How to Find and Use Free Wi-Fi in Paris

Place des Vosges gratuit Wi-Fi free zone

On a recent trip to New York City, I was surprised (and delighted) to find many businesses are now offering free Wi-Fi, from department and electronics stores to the local coffee shops as well as national chains like Starbucks.

Although the private businesses in Paris have been slow to catch on, the city of Paris hasn’t been and they offer complimentary Wi-Fi in 400 locations around the city, including public parks and municipal spaces. The Wi-Fi (pronounced wee-fee) is available from 7am to 11pm, or during the hours the park or building is open.

Yet recently I was reading an online article from someone who could not get connected to the “Free” internet network in Paris, and I saw that he didn’t realize that in France, “Free” doesn’t mean gratuit (free); it paradoxically means it’s part of the network of the internet provider Free.fr, and is for their paying clients with passcodes.


So if you wish to go to a public park and log on, here’s how to do it:

-1. Find the network ‘Orange‘ and select it.

-2. Launch your browser (navigateur). A log-in window will appear, with options in English and French.

(Users of Firefox may get a warning they are visiting an unencrypted site.)

-3. Click on ‘Select Your Voucher’ and you will have the opportunity to sign up for a two hour session. Enter your name and e-mail address.

(Hint: You can use an alias for both, but be sure to remember them if you wish to re-log back on with the same coordinates. You can also simply log in with a new name and e-mail address.)

-4. Once that information is entered, you should be online.


The internet is fairly reliable, although some parks, the signal may be weak or non-existent. (In fact, when I wrote this, I was in the Place des Vosges, and it wasn’t working.) Sometimes you can try walking around and find a better signal in whatever park you’re in if you can’t get a connection.

During the log-in process, there may also be a link where you can purchase a Wi-Fi pass good at all Orange hotspots. You can buy them in various hourly increments and at present, prices are €9.90 for twenty four hours. Also the three major telecom companies offer 3G USB keys (clé) which you can purchase for a limited-time basis (sans engagement) rather than by monthly contract (forfait avec engagement).

These can be pricey (you need to buy the USB key, then pay extra for time; currently Orange is offering 20 minutes for €3, 6 hours for €25, although prices for these vary by telecom company) and are available at the myriad of Orange, SFR, and Bougyes boutiques in Paris and across France, as well as via their websites.

wi-fi gratuit Zone Wi-Fi

In addition, a good number of Parisian cafés offer complimentary Wi-Fi for patrons. Which means you usually have to order something, and they give you a ticket with a code or you just ask the waiter or bartender for it. In some cases, you might only have access for a limited time, and in others you can sit as long as you wish. There is a list in the links below of cafés and other places that offer free Wi-Fi in Paris.

Unlike other European cities, you won’t find too many cyber cafés in Paris, but Paris has quickly become one of the most plugged-in cities in the world and we’re hoping it’s just a matter of time before the airports get wired as well. And almost all of the hotels offer free Wi-Fi to guests as well. Some may even have computers for public use although the French keyboard (AZERTY) is different and folks using QWERTY keyboards, which are standard in North America, may have trouble with them as the characters and keys are in different places. So even if they tell you they have public computers for sharing, like the cyber cafés, you may want to ask if they have English or other keypads available.

Links

List of Free Wi-Fi Hotspots in Paris Parks and Squares (Paris.fr)

Free Paris Wi-Fi Hotspots by Arrondissement (Paris.fr)

Free Wi-Fi Hotspots in Paris (About.com)

Cell Phone in France: Staying in Touch on Your Trip to Paris

Using an American iPhone in Europe without going Broke (Eurocheapo)

Milk Internet: Chain of cyber cafés.

McDonalds: Every outlet has free Wi-Fi.

Apple Store/Carrousel du Louvre & Apple Store/Opéra: Offers free Wi-Fi and computers to use.

Cyber Cube Internet Cafés (Website doesn’t work) but a Google search will reveal locations.

paris wi-fi

19 comments

  • Oh THANK YOU for this! I spent too many hours of my last trip to Paris in my hotel room on the Internet (ash cloud issues) because I struggled with (and could not figure out) the “Free” wifi in the cafes. (Stupid tourist.)

  • Great guide, David. I’ve relied on Paris WiFi for many months, and it’s saved my bacon. Just to add a couple of tips: a) the signals tend to be localized both in the parks and in buildings, so it’s worth setting yourself up near the WiFi logo (the purple pawprint posted above) for the best signal. The location maps on the Paris.fr site that pinpoint the transmitters are indispensable especially in the larger parks. 2) the rules and regs indicate that VOIP, such as Skype, isn’t permitted.

  • Hi Susan: Yes, many of us have had to rely on the free Wi-Fi provided by the city because of the hellish experiences we’re had with our internet providers. (And I use the term ‘provider’ loosely…)

    I wondered why they put those not-so-attractive signs so prominently in the parks, so thanks for that. The log-in screens do say that you’re not supposed to use VOIP services, but when I went for those 3 months without internet & telephone, I didn’t have much of a choice.

  • Thanks David and I posted your link on the Facebook page for my business- great information for my clients !

  • Have had such a hell of a time getting connected in Beirut I have been seriously considering moving to Paris for a while! Your info and post could not have been more timely!

  • You can get an hour free access at Roissy Charles de Gaule airport, if you are in the business lounge.

  • Hey! I just realized I did not have to type in the name of your city any more!

  • You are a wealth of information! Actually timing could not be more provident. My daughter and her friend are leaving in 10 days for a trip though France, England and Italy; we had worried about connectivity and this is timely and helpful.Thanks!

  • We had no luck with free wifi in Paris, so this is good news. We were confusing Free.fr with free. So “select your voucher” on Orange is free? It really is a paradox… that sounds like something that would cost money, whereas Free sounds the opposite.

    I miss the “preview” function of submitting a comment. It has saved me from submitting some stupid sentences in the past! (Like maybe the ones in the first paragraph.)

  • Once again, excellent information. Thanks very much for the tips. Now I just need to find out when the south of France also plans on joining 2010 by offering wi fi!

  • Hi Dave… This has nothing to do with wee fee !! I just wanted to tell you I just had a Porchetta sandwich at the Amsterdam Market…at the South Street Seaport.. Yes, from the same Porchetta you visited and reported on in your blog…so…..Dave…….eat your heart out !!! LOL… AND, it was only $5… Peace bro…

  • Trust The City of Paris to get it right! How cool to provide WIFI so people can go out and enjoy the sunshine……in Provence we don’t yet get free WIFI, but fêtes and concerts all throug the summer and all free for everyone to enjoy! its the private sector that needs to sharpen up….

  • David – this is the most timely post ever as I am moving to Paris on Monday to go to cook school (Ferrandi – yippee!!) and I know it will take some time to get internet up and running in my apartment, so this is just brilliant. Many many thanks, Deb

  • David, you are all things Paris! as always, love to read you …to learn and to laugh. always happy to see DL in my inbox!

  • Tomatoes from Brittany are more local than Holland? My first French teacher was from Brest and we’d tease her about Brest being farther from Paris than London, Bonn or Amsterdam. If you want to throw in the southwest, I think all of the Netherlands is closer to Paris than Toulouse.

  • Thanks for this very timely post, David! I’ll be in Paris in a week. Was wondering if I’d have to play super sleuth to find all the wee-fee hot spots. You solved the puzzle for me. Thanks!

  • The Place des Vosges and Wi-Fi…does life get any better?

  • Hi All, If you people seek information about free WIFI spots while traveling in Paris, France you can also go to http://freewifiwiki.net/index.php?title=France . There you can find lot of places quickly.

  • Hello David..Thanks for this information. I was planning to make a business trip to paris and this was one piece of nformtion that I was looking for terribly. Your post on Free Wi-Fi in Paris is definitely of great help to me.