As you probably know I have an iPad here at Rugged and Mobile and needed a French PAYG SIM card for a recent trip to France.

Well firstly Sorry for being away the past few days, I should have let people know I was not going to be posting for a few days. Secondly, on to the quick tidbit of help!!

I searched high and low for solid advice about how I can use my iPad when I’m abroad.  Apple and the networks are a bit like drug dealers in a way, getting you all hooked on the 3G and email on the move and then taking it away just because you want to leave the UK for a few days!! The best roaming deal I heard about was Vodafone’s 50mb deal but 3 staff at my local store here in Liverpool knew nothing about it and sent me on my way! 50mb is just not enough anyway, its ridiculous to be honest, as is paying between £3 and £7 per mb through the UK networks whilst roaming which is something I will not pay on principle.

Anyway you can get a Micro SIM for an iPad whilst in France and this is totally practical, sound advice from my own experience.

Firstly don’t waste your time with Phone shop (they didn’t even know what a Micro SIM was!) and Orange MobiCarte were very unhelpful asking me for a French bank account before they would go ahead. Go straight to an SFR shop and ask for the “SFR 3G Pret a Surfer” product.  It’s €9 for the card which gives you your number and 3 days of unlimited surfing.  All you do is find an SFR shop, ask for the product which is also in their shop magazine and pay for it with cash!!  You do need photo ID but a driving license was all that I needed.

They set it up and all you do is put the microsim in the iPad and it almost works.  The catch is that you need to put the APNdetails in yourself or you can connect to iTunes and let it do it for you.  I was lucky enough to find a free WiFi in Macdonald’s over the road and I had my laptop with me for this very purpose.  Hey presto, it detects the SIM and does it all for you!!

To extend the service you could just buy another card, but you can also buy a €6 card which gives you unlimited surfing for 24 hours.  This way is very convenient as you can buy these months in advance from any Cafe Tabac or online from and all you need to do is activate them when you want them.

If you don’t speak French then you ring the 0811 number on the card, you put in the card/coupon code and press 2 to confirm, you then put in your 06 SIM number and press 2 to confirm and then press 3 to confirm.  In about 30 seconds the iPad worked!  The chap at the Tabac was kind enough to do this for me and showed me how so I could recharge when I needed to.

The SFR sim itself was pretty good. It always seemed to get an edge signal and in main cities, 3G was usually present. We used the iPad on tar ins and in the car, browsing, emailing and using google maps in a unrestrictive manner and it never stopped working.

So hopefully that helps, let me know if you need any more help.


The Rugged and Mobile blog.

About The Author

Dave's one of the founders of Raptor, his rants are memorable, his thoughts are stimulating and his heart is set on helping, entertaining and making things like mobile, Android, ruggedness, 3D printing and IOT simple.

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4 Responses

  1. Julia

    Most useful info as thinking about buying ipad with 3g to use in France, travelling around in motorhome. Jury out in shops here whether 3g is a good idea or not. Can’t find out about network coverage in France. Will it be worth extra £100 for 3g machine or am I better just driving to a Mc D to use their wifi? Grateful for any advice. Also not sure whether to plump for ipad2 or a galaxy tablet as been told ipads don’t have Flash which could be an issue on web. Help gratefully received. Julia

    • ruggedandmobile

      To be honest WiFi is playing catch up a lot these days and I probably had my best connections over a cup of coffee in maccy D’s and various Cafe’s when last in France, but it’s no where near like the USA yet. France is still quite rural when it comes to WiFi and 3G, rather like britain when you step out of the cities and I still needed 3G if i wanted to keep abreast of my emails throughout the day.

    • oneeyeddog

      Bit late for a helpful reply. I use a tablet with 3G in France and have found the 3G invaluable. McDonalds free wifi is great but you do have to travel to get it. With 3G in your tablet you can get internet pretty much anywhere in France. My tablet is an android device with no Flash. I have not found this any problem.

  2. oneeyeddog

    I use 3G broadband regularly in France and find that Orange France coverage is good with very few occasions when there is poor or no signal.
    More information on my blog –