Public phones can still be found in France. All require a phone card (known as a télécarte), which can be purchased at post offices or tabacs.
To call France:
1. Dial the international access code: 011 from the U.S.; 00 from the U.K., Ireland, or New Zealand; or 0011 from Australia.
2. Dial the country code: 33.
3. Dial the city code, which is always two digits, beginning with a zero, but drop that first zero, and then the eight-digit number.
To make international calls from France: First dial 00 and then the country code (U.S. or Canada 1, U.K. 44, Ireland 353, Australia 61, New Zealand 64). Next, dial the area code and number. For example, if you wanted to call the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., you would dial tel. 00-1-202-588-7800.
For directory assistance: Dial tel. 12 for assistance in French; in English, dial tel. 0-800/364-775. For international inquiries, dial tel. 08-36-59-32-12. This will link you with a bilingual (French and English) phone operator. You are allowed to request only two numbers for which you pay a service charge of 3€.
For operator assistance: If you wish to use an operator to call your home country, you dial the toll-free number of tel. 08-00-99-00 plus the digits of your country code (for example, tel. 08-00-99-00- 1 for the U.S. and Canada).
Toll-free numbers: Most four-digit numbers starting with 10, 30, and 31 are free of charge. Numbers beginning with 08 and followed by 00 are toll-free. But be careful: Numbers that begin with 08 followed by 36 carry a .35€ surcharge per minute.
The three letters that define much of the world's wireless capabilities are GSM (Global System for Mobiles), a seamless network that makes for easy cross-border cellphone use throughout France and dozens of other countries worldwide. (In the U.S., T-Mobile, AT&T Wireless, and Cingular use this quasi-universal system; in Canada, Microcell and some Rogers customers are GSM.) In general, reception is good. Unfortunately, per-minute charges can be high -- usually $1 to $1.50 in western Europe and up to $5 in many international destinations. Calls to the U.S. average $1.40 per minute. Using your own phone abroad can be expensive, so it’s a good idea to get it “unlocked” before you leave. This means you can buy a French SIM card from one of the three main French providers, Bouygues Télécom (www.bouyguestelecom.fr), Orange (www.orange.fr), or SFR (www.sfr.fr). Or do like the locals do and use Skype (www.skype.com) or WhatsApp (www.whatsapp.com) for long-distance calls.
For many, renting a phone is a good idea. While you can rent a phone from any number of overseas sites, including kiosks at airports and at car-rental agencies, we suggest renting the phone before you leave home. North Americans can rent one before leaving home from InTouch USA (tel. 800/872-7626 or 703/222-7161; www.intouchglobal.com). InTouch will also, for free, advise you on whether your existing phone will work overseas.
Buying a phone can be economically attractive, as many nations have cheap prepaid phone systems. Once you arrive in France, stop by a local cellphone shop and get the cheapest package; you'll probably pay less than $100 for a phone and a starter calling card. Local calls may be as low as 10¢ per minute, and in many countries incoming calls are free.
Internet & E-Mail
With Your Own Computer -- More and more hotels, cafes, and retailers are signing on as Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity) "hot spots." Mac owners have their own networking technology: Apple AirPort. T-Mobile Hotspot (www.t-mobile.com/hotspot or www.t-mobile.co.uk) serves up wireless connections at coffee shops nationwide. Boingo (www.boingo.com) and Wayport (www.wayport.com) have set up networks in airports and high-class hotel lobbies. IPass providers also give you access to a few hundred wireless hotel lobby setups. To locate other hot spots that provide free wireless networks in cities in France, go to www.jiwire.com.
For dial-up access, most business-class hotels offer dataports for laptop modems, and a few thousand hotels in France now offer free high-speed Internet access. In addition, major Internet service providers (ISPs) have local access numbers around the world, allowing you to go online by placing a local call. The iPass network also has dial-up numbers around the world. You'll have to sign up with an iPass provider, who will then tell you how to set up your computer for your destination(s). For a list of iPass providers, go to www.ipass.com and click on "Individuals Buy Now." One solid provider is i2roam (tel. 866/811-6209 or 920/233-5863; www.i2roam.com).
Wherever you go, bring a connection kit of the right power and phone adapters, a spare phone cord, and a spare Ethernet network cable -- or find out whether your hotel supplies them to guests.
Without Your Own Computer -- There are hundreds of cybercafes all over France. For a list of Internet cafes, go to www.cybercaptive.com or www.cybercafe.com. The most popular in Paris seems to be Luxembourg Micro, 81 bd. Saint-Michel, 5e (tel. 01-46-33-27-98; www.luxembourg-micro.com; Métro: Luxembourg); it's open daily from 9am to 11pm.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.