Communications

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Communications

Internet

Getting online in major cities in the south of France shouldn't be difficult. Most hotels have Wi-Fi access. Most laptops are dual-voltage, but you will need an adapter.

Phones

The good news is that you can now make a direct-dial telephone call from virtually any point on earth. The bad news? You can't always do so cheaply. Calling from a hotel is almost always the most expensive option; hotels usually add huge surcharges to all calls, particularly international ones. In some parts of France you can phone from call centers or even the post office. Calling cards usually keep costs to a minimum, but only if you purchase them locally.

The country code for France is 33. All phone numbers in France have a two-digit prefix determined by zone: Paris and the Île-de-France, 01; the northwest, 02; the northeast, 03; the southeast, 04; and the southwest, 05. Numbers beginning with 08 followed by an 00 are toll-free, but those beginning with 08–36 are toll calls (with an additional charge on top of making the call). Numbers beginning with 06 are mobile phones.

Note that when dialing France from abroad, drop the initial 0 from the number. For instance, to call a telephone number in Paris from the United States, dial 011–33 plus the phone number minus the initial 0 (phone numbers in this book are listed with the full 10 digits, which you use to make local calls). To call France from the United Kingdom, dial 00–33, then dial the number in France minus the initial 0. Note that toll-free numbers won't work outside of France.

Calling Cards

Most French pay phones are operated by télécartes (phone cards), which you can buy from post offices, métro stations, and tabacs (tobacco shops). There are almost no coin-operated pay phones left, but phone cards are accepted everywhere. There are a seemingly infinite number of phone card brands; the safest bet is the télécartes international, which cost about €14 for 50 units. You can also use your own credit card, but you'll get charged a minimum of €20: the credit expires after 30 days.

Calling Within France

To call anywhere in France while in France, dial the full 10-digit number, including the initial zero.

To find a number in France, dial 3912 for information. For international inquiries, dial 00–33–12 (–11 for the United States, –44 for the United Kingdom).

With the rise of mobile phones, phone booths are increasingly rare. Look for them in airports, train stations, post offices, and subway stations.

Calling Outside France

To call out of France, dial 00 and wait for the tone, then dial the country code (1 for the United States and Canada, 44 for the United Kingdom, 61 for Australia, 64 for New Zealand) and the area code (minus any initial 0) and number. Expect to be overcharged if you call from your hotel.

If you travel internationally frequently, save one of your old mobile phones or buy a cheap one on the Internet; ask your cell phone company to unlock it for you, and take it with you as a travel phone, buying a new SIM card with pay-as-you-go service in each destination.

Mobile Phones

If you have a multiband phone (some countries use different frequencies than what's used in the United States) and your service provider uses the world-standard GSM network (as do T-Mobile, Cingular, and Verizon), you can probably use your phone abroad. Roaming fees can be steep, however: 99¢ a minute is considered reasonable. And overseas you normally pay the toll charges for incoming calls. It's cheaper to send a text message than to make a call, but be aware that text fees vary greatly (from 15¢ to 75¢ and up), and you'll usually pay for incoming messages as well.

If you just want to make local calls, consider buying a new SIM card (note that your provider may have to unlock your phone for you to use a different SIM card) and a prepaid service plan in the destination. You'll then have a local number and can make local calls at local rates. If your trip is extensive, you could also simply buy a new cell phone in your destination, as the initial cost will be offset over time.

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