You can choose from a number of providers in France to install and manage your telephone line. When ordering a new line from Orange (aka France Telecom) directly, they are likely to offer you to sign up for a call package, but you are not obligated to use them, it’s optional. If you decide to go with the bare line rental, always check your first invoice to see that no other costs than line rental are included except for those you actually ordered.Your line rental should amount to approximately €16.00 per month.
Orange has an English speaking service which can reached internationally and is not surcharged. This department deals with sales and also technical help and advice, set up, and maintenance. They even deal with mobile phones but in a limited context, due to French legal regulations in effect.
Orange English-speaking helpline: 09 69 36 39 00 (the number can be reached from France or abroad, calls are charged at your telephone company rates)
The service will typically include:
– information and advice about available products and services (mobile, internet or fixed line).
– information and advice about billing and payment.
– activation and termination of all services for residential customers (analogue and ISDN line, discount plan, Contact services such as call waiting, caller ID, etc…)
Orange also has a guaranteed 24 hour service, where they will provide a solution within 24 hours, if anything goes wrong.
All companies in Europe allow for payment from a UK bank account and vice versa according to the European wide system called SEPA.
Apart from line rental (see above) the major cost is obviously for the calls you make. Thanks to industry deregulation a whole host of other telephone suppliers can offer you cheap rate calls for which you will be billed separately. You will hear many recommendations from people for different suppliers but it all depends on your call volumes, when you call, what country you call, your use of fixed vs mobile and your use of the internet.
You will need to provide proof of your address and identity to your local Orange office (phone 1014) or send copies to your alternative provider following the connection of the new line. In most areas companies will not install or connect a line until the previous occupant has informed them and vacated the property. A new number will be assigned in all cases.
To set up an analogical line costs around € 55. There may be additional costs (usually € 69) if there is no line from the pole to the house or if there hasn’t been an active line for a number of years. To set up a digital line costs nothing, unless work (as described above) is required. If you want a ‘Ligne Residence Secondaire’ (for second home owners who want to suspend the line from time to time) you will need to provide Orange with proof that your main residence is elsewhere.
Phone Numbers & Tariffs
Dial 15 for SAMU (Emergency Services, Ambulance)
Dial 17 for Police
Dial 18 for Fire Services
Dial 12 for Directory Enquiries
Numbers beginning 06 are mobile numbers. The cost of these calls will depend upon your chosen provider (see above).
French phone numbers are written and spoken in pairs, i.e. two numbers at a time, with the number usually spoken as the full number e.g. 26 = vingt-six not deux six.
Plugs and sockets
In this respect the French telephone system is unique. French phones have a large flat plug or prise and a special socket to receive the plug. You can buy adapters from DIY and electrical outlets in France which will allow you to plug in a US style RJ11 plug into the French socket. The RJ11 is the type of small plug commonly found on modem leads. If you are connecting equipment which is fitted with UK (BT) plugs you need to first purchase another adapter which will accept your UK plug and adapt it to an RJ11 plug i.e. you will use two adapters connected together. This sounds convoluted but works fine in practice. It is worth purchasing some adapters before your trip to France as you may not be able to find the right items in local stores.
Alternatively, a number of people have found that they are able to remove the UK plug, strip back the wires and (largely through trial and error) connect a French plug (easily purchased at your local DIY store) to their phone and make it work.
Please note however that not all UK telephone equipment works on the French phone system so if all of the above options fail you may still need to purchase new phones in France.
You can obtain your local “Annuaire” (Local directory and yellow pages, sometimes combined in one volume) for free from Orange (call 1014).
Most people will need an internet connection. This topic, including selecting Internet Service Providers and advice on re-configuring your email is covered here: Internet in France.