Beware of France Telecom Orange Mobicarte

2012 – Paris

Call me crazy, but I went with an Orange Mobicarte because I was told the it is the only pay-as-you-go micro-SIM available for an iPhone. (Getting my iPhone unlocked by AT&T is another horror story waiting to be told – luckily for all of us there is an FCC). Needless to say, service was poor. Texting worked only sometimes, or not at all. And help was never available. So, once again. BEWARE of Orange Mobicarte.


2011 – Lyon

It is with a heavy heart that I find I must criticize something in France. We love to visit France and have met many very nice friends and have had many wonderful experiences. France Telecom’s Mobicarte is NOT one of them.

Instead, the Mobicarte system seems designed for what would be called in the USA “theft of services.” In fact, the entire company seems to breed a culture of theft, especially against those who are not fluent in French. When you go into any Orange store, the attendants are so poorly trained that almost every answer to any question you have is wrong (whether they speak English or not).

Here is a brief overview of my experience with Mobicarte:

In 2010, I brought an unlocked Google Android phone to France and bought a Mobicarte SIM card to allow me to make calls in France at local rates. In addition, I could use the Internet because the phone is a smartphone. I was told in the Orange Mobicarte store on the Grande Rue de la Croix-Rousse that my phone was setup properly and all was well. So, I bought 75 Euros of time for the rest of the trip. Overnight, France Telecom sucked all 75 Euros out of the phone because the phone registers itself on the Internet! The “technician” at the Orange store failed to tell me that for only 12 Euros per month, I could have had Internet “Illimitée” – essentially unlimited Internet access. By not telling me any of this, the good little employee (manager) of the store was able to steal 75 Euros from me. The word in French for thief is “voleur.”

After visiting 5 Orange stores in Lyon, I found one that had a person who could fix my situation and setup the Internet.

Fast-forward to 2011, June, in Lyon. As my Mobicarte number was still within the French system, I foolishly turned it back on… only to discover that the convoluted menu system would not allow me to turn on the Internet service. How crazy can they be? A lot crazy, evidently. Their system seems to have been designed in the 1950s by pickpockets. Oh, well. Next time, I’ll try SFR or one of the others.

 France is a beautiful country… France Telecom is an ugly monolith that is helping to destroy France’s reputation across the globe, and especially with the English-speaking community.

Getting Around Lyon: The Video

When arriving in Lyon, it is a pleasure to discover ways to get to around this beautiful city. Watch our Getting Around video for a quick overview:

Lyon is a crossroads in south eastern France. Since Roman times, Lyon has served as the crossroads of what is now France. Its two rivers have transported people and goods for centuries. Today, Lyon is a European hub with two major TGV stations, and its airport is international. It has a network of metros (subways) buses and trams that covers the entire city. There’s even a funicular that goes up and down the hill at Fourvière.

Tourism, Transit, & Vélo’vs

Click on the UK flag, available on many French tourism-related websites, to access an English version of the site.

Map of Lyon

The Tourist Information website and the TI office (located on Place Bellecour on the Presqu’île) have abundant information about Lyon in a variety of languages. This is a good first stop when planning a visit or arriving in Lyon.

Lyon’s public transport website gives complete information, in English, about the city’s outstanding system of subway, bus, and tram lines. Use the route finder (see the red boxes on the TCL home page) to calculate a route and its duration between beginning and end points. Purchase tickets at Metro and Tram stops or TCL ticket offices. A packet (carnet) of 10 tickets reduces the per-ticket price. There are also savings with two-hour, all-day, all-evening, and group tickets, and monthly plans. Tickets must be stamped as you board the bus or tram (or enter the Metro station) and held until you exit the station.

Vélo’v is Lyon’s popular, public bicycle system. The sturdy Vélo’v bikes have pedal-powered headlights and front baskets. Riders check out a bike using the automated system and then return it to any of the city’s bike stations. The first half hour is free, the next hour costs a euro and additional hours cost 2 euros/hour. If you have a European bankcard you can take advantage of the Vélo’vs. American bankcards and credit cards lack the necessary smart card chip and do not work — if anyone has figured out how to overcome this, without opening a European bank account, please let us know.

Books on France and Things French

We’ve had great luck with Rick Steves’ books for traveling in France. For getting excited before a trip, see one of the Eyewitness Books from DK publishing – “France” offers beautiful pictures and easy-to-read captions about the major sites, food and wine of each region.


If you’re interested in French cooking, here are a few cookbooks we like to use. From Julia Child, who introduced Americans to French cooking and cuisine, there is her classic series and autobiography. Patricia Wells, who has probably visited every bistro in France, her cookbook classics include our favorite, Bistro Cooking, with delicious basics that are easy to prepare.  John Byrne’s book helps you create some easy, French-inspired meals. It has a recipe for crème fraiche to use back in the U.S. when you can’t find it at the local supermarket.