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How to get cheap internet while traveling in France
Vanlife and internet
One of the main questions we get asked about living on the road is, “How do you earn income?” Well, we work online. And for that we need good and steady internet. Which isn’t always easy!
Most of the time we are in low coverage areas like the mountains or other spots in nature, where we stay for a night or even longer if possible. We have an extra Mifi router with us in our van, but it doesn’t work if there’s no signal and that’s a problem sometimes.
But, the biggest problem with internet? The costs..
In this blog we will tell you all about our solution to that problem. The best and cheapest internet in France!
Since 2017 dataroaming in Europe is free. Which means that if you’re from the Netherlands (or any other country in the EU), you can use your own data package in another country in Europe. Without the risk of finding huge data roaming bills when you get back home. Amazing right?!
Fair use policy
While this is much better and easier than a few years ago, there’s still some things to keep in mind when you’re traveling around for a longer period of time. Like us.
Europe has made a rule that protects each country against misuse of data by people from another country. This is called the Fair Use Policy (FUP) and is quite unknown to a lot of people still.
How does the FUP work?
You are allowed to roam (data) freely in another EU country for a few weeks or so, but if you end up using your data bundle more in another country than at home (your own country), there will be consequences.
You can find the Fair Use Policy of your provider in their policies, to check how much data is allowed for roaming in the EU. We for instance have a Vodafone RED Together bundle and together we can use 100 GB each month. But, this applies only for usage in the Netherlands. When we are traveling in Europe, we can only use 80 GB together (40 GB each).
Providers in France
France has a long list of mobile providers which all offer different options for internet in France, but in a similar way. The big ones are Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom and Free Mobile.
The bigger providers like Orange and SFR have great deals and a lot of stores all across the country. With great deals and good prices, it’s not surprising that they’re leading the scene. But, they are only good if you live in France.
At first when we were looking for a data sim card we thought we were in the right place with these providers, but they needed prove of residence at all times. Even when buying a prepaid sim or a non-contractual sim.
Non-residents in France
Well, what about the travelers you think? Yes, that’s what we thought as well and we figured it out for you.
The solution for internet in France
Well, we didn’t lead you all the way here to tell you we have no solution for the best and cheapest internet in France. We do and it’s called Free Mobile!
Free Mobile sim card
Free Mobile is a French provider that works with awesome prepaid mobile plans and doesn’t need you to give up a whole lot of information. They work with prepaid sim cards that you can get out of a Free Mobile ‘vending machine’ all over France.
What does a Free Mobile sim card cost
Okay, this is the most awesome part of Free Mobile. They are cheap! The sim card itself will cost you €10,00 and then you can choose your data bundle. The ones we used were 90 GB for €8,99 and 210 GB for €19,99.
Because these packages are prepaid, you don’t have to worry about Free Mobile silently renewing your package at the end of the month. Easy does it!
Where to get a Free Mobile sim card
When you visit the Free Mobile website, you can search for all the locations with Free Mobile terminals in the area. They have Free Mobile shops, but they have these terminals also at local ‘Maison de la Presse’ and ‘Mag Presse’ (post office) shops. Just ask at the counter or find the red machine in the shop.
How does it work
Once you’ve found a terminal, you just follow the steps on the screen:
#1 Choose Forfait Mobile Free “S’ABONNER”
#2 Choose continue
#3 Choose “Valide 1 mois” (No contract)
#4 Choose one of the phone numbers
#5 Choose “mini, micro or nano” sim
#6 Go to check out “Procéder au payment pour obtenir ma carte sim”
#7 Pay with your bank cart
#8 Now fill in your name and email address
#9 Now fill in your ‘home’ address (here’s where it gets tricky when you don’t really live in France. But, our solution was just to fill in the address of a campsite or the shop you’re standing in)
#10 É Voila! Your sim card is ready.
One thing that we certainly can’t live without anymore is our NETGEAR Mifi router. Yes Mifi, not Wifi. It works like wifi, only in this case the Mifi router is where you set up the wifi connection.
How does it work
It is a small device in which you can put a sim card with data. Just like a wifi router at home or a wifi spot on a campsite, you connect your phone or computer to this Mifi router’s WIFI name.
The NETGEAR Nighthawk M1 Mobile Hotspot router is amazing and very easy to use. It tells you just how much data you have left on your sim card, for how many days you can use your data and how strong the connection is.
Can you use it everywhere?
You can use your Mifi router anywhere where there is a cellular connection, just like with your phone. Most of these router devices have strong antennes so you’ll receive 4G or 5G easily in most locations. But, you can’t get blood from a stone.. so where there’s no cellular connection to receive, the device will not work.
If you know you’ll be in spots with bad service, you can always choose to add a WIFI Booster.
Hi! We’re Tim & Ilse
Together with our fluffy cat Snowy we travel around the world searching for adventures.