Updated by Hilary Norris

Along with connecting utilities, installing a telephone line will be high on your ‘must do’ list when you first move into your home in France.

France Télécom was the historical telecommunications operator for France, but it is now known as Orange. With deregulation of the French telephone sector in the late 1990s, Orange now competes with several other providers, including SFR, Bouygues Telecom, and Free, among others. Competition amongst providers is quite fierce, which is a good thing but also can make comparing offers somewhat confusing.

The most important thing to watch out for is to find out whether your home is in a zone dégroupée or in a zone non-dégroupée. Most areas in France are in zones dégroupées, which means that phone lines have been completely opened to competitions and you have a full choice of providers, and can set up a fixed telephone line with any one of them.

In some areas, however, phone lines are still controlled by Orange (formerly France Télécom), meaning that you have to get a phone number through Orange and pay a monthly line rental. This is called an abonnement, and your bill will show this along with an itemised list of calls plus value added tax (TVA) at 20%. Orange operates an English-speaking customer service number at 09 69 36 39 00, but you can also sign up for a fixed line in one of their boutiques.

Whether you sign up with Orange or with another provider, the requirements for a fixed line are the same.

  • Your full address, including apartment number/directions (e.g. 4th floor, door on the left) and postal code
  • Some ID: photocopy of your passport, birth certificate, etc.
  • Proof of address (justificatif de domicile): an electricity bill (from within the past three months), tax bill, or rent receipt (quittance de loyer)

Most providers offers package offers consisting of a fixed telephone line + Internet (+ additional options such as TV), which are usually the most convenient economical way of getting a fixed line. Most packages also include free calls to many international destinations. Only Orange and SFR offer fixed telephone lines without a package, and both are more expensive options than getting a package plan, when the charges for line rental and calling time are taken into account.


French telephone numbers have ten digits with the first two showing the regional code. For example, 01 is Paris, 02 the northwest, 03 covers the northeast, 04 the southeast and 05 is for the southwest. Mobile phone numbers begin with 06 or 07, and 09 signifies a VOIP (voice over IP network) fixed line. Numbers that start with 08 are typically customer service numbers, which may or may not be free to call.

If you bring a mobile phone from the UK you should be able to carry on using it in France. However, calls will be more expensive so if you are planning to stay in France for an extended period of time it is definitely worth looking at getting a French mobile phone plan.


In most cases you will need to send a registered letter to a specific address (which should be listed on your bill, or else you will find it on your phone line contract). You may be able to get further directions on how to cancel service by visiting the provider’s boutique, if they have one.

selectraHilary Norris works for Selectra, an energy price comparison company that has information in English about energy choice. They also operate an English-speaking customer service at 09 87 67 37 93 that is free to call from landlines or mobile phones in France.

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