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Cell phones in France and England

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Hello everyone. I have been reading some posts about SIM cards / smartphones in London and Paris, but many of the threads are at least a year or two old and apparently things have changed since then.
As some of you know from helping out on my other threads, we are a family of 4 in London for 2 days and Paris for 4 days this fall. In the past we have opted not to use cell phones on our vacations to Italy and Ireland, but we may want to have 2 available this trip, one for the teens and one for the adults. We'll most likely only use them if we get unintentionally separated from each other or so lost a map is of little help. I also feel not quite as obvious about being lost if using a cell rather than whipping out the map in the middle of a crowded street.

Here is what I know thanks to Stcirq and a few others

We can buy unlocked, quad band, dual sim, GSM phones on Amazon. I found one by Blu at $50 and LG at &25. I am a bit of a Luddite at heart, so I don't know what the difference between the two is aside from the price.

I know you can order sims from Lebara with prepaid minutes and it can be shipped to my home in the U.S. Is this a SIM card for use in France only? If it's not only for use in France, how pricey are roaming fees between England and France?

Once you purchase the sim and pop it into the phone, are we good to go or is there some sort of registration or activation we need to do and can that be done from the U.S. or must it be done when we arrive in Paris?

Also my cell phone carrier, Verizon, offers a travel pass plan for $10 per phone per day, but I believe Verizon uses CDMA and GSM is available in Europe. Again, as a Luddite, I'm not at all sure what that all means , but it appears that makes them incompatible? I'm also fairly certain there must be some hidden fees etc. I don't find cell phone service providers to be the most transparent when it comes to fees.

Thank you for any thoughts on the subject you care to share.

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