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Mobile phone SIM card

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Can anyone recommend a good french phone company to buy a prepaid SIM card with? We'll be taking an unlocked mobile phone from Australia and want to use it purely for phoning ahead to reserve accomodation and receive phonecalls confirming our booking on the Le Puy route. For this reason a company with reasonable call rates would be good (we won't be texting).

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Hi Howlingmouse
I found this website very informational as I was wondering whether to buy an unlocked GSM 'phone too. It appears sim cards can be purchased at tabacs and other stores. I did look at the cell coverage map and there are some areas with no coverage - mountains maybe? ... ne_buy.htm

In the USA one can pre-purchase sim cards but the local calls are 99cents USD a minute (bit less to call USA, but, like you not what I want to do). Check to see if you can buy any sim cards in Australia. Also check to see how much to receive calls to your cell 'phone, some companies are free and some charge a fee!

All the best, Loraine
Hi Howlingmouse,
Had a smile when i wrote that .
We are leaving Melbourne on 8/6 for Le Puy.
Will be taking our time so accommodation bookings are not that important.
Will end up where the road takes us.

Have Optus mobile here on a plan?

Any info about phones appreciated.

We only want to receive tex messages from the kids but as mum is a good age we definately want a phone if needed.

Hope the walk was successful .
I bought a prepaid simcard in an orangeshop in Le Puy. Free incoming calls from abroad. Had to refill it within 14 days, but that differed from the amount of euros you prepaid. Did not cost much. Put 5 euros on it a couple of times when I passed an orangeshop which you could find in nearly every town.
There were a lot of similar shops in Le Puy and I guess other companies have prepaid simcards too.
I also pick up an Orange card at a local shop.

A perfectly good unlocked GSM phone can be bought on EBay for $15. Saves you the hassle of screwing up your own phone.
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The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk. Discount is taken at check out, only by using this link.
A good site for North Americans is
A Labarra SIM card is $29.95 USD and includes 10€ air time. Calls back to U.S. or Canada are .06 per minute which is much less than others.
The other advantage is that you receive the SIM before you leave and have the phone number.
Worth a look. I did a bit of research and this is the best I found. Last year I bought a MoviStar SIM in Pamplona as I passed through and it was more expensive as I remember.
Grayland - Thanks!. This is exactly the info I've been trying to nail down. On one camino I got a phone from but in the end it cost me >$300 CAD. This strategy you've just described sounds more affordable and simpler. On the other hand I'm still waffling whether to go this way or forget about a phone and just use a calling card. I found charging my camera and my phone a little problematic at times...

If you are trying to keep costs down and battery useage low we suggest that you send texts rather than trying to talk. Texts will also 'go' when the signal is poor and conversation difficult. We did actually talk a couple of times, which made it extra special.
We were also using a phone for Terry to which only family had the number, so had no ansaphone messages as they knew it was 'texts only please'. We'll do the same again this year when we are both on Camino.
Also on our Orange phones we could text 'From Spain' and 'To Spain' to find the cost of texting using our (English) Orange phone. Sorry I cannot remember the number to use for this service.
Buen Camino
Tio Tel and Tia Valeria
Does anyone have any experience on using a Blackberry for calling or texting on the Le Puy route? Any info. would be helpful. Thanks, Rafael
My comments are predictably low-tech, but I think I have a pretty good system for staying in touch. First, in 2002 we bought a movistar phone for 25E that included 25E of phone time. I have used that phone every year since, buying a new card (which comes with a new number) as soon as I arrive in Spain. We use that phone for intra-Spain calls and emergencies, and my family knows it is on every night for a couple of hours. I know you asked about France, but I'm assuming you can find something equivalent there, a cheap phone with pre-paid time not a contract.

For calling home to the US, which I did every day or so, I used one of those calling cards Lynne mentioned. They are 6 or 7 E and available in every tabacalera or estanco (tobacco shop with a band the color of the Spanish flag on the store somewhere). Depending on the brand, you may get a lot of time. I have found that EuroCity is very good, for example. The problem with these cards is that many have hidden connection fees, etc, but a little bit of trial and error will help a lot, and there is usually a pretty good supply available in even the littlest tabacalera.

If you're using those cards, there are certain tricks that you can learn just by paying attention. The main one I remember is that those green and blue phones that sit on the bar and take coins usually give you a hugely better rate than the regular pay phones, as judged by the number of minutes that the recording tells you you have. But again, this is just in Spain.

Sorry, don't mean to get too much off-topic, but I think people could save a lot of expense and gear-hauling with a low tech alternative. Of course, you give up in convenience, but pay phones in Spain are not the dying breed they are in the US (unless things have changed since last May). Laurie
Camino Way markers in Bronze
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk. Discount is taken at check out, only by using this link.
does anyone know, if I order a lebara sim card very far in advance, do I have to use it immediately, establishing my number, or can I wait till I get to france or spain? and do I have to use it, say once per month, to keep it active?

it will be about 3 monts till I get to france, and about 4 month till I get to spain.

I don't suppose lebara's sim cards can be bought somewhere, say in menton? I couldn't find any info of actual offices on their site.

It is a good idea to wait until about 30 days before you are going to order the SIM. The best place I found to buy the Lebara sim is from They are located on the East Coast and will get the card to you pretty quickly.
The information is on their website.
I would advise you to call them and get the answers to your questions first hand.
You do not have to activate the card until you arrive in Spain.
I have used a couple of times and it really was a simple straight forward deal.
In general, those European phone numbers are only good for 90 days at a time --- that is to say, you must use them every ninety days or they are lapsed due to inactivity (and recycled). I've had this experience myself.

Although, I understand the authorities are beginning to take notice and are prodding the teleco's on this issue, so things may change.
My Vodafone voice chip lasts 9 months. My Vodafone 3G chip works great and does not expire for 9 idle months. They are useless in France. Orange might cover both countries.
I have bought a sim card from LeFrench Mobile . It cost 22 euros delivered to Australia and comes with 15 euros of credit.
Calls rates seem reasonable,the coverage is with one of the biggest carriers , support is in English and so far its all gone to plan.
I won't know exactly how it works until arriving in Paris and installing the SIM but I am hopefull it will enable us to book accomodation ahead & stay in touch with family.
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My husband just bought a mobile from YHA to use in France and Spain. It cost $34 and has 10 euros worth of credit. I am just taking my prepaid phone which I have used successfully in Spain before.
The best in France is ORANGE for price but also for the best geographic cover all along the Le Puy route.
It is also possible to ask to gites'owners to call for you for your next reservations. Many make this service.
Have a nice way.
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