this is not strictly true. Sky do maintain that you will be breaking the law by having a Sky subscription outside the UK but since Sky actually don’t have a licence to broadcast away from the UK, if they supply you with a subscription service, it is they who are responsible. It is not illegal to have UK TV in France and many people carry on with their subscription. However, consider other digiboxes before committing to this option since Sky are notoriously expensive.

If you are planning to renovate your property, it is wise to consider your TV requirements early on as cables can then be hidden at the outset. Ideally there should be no break in the cable run from the digibox to the satellite dish. French digiboxes can be linked together, unlike in the UK. A helpful start is to subscribe to the English language newspaper “The Connexion” which frequently publishes adverts from English TV/digibox technicians all over France.

With such a wide choice of providers for both internet, phone and TV, you are unlikely to have a single day without good communication in France!

One final tip, when buying property in France, relocating there or setting up your new home, using a currency exchange specialist rather than a bank to transfer your money could save you thousands. Smart Currency Exchange can help you do this – for more information download their free guide byclicking here.