One of France’s leading mobile network operators is SFR, with coverage serving millions of users all over France. It is imperative to get a local SIM card or eSIM for your smartphone as a French tourist to remain connected while on the move.
In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss everything that you need to understand about using SFR when traveling in France such as the available network, speed and SIM card options, activation, call rates and many others.

SFR eSIM and SIM Card

1. Quick facts about SFR

This is a mobile network operator belonging to Altice France. With over 26 million subscribers, it is the second largest mobile network operator of France. SFR provides a large selection of mobile packages consisting of prepay, postpay and corporate plans. SFR also has many mobile products like the smart phones and the tablets and also the wearable types of products.

Here are some quick facts about SFR:

  • Founded in 1987
  • A company with headquarters in Issy-les-Moulineaux, France
  • The second-largest French mobile network operator.
  • Subsidiary of Altice France
  • Over 26 million subscribers
  • Provides prepaid, postpaid as well as businesses mobile plans
  • Provides different kinds of mobile products, e.g., smartphones, tablets, and wearables.

Hence, SFR is a worthy consideration for mobile users in France at large. It provides different mobile plans at affordable rates and excellent network services. On the other hand, some customers have complained about speed, network consistency and customer services.

sfr logo

2. SFR Coverage and Speed in France

Before getting an SFR SIM card in France, it’s good to understand their network coverage and speeds across the country.

2.1. SFR coverage in France

sfr coverage map
SFR coverage map

SFR has the second-best overall mobile network coverage in France, behind Orange. According to Opensignal’s May 2023 Mobile Network Experience Report, SFR has a 5G Availability score of 15.2%, which means that SFR users spent 15.2% of their time connected to a 5G network. SFR also has a 4G Availability score of 96.8%, which means that SFR users spend 96.8% of their time connected to a 4G network.

  • SFR’s 5G network is particularly strong in urban areas, with an Availability score of 21.3%. However, SFR’s 5G network is also available in rural areas, with an Availability score of 8.2%.
  • SFR’s 4G is also good in towns and outskirts. Its 4G Availability score is 97.5% SFR in urban areas. SFR 4G Availability in rural areas stands at 94.8%.

In general, the SFR’s coverage in France is quite good. With a 5G or 4G network, SFR users will enjoy connectivity in most places they go to within the country.

2.2. SFR speed

FRANCE Speed

Orange is the leader for 5G download performance in France while SFR comes right after. Opensignal’s May 2023 Mobile Network Experience Report found that SFR users had an average 5G download speed of 198.1 Mbps. This is also faster than the average 4G download speed of 52.8 Mbps.

  • SFR’s 5G speeds were particularly fast in urban areas with an average 5G download speed of 218.2 Mbps among consumers. Surprisingly, SFR’s 5G speeds are just as fast even in rural areas where, on average, users get a 170.8 Mbps 5G download speed.
  • Their 4G speeds are also quite good. The average 4G download speed for SFR users in urban settings was recorded at 53.7 Mbps. On average, in rural areas, SFR users achieved a download speed of 51.2Mbps.

As compared to other locations in France, SFR has very quick 5G and 4G speeds. Users of SFR can expect to enjoy fast mobile data speed anywhere in the country.

3. SFR connectivity options for travelers to France

Here are some of the main connectivity options provided by SFR for travelers visiting France:

Option Description
SFR Prepaid SIM Card A physical SIM card that you can buy in France and use to make calls, send texts, and access the internet.
SFR eSIM A digital SIM card that you can download to your phone. To use an eSIM, you will need a phone that supports eSIMs.
SFR Roaming WiFi routers Use your existing mobile phone plan to connect to the SFR network in France. You may be charged additional roaming fees.

So in summary, SFR caters to travelers’ needs through flexible prepaid SIMs, eSIM packages, voice+data plans and portable WiFi options at affordable prices.

4. Best SFR SIM cards for tourists & cost

A prepaid SIM card is the best SFR SIM card for tourists. It’s about 10 dollars, with 5 dollars credit and 50MB internet. Then you can buy an additional data pass that will allow you to accumulate more data, or you can spend your credit for making calls and sending SMSs.

Here is a table of the different SFR SIM card options for tourists:

SFR SIM Card Option Price Data Calling Roaming Validity
Prepaid SIM card 10 USD 50 MB None No 30 days
Data pass: 2 GB data for 8 days 15 USD 2 GB None No 8 days
Data pass: 2 GB data + calls to all over the world for 30 days 20 USD 2 GB Unlimited calls to all over the world No 30 days
Data pass: 200 GB data + unlimited calls/SMS in France for 30 days 40 USD 200 GB Unlimited calls/SMS in France No 30 days

If you have to use a large amount of data, you may consider purchasing an eSIM from other providers like francesim.com. Compared with SFR, they usually have cheaper data plans.

It is essential to select a data pass with inclusive international calling and roaming if you are travelling to France.

5. Does SFR France support eSIM?

Yes, SFR offers eSIM service in France for phones that can operate on the platform on iPhones and Android.
In addition, the process of activating SFR eSIM may entail the use of QR codes and a particular application. Thus, tourists could find a physical SFR SIM card more accessible and convenient than SFR eSIM.
However, if you have an eSIM phone and want to give it a try, see the eSIM Compatible Device List for the details on it.

You can even try another carrier’s eSIM. This could be exploring eSIM offered by francesim.com which works on Orange’s network allowing one to be able to access different plans.

6. Where can you buy an SFR SIM card and eSIM?

For travelers looking to purchase an SFR SIM card France or eSIM for connectivity in France, there are a few main options for where to buy:

6.1. Where to buy SFR SIM for France

You can buy an SFR SIM card for France in several places, including:

  • SFR boutiques: You should buy an SFR SIM card at SFR boutiques. They offer a wide range of SIM cards and data passes from which to choose. The staff will be glad to give advice on which data plan is best suited for your mobile operations. You may locate SFR boutique in France using the SFR store locator. Providing your passport and proof of address.
  • Tobacco shops: SFR SIM cards are sold in a lot of tobacco shops in France. Nevertheless, they are likely not to have diverse options like SFR boutiques, and the employees might not be conversant with SFR products. When looking for a tobacco shop that deals in SFR SIMs, just check outside the shop for SFR logos.
  • Online retailers: Just like most mobile service providers, you can also buy an SFR SIM card from various online retailers like Amazon, Lebara France, and eBay. Still, it is necessary to determine that you are purchasing from a reliable dealer. You can also look out for online reviews and examine the customer service scores of the retailer to confirm if it’s reputable.
  • Paris airports: SIM kiosks and Relay shops in CDG and Orly airports.

6.2. Where to buy SFR France eSIM

You’ll need to activate eSIM through the SFR app by scanning a QR code. Here’s how to get it:

  • SFR store – Get QR code for eSIM activation.
  • SFR app – Can generate eSIM QR code if you verify French payment details.
  • Lebara eSIM for France – Virtual SIM provider that emails eSIM QR code.

So it’s generally easier to get a physical SFR SIM card at arrival. But SFR eSIM works too if your phone supports it.

7. How to activate SFR France SIM/eSIM

Once you obtain an SFR SIM card or eSIM, whether prepaid or rental, it will need to be activated before use on the network. The activation process generally involves:

7.1. How to use SFR France SIM card

  1. Insert the new SFR SIM and turn on phone.
  2. It will auto-configure and show signal bars.
  3. Enter SIM PIN if prompted. Default PIN is 0000 or 1234.
  4. You can now make calls, send SMS and use data.
  5. Top-up when required to recharge your prepaid credit.

7.2. How to activate SFR France eSIM

  1. Install the SFR app on your phone.
  2. Sign up for an account and verify a French payment method.
  3. Go to eSIM section and scan the QR code you received.
  4. Follow prompts to download and install eSIM profile.
  5. May need to reboot phone to switch to eSIM.
  6. Top-up your eSIM through the app as required.

Please check your detailed instructions below:

That’s it! You should now have working SFR cellular service on your trip in France.

8. France SFR Call & SMS rates

Here is a table of France SFR Call & SMS rates:

Call type Rate
Calls within France (landline and mobile) 0.20 USD per minute
Calls to international landlines Varies depending on the country
Calls to international mobile phones Varies depending on the country
SMS messages within France 0.10 USD per message
SMS messages to international numbers Varies depending on the country

Note: These rates are for prepaid customers. Postpaid customers may have different rates.

9. Useful USSD codes for SFR France SIM/eSIM

Call 950 for free from your SFR phone and from within France and follow the instructions.

10. How to top-up SFR France SIM/eSIM

You can recharge your SFR prepaid credit using these methods:

  • SFR app – Instant top-up by French card or PayPal
  • SFR website – Recharge online to SIM
  • SFR stores – Pay at the store counter
  • Vouchers – Enter the recharge code from the voucher
  • ATMs – Some French ATMs allow mobile top-up

Start with a €10-20 (~10 – 20 USD) top-up which should last a few days depending on usage. Then recharge as required.

11. Alternatives to SFR France

Some other French networks you could consider for travel are:

  • Orange – Leading telco in France with excellent coverage
  • Bouygues – Third largest mobile network after SFR
  • Free Mobile – Low-cost carrier with great deals
  • francesim.comFrancesim provides eSIM data plans that allow you to stay connected in France without changing your physical SIM card. Plans start from around 6-7 euros for 1-2GB of data per day.

So in summary, Orange and Bouygues are reliable alternatives to the SFR mobile network, while Free Mobile is a more budget-friendly option. And francesim.com lets you use their eSIM data plans as a pay-as-you-go roaming solution without switching physical SIMs when traveling to France. 

Enjoy 1-3GB of high-speed data per day with francesim.com’s 5-day eSIM plan. Prices start from $6/1GB daily: 

France eSIM 7-Day Plan lets you use up to 3GB of data per day for 7 days. Prices start from just $6.50/day: 

Get 15 days of unlimited high-speed data to use as much as you want while traveling across France. Stay seamlessly connected for only $6.50/day: 

12. FAQs about SFR in France

Here are some frequently asked questions about using SFR SIM cards and eSIM in France:

Does my phone need to be unlocked?

Yes, your phone has to be unlocked to use a local French SIM. Contact your home carrier to request an unlock.

Can I use SFR SIM in all of France?

SFR has excellent nationwide coverage, but very remote areas may have poor signal. Works across major tourist spots.

Do I need ID for an SFR SIM card?

Yes, you need to show your passport when purchasing an SFR SIM card in-store for registration.

How long is an SFR SIM card valid for?

SFR prepaid SIMs remain active as long as you recharge them regularly, even if valid for 1-2 months.

How much data do I need?

For light use, 5GB is enough for 2 weeks. Get 15GB for a month with heavier usage like maps/video.

13. Final words

The comprehensive guide to using SFR SIM Cards and eSIM while in France. SFR has a good network covering the whole of France at fast speeds and cheaper prepaid bundles to remain connected in France. Upon arrival at airports and stores, seek their La Carte or Red SIM cards. Also, ensure to top up your credit once in a while. Take pleasure in your trip at ease with the SFR connection.