To get the internet set up in France, you’ll need to get a France Telecom (Orange) line installed – see our section on telephones in France for details. Regardless of whether you want to use another provider for internet services you’ll still need to have a France Telecom line.
Your UK PC, laptop or Mac will work in France as will your English keyboard and you can install French software/hardware onto your UK computer. French keyboards are different from the QWERTYUP layout on an English keyboard so if you’re used to that you’ll find the French one needs some getting used to although it does have accented letters on it which you may find useful if you use them a lot. If not you can find accented letters in the Symbol button in the taskbar.
Internet service from France Telecom
We’d like to say that getting the internet set up in France is easy but it isn’t always the case. Setting up the internet with Orange is fairly straight forward but unlike some providers it includes using a disc – this does all the installation but you do need to be able to understand the French command words that prompt the steps and completion of installation – if you’re not familiar with the words a dictionary will help or a French speaker to aid might be useful. Having said that, Orange’s English speaking helpline are on hand to help, the telephone number from France is: 09 69 36 39 00 (note that they are available from 09.00 – 17.00 but closed between 12.00-13.00 Monday to Friday.
Internet access in France
Make sure that you protect your internet access in France against electrical surges. Depending on where you live in France your electrical goods may be at risk from strikes by electrical storms, power surges caused by power cuts and other untoward happenings, this is well known in parts of Southern France and it’s certainly the case in Northern France where power surges are quite common. You can avoid the problems this may cause by fitting a power surge protector for your PC, TV and other important equipment that can be affected. You can buy surge protectors easily in French supermarkets or DIY stores – “protection anti-foudre”.
Internet speed in France
Although France Telecom is continuing to work on improving internet access across France some rural areas have a much slower rate of operation in comparison with more populated areas. Some isolated properties may not have internet access at all so if it’s critical to you or you need it for work it’s worth checking before buying a property that the internet access is there and is good or can be improved. French cities have very high speed modern Broadband systems offering connection speeds up to 100Mbit if connection via the fibre optic network is accessible.
Dial up Internet access in France
If you don’t have Broadband access in your area but you have a telephone line, you can use the slower form of Dial up. There are two ways to access the internet with Dial up – Access Libre is without a contract and charges for each minute of use; or you can take out a contract for a set number of hours per month, this is incredibly expensive if you go over the set hours so make sure you check this out carefully. You may also be able to access the internet via a satellite provider such as Sky Europe or Orange France.
Dégroupage means to separate the Internet line from the fixed line telephone supply i.e. internet access independently from France Telecom. You will generally find that this is only available in highly residential areas and each independent supplier will have a package it offers. To find out if an area is “dégroupé” the French website Degroup Test offers a free and independent service: Click here www.degrouptest.com.
Internet Service from other providers in France
Popular choices for the provision of French internet services to English speaking internet users include UK Telecom or Teleconnect, both of whom offer instructions in English, English speaking backup, and need no software to be installed. You may need to be sent a modem to access this service and it can sometimes take a while so leave plenty of time to get this set up if your requirement is urgent. There are many French providers of internet (as well as phone and TV) services including electronic retailer Darty www.dartybox.com and Neuf Telecom which is one of the largest alternatives to France Telecom and adsl.sfr.fr.
What to do when you have problems with your Internet access in France
Internet access problems can be at best frustrating and at worst costly. If you have an issue with connection where it has already been working fine first check your router to make sure the internet connection or service is still working. Make sure the ADSL light is on – if it’s flashing this may indicate an issue with connection (also if the light is not green). In the event that rebooting doesn’t resolve the issue, call your internet provider for help – they should be able to test the line. Be aware that if you call the English speaking helpline for Orange France, they may pass you on to a technical engineer – not all of them speak French. If you have a Live Box internet connection with Orange France and it is faulty – you’ll need to take it to your nearest Orange shop and swap it (if it is still within the 12 month warranty period) or buy a new one.
Many French websites seem to be a bit behind the glossy presentations of their American cousins but if you want to access and use them and you need help with the language – you can use the Google translation bar which will automatically translate the site into English when you open the page.
For more information on setting up a telephone in France.
For more information on mobiles in France.