Keep in touch

Plan­ning how you will set up your tele­phone and in­ter­net con­nec­tions at your French home is worth do­ing sooner rather than later, as Bob El­liott ex­plains

Living France - - Les Pratiques -

Man­ag­ing your move to France does not stop with sign­ing the acte de vente at the no­taire’s of­fice! Cer­tain aspects such as or­gan­is­ing a re­movals com­pany are ob­vi­ous, but get­ting your tele­phone and broad­band ser­vices in place at your new home can all too eas­ily be left un­til they can­not be in­stalled on the day you move in. For many, keep­ing in touch with fam­ily and friends in the UK is an im­por­tant part of a move to France, so it’s worth adding this to your list of things to think about.

Whichever com­pany you choose, they will all be us­ing the same na­tional net­work to carry your calls and broad­band, and they will be us­ing the very same sub-con­tract en­gi­neers to main­tain and re­pair the equip­ment. Your choice will there­fore prob­a­bly be de­ter­mined by price and the level of cus­tomer care.

Where cus­tomer care is con­cerned, it is all about the ‘last leg’ of the ser­vice be­tween the lo­cal ex­change and your prop­erty. For ex­pats, it there­fore comes down to a choice be­tween a slightly lower cost for some ser­vices from the na­tional com­pa­nies, or ease of set­ting up and main­tain­ing ser­vices from an ex­pat spe­cial­ist of­fer­ing ad­di­tional ser­vices that the big com­pa­nies do not, a num­ber of which are free.

Ex­pat buy­ers of French prop­erty tend to fall into one of two cat­e­gories, hav­ing ei­ther bought a hol­i­day home (about 25% of our cus­tomers are in this group) or mov­ing to a new per­ma­nent ad­dress. By def­i­ni­tion, hol­i­day home­own­ers will not be at the prop­erty for much of the year and some choose to have a ligne rési­dence se­condaire, a line-rental ser­vice that can be sus­pended when not in use. This is only avail­able from Or­ange, which has a mo­nop­oly for this ser­vice. The line can also carry a slower broad­band ser­vice that can be sus­pended.


Some ex­pat ser­vice providers of­fer to man­age your line in­stal­la­tion, and this is very pop­u­lar. Dif­fi­cul­ties such as en­gi­neers not be­ing able to lo­cate you and prob­lems with tech­ni­cal French are all re­moved from the equa­tion. Re­mem­ber that the French en­gi­neers will not call a UK mo­bile, so you will need to get a French SIM if you in­tend to man­age this your­self.

If the prop­erty has pre­vi­ously had a live tele­phone line and it was live within the last two years, you can pay a re­duced con­nec­tion fee if you are able to give ei­ther the old tele­phone num­ber or name of the sub­scriber. The line can then be ac­ti­vated re­motely for €55, oth­er­wise con­nec­tion will be charged at €124. Re­mote con­nec­tion takes five work­ing days, while lines that re­quire an en­gi­neer’s at­ten­dance will take up to 10 work­ing days.

Ac­ti­va­tion has to be ar­ranged via Or­ange, but this can be done by a spe­cial­ist provider. Or­ange will also ask if you in­tend to use broad­band on the line; if you do they will au­to­mat­i­cally ask you to sign their 12-month con­tract for ser­vices.

If you want to use an al­ter­na­tive provider you must say you do not want broad­band – it makes no dif­fer­ence to the line at all! Once the line is in­stalled, you can con­tact the provider with the best of­fers for you and they will have the line trans­ferred to them, and ap­ply broad­band to it if you want to have that ser­vice. In the UK you can or­der both a new line and broad­band at the same time, but in France the line must be work­ing first. It will take about 10 work­ing days from order­ing broad­band to ac­ti­va­tion.


If no line has been in­stalled, you will be re­spon­si­ble for un­der­tak­ing the nec­es­sary work be­tween your bound­ary and house. This can take the form of dig­ging a trench for the new ca­ble to be laid in, or, if it is to be over­head, from a pole, en­sur­ing no trees are in the way. You will also have to drill a hole in the ex­ter­nal wall for the ca­ble. The in­stal­la­tion in­cludes just one socket, and should you want more than that, you will prob­a­bly find it cheaper to use a lo­cal elec­tri­cian, or do the work your­self. If you in­tend to use an ex­ten­sion ca­ble for your tele­phone, make sure you choose one with a round cross-sec­tion, as flat ones suf­fer from elec­tri­cal in­ter­fer­ence that will af­fect your broad­band.

If your new home is close enough to the lo­cal ex­change to have a broad­band speed of 2MB, you can choose to have all your calls put over the broad­band ser­vice. This ser­vice, called dé­groupage to­tal, dis­ables your voice side of the line and you no longer have to pay the line rental charge of €17.96 per month. Beware of com­pa­nies miss-sell­ing this prod­uct as there is a min­i­mum con­tract, usu­ally of 12 months.

If the speed is too slow, calls will be of un­ac­cept­able qual­ity, which means you’ll be obliged to re­in­state the land­line and pay a new €55 con­nec­tion charge, as well as the bal­ance of the orig­i­nal con­tract. You can find out the speed of your broad­band ser­vice by vis­it­ing de­ to avoid the prob­lem, and if

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