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How to Call French Phone Numbers

How to Call French Phone Numbers

I’ve decided to write about how to dial and call a French number whether in France or abroad. I hope that this article will help you to understand the mysterious secret of dialing a French number. In the end, I wrote about which options you should choose for your phone plan if you plan to stay in France.  

How to call a French phone number? 

The format of the French phone numbers is composed of ten-digit numbers. French people will say it two by two. I have been traveling and I found it easiest to copy a phone number, it is maybe because I am used to it. I know that in the USA or in Australia people will say it three by three. 

To call a home French number with a direct line it will start with either one of those five combinations. The reason is that France is divided by five for the phone number. For example, the state of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes is using the starting combination 04. There are five areas, here is the list:

  • 01 Paris / Île-de-France 
  • 02 North-West  
  • 03 North-East  
  • 04 South-East 
  • 05 South-West 
  • 06 and 07 Mobile Phone numbers
  • 08 Freephone (numéro vert) and shared-cost services.
  • 09 Non-geographic number

For example, this would be a phone number for the Paris area’s: 01 11 11 11 11

In order for you to call a cellphone (In France we say “portable” in Belgium “GSM’) there are two starting combinations:

  • 06 or 07  

For example: 06 11 11 11 11 

How to call a French phone in France?

In that case, you do not need to do anything. You will simply need to type the phone number in the same format as seen previously. 

How to call a French number from abroad?

I would recommend you to use the internet network abroad and use an application like WhatsApp to send your message or make your call. If you do not have this option then you will need to make some changes at the beginning of the phone number. You will need to remove the “0” at the beginning and either add +33 or 0033. For your information +33 is the international phone code for France. 

For example: +331 11 11 11 11 or 00331 11 11 11 11

Here is a list of international phone code for some countries: 

  • United States / Canada: +1
  • United Kingdom: +44
  • Ireland: + 353
  • Australia: +61
  • New Zealand: +64
  • India: +91 

What are the important French emergency numbers? 

  • 15 is for medical emergencies. It is called in France, SAMU. 
  • 17 is for police emergencies. 
  • 18 is for the firefighters. They are not limited to fires but also to car accidents, flooding, and big injuries.  
  • 112 is a general European number, it is similar to 911 in the United States. You will be able to explain your emergency and the correct service(s) will be alerted. 

Which phone plans should you use if you are planning to stay in France? 

A short stay:

I would recommend you buy a prepaid SIM card. You can go to a French mall to look for the main French phone operators. The four most important are Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom, and Free.

If you are a European citizen, you might not need to buy a prepaid SIM card and use your plan. You should check the amount of data you can use outside your country on the website of your phone operator. In that case, you can use applications like WhatsApp as mentioned above, Messenger, or even Viber (never used it). 

A long stay: 

I would recommend you buy a French phone plan. Great news for you! France is one of the cheapest European countries for a phone plan. You can get interesting phone plans for around 10/15 euros with 50/100 Giga data, and those plans are Contract-Free Plans (meaning there is a contract but you can end it whenever you want). There are the most popular phone plans in France. This option is great if you own an unlocked cellphone. 

In history, it used to be pricey to have an internet and phone plan in France but the new operator Free (owned by a French businessman Xavier Niel) came into the French market and revolutionized it. Free came with a box that you can subscribe to for the internet and TV for your home. They also offered, in 2012, a crazy discount offer for a mobile phone plan with two euros plans where you have 2 hours call, unlimited SMS, and 50Mo of internet. This was everywhere in the French media, and this offer created an earthquake in the industry.  

 What is the best phone plan provider in France?

All of the providers offer plans with a contract (forfait avec engagement), you will need to stay with the provider for a certain amount of time from 12 to 24 months. Beware, you might be charged with an early cancellation fee if you end your contract before the ending date. They also provide contract-free plans (forfait sans engagement). I would recommend you go for a contract-free plan if you already have an unlocked cellphone. 

Option 1: Free

As you understood Free is the cheapest option on the market but beware they are renting the network or Orange. The network has a terrible quality especially if you are going to travel or live in the French countryside. Go for this option only if you are going to stay in a big French city. For your information, the phone plan of two euros still exists! 

Option 2: Bouygues Telecom & SFR

The best quality-price options are the two operators Bouygues Telecom and SFR. They are always trying to attract new clients by proposing promotional offers during the year. You can manage to get interesting phone plans, keep an eye on it. 

Option 3: Orange 

The premium solution for you is to go with Orange, they have the best network in France. They are the first ones to introduce the 5G in France. 

I hope this article will help you with French phone numbers and you will know the different options that you can go to in terms of phone plans. Feel free to add a comment if you have interesting tips regarding this subject. Are you looking for more tips about traveling to France? Read my next article: Driving in France: Tips for Success.