Internet in France by Stocksnap via Pixabay

Anyone visiting this site may be wondering about how they will connect to the Internet in France, and those already there may be wondering how to get the best out of their set-up and French ISP (Internet Service Provider). In this article we hope to help both groups.

Your equipment

Your UK desktop PC, laptop, or tablet will all work in France. You can install French software and hardware on a UK computer and all will seamlessly integrate. Similarly if you purchase a computer with a French version of an operating system, you can mix and match English and French files and software.

Many standard-length modem cables supplied in the UK are terminated in US RJ11 plugs at both ends because this is the standard connection to a PC. They are then fitted at one end with a suitable adapter for the UK. If this is the type of cable you are using, it’s a simple matter to remove the UK adapter and purchase the equivalent French adapter again from large supermarkets.

For ADSL internet connections, your ISP will probably provide you with a RJ11 cable to be used with a filter, which means you do not need to concern yourself with the above. However, you should not have too many problems finding the cable or adapter you need in French supermarkets.

Just because you are moving to France doesn’t mean that you have to change your keyboard. A French keyboard will have the accented letters immediately accessible but the configuration of the letters is different (AZERTY) from what you may be used to (QWERTY). If you only occasionally write in French or need accented letters on rare occasions, then definitely stick to your UK/US keyboard. If you do decide to purchase a French keyboard then use the Windows control panel (“Add Hardware”) to install it.

First you’ll need to check if broadband ADSL is available in your area (98% of France is covered). The service is “piggybacked” onto your existing analogue line without interrupting calls and costs around €25-€37 per month for unlimited use including the phone line monthly charge. If your line is in a zone degroupée you can opt to do away with the land line portion of the fee and only pay for ADSL. Fiber optic is also being rolled out nationwide, offering much higher speeds.

For those areas where broadband service is not available, or is too slow, a viable alternative is to use a satellite internet service.

If you know your phone number in France (or that of a close neighbour) or your 5 digit post-code, check for ADSL availability on your telephone line here:

Once established, use the same details on this site:

This will tell which provider you can use and a summary of which of their offers are suitable for your line. You can compare prices, and check the duration of the contract.


Having selected your ISP you will need to sign up for service. You will receive a Wifi box, your username and password in the mail in a few days, with instructions to activate your account.

The information will be something like this:

Login (“identifiant”) : may be in two parts – one for connection and one for e-mail.
Password (“mot de passe” or “code personnel”)
Phone number: the number of the landline you are connecting.
E-mail address: may be the same as your login.
Pop server address (incoming e-mail)
SMTP server address (outgoing e-mail)

If your computer doesn’t immediately recognize the Wifi signal, set up the new connection from your ‘wizard’ and follow the prompts. Input your login and password for your Wifi box. Be very careful to type these in exactly as they were given, including any capitals. Your new connection is now set up.

Setting up e-mail
You can log onto your e-mails using the homepage of your French ISP but if you prefer to use Microsoft Outlook, follow these instructions:
Open Outlook Express (OE) and click on Tools, Accounts, Add, Mail.
Follow the prompts and use the password, login (the e-mail “messagerie” one, if you were given two) and the SMTP and POP server information as mentioned above to fill in the blanks.

If you have an existing e-mail address that you want to retain as your principle one then for the “e-mail address” line use the address of your main ISP, not the new French one, and just use the new information to complete the other boxes. Once the wizard has finished you will see that you now have two entries in the “accounts” window where before you had only one. One will relate to your existing ISP. Highlight it and select “properties” at the right of the window. In the dialog box that comes up change the name to “UK” or whatever suits you.

Select the “connection” tab and uncheck the box that says “always connect using” if it is checked. Then click on OK to close the box.
Highlight the new French account and select “properties” as above. Change the name to “France” or whatever. Find the line just below this where it gives the e-mail address. This should give your main (UK?) e-mail address, not the new French one. If it doesn’t then change it. Click on “OK” to close the box.

Highlight the entry for the country that you are in and click on the “set as default” button at the right of the window. You should always change the default setting to suit the country that you are in. From now on whenever you create an outgoing message you will find that the top line where it says “From” has a drop-down box attached to it at the far right of the line. You MUST ensure that all outgoing messages are selected to show the country that you are in on this line. Any other setting will cause the message not to be sent.

Remember this and you should have no trouble at all and both your mailboxes will be checked whenever you click on “Send and Receive All”.

If you have an existing e-mail address but want the new one to become your main one, then carry out the procedure described above, but insert your new French e-mail address in the properties page of both accounts, and set the French account as the default. Always check that “France” is listed in the drop-down “From” box of all outgoing mail when you are in France. When in the UK check that “UK” is listed in that box. If this is to be your only e-mail address, then just add the new account as above, and delete any old ones that may be listed.

There are also many free Internet based e-mail facilities available if you prefer. Yahoo and Gmail are all popular don’t need you to make configuration changes depending on your geographical location. Nowadays they are very generous with storage space.

Useful French words and terms

Internet Service Provider (ISP): fournisseur d’acces internet (FAI)

Fixed Price Offer: un forfait

Dial-Up: Bas Débit

High Speed Internet: Haut Débit

Broadband: l’ADSL

Forfait: package fee/monthly fee

Abonnement: subscription



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