Public phone booths: The network of public phone booths (operated by France Telecom) is very large in France, although it's been reduced as more people are using mobile phones. Nearly all public phones only accept telephone cards (no coins). You can buy a card in many places, such as newspaper and tobacco kiosks, exchange offices, post offices, etc.
In many phones you can use a credit card (such as Visa or MasterCard). This costs more than France Telecom phone card (or a card from another provider), but is useful for a quick call. In most public telephone boxes, you can be called back at the number displayed.
Other publicly accessible phones: Many bars, restaurants and hotels offer phone access. There is surcharge on the normal rate so the calls are more expensive, but they usually operate with coins. There are also many small calling shops, where you can make calls and pay afterwards. These often offer good deals, especially for international calls.
Private fixed lines: Your fixed line will always be provided by France Telecom - this does not mean you have to use make your calls through them.
All French numbers are 10-digits and start with '0'. Below is a list of prefixes and what they mean (rates correct as of 1/5/04):
- 01: fixed line, located in Paris and surrounded area
- 02: fixed line, located in the North-West part of France
- 03: fixed line, located in the North-East part of France
- 04: fixed line, located in the South-East part of France
- 05: fixed line, located in the South-West part of France
- 06: mobile phones
- 0800: Numéros verts (green numbers), which are toll-free numbers when calling from fixed lines
- 0801: Numéros azurs (blue number), which are numbers charged as a local call (€0.034/minute Mon-Fri 08:00-19:00, ?0.018/minute at other times)
- 0802 or 0820 : Numéro indigo (indigo number), more expensive than a local call (€0.12/minute)
- 0803 or 0825: Numéro indigo (indigo number), also more expensive than a local call (€0.15/minute)
- other 08 numbers (apart from 0802, 0820, 0803 & 0825) are premium rate numbers. They are used for - among other things - pornography, astrology, etc. Be careful, rates vary significantly and can be us much as €1.349 for the connection and 0.337/minute! The good news is that when these numbers are advertised, French law requires the rate to be indicated.
To make an international call from France, dial:
'00' + country code + destination number.
International calls are expensive in France. Even if you use an alternative provider the charges can be heavy, so it is worth investigating the different plans on offer. The cheapest solution is to use International Prepaid Calling Cards with your normal fixed phone. You can find more information on this subject in our chapter on prepaid international calling cards.
If you need to find a number, dial 12, or use one of the following online directories (annuaires):
- Pages Jaunes (yellow pages) for contacts of administration, businesses and professionals; offers phone/fax numbers, addresses and plans of access, often also the corresponding e-mail and website: www.pagesjaunes.fr (in French and English).
- Pages Blanches (white pages) for private phone numbers and addresses: www.pagesblanches.fr (in French and English).
- QuiDonc, paid service, which enables an advanced search in phone directories (e.g. by the user's phone number): www.quidonc.fr (in French only).
- Pages Pro (Profesional pages), dedicated to businesses with more information about the company (turnover, number of employers, registration number, etc.) and advanced search functions: www.pagespro.fr (in French only).
- Europages, a European business directory covering 33 countries, and available in 25 languages: www.europages.com.
- Kompass, comprehensive on-line database of businesses both in France and abroad with advanced search functions, such as search by product and services (produits et services), company name ( raison sociale), brand name ( marques) and people in the company management ( dirigants); some information available only to subscribers: www.kompass.fr (in French only).
The general emergency number is 112. For specific services call:
- SAMU (ambulance): 15
- Fire-brigade: 18
- Police: 17
Calling these numbers from a fixed line is free of charge.