Internet providers in France

This article guides you through picking the right plan with one of the main internet providers in France. Learn what internet options are available at your address and what to watch for before signing up.

Disclosure: This site is sponsored by ads and affiliate programs. I may earn money from the companies mentioned in this post.

If you are not familiar with the internet technologies available in France, read Internet Technologies in France first, otherwise let’s jump right in.

Main internet providers (ISP) in France

Orange used to be France Télécom, the one and only phone company in France until 1998. There are many internet providers in France in 2023 and I recommend that you pick one of the 4 main ones.

orange logo
free logo
SFR logo
bouygues Telecom logo

Sosh (sub-brand from Orange) and Red by SFR (sub-brand from SFR) are low-cost internet providers that are worth considering:

Sosh logo
red by SFR logo

Regular internet providers vs low-cost providers in France

The 2 main differences between regular internet providers and low-cost internet providers in France are the commitment period and customer service. The quality of the internet connection is the same because low-cost providers use the same lines as the regular ones.

I’ve been using Red by SFR for the past two years (for both mobile and fiber optic) and I’m very satisfied with their services. I find them to be responsive when I need any help. Getting in touch with them through their phone app is convenient and easy.

Advertisement-Red by SFR

Engagement 1 an (One-Year Commitment Period)

Most regular internet providers in France offer a one-year commitment period contract. By law, the commitment period cannot exceed 2 years. During the commitment period, you cannot switch to another ISP unless you pay for the remaining months.

Most internet providers in France offer a one-year commitment contract
internet plan from Free with a one-year commitment period

On the other end, low-cost internet providers in France like Sosh and Red by SFR typically do not require any commitment period as they are sans engagement (no contract). You are free to end your subscription at any time.

Some regular internet providers now offer some sans engagement plans (no commitment).

Some regular providers offer no commitment plans
internet plan from Free with no commitment period

Service client (Customer service)

Customer service from low-cost companies is supposedly not as good as customer service for mainstream providers. Red by SFR offers over the phone customer service for the first two months. After that, you need to use their mobile application to contact them. This is not an issue if you’re confortable with online chatting. My experience with Red by SFR is very positive as I was always able to resolve any issue very quickly.

Are you eligible for fiber optic?

Since fiber optic internet is the internet access of choice, your very first step is to check if you can get fiber optic at your place. The best way to find out is to use the internet provider’s eligibility tests directly as this information changes (almost) daily. Click on the internet provider’s logo to directly access their fiber optic internet eligibility test page.

free logoorange logoSFR logobouygues Telecom logo
Sosh logored by SFR logo
Fiber eligibility tests from French ISPs

Best internet provider in France

The best internet provider in France is the one that provides the best service for your specific address. Even though fiber optic internet is actively being developed all over the country, some areas in rural France do not have access to fiber optic internet yet.

If you are not eligible for fiber optic internet (do not despair, it will come to you!) you need to find out which technologies and internet providers are available at your address. Most homes in France are eligible for ADSL (DSL). I recommend that you use this eligibility test from DegroupTest.

Degrouptest eligibility test form
Internet eligibility test from DegroupTest

Check Particulier (private) or Professionnel (professional), enter your address in the first field and click Lancer le test. You can leave the email field empty. The results you get will help you choose which French internet provider to pick. Here are my results:

my results from DegroupTest eligibility test

Analyzing your results

My results indicate that only ADSL and 4G are available at my place. A very important piece of information is that my internet speed connection cannot be greater than 2.8 Mbps with ADSL (DSL). If I was living at an address closer to the nearest noeud de raccordement (phone’s company switch), I could possibly get up to 12 Mbps with ADSL. Considering my results, a good 4G connection would justify getting a 4G Box rather than using DSL since 2.8 Mbps is pretty low.

The next section in the results page lists all the internet providers available as well as the technology, internet speed and plans they offer at your address.

If you are considering DSL, scroll down to the ADSL section to check the closest Nœud de Raccordement (phone company’s switch) as well as the list of providers you can use.

Degrouptest results. Details of ADSL connection.

Keep scrolling down. The following 4G section displays the name of the closest 4G or 4G+ antenna and how far it is from your address for each internet provider available.

Degrouptest results. Details of 4G connection.

The last section at the bottom of the page shows the 4G antennas and nœuds de raccordements or NRAs on a map. Click on the antenna or NRA to display the details.

degroupTest results, network map

Since fiber optic internet is being developed super fast, It is very possible that fiber optic shows up as indisponible (unavailable) in your results even though it is available to you. Before picking a plan, test your eligibility to fiber optic by using one of the tests from the French internet providers.

What’s in a box?

In France, you get fiber optic, DSL and 4G internet access via une Box internet (in French) lent to you (usually for free) by your internet provider. A Box works as both a modem and a router by sending Wi-Fi signals inside your home.

Internet providers in France use their own fancy names for their equipment. Bouygues has a series of Bbox plans.

each internet provider use their own name for their modem/router
Internet plans from Bouygues are named Bbox

While Free offers different models of Freebox.

each internet provider use their own name for their modem/router
Internet plans from Free are named Freebox

Orange packages their equipment as Livebox.

each internet provider use their own name for their modem/router
Internet plans from Orange are named Livebox

Red by SFR offers internet access through a Red Box.

Red by SFR is one of the main internet service providers in France
Red by SFR provides internet access through a RED box

As far as I know, Sosh is the only one that is using the French word boîte instead of box.

each internet provider in France uses their own name for their modem/router
Sosh uses the French word Boîte instead of Box

What to look for before signing up with an internet provider in France

Setting up your internet is a good opportunity to read the fine lines before committing, as there are a few things to be aware of.

Duration and price of your contract

If you use a regular French internet provider (not a low-cost one), check the duration of the price you sign for as well as the length of your contract. In the following offer from Bouygues, you agree to sign for a one-year contract at a 26.98€ monthly fee, which will automatically increase to 52.98€ after the first year. The keyword is puis (then) that states the future price increase.

Even though your intention is to cancel after one year, chances are that you will pay the hefty price once or twice before you remember to switch to another provider.

Check the duration of the price on your internet contract
Internet plan with an automatic increase of the price after one year

Notice how the price is written with a comma instead of a decimal point. Read How to write numbers to learn about writing conventions in France.

Before signing up for an ISP, look for extra fees that you will have to pay on top of your monthly cost.


Equipment rental fees

Is the internet Box included in the price? Most internet providers in France lend you a Box for free but it is still better to make sure beforehand.

For its BBox Must, Bouygues charges 3€ a month for frais de location (modem/router rental fees) but these fees are included in the monthly price.

Checl for extra fees before signing up

Keep the internet equipment shipping boxes as you have to send everything back at the end of your subscription.

Frais d’activation ou de mise en service (Setup fees)

All internet providers in France charge Frais d’activation (setup fees) to be paid once at the beginning of your subscription. They are sometimes called frais de mise en service or frais d’ouverture de service. They are around 50€ on average.

internet plans come with setup fees
Setup fees from SFR

Frais de résiliation (Cancelling fees)

All internet providers in France charge cancelling fees that are usually around 50€.

A number of internet providers reimburse cancelling fees charged by your previous internet provider. Red by SFR and Bouygues both have such an offre de remboursement (reimbursement offer).

I explain in details how to cancel your subscription in Résiliation Internet, a few paragraphs down.

Advertisement-Red by SFR

Frais de portabilité du numéro fixe (Keep your previous number fees)

When you switch internet providers, you can keep your previous landline number. Your new provider might ask you for a fee to transfer the number.

Frais de raccordement (Installation fees)

If a technician needs to come to your place to set up your internet connection, you might be charged frais de raccordement. Most providers offer this service for free nowadays.

Data usage for 4G box

Your monthly data usage is usually restricted to 200-250 Gb when you get a 4G box. Ask your internet provider how much they charge once you go over the limit.

At this time, Bouygues is the only provider I know that has un unlimited data offer for a 4G Box.

Offres triple play (Three-in-one packages)

Most providers have offres triple play (three-in-one packages) that include internet connection, TV service and one landline phone subscription.

If you live in a zône dégroupée, your ISP provides your landline. Make sure you get free calls to the United States as well as free calls to cell phones from your landline.

Did you know?
In France, phone calls from a landline to cell phones are not charged the same as phone calls between two landlines or two cell phones. Make sure your landline contract includes appels illimités vers les mobiles (unlimited phone calls to cell phones) or else you will be charged extra.

You cannot purchase a package that includes TV when you get a 4G Box. You need to use a TV app from your provider and purchase a chromecast key to watch programs on your TV.


Internet providers in France for satellite

If you live in rural France and you cannot get a decent 4G signal, you might have to go the satellite route to get a good internet connection.

Satellite providers in France

There are 4 main satellite providers in France.

Nordnet is a branch from Orange. Starlink is available in France since May 2021.

Satellite installation

Internet access via satellite requires that you purchase a satellite dish and have a technician come to your place to install it. I recommend that you check out satellite installation technicians in your local area as they might have better prices on satellite equipment.

Starlink gives you the option of renting a satellite dish for €10 per month instead of having to purchase one.

How to cancel your internet service

When cancelling your internet service before the end of your subscription, you have to pay for the remaining months. Once your subscription is up, you still have to pay frais de résiliation (cancellation fees). Your cancellation takes effect ten days after your subscription has ended. Each internet provider has its own cancellation policy.

Cancel your Bouygues internet service

Bouygues lets you cancel online via your espace client (user account). You will receive a text with the name of the point-relais where to bring your Bbox back within forty-five days after the end of your subscription.

When you pick Bouygues as your new internet provider, you do not have to cancel your previous subscription as Bouygues can cancel your previous plan for you.

Cancel your internet service with Free

Call 3244 and select Information sur la résiliation de votre abonnement (information on how to cancel your subscription). A Free assistant will give you the address where to send your cancellation request via lettre recommandée (registered mail). Jump to How to Use La Poste Lettre de résiliation Sample to learn how to send your cancellation request.

Print your bon de retour (return label) from your espace client (user account). Bring your Freebox to the closest UPS access point within fifteen days after the end of your subscription.

Cancel your internet service with Orange or Sosh

In your espace client (user account), go to Gestion du contrat, Résilier votre offre. Orange will send you an email to indicate where to bring back your Livebox within thirty days after the end of your subscription.

Cancel your SFR internet service

Call 1023 to get the address where to send yourcancellation request via lettre recommandée (registered mail).Jump to How to Use La Poste Lettre de résiliation Sample to learn how to send your cancellation request.

Cancel your internet service with Red by SFR

In your espace client (user account), go to Nous contacter, Forfait options et services, Résilier mon offre internet. You have three weeks to return your Box after the end of your subscription.

How to Use La Poste lettre de résiliation (Cancellation letter) sample

Go to La Poste Envoyer une lettre recommandée en ligne.

Send your lettre recommandée online with La Poste

Click on J’envoie ma lettre recommandée en ligne (I send my letter by registered mail online).

Using La poste letter sample is a very convenient way to send a lettre recommandée
Use a cancellation letter sample from La Poste

Select Utiliser un modèle de lettre (use a letter sample).

Pick a cancellation lettre sample

Select Résiliations diverses (various cancellation letters).

Pick a cancellation letter category

Select Offre internet. In the dropdown list, pick the statement that describes best your situation:

  • Abonnement internet avec engagement (internet subscription with a contract or commitment period)
  • Abonnement internet sans engagement (internet subscription with no commitment)
  • Cas de force majeure (legitimate reason)
  • Dysfonctionnement (internet is not working properly)
  • Pas de service après souscription (no service after subscription)
  • Résiliation anticipée d’un abonnement internet (internet subscription cancellation before the end of your contract)

Click on the Utiliser ce modèle de lettre (use this lettre sample) button at the bottom of the page.

On the next page, replace the information between square brackets with your own data (name, contract number..). You can select how to end your letter with a formule de politesse (closing sentence). Sign and validate or press Conserver un brouillon (save a copy for later). The price to send a lettre recommandée online with La Poste is around 7€ at the time.

Can you avoid paying cancellation fees to your internet provider in France?

Most internet providers have a cancellation fees exemption policy for motif légitime (legitimate reason) like moving to another country for instance. Here is a list of the most common situations that justify an exemption but each provider sets its own policy:

  • déménagement à l’étranger (international move)
  • losing your job
  • being hospitalized for a long amount of time
  • death (!)
  • flooding…

Send your internet provider a justificatif (proof) that your situation qualifies for an exemption along with your cancellation request.

I recently moved and went from a 3Mbps DSL connection to using fiber optic internet. My internet speed is now two hundred times faster than before. What is your experience of using internet in France? Share your story in the comments section below

Once you have internet access in France, what about using a VPN to access restricted American websites?

Nathalie Nahmani

About Nathalie Nahmani

Nathalie is the creator of ma French Life. She moved back to France after living in Los Angeles for 20 years. She writes practical articles to help expats in France. Nathalie lives with her family in the French Alps near Grenoble.

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2 thoughts on “Internet providers in France”

  1. Excellent job, very informative and precise. Though I believe many of the “Big 4” providers here in France will handle the changeover Reciliation letter for you at no charge or include it in the 100€ to grab the competitor’s customer -You! 😉
    The sans-abonnement option is best but typically costs more than a contract.
    Be careful “bundling” your services, especially if a second home or vacation residence.
    Mobile phone from a separate provider has it’s advantages as well 😉 but typically cost about twice the monthly fee as a “stand alone service”.
    I’ve dealt with all but Free and it’s next; hopefully I’ll have better luck as price (Orange=ouch) isn’t always the most to consider – double billing (SFR), service “brown outs” (All of them), bandwidth throttling (SFR), on-line “your space” lock outs (BT), to name a few.
    My favorite is the 3rd party “technician-installers” that disconnect a working line (yours) at the main junction “installing” a neighbor’s line; not kidding! It’s happened more than a few times interrupting service for a day or more, once for 3 weeks (BT) while I had to prove it wasn’t on my side!
    Better to have 2 phones to be safe -one of them MUST be mobile.
    Also, if you are going on vacation or whatever, you can usually get a “temporary service hold” OK’d for up to 3 months! Why pay for something you’re not using? I’ve done it on fixed line only, usually works for contract plans as a add-on months at the end, or simply no-payment for for sans-abonnement programs. Always be polite and INSIST you love their service (but hey)!
    Note: you may or may not receive any voicemail, or email, but usually will still have on-line access to your account during that period depending on provider.
    Well, just some observations, former SoCal guy to and fro the USA in France 20+ / Great article, Very Nice Job Nathalie !

    • Hello Jack,

      Thank you for your very informative feedback! I indeed had the exact same experience you had with technicians installing fiber to a neighbor’s house and disconnecting my line. Fortunately, Red by SFR was top-notch and had the line repaired quite fast. The best part is that they provided extra 4G so I was not left with no internet. I actually didn’t have second homes in mind when I wrote the article and I wasn’t aware of the “temporary service hold”. Thanks for pointing that out. Thanks again for your input which is greatly appreciated!

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