Broadband access in France

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Martin Holiday

I currently use Wanadoo (now Orange) and while the connection is good, their customer service is absolute rubbish. My French is good but the person I spoke to just now on the helpline refused to talk to me because I have an English accent and therefore wouldn't understand. I've heard Neuf is a poor quality telephone. Can anyone actually recommend any companies for both customer service and quality connection? Thanks.

Craig McGinty

Hi Martin, sorry to hear you are having internet problems, it seems to be one of the most common issues I see.

I wrote a short while ago about Teleconnect, please see:

It might be something you want to investigate further.

Regards, Craig


With regards to Orange help line, I agree with everything said -they are quick to draw up contract and take your money,but fail to point out that their technical service dept is rude and unhelpful towards non french speaking customers.!
As far as Teleconnect go,they offer a very basic service. Thet advertise that it's specifically designed for the english speaking fraternity, with FREE help line but they fail to tell you the help is only avail during weekday working hours, (9-5) and in most cases you have to arrange an appointment well ahead in order to avail yourself of this, and there is no help at all on weekends or bank holidays-also you can only use Hotmail, yahoo or gmail for your email address.
In comparison, I have found gh in France to have an excellent English speaking help line, 7/7 days a week, you are charged 34c a min, but only when you are actually speaking to a technician-it has been worth it for me as I have found them very professional, helpful and extremely polite. Their ADSL monthly charges for full package is by far cheaper than Orange and teleconnect.


Its interesting to hear the comments about ADSL in France. I run an IT business in the French Alps servicing many of the regions largest independant tour operators and property management companies.

Many of my clients have experienced similar difficulties either with France Telecom or a poor quality of service with their ADSL connection. I therefore spend quite a good deal of my time intervening on their behalf with various ISP's.

I have found that Nerim provide one of the best services in France. I have been using them for nearly 4 years and in that time I can honestly say that on only one occasion has the service failed. You will pay more for them, but the quality of the bandwidth is much better than Orange, Tele2, AOL etc. I spent several weeks testing and comparing their broadband against some of the competition.

I'm not sure whether I am allowed to do this on this site, so apologies if not but I've just set up a new website offering an impartial service for expats, whether they are permanently resident or just residence secondaire. We will set up your ADSL connection for you, configure the hardware, install it for you if necessary and provide full support 7/7. Our site is

Craig McGinty

Hi Toby, no probs with the link, I hope people are able to get to the bottom of the internet connection difficulties they face.
All the best, Craig

Steve Western

Just looking at what is available in France, I have noticed that it looks like Aol are now neuf. Is that correct and do they still hjave an English speaking support line. My house appears to be in an non-unbundled area so it would appear that I can get adsl for 20 Euros a month which doesn't seem to bad to me

Craig McGinty

Hi Steve, you are right that Neuf has taken over the French arm of AOL, and here is a short piece about their English language helpline:

All the best, Craig


Two weeks ago I bought a 3 network 12 GB broadband dongle from the Carphone Warehouse in the UK.

When I bought it I was told by the salesperson that it would suit my purposes as it offered me 12 GB in France, Italy and Australia -- countries I was going to in the next 12 months -- hopefully, before the 12 GB ran out.

Today, I found out the reality that the Carphone salesman did not tell us. In each country a MB costs a differential amount. In the UK, where I bought the dongle, a MB costs only 15p. Cheap, actually.

In France and Italy a MB under this plan costs £1.25. Shocking.

In Australia: each and every MB under this plan costs an atrocious whopping £3.00+.

2,000 times more expensive per MB in Australia than in the UK per MB!!!

Had I used this 12 GB dongle for just half an evening in Australia ( to download my usual email and reply to it) I would have used up the entire 12 GB capacity in that time. Half an evening.

A complete and utter ripoff.

Today, I returned the dongle to the Carphone Wharehouse and luckily got my money back. Many won't. They will get stung by this sales pitch.

So, beware!

If you are in the same boat and planning a European or an Australian trip and if you are looking for broadband connectivity in those countries and buying in the UK -- avoid buying that offer of a 12 month, 12 GB broadband dongle from 3 network for that sort of travel.

That is a shocking variation globally.

I thought I was buying 12 GB. I wasn't. I was buying 12 GB in the UK at a price of 15p per MB. Or 12 GB in France and Italy at a price of £1.25 per each MB. Or 12 GB in Australia at a price of £3.00 for each MB.

Get over it 3 network! Consumer Affairs should be looking into your sales pitch!


David Pearson

I, too, have been 'stung' by high mb charges in France. Last year I bought a mobile USB drive from Vodaphone and used it in France, thinking it to be similar in cost to the charges quoted - for Britain! I had run up £400 worth of internet charges before the signal stopped. Vodafone then told me how much I had been spending. When I tried to get some of the charges refunded I almost succeeded, having pointed out that it wasn't clear from their literature that the charges outside Britain would be so much higher. Unfortunately, towards the end of negotiations, a supervisor overruled the person who had been trying to sort things out and I had to pay the lot: the charges were in the small print...
It would have made more sense for me to have set up a connection using a company in France, even though I am only over there for up to six weeks a year.

JOhn Griffiths

The aol english line does not work now, since SFR took over neuf. And when I e-mailed SFR (service now withdrawn!) they said they would not speak english.

On the other hand, FT (Orange) now have a numero vert for english speakers, sales and technical, AND an english website, so maybe they've changed?


hi has anyone used toby's services or know anyone who has?


Anyone having problems with e-mails from the UK to France being rejected by Alice and Free (possibly neuf as well?) I have had several returned marked 'network not responding'. I have checked possible blacklisting of my IP at several times. No problems. Orange e-mail seems to be working fine, as well as web based mail. We had a serious outage recently in the Plymouth area, Virgin phones and broadband going down, so I am wondering if there has been a spam-bomb on some servers. As an old techie pro it's annoying and a challenge at the same time to find out what's going on!!!

Paul K

Emails to one of my Alice addresses recently were being bounced by Alice. I have two other secondary addresses on the same account, and there was no problem with them. Eventually, and after I managed with great difficulty to send an email to Customer Services, I did receive a standard reply which made no sense to me (and I speak French pretty fluently).

One rejected email was an Amazon gift certificate for my birthday. it was returned tot he purchaser, who kindly had the spirit to get in touch and resend to a different, non-Alice address.

I think the reason for many recent difficulties is the changes being made to ALice systems as they are integrated into Free's systems.

Given the reports I read of Free, Alice subscribers can expect only more and more difficulties. But shanging ISPs seems to be fraught with difficulties and prolonged disconnection - not to mention cancellation charges!

I have had severe difficulties with Alice's telephone connection, too, and cannot, for instance, check 3103 for messages left on the FT line.

I have had so many calls to Alice that I despair of making progress, and have more or less given up.


Thanks for that Paul, sorry you are having problems. I know how frustrating it is, especially when one makes the attempt to deal with it in French.

My French friends have had no end of problems with their Alice account, including loss of phone line for about a week. As older people in an isolated rural area, this has been more than inconvenient. Another friend has changed supplier because they got so sick of the Alice system.

Thanks also for confirming my deduction that it is not my system/ISP/configuration causing the problems.

I have used Orange/FT for the past 3 years without any hassles, but I go into the Orange/FT store if I have queries and they have always sorted things out for me as long as I have asked the right questions.


Hoorah. Success. I sent an email today to the postmaster@ispmail complaining that my email was unreasonably blocked towards Alice ADSL in France from the UK, and voila, I am now able to send and receive emails again from Alice.

Bob Toovey

This is interesting reading, the problems with various ISP's etc. It is true that there are no good ones in France, they all have failings to some extent.

I am currently with Neuf, well actually I signed up for Club Internet, who were bought by Neuf, who bought a chunk of AOL (not all of it mind) and then all of it bought by SFR. Makes logging in confusing at times.

When Alice bought Tiscali, I remember hearing all sorts of stories of bad connections, poor support etc. Still happening? Not good.

One thing that might help you to choose an ISP, ask around your immediate area. Who are they with and how has their connection been? Is the support any good? Not all ISP's will be available to you, so find out who you nabours are with and get some idea of what is available to you.

If you want to know a bit more about Broad Band In France then see my small write up here...

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