31 July 2007

Unlimited calling

Last week I was nosing around on the France Telecom web site and I came across a new (I think) calling plan that looked like it would fit our telephone habits exactly. The plan is called Optimale Plus and it gives you unlimited calling to landlines in France and the rest of Western Europe, and unlimited calling to both landlines and cell phones in North America. Hawaii and Alaska are excluded.

The Saint-Aignan sky, 30 July 2007

Unlimited calling to U.S. numbers! Sounds like it would be expensive, doesn't it? Well it's not. It costs €23.00 per month, which even at today's terrible exchange rates isn't much — about $30.00 U.S. This is what is called a forfait in French — a flat rate.

Until last week, we had a calling plan that gave us four hours of calls per month to the same geographical areas, and that cost €17.00. So for six euros extra, no limits. The problem with the four-hour plan was that if you used up your hours calling within France, you never got your money's worth out of it. The only way to get any benefit was to call the U.S. or Canada a lot.

I love looking at my phone usage on the France Telecom
web site and seeing all those 0.00s in the last column.
€ TTC means toutes taxes comprises — taxes included.

Of course, I do call the U.S. a lot, and now I'll be able to call any more without watching the meter tick up. And I can make phone calls in France without thinking about how I am using up minutes that I might want to use calling the U.S. The numbers I can call under the new plan include U.S. toll-free numbers, which are not toll-free if you call them from France. They are covered, however, under my flat rate.

On top of the €23.00 rate, we pay €16.00 a month to France Telecom for our line. That's the standard fee and you pay that whether or not you have any calling plan. And of course we pay France Telecom €25.00 a month for our DSL line. All in all, it's not bad.


  1. I loved your picture of the Saint-Aignan sky ;)
    Paris sky yesterday was a little more cloudy, but definitely on the blue side, and this morning, I can't see a cloud in sight.
    I have a similar plan with free.fr
    I pay a monthly 30€ for DSL and free national and international phone. It includes the US, Canada, and the UK. For the US only, it's mobiles AND home phones.
    I kept my France Télécom line therefore I pay them an extra 16€

  2. Really? I find that quite expensive. France Telecom really needs to get with the times, especially considering that all the other operators (Neuf, Free, Alice, Club Internet, etc) are offering DSL, free calls to the US and TV for only 30€. If you're in a zone dégroupée, you don't even have to pay the line rental fee!

  3. Hi Sam, well, we aren't in a "dégroupée" zone, so we have no choice but to pay the €16 France Telecom fee. We also aren't able to get the TV offer out here in the country — our phone lines are too slow.

    Otherwise, friends who live nearby tried Free.fr and had nothing but trouble, so went back to France Telecom/Orange for phone and DSL.

    I'm comparing prices with what you would pay in the U.S. I think it's much cheaper here in France to get good phone and DSL packages. Maybe I'm wrong.

  4. You know, I guess I'm not sure what it costs in the US - DSL wasn't available when we left, so you may well be right.

    Personally, we've stuck with FT all this time because even though they're more expensive, they're the most reliable and they have actual stores that you can walk into, instead of having to pay .32 cents per minute to be helped. So far, I've just been using Skype and Télérabais to call home. We're moving in a few months though, and I actually think I am going to switch, probably to Club Internet - I've never heard anything bad about them, so we'll see!

  5. What are typical cell phone rates and plans? Do US cells work in France and vice versa? Can one buy disposable/pay-as-you-go cell phones in France?

  6. Nichevo, I don't have a cell phone and don't know anything about using them. You need to go to someplace like the Slow Travel web forum and ask questions of the people there who use cell phones and bring them to France.


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