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telephone symbol


Internal communications are run by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications. Until the 1970s the telephone service was notoriously bad: in 1970, France had fewer lines per capita than Greece and only one fifth as many as Sweden. Thereafter, the state made great efforts, and France virtually caught up with Britain and Germany in density (some 46 lines per 100 people). The percentage of homes with telephone service shot up from 16% in 1968 to 74% in 1982. (7.)

Red phone booth

TIP: Though the French telephone system today is modern and efficient, you may still encounter a reticence among some French families about the use of their household telephone — particularly in the provinces. If you're staying with a host family (or paying a social visit), do not presume to use their telephone — even for local calls — without asking in advance and offering to pay them.

You should have no problem keeping in contact with people at home while you are in France. The country has an efficient postal system and you can have letters and packages sent general delivery to any of the official branches. The Internet is widely accessible, and is gradually displacing the now-primitive Minitel telnet system which France pioneered. Should you need to use the phone, you can use cheap pre-paid phone cards or access home-country operators via free numbers.

French newspapers (not to mention radio and television) will be of less interest if you are not a reader (or speaker) of French. There are some local English-language magazines, but you will probably find yourself reaching for an international edition of a British or American newspaper or an international news magazine to keep up on current events. These are available in major cities and tourist centers, though they can get to be an expensive habit.

Phone, Fax, and Minitel
You can make domestic and international phone calls from any telephone booth (cabine) and can receive calls where there's a blue logo of a ringing bell. A 50-unit (€6.19) and 120-unit (€14.87) phone card (called a ...

  Stamp honoring Jean Effel
Hommage to Jean Effel
(€4 postage stamp)

E-mail and the Internet
E-mail is the cheapest and most hassle-free way of staying in touch with home while in France. Practically every reasonable-sized town has a cyber café or connection point of some sort, and in less populated areas...

Postal Services
French post offices (bureaux de poste or PTTs) — look for bright yellow La Poste signs — are generally open 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday to Friday, and 9:00 a.m. to noon on Saturday. However, don't depend on these hours: in smaller...

Newspapers and Magazines
English-language newspapers, such as the European, the Washington Post, New York Times and the International Herald Tribune, are on sale the same day in Paris, and in most large cities and resorts the day after...

TV and Radio
French TV has six channels: three public (France 2, Arte/La Cinquième and FR3); one subscription (Canal Plus - with some unencrypted programs); and two commercial open broadcasts (TF1 and M6). In addition there are the cable networks...

 Quick Facts TOP of PAGE 
Telephones - main lines in use: 33,905,400 (2003)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 41,683,100 (2003)
Telephone system: general assessment: highly developed
domestic: extensive cable and microwave radio relay; extensive introduction of fiber-optic cable; domestic satellite system
international: satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (with total of 5 antennas - 2 for Indian Ocean and 3 for Atlantic Ocean), NA Eutelsat, 1 Inmarsat (Atlantic Ocean region); HF radiotelephone communications with more than 20 countries
Radio broadcast stations: AM 41, FM about 3,500 (this figure is an approximation and includes many repeaters), shortwave 2 (1998)
Radios: 55.3 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 584 (plus 9,676 repeaters) (1995)
Televisions: 34.8 million (1997)
Cable television subscribers: 2.9 million (1999)
Internet country code: .fr
Internet hosts: 2,396,761 (2004)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 62 (2000)
Internet users: 21.9 million (2003)

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Content edited by Ian C. Mills.
Sources: (1.) Destination Guides © Rough Guides Ltd as trustee for its authors. Published by Rough Guides. All rights reserved. The Rough Guides name is a trademark of Rough Guides Ltd. Content reproduced here is licensed through Discover France's affiliation with certain travel providers. (2.) CIA World Factbook — France. (3.) Wikipedia — the Free Encyclopedia. (4.) Google-Watch. (5.) France Télécom. (6.) Égide Agency for International Mobility. (7.) Encyclopedia Americana, © 2003 Grolier Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
Images: Red phone booth and free-standing pay phone, from Plastiques Industries de la Loire (PIL). "Hommage à Jean Effel" (€4 postage stamp), from Cercle des Amis de Marianne. All Rights Reserved.


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