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johnwt1951 16-02-2009 06:07

Report on using Orange Mobicarte in France
I've just spent 3 weeks in France. Lovely. Thanks to the info on these pages and elsewhere I purchased and used a prepaid Orange "mobicarte" - mainly for internet access from my iPhone. Here's a few observations from that experience to help others.

1. At the first Orange shop I went to in Paris the helpful and apparently well informed salesman was all apologetic that the Internet Max deal (9 Euro for 500 MB of data) doesn't apply to prepaid SIMs - only to long term contracts. Hmm! I re-read (and re-translated) all the info I had found and decided that I didn't agree! So I found another helpful salesman in another Orange shop. No problem! He sold me a Mobicarte for 30 Euro (with 5 Euro credit) and an extra 10 Euro credit and gave me all the advice and instruction I needed to get up and going.

2. Setting up Internet Max is easy. Dialling #123# lets you recharge with extra credit. Then you can work through the menu (in french) to purchase the internet max option. Wham - the 9 Euros disappears off your balance and you're ready to go!

3. I can't remember now but I don't think I had to tell my phone to use as the APN. I think that happened automatically once I was on the Orange network.

4. Then I was surfing to my heart's content. Good 3G access in all the towns. Slower Edge access in the countryside. Great for maps and weather, etc, etc. Don't know what my total traffic would have been over the 3 weeks but reportedly the 500 MB is a "soft" limit anyway and is not strictly enforced except to prevent blatant abuse. Don't know if that's true.

5. Phone rates are not brilliant with the mobicarte but that wasn't its prime use.

6. What a shame that Apple has done dirty deals with the Telcos and won't allow Skype on their device. I did use the Skype web application "IM+ for Skype" quite a bit. This worked well but is not always cheap because you are paying for two Skype Out calls at once - OK if they are landlines but a bit Exy if they are both mobiles.

7. So Internet Max - great for internet. BUT BEWARE - HERE IS THE STING. The Orange salesman warned me that "email is expensive - better to use webmail (or equivalent) via internet". I didn't quite figure what he was saying. I was pulling email down manually and thought he was probably talking about the heavy use of push email so I wasn't too concerned .... but ... turns out there is a 10 MB limit on email under this internet max deal. After that, email starts eating phone credit. Worse than that, some correspondents report that all outgoing SMTP traffic is charged directly against the phone credit regardless of the 10 MB limit. In any event, email started eating my phone credit at a great rate.

8. No big deal. The safe option is to switch off email and use webmail (or equivalent) instead. Then you are home and hosed and can surf to your heart's content.

9. Validity of the mobicarte is an issue. Credit expires after a month or two depending on amount. I think there is also a 5 Euro per month minimum spend. Not a problem if you are using it continuously or for a short intense period but makes it no good for occasional intermittent use over several months.

10. Overall a good deal - especially for iPhone users or others wanting mobile internet.

I've got my "used" mobicarte (still with 9 Euros of credit) up for sale on if anyone's interested.

DaveRo 18-02-2009 13:13

Thanks for all that. It sounds better than my last experience of Mobicarte: - 2 years ago

The mobicarte I bought then, on ebay, way registered in somebody else's name, which gave me a lot of trouble. I never found a way of changing it. Whoever buys it from you might have the same problem.

Were you able to check how much data credit you had - online or by SMS?


cfarivar 21-02-2009 09:13

I've been living in France since October 2008 and have been using a Mobicarte and was hit by that stupid mail overcharge -- twice! I ended up losing 80€ before I realized that for some godawful reason, Orange treats email differently than web traffic. So yeah, no Mail app on my unlocked iPhone for me -- Gmail thank you very much.

Also, if you buy a larger recharge card like 100€, where you get 150€ worth of credit, and you transfer some of that to a friend (5€, for ex), beware that that credit expires in a week. I learned that one the hard way too.

Orange has a current promotion for the new "Special Edition" Mobicarte where you pay 20€ of credit, then you get the option of free calls to Orange mobiles either 7h-17h during the week, 19h-00h during the week, or all day weekends. Not sure how long this one will last.

Also, I've got two Orange SIMs that I'll gladly send out from France in early May, or when I'm back Stateside in early May.

sammydems 22-02-2009 13:35

Thanks for the info, johnwt1951. I have a few questions, though.

I have an iPhone 3G from the States that I jailbroke and unlocked. Useful, since I'm studying in France for a semester. I was wondering:

How much is the cost of the mobicarte? I checked on their website and couldn't find 'le tarif' anywhere. Granted, I'm not completely fluent in French, but I understand most of what I read, and I could not find it. So, how much is the SIM card itself, and is there a link you could give me to find out exactly how much a minute or SMS costs?

Also, does Orange cover basically all of France? I am living in Angers near Nantes until June and I need a card I can use everywhere. Thanks for any help you can give me; it's greatly appreciated.


johnwt1951 25-02-2009 11:24


Sorry to be slow replying.

The SIM itself cost 30 euro and that includes only 5 euro of credit.

You will find tariffs on I think that's still valid.

I had no trouble finding a network anywhere in France. In more remote areas it dropped back to EDGE not 3G.

Good luck.

johnwt1951 25-02-2009 11:25

Don't think the name should be an issue. I just recharged by buying credit at a Tabac. There was never a reason for my name to be needed.

PhotoJim 25-02-2009 16:05

Using an SSH session to a machine where you have shell access (like my server, in my basement) and setting up tunnels on ports 25, 110, 143 and 587 (143 and 587 work in my case, they're all I need) lets you route your email traffic over a different port (SSH standard port is 22) via your shell machine. That might be a way around it.

I've used this several times where WiFi access restricts email access.

jhanlon 25-03-2009 21:37


Originally Posted by cfarivar (Post 25364)
Also, I've got two Orange SIMs that I'll gladly send out from France in early May, or when I'm back Stateside in early May.

I will be in France for three months starting mid-July and may be interested in your SIMs. Please email me at jhanlon [at] comcast [dot] net

Jim Hanlon

Lobby 13-05-2009 18:16

This is exactly what I'm looking for to access internet and email while on holidays later in June/July.

The 10Mb for email traffic is a bit limiting though. Anyone know how thats measured, i.e. is it SMTP traffic or is it traffic via a specific port?

Or are there any rumours of that 10Mb limit being scrapped?

(Incidentally I bought a mobicarte from but cannot recharge (add credit) it. I get the following message (via the orange website):

"Vous devez avoir 1 mois d'ancienneté sur votre compte pour pouvoir utiliser le service rechargement illico"

That seems to say that I need to use the service for a month first??? With only €5 of credit??

Stu 14-05-2009 00:13

My understanding is that you can get Skype running on an iPhone by using one of the programs for jailbroken iPhones that allows a 3g connection to masquerade as a wifi connection.

See generally:

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