Cell Phones and Internet
Many students find cell phones to be a necessary part of their stay in France. Luckily, if you choose to get a cell phone for your time in France, you will not need to sign a contract or enroll in a monthly plan. Pre-paid plans with no monthly fee are available through the various French cellular service providers.
In some cases, you may be able to bring a cell phone you already have and simply purchase a SIM card in France. Any phone you bring must be “unlocked” (able to accept SIM cards with other service providers, which is not often the case in the U.S.), and must be able to operate on at least the GSM 900 and 1800 MHz frequencies. Your phone’s documentation should contain this information, but contact your service provider if you’re not sure if your phone will work in France.
If your phone is not compatible, you can purchase one online before you leave for France, or once you arrive. There are stores for cell phone service providers in the center of every French city.
Prepaid SIM cards and additional minutes can be purchased in the stores of the various cellular service providers, or in many convenience stores (tabac/presse).
Almost every student dormitory and university campus in France provides free internet access to students. You may need to obtain a username and password to access the university’s network; your university will give you this information when you register.
If you need to access the internet from a public space, check out the location of your nearest Espaces Publics Numériques (in French only). Some public buildings across France offer free Web access, often found in multimedia centers or libraries — locate any near you using this interactive map.
If you don’t own a laptop or other internet-enabled device, don’t worry — most universities have computers available for student use on campus. Depending on your location, you will likely find internet cafes in town where you can pay by the hour to get online.