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.)
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
E-mail and the Internet
Newspapers and Magazines
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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.