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France - Phone

The phone market has changed since 1998. France Telecom is no longer the only one in France on the international, national and local market. Now you have the choice between many different phone companies, like :

France Telecom

For France Telecom's English-speaking service dial 0800 364 775

9 Telecom

Le 7 de Cegetel

Télé 2

If you want to subscribe to another company other than France Telecom, you are still obliged to pay a fee to France Telecom, because France Telecom is responsible for connecting the phone lines and other technical work. Some numbers can only be dialled  from the France Telecom’s network, such as: '118712' directory inquiries, '15' for SAMU, '18' for firemen and all numbers beginning with '0 800'. Note, that your phone bills will come from different companies.

For other detailed information we split this document into:

Eight hundred numbers
How does the phone work
Mobile phones
Telephone cards
Directory information and operator
International calls
Long distance calls
Public phones

Eight Hundred Numbers

0800 numbers are free ("numéro vert" - green number), but not all eight hundred numbers (8XX) are. In fact in some cases, which had become a scandal in France, some companies rely on the use of the more expensive of these numbers for support/call-center calls (including France Telecom). When users call through these numbers they are charged when they are on hold waiting for a response and they are kept on hold forever. French laws have been issued to address this abuse. In fact now when these numbers are advertised, French law requires the rate to be indicated.

Banks offer their clients over the phone access to their own accounts using 8XX numbers (read the fine lines and find out the costs, it can be €0.35 a minute)

  • 0801: Numéros azurs (blue number), which are numbers charged as a local call (€0.034 per minute Mon-Fri 08:00-19:00; €0.018 per minute at other times)
  • 0802 or 0820 : Numéro indigo, more costly than a local call (€0.12/minute)
  • 0803 or 0825: Numéro indigo, more costly than a local call (€0.15/minute)
  • other 08 numbers (apart from 0802, 0820, 0803 & 0825) are premium rate numbers. They are used for - among other things - astrology, pornography, etc. Be careful, rates vary significantly and can be as much as €1.35 for the connection and €0.337 per minute!

How does the phone work ?

The French phone numbers are for example like this : 01 9293 0000. The selection of your operator will depend on the first number you dial.
For calling  France Telecom dial “0” like in the example, for 9 Telecom dial “9”, for Tele2 dial “4” etc.
Then depending on the area you are living in you dial:

1 for Paris
2 if you live in the North West of France
3 for North East
4 for South East
5 for South West.
Then the 8 remaining numbers.

Mobile Phones

The mobile phone market has changed too. There are three leading providers: France Telecom, Bouygues and SFR.

Telephone Cards

You can buy the 'Carte France Telecom' which allows you to call from any telephone, even from a mobile. With a personal number on the card and a password you can make your call and pay at the end of the month with your France Telecom bill.
You can buy telephone cards or prepaid cards in many places, at any France Telecom agencies, newspaper and tobacco kiosks, exchange offices, post offices, etc.


Directory information and operator

If you need help for national calls dial  “118712” to talk to an operator.

For international calls dial “3212” in order to speak to an operator.

International calls 

To call a foreign country you have to dial “00” and than the country code. Here are some country codes (you can find them in the directory book) :
Spain : 34
Germany : 49
United States : 1
United Kingdom : 44

Long Distance Calls

You can make an operator assisted call.
To compare the prices of the different providers go to: or

Public phones

All public phones work with a phone card (no coins) which you can buy at the post offices, tobacconists, newspaper stands or in a France Telecom agency.
Your credit card works also in the public phones. Instructions are on the phone booth in English as well as French. The network of public phone booths  is operated by France Telecom and is quite extensive, even though the numbers of booths are diminishing as more people are using mobile phones. 

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