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eSIM for France: the 5 best plans in 2024 (+ discounts)

Networks, Speeds, Prices: our selection of the Cheap prepaid data eSIM plans that offer the best value to travelers visiting France.

Published: Oct 6, 2021

happy tourist in paris

Last updated on January 3rd, 2024

In a hurry ? Orange offers two eSIM great plans for France that work in Europe: "Holiday Zen" with 12GB data for 19.99€, and "Holiday Europe" with 30GB for 29.99€. Both include unlimited calls and texts in Europe, a French phone number and general calls and text allowances outside Europe.

Roughly Million visited France in 2019 (before the pandemic). This makes France the most visited country in the world by tourists. In France, Telecom companies consumer prices have been cut by a lot in the last few years. Historic providers, Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom, have been challenged by Free Mobile, a low cost operator, which helped bring prices down. Today, getting a prepaid data plan in France is rather cheap.

If you're going part of the luck ones to visit France in the next few months, you probably ask yourself what are going to be some great and affordable prepaid options to stay connected while you're here.

No matter the purpose of your trip to France, you probably want to spend every minute enjoying your stay. This article will tell you about the best eSIM plans and how to save your time instead of searching and buying a pricey local SIM card. Thanks an to eSIM, you will not need to visit local stores or local operator boutiques to buy a way to expensive prepaid sim card but instead get to "download.

As long as you have an eSIM compatible device (All iPhones since the iPhone XR and many Android devices are already too), this article is for you. We will cover how much data each eSIM offer, for how long it is valid, and whether or not it comes with a phone number, and includes calls and text messages.

What to check before you purchase an eSIM for France

With France being such a touristic country, many prepaid / travel eSIM plan options already exist. On esims.io, as of today, we list not than 400 plans from dozen of providers that target France!

That's a lot.

Not all eSIM plans are created equal, and there a few things you need to understand before you decide which eSIM plan you should purchase.

Verify the eSIM plan is by a MVNO or a Local Operator

When considering eSIM plans for use in France, it's essential to understand the difference between offerings from local telecom operators and those provided by Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs):

  • Local telecom operators, such as Orange, Bouygues Telecom, SFR, and Free Mobile, own and operate their network infrastructure. This means they have control over the network coverage, data speeds, and overall service quality within France. If you're planning to stay mainly within French borders, opting for a local provider can give you access to comprehensive coverage, reliable high-speed internet, and the peace of mind that comes with well-established customer service.

  • On the other hand, MVNOs like Holafly, Airalo, and Nomad do not own the physical network infrastructure. Instead, they have agreements with these local network operators to use their networks. MVNOs can offer more competitive prices or tailored plans for travelers, such as multi-country roaming, which could be beneficial if you're hopping across different European countries.

As for travel or tourist-specific plans, as of the latest information, Bouygues Telecom and Orange are the only ones to offer specialized eSIM plans catering to visitors' needs. All other prepaid eSIM options are offered by MVNOs & travel eSIM providers

Choosing an MVNO for your mobile service has PROs & CONs:

  • PRO: a MVNO can come with the advantage of network flexibility: for instnce, if your MVNO has agreements with multiple local network operators like Bouygues Telecom and Orange, your device can automatically switch between these networks to whichever offers a stronger signal or better coverage in your current location, giving you broader coverage across France compared to being locked to a single network.

  • CON: However, it's important to understand that while the local network provides the signal, the MVNO often manages the internet routing, which can influence your data experience. For example, even if you are connected to Orange's 5G network in France, the MVNO might route your internet traffic through international servers, such as in China (for instance), which is 8000 kms for France! This detour can increase latency, meaning there might be a delay between when you initiate an action and when it takes place, and potentially reduce internet speeds, which is especially bad for video calls. This delay can be explained because data packets have to travel a longer distance to and from these remote servers, leading to a delay in communication with the websites or online services you're trying to access.

Ensure your plan offers the best local network: Orange France or Bouygues Telecom

Provider

Success Rate (%)

Downlink Speed (Mbps)

Uplink Speed (Mbps)

Response Time (ms)

Web Browsing (%)

YouTube Streaming (%)

5G Score (nPoints)

Bouygues

95.19

177.12

26.43

✅ 28.22

81.13

90.43

115,532

Free

96.14

185.84

17.62

41.72

79.59

88.55

105,050

Orange

✅ 96.97

✅ 343.98

29.20

33.21

✅ 81.95

✅ 91.19

✅ 123,604

SFR

96.03

275.17

✅ 29.52

28.68

81.48

89.52

121,565

Summary table, Nperf 5G report

In France, the mobile network landscape is primarily dominated by four major operators: Orange, Bouygues Telecom, SFR, and Free Mobile.

Among these, Orange stands out as providing the best overall coverage, particularly excelling in both urban and rural areas. According to a study, Orange ensures about 96% uninterrupted mobile calls in urban areas and 85% in rural areas, along with a high percentage of web pages loading quickly across different regions.

This comprehensive coverage makes Orange the best choice for users who need consistent connectivity across various locations in France.

Bouygues Telecom offers good coverage in urban areas but is slightly less reliable in rural regions. Similarly, SFR and Free Mobile deliver comparable levels of coverage to each other, both slightly trailing behind Orange, especially in rural areas.

In terms of specific network performance metrics, as reported by Opensignal in May 2021, Orange also leads in several key areas. It has been recognized for providing the best experience in categories such as video experience, games experience, voice app experience, download and upload speeds, and 4G coverage experience, meaning that Orange not only covers a wider area but also delivers superior service quality in terms of speed and reliability!

✅ As a result, before you purchase your eSIM plan, you should make sure it's compatible with Orange if you want the best network.

Understand features and restrictions of your eSIM plan

When selecting an eSIM plan in France, it's essential to consider the various features and potential limitations that come with you plan, and that are not always obvious:

  • Phone Numbers and Messaging: Many eSIM plans primarily offer data services, which are perfect for apps like WhatsApp or FaceTime. However, if your requirements include a traditional phone number for calls or SMS, you'll need to explore your options more thoroughly. Some eSIM plans provide a standard phone number, whereas others might necessitate the use of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) applications. It's important to note that certain services, including some ride-sharing apps, may not accept VoIP numbers. Quite often, local providers will offer a phone number natively in their eSIM plan, with voice and text that MVNOs will not be offering.

  • Data Tethering: If you anticipate the need to share your mobile data connection with other devices, such as tablets or laptops, you should confirm whether tethering is permitted under the eSIM plan you're considering. This feature is not universally available, so it’s crucial to verify before committing to a plan.

  • "Unlimited" Data Plans and Fair Usage: The term "unlimited" can be misleading. It's imperative to scrutinize the terms and conditions for any Fair Usage Policy (FUP) that may be in place. These policies often define usage limits after which your data speeds can be throttled. For instance, an "unlimited" plan might only offer high-speed data up to a certain threshold, beyond which the service may be slower.

What are the best prepaid eSIM plans for France?

Orange Holiday eSIM: 12GB & 30GB plans with phone number, calls and texts

If you need something more robust, Orange, the best phone operator in France, offers great eSIM plans for travelers.

Orange's prepaid eSIM plans are especially designed for travel in France and across Europe:

Their first plan "Orange Holiday Zen" comes with 12GB of 4G speed data that you can use all over Europe (39 countries), and it is valid for 14 days from activation. It costs 19.99€. It also includes unlimited calls and texts from Europe to Europe + 30 min calls & 200 SMS from Europe to non-Europe countries.

sold by esims.ioSold by esims.io
Data

12 GB

Validity14 day(s)

39 countries

Data and Phone number*

$21.61

$1.80/GB
Learn more â€ș

Their second plan "Orange Holiday Europe" has the same exact features, except it includes 30GB of data, and costs 29.99 €. Same as the other, it also includes unlimited calls and texts from Europe to Europe + 120 min calls & 1000 SMS from Europe to non-Europe countries!

sold by esims.ioSold by esims.io
Data

30 GB

Validity14 day(s)

39 countries

Data and Phone number*

$32.56

$1.09/GB
Learn more â€ș

Those two plans include the following other features:

  • No usage limitation (data tethering allowed, usage in a hotspot, apps or videos allowed)

  • The eSIM valid for 6 months renewable depending on the recharge chosen. Top-up online is available for €20 or €40.

  • This eSIM comes with UNLIMITED calls and texts from and to Europe!

  • This eSIM comes with calls and texts from Europe to the World! (30 min & 200 texts)

  • The eSIM comes with a French phone number đŸ‡«đŸ‡· (+33)

Those plans are a bit on the pricier side, but considering the perks that come with the phone number, texts and calls and its long validity, we think they're amazing value for money.

orange_number_screenshot

Right after activating our Orange Holiday eSIM line (from Portugal) a welcome message was delivered via SMS along with our phone number.

The best eSIM for light data users: Airalo (up to 3GB of data)

If you're going to France and don't need that much data, can only recommend you go with Airalo's "Bonbon Mobile plans". For instance, for $10.00, you can get 3GB of mobile data ($3.33/GB) valid for 30 days.

airalo offers 5G on SFR, Bouygues Telecom, and Orange

Airalo offers 5G on SFR, Bouygues Telecom, and Orange

This plan is slightly more expensive, but is extremely good in terms of roaming options: you will get the chance to use three main local operator's network - Orange, Bouygues, SFR - depending on your connectivity.

This plan offers 5G, and also exists in other variants with will offer you more data.

Data

3 GB

Validity30 day(s)

đŸ‡«đŸ‡· France

Data only

Network(s) : Orange (5G), Bouygues (5G), SFR (5G)

Special Offer: 15% OFF

$8.50

$10.00

$2.83/GB
Learn more â€ș

Keepgo & BNESIM: for 50GB+ plans

If what you need is heavy amounts of data for work, gaming, or streaming, then those plans are what we would recommend. Be prepared to pay much more money than for the plans listed above.

Keepgo (an Israel based provider) offers a great "large" data plan: for $95.00, you will get access to 50GB of data, valid for 365 days (which is great!)

Data

50 GB

Validity365 day(s)

25 countries

Data only

$100.00

$2.00/GB
Learn more â€ș

BNESIM offers a 100GB/month data plan for $143.81. Careful: this plan renews every months but can be cancelled at any time. BNESIM partners with Free Mobile and Bouygues Telecom so you will be able to use those two networks.

Data

100 GB

Validity30 day(s)
Autorenew plan

đŸ‡«đŸ‡· France

Data only

Network(s) : ORANGE, FREE, BOUYGUES (5G)

Special Offer: €20 OFF

$81.43

$103.15

$0.81/GB
Learn more â€ș

Conclusion

You will find many great and affordable eSIM options for France. If you're travelling to France for a month or less, your best options will be to go with a plan that works on Orange and Bouygues networks. If you need more prepaid eSIM options for France, including, data, phone numbers, voice and texts, you can visit esims.io.

Redteagologo

France

Redteago

$6.60

BNESIMlogo

Surf 1GB/month in Europe

BNESIM

$0.68

BNESIMlogo

Surf 1GB/month in France

BNESIM

$0.68

Ubigilogo

FRANCE

Ubigi

$7.50

BNESIMlogo

Surf 20GB/month in France

BNESIM

$15.57

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