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France - Telephone
Orange has an English-speaking section to its customer service in France both in general enquiries and technical support which can be contacted during standard working hours.
Having services connected is relatively straightforward in France. You can simply call in at one of the France Telecom offices or call the customer service department. You will need to provide a certain amount of documentation. This will include proof of ID and a utility bill or tenancy agreement which proves your address. If the property has had a telephone installed in the past it is simply a case of reopening the line and transferring the account to you, so there will be no need for an engineer to call at the property unless you want extra services installed as well.
If you want a landline in a home in France that you only use on occasion such as a holiday home you can arrange to have the account status reduced to ‘dormant’. You cannot do this on your main home and in order to qualify for this service you must already have a main line that is in use all the time. You must be able to prove that the house is a second home – in France, this can be done with tax documentation. Services can be suspended up to 6 times in one year and only subscription fees are reduced. Equipment rental and internet services will still be charged for even though you will not be able to use them while the line is inoperative.
Bills are issued every two months and VAT is charged on telecom services. In order to pay your bill you can set up a direct debit, pay by cash at any post office, send a cheque to the company, pay by bank transfer or pay online.
Telephone directories are issued each year and homes will receive the domestic telephone directory and the yellow pages. Those who have a telephone with France Telecom or Orange can choose to have their number protected from sales calls by joining the ‘liste orange’. The company has an online form that you complete with the relevant information in order to have your number removed from general listings. You can also choose to be ‘ex-directory’ and not have your telephone number appear in the directories. This can also be done online.
Mobile telephones in France work on the GSM network. As with many other countries there are several different options for your mobile phone. You can choose to commit to a contract where you receive a monthly bill which can be paid by direct debit, or you can have a ‘pay as you go’ mobile. These are topped up using pre-paid cards which are available from a number of outlets.
In order to call France from abroad you need to use the international code 33. As France is a large country there are five main area codes and Paris has a 01 area code, Monaco falls under 04, Toulouse is 05, Bordeaux is 05, Marseille is 04, Lyon is 05, Nantes is 02 and Strasbourg is 03. These numbers are then followed by codes for individual towns. Other area codes can be found in a telephone directory or on the internet.
Pay phones are still in existence in France although these are rarely used as now most people have a mobile phone. There are three types of public telephones in France. There are those which will only take coin payments, those that take a card for payment and those that accept both. Coin phones will only return unused coins and not give change on a part-used coin. The ‘télécartes’ for card payments can be purchased in a number of outlets such as post offices and newsagents. These tend to be collectable as they often advertise festivals and other events which are taking place.
Avenue de Versailles 6
Tel: 0800 333 800
Orange (part of France Telecom)
Avenue Nelson Mandela 1
Tel: 01 55 22 22 22
Virgin Mobile France
Service Clients Virgin Mobile
35507 Vitre Cedex
Tel: 0825 311 411
SFR (Vodafone network in France)
Teleconnect France (phone and internet services aimed at expats in France)
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