Cell phones and SIM cards in France

May 29th, 2007, 09:53 AM
  #1  
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Cell phones and SIM cards in France

My wife and I will be leaving in a few weeks for a 6 week stay in Paris. With the good advice and infinite patience of some exceptional fodorites we've bought two unlocked quad band phones to use as cell phones while we'll be there.

Now, here's the question. I've looked into buying a SIM card before we leave. Many websites offer French SIM cards but I'm wondering if they are a good deal.

Here's the basics: for 60 USD you get a SIM card, $10 of talk time, free incoming calls from anywhere in the world and .70 per minute for calling in France.

The free incoming calls is nice but the rest seems pretty expensive. We'll primarily be using the phones to call each other while we're in Paris

Does anyone have any thoughts on this. Perhaps it is better to just buy a SIM in France. I read on a thread that they're for sale at CDG?

Thanks!

SDA1 is offline  
May 29th, 2007, 10:03 AM
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I assume you are in the USA and are looking at web sites of such merchants as telestial and/or call abroad.

Don't buy from these merchants, especially in the case of France. First of all, they triple the price and then add on shipping and handling. Secondly all gsm carriers in Europe in their home country have free incoming calls and come with a certain amount of credit.

In the case of France, I don't know which one they are selling but I do know that with Orange FR you don't get your number with the sim card, you have to wait till you get to France, turn on the phone, dial a number and they will text you the number so the one small bit of "convenience" some feel they get from these expensive (I could use another word but would rather not) merchants namely of knowing your number in advance might well be lost.

I would wait till I get to France...you can check up on the various carriers by going to www.prepaidgsm.net which is a real mobile phone site unlike here where some so called "experts" (excepting myself of course) don't have a clue what they're talking about.

Perhaps the cheapest is Virgin Mobile FR, easy to purchase at a Virgin megastore one of which is located right on Champs Elysee...you can check the various price plans on the network operators...Orange France, SFR and Bouyges being the big 3.

Be aware, though, that calls to the USA and Canada on the French mobile network are very expensive...even callbackworld France to the USA is expensive...you should complement this with a calling card with a local French number not a so called 0800 number....you then make a domestic call and use the calling card to call home. But as noted, you will always get the free reception of calls while in France no matter which network you choose.
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May 29th, 2007, 10:10 AM
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xyz123 -- you are a god/goddess. thanks so much for the prompt and informative reply. we appreciate all your really good help throughout this process. we'll wait til we get to Paris and then buy our SIM cards there.

One quick follow-up. Do the SIM cards come with calling time or do we need to buy a SIM card and then minutes to add on?
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May 29th, 2007, 10:11 AM
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on last thing, I am in the USA and was looking at those precise sights you mentioned.
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May 29th, 2007, 10:11 AM
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Last Sept in France we purchased a 30E French SIM card from SFR, which came with 6 E of calls - at .55E per minute. Incomming calls are free. Do the Euro/Dollar conversion and you'll see that this is a bit less expensive than what you found on the internet. There are SF stores and other brands everywhere in France - it seem like there's one on e very block.

The free calls will go quickly, so learn how to re-charge your SIM card with more talking time. Note that the "re-charges" have expiration dates from 15 days to 6 months - depending upon how many re-charge Euros you buy.

Stu Dudley
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May 29th, 2007, 10:17 AM
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Thanks Stu. That is good to know. I think we'll do the same as you.

One other question about this process. If I call my wife while we're in Paris do we both pay or do just I -- as the caller -- pay?

Thanks!
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May 29th, 2007, 11:32 AM
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Incomming calls are free - so just you pay.

Stu Dudley
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May 29th, 2007, 11:52 AM
  #8  
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good to know -- thanks so much.
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