Floating Internet

17 Replies
Sgt Colon



Hello, Please be prepared to be bombarded with questions as I make plans for my imminent move to the Uzes area. The first is an internet question with a twist. I have to admit that when it comes to gadgetry and especially the internet I am a dinosaur. I am capable of standing in PC World with a total lack of understanding at what I am looking at or why I would need it. As my family no longer consists of teenagers to resolve my issues I feel the need to seek help from this forum where other dinosaurs may have been helped through similar technical matters by their teenage offspring. This year I shall be bringing my boat across the channel at which point I shall be throwing overboard my contract smartphone that I never fully understood and purchasing a cheapy pay as you go phone purely for phone calls within France Question 1.  Any advice which provider for best coverage? I shall be sailing through the rivers and canals down to Languedoc Roussillon where I shall be remaining. Questions 2 (The main one) and 3.  I want to fit the boat with equipment that will provide me with a reliable internet service. This will be my primary means of communication with home throughout the journey and at the end of that journey I shall be living on the boat for 6 – 12months whilst property hunting so the internet will be used extensively. What gadget do I need to fit to the boat to receive the internet signal (Can I buy it and have it fitted in UK or will I need to buy it in France) and any advice about which internet service provider will be the most reliable for me Thanks                             Graham Wilson

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vacancesthezan 1453045550

Firstly, why would you think that PAYGO would be the cheapest option for you? Most PAYGO has a time limit on the top up and as it will be your only form of communication with the rest of the world you are bound to want to use it for calls and also for data.

Instead why not look at a cheap "abonnement" which would give you some calls and also data (for your surfing!). We are with https://www.bouyguestelecom.fr/ but there are lots of other options available depending upon what you want (unlimited calls, international calls, data etc).  The main operaters tend to be expensive (eg Orange, SFR) unless you can get a deal with a landline phone/home internet. Unless you have a home base in France then this will not be the case so look at the next tier down.

Just check how to cancel as some tie you in but other dont. We feel sure that others on this site can give you their cheap deals to compare.

Good luck


Sgt Colon 1453049739

Thanks for that. I do not use the phone very much for calls so that is why a cheap French network pay as you go phone may be suitable.

The Internet however will be used quite extensively and my location will be changing daily so that is the more complicated problem to resolve


Dylan-485383 1453050716

Not an expert (and doubtless someone will correct me) but satellite internet ?


chèvrefeuille 1453109981

Your best bet is a smartphone with a contract that provides a good Internet package. I use Bougytel. If I want to use a bigger screen I set up my smartphone as a personal hotspot and connect my iPad to that. All very straightforward. You can also use it to access WiFi hotspots. By the way, this is the system that I use when spending time aboard my boat.

Sgt Colon 1453119379

The gadgetspeak is becoming clearer to me but it remains difficult to see which method is without doubt going to provide me with the best coverage as I travel down from Boulogne to Uzes and then continue to provide good coverage at the most competitive price whilst living on the boat for something like 12 months. 

The mobile phone internet contract looked very interesting but I need the internet on the laptop much more than on the phone and there are I am learning consequences to tethering the phone to the laptop over a long period.

The two options that have been suggested to me and that are looking favourite so far are

1. Upon arriving at Boulogne take my laptop and passport to the nearest Orange.fr shop purchasing a dongle and sim card and have them set it up for me. The car version can  have added to it an ariel to boost the signal

2. Purchase a huawei 4g mifi and €20/month sim-only from free.fr (widely available from                 vending machines, and can be paid with a UK credit card) Again this device can have an ariel added to it

With these options I would then use a cheap pay as you go phone for the few telephone calls I make within France.

I’m still learning so suggestions still very welcome and with thanks


pilvikki 1453127423

being another dinosaur, i have little tech help to offer, but thought i'd welcome you to the - at present very snowy - languedoc, when you get here.

happy travels,




tinabee 1453314377

One of these Orange dongle options may suit your needs. We use Le coffret Prêt-à-surfer 3G+ when visiting Languedoc and seem to get pretty good coverage. For mobile phone we use a simple PAYG service from LeClerc (Mini+) - see here

romakayak 1453371416

Sgt colon,

Nothing to do with internet or phones but i have covered your intended route to the med by kayak.

Starting at Royan i paddled my kayak the full lenght of the gironde in 8 hours and continued to Bordeaux on the Garronne to the canal lateral. From there and many locks to carry around i continued to toulouse then carcassone, Beziers and marseillan plage. Three weeks later we drove to ventigmilia in italy and i paddled back to beziers. Each night camping. Good luck with your trip!

Sgt Colon 1453395805

Thankyou everyone. This has really helped me to understand the alternatives that are available to me


vanessac99 1453400804

If you want to stay in touch with family in the UK you should reconsider tossing your smart phone overboard and consider getting a "3" or "three" sim contract for it. 

I live in the UK but have a house in the Languedoc and got fed up with extra roaming charges on O2. Three offer a "feel at home" package which allows you to use your phone in France as if you were in the UK. Meaning any minutes of voice or volume of data you have on your contract can be used in France (and other EU countries - you'll have to look on their site) at no extra charge. The big down side is that all calls made to French numbers will be expensive the cost would be the same as calling from the UK. So far from ideal but a great option with saying in touch with back home. 

chèvrefeuille 1453486731

Before you follow vanessac99's advice read the small very carefully.

DavidPenhaligon 1453554162

I travel a lot in France and use the internet on the move every day. My soltuion for reliable low cost internet is long range wiifi using free hotspots .Backed up with a 3G wifi router for when there are no available hotspots. The wifi gives me a connectiion up to about 10 km with good line of sight. Much less in urban areas but I am usually able to find a suitable hotspot.  When there is no free wifi I use Orange France or Bouygues PAYG 3G. The long dated Orange France top ups are great for this. 

Please get in touch if I can help.  david@brownbear.it

Sgt Colon 1453561715

I think I have a plan. I'll put it down here in case there are flaws or in case it is of use for anybody else who has a similar problem to solve.

I won't ditch the smartphone. The O2 contract ends soon so I shall see if I can get the phone unlocked and use a Three pay as you go sim in the phone. Hopefully this will enable me to continue using the phone on the same number when I am in the UK. Whilst in France I can keep it on the boat and use it only to make very infrequent calls back to the UK and monitor if anybody has been trying to contact me on that (my old UK tel number).

For telephone calls in France (Until I later purchase a home there)  I shall purchase a very cheap disposable phone with a pay as you go tarrif. I dont expect it will have hevy use and wont need internet.

Finally I've seen a gadget at Orange called a Buzzard that I shall seek out upon arriving in France. Designed for use in a car it will plug into the 12v socket on the boat and allegedly (I suppose when a signal of suitable strength is available) provides mutiple 4G wifi on the boat. It can be fitted with an ariel to boost the signal. The Orange.fr pay as you go tarrif should be fine for me to use for about a year after which I imagine I will again be living on land and will seek a cheaper cotract solution.

To some it might sound complicated but I dont need internet anywhere other than on the boat and I make very few telephone calls so the PAYG will be handy for those few occasions.

Once again thanks everybody


chèvrefeuille 1453581631

I don't understand why you need two phones.

Sgt Colon 1453672473

I was only going to have the one phone – a disposable pay as you go for making calls within France but I am worried that some people may still need to contact me on my old UK number. Therefore I am considering keeping my old contract phone (at least for a few months) but on a PAYG tariff so that I only use it whilst visiting the UK or to sometimes receive / make a call from Franc to the UK.

lakeland lass 1453713550


Have you looked into using the Whatsapp app?  Free phone calls everywhere to other Whatsapp clients (bit like Skype).

Enjoy your trip


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