By Bryan Pirolli in Paris—
If you’re visiting Paris and need a wireless network, the first place you’ll probably turn is your hotel. These days, even cheap hotels have begun offering free Wi-Fi. However, sometimes hotels charge a ridiculous amount and sometimes they don’t offer a wireless network at all.
Luckily, there’s no need to overpay for the service, as wireless internet service is offered almost everywhere in Paris. Here’s a quick overview of where to find a cheapo-friendly wireless network:
100% Free Wi-Fi
Without dropping a dime, Facebook addicts can access city-provided Wi-Fi networks in over 260 public parks, civic centers, and libraries. Access is provided by the city of Paris for free and unlimited for anyone.
Once you’re ready to start, just click on the “Wi-Fi ORANGE” network, fill out an online form (which simply involves creating a username and password), et voilà, you’re online!
This service is very popular. For example, it isn’t rare to see people hanging out in the lobby of the Centre Pompidou with their laptops. Additionally, in warmer months, users camp out in every park, garden, and even around the mayor’s office in any of the 20 arrondissements.
Check out the city’s website for a comprehensive list of locations where you can access free, city-provided Wi-Fi.
Almost Free Wi-Fi
Cafés in Paris will usually have a “Wi-Fi” sticker on their window if there is free wireless available, but always verify that it is offered before ordering a drink. For €2 you can get a quality signal and (quite often) a lower-quality coffee. Don’t feel pressured to keep buying things while you type your emails, unless it’s lunch time and you are clearly taking up a table. (Remember, waiters don’t work for tips!)
In a pinch, most McDonald’s also offer Wi-Fi alongside their very budget-friendly €1 menu.
Not Actually Free Wi-Fi
Many users will automatically pick up a signal in Paris called “FreeWifi,” but this is actually the name of a service provider that costs money on a pay-as-you go basis. These “hotspots” are widely available with providers like “SFR” or the company “Free.”
If your hotel doesn’t provide free internet, you can always purchase minutes from one of these carriers. For example, SFR offers an hour of service during a 24-hour period for €8. It is a great service for emergency web browsing, but it can quickly become costly.
General Wi-Fi Tips
Never assume that a hotel or hostel will offer free Wi-Fi. It is always best to ask. Many apartment rentals, short and long term, will come with wireless, but sometimes charge an extra fee for the service.
While free Wi-Fi is commonplace in Paris, electrical outlets are not always available, so make sure that you charge up before heading to the café or park!
If you’re living in Paris and you don’t have an internet provider, the first question is, “Why not?” With companies like Orange and SFR offering packages for €30 a month that include wireless and international calling, staying connected is actually pretty affordable.
Planning on bringing an American iPhone to Europe? Read our article about how to use your iPhone in Europe without going broke. While you’re at it, consider whether or not you need to take you’re iPhone with you at all by reading our post on How NOT to use your iPhone in Europe.
Your Wi-Fi advice?
Have you had an experience getting free (or almost free) wireless internet service in Paris? Tell us about it in the comments section.