Pro Tip: Free Wifi isn't Free

One of the things I hear from every tourist who comes to the city is why is it called Free wifi if it isn't free? You'll no doubt turn on your wifi and go scrolling for an unsecured line once you land (if you haven't switched to a French network) and see "Free" pop up without a little lock next to you. You will assume you've hit the motherload and found a nice open wifi line. Once you connect you will realize you were wrong.

First up, Free is the name (Free Mobile) of a mobile provider in France. And the word for "free" in French is gratuit. Free in this case is mobile without limits, not free to use.

Most tourist areas of Paris have free to use wifi (the city will list them under Paris_Wifi_####, or WifiLib will have free connections with the creation of an account). You will also see that all of the major providers (SFR, Bouygues, Free and Orange) have open wifi spots too. If you know someone before you come to France, and they can give you their log in for these, more power to you. But if you don't have a login you're going to have to wait and find a connection elsewhere. Most cafes have gratuit wifi, as well as the chains; Mc Donald's, Starbucks, Burger King (Quick does not), and you'll also find them in certain areas of Paris. For instance the entire Champs Elysees has wifi accessible by supplying an email address. French libraries (bibliotheque) also provide free internet.

This site lists the free spots provided by the city:

If you don’t mind spending a few euros (plus 10€ for the SIM) make sure you head down to Free near Madeleine. You can purchase a SIM and service for very cheap (10€ or more depending on data). Plus you’ll have access to that “Free” WiFi. You can only buy the SIM from a kiosk with a credit card so be aware of that. 


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