How to Find Good Wifi Hotspots in France – Free French Broadband Internet 24/7

November 17, 2013

Free Wifi Internet in France for your Campervan, Caravan, House or Boat

There are lots of options for wifi in France now. Free wifi hotspots are not limited to McDonalds and Autoroute Service Stations. With a decent wifi set up to  give  long range  reception it is possible to find good free wifi internet almost anywhere in France.

This is my set up  –  Alfa Networks AWUS 036H usb wifi adaptor, 8 dBi omnidirectional aerial mounted on a magnetic base with 1.5 metre cable. The aerial is mounted on my van roof. This gives the possibility of connection up to a range of about 6km – almost 4 miles – with good clear line of sight. I am doing this in a van but this set up could equally well be used in a campervan, caravan, house or boat.

Here is an example of a free hotspot connection at a full 3 miles giving a slow but usable link – fast enough for emails and listening to Radio 4.


Free Wifi Using the FON Network.

There are FON hotspots all over France. All you need is  to set up a FON router in your home country and share part of the bandwidth. Easy to do, not too expensive and the FON router does not have to be turned on while you are travelling.  SFR FON hotspots are quite common in France and offer a free connection if you have a FON account and log in. Here is an example of a FON hotspot connection-


Information about FON here –

FON is not just for France. Take a look at the FON map here –

I use Inssider to look for possible hotspots. This works well and shows the signal level and type of encryption for the detected wireless networks.  This is what it looks like on the screen –


Here is a link to the Inssider website –

The most important factor for getting free wifi in France is a good long range wireless set up. If you need help with this – Just ask or take a look at


My Dongle Is Up The Pole!

September 10, 2013


Its not really a dongle its a Huawei Mifi Router and it is not really a pole its a 5 metre length of tiling batten but…. it has solved a major internet problem for me  in the UK and might have wider applications.

Travelling in France using the Orange France network it is a given that internet will be available on tap. Not so in the UK. In this location in  Suffolk there is signal available from TMobile, Vodafone and O2 but data is intermittent from all three networks. Works  a little during the night and early morning. Stops in the day time and comes back in the evening.Several calls to Vodafone Customer Services have not helped resolved the issue.

Some networks in the UK are operating on 900mHz and I thought this might be worth a try. This is a relatively new development. 3G broadband on 900mHz rather than 2100.  With a change of router and a little exploration of the site with the Mifi Router on top of a tiling batten to give some height a good connection was possible but at the moment only in one place – up a wild cherry tree!


Internet connection was all but impossible last year. Now in the same location a fast and reliable broadband connection is available all day, every day.

More to follow – hardware, set up and future developments.

2007 Mercedes Sprinter 311 CDI – Service Indicator Reset – This One Works!

September 5, 2013

Just changed the oil on my Sprinter and needed to reset the service indicator. I tried several ways to  do the reset from searches on Google and only this one worked on my van –

Service Reset instruction for 2006+ Sprinter (NCV3)

with NO steering wheel buttons.

1. Put the key in the ignition and switch it on without starting the engine.
(Wait for LCD to return to the vehicle mileage)

2. Hold the “O” button down till you hear a beep (could take a while, 30 sec.)

3. Press the M button repeatedly and a number of reset menus will appear, (If you have used oil according to quality sheet 229.31 or 228/229.51 you can scroll to Reset.31 or Reset.51 respectively.) Select “reset 51”

4. Now, when appropriate oil type is selected press “O” for 6 seconds until ”2” is displayed.

5. Press “O” once again briefly and the ” reset done” message will confirm that the job is done.

6. Pull the Key out

One tip for the oil filter change – get the right filter wrench – 74mm diameter, 14 flats. Makes the job very easy to do.

New Mobicarte Top Up for Orange France Lets Go Data Sim

July 13, 2013

Orange France PAYG Data Sim Top Up  –  3 Gig Valid for 6 Months

Great for travellers and intermittent users in France this new top up gives 3 gigabytes of data and is valid for 6 months. The latest data Sims include 500mb of data and free access to Orange France wifi while there is credit on the Sim.

The latest 3G Data Sim and a six month top up with wifi to reduce 3G data usage could offer great value for owners of  holiday homes or campervans. The 3 gig top ups are available from Orange France boutiques for 35 euros. Maybe also from tabacs.

Ask for details  – the new Sims and top ups are  in stock. If your French is not up to a visit to an Orange France Boutique or if you might need help and support to get your 3G up and running this is the place to go.

Update 23 August 2013

The Orange Wifi offer needs credit in the main account on the Sim.  Data top ups do not count so additional Mobicarte top ups are required. Still good value wifi.

Update 14 December 2013

The 3 gig Lets Go Top Up has not been available in Tabacs and Orange France Boutiques recently and is probably discontinued.

27 December 2013

3 gig top ups available in Tabacs in France but not in Orange France Boutiques.


Update 27 July 2015

New rates for prepay/pay as you go data on Orange France Lets Go and Pret a Surfer Sim Cards –  10 euros for 1 gig valid 14 days,  25 euros for 3 gig valid one month and 40 euros for 5  gig valid 6 months. Available online and in Orange France Boutiques.

Simyo France 3G Sim PAYG – Low Cost Calls in France

March 19, 2013



Simyo France – Low Cost PrePay 3G Sim

Simyo France 3G Mobile Phone Sim French PAYG – Low cost calls in France and Europe

Simyo offers low cost calls in France and good rates for calls to Europe and Worldwide. Rates start at 10 eurocents a minute for local calls. No charge to receive calls in France. Good online support from the Simyo website. Ready for immediate use in France – just needs a call to Simyo to activate the Sim. The operators are French but mostly good with English. During the call you are asked for your name, date of birth and address. UK or other home address will be fine or you can use your temporary address in France.The Sim is activated immediately after this call and the telehpone number comes in a text message. This first call is free of charge. The Sim has to be registered with Simyo to add further credit. Registration is very easy to do. Complete form supplied with the Sim – telephone number, name and address. Post  the form plus a copy of your ID in the envelope supplied with the Sim.  No stamp needed when posted in France.

This is an easy to use Sim. Calls are at low rates with no need to purchase special offers or other options to get the low rates. Top up can be done online with a bank card. UK and International cards are accepted. For travellers in France this is the Sim of choice for phone calls. 

9 June  – Just topped up my Simyo France account. 30 euros for 450 minutes of calls valid for 3 months  AND done with a UK bank card. Usually 10 eurocents a minute but special offer just now gives calls at around 7 eurocents a minute. Good rates for International Calls too.

22 August 2013

Lost my  phone in France. Suspended the Sim on the Simyo website. Called Simyo who have sent me a new Sim with my original number. No charge.

10 December 2013

Current rates for Simyo

Calls :       0,10€/ min
SMS :       0,05€/ SMS
Internet :  0,05€/ Mb

How can I get Simyo? Ask

Update 28 July 2015

Simyo are ceasing operations in November 2015.

Mobile 3G Broadband in Spain

February 18, 2013

Just looking into internet and mobile phone in Spain. Last year in Barcelona it was a problem to get the profile settings for Orange Spain. These are the settings that worked for Orange Internet Everywhere on a 3G USB Dongle –

Orange Internet Everywhere   APN  internet  USER  orange   PASSWORD  orange

Vodafone Spain settings  for 3G USB Modem (dongle), Mifi or 3G Router

Vodafone Spain  APN  USER   vodafone  PASSWORD  vodafone

Dial Number  if required to set up a new profile Orange or Vodafone is *99#

March 2013 – Vodafone Spain PAYG Data Sim with 1 Gig Included


Vodafone Spain has a good offer on a Data Sim with one gigabyte of data valid for 3 months  included.  This offer is listed on the Vodafone website and in the brochures.  I have visited Vodafone shops in La Seu d’Urgell, Puigcerda and Barcelona but these Sims are not available at the moment. This is a great offer for international visitors as the Sim is ready for immediate use with one gig of data and easy to top up with Vodafone vouchers.

The Canigou

January 15, 2013

There is a nice parking spot just outside Prades which gives a good view of the Canigou. The Catalan sacred mountain can be seen from here in France and also from over the border in Spain and is a symbol of the Catalan nations desire for independence.

This image of the One Eyed Dog howling with the Canigou in the background brings to mind The Little Red Rooster …….

Dogs begin to bark, the hounds begin to howl Dogs begin to bark and the hounds begin to howl Look out strange cat people, the rooster’s on the prowl


Dogs begin to bark, the hounds begin to howl
Dogs begin to bark and the hounds begin to howl
Look out strange cat people, the rooster’s on the prowl

gold rooster

SFR France PAYG Mobile Phone and Data Sims

November 28, 2012

SFR offer mobile phone and data Sims with reasonable prepaid rates for phone calls and data. The mobile phone Sim is La Carte. The Data Sim for tablets, iPads, Mifi and 3G Routers is Pret a Surfer. Top up online with a bank card issued in France or with vouchers from supermarkets and tabacs in France. In France all Sim cards must be registered with the network.SFR Sims can be registered  in the following ways –

1. By visiting the following address: / identification
2. By  sending your personal details and a photocopy of your identification:
– By e-mail at: identificationlacarte @
– By fax to 0811 70 70 71
– By post  to the following address: SFR La Carte Form – Authorization 42048-57059 Metz Cedex 2

12 February 2014

SFR have doubled the data on the vouchers. Not sure how long this promotion will last. Vouchers are long dated so buy now for use later is possible option.

  • 1 day       3 euros     200mb
  • 1 week     9 euros      1 gig
  • 1 month  30 euros     4 gig

May 5 2014  – Latest SFR Rates for PAYG /PrePay 3G Data in France

SFR Data Sim – Pret a Surfer

  • Includes 15 days connection (limit 200mb)
  • 1 Day            3  Euros     200mb
  • 7 Days          9  Euros     1 gig
  • 30 days      30  Euros   4  gig

Check available SFR International and Roaming  top ups using this -link-

Check SFR signal at your location in France here –

June 2014

SFR 4G Sims are available now in SFR Boutiques, for online purchase from SFR with a bank card issued in France or at

Share Long Range Wifi with Laptop, Tablet, PC, iPad or iPhone

March 1, 2012

For yachts, boats, garden office, caravan  or campervan 

Alfa Networks R36 Mini Wifi Router

Many users wifi enabled  devices find they have weak or unusable wifi connections. Because of limitations in the operating systems often found in  mobile devices it is not possible to use long range wifi adaptors to connect to distant wifi routers or hotspots. There is a solution to this problem using the Alfa Networks R36 mini Wifi Router. This litle router broadcasts a fast 11n wireless network and when connected to the Alfa Network AWUS036H wifi adaptor can make a long range connection to a distant wireless network. The Alfa AWUS036H will operate at up to 500 metres with good clear line of sight, less with obstructions such as buildings and trees.

Easy to set up and use this mini sized wifi and 3g router works with the Alfa AWUS036H long range wifi adaptor to give a fast 11n wireless network. Great for sharing the wifi hotspot connection with iPhone, iPad Laptop etc. Can also take a 3g dongle and share the 3g broadband by wifi. Ideal for use in a boat, or a campervan, or in a garden office where a longer range wifi connection is needed.

I have tried one and it does exactly what is intended. Connects at long range to a wifi hotspot through the Alfa 036H and broadcasts the signal by a secondary wireless network. Management of the Alfa 036H is by wireless and allows a search for wireless networks in the area and connect with the relevant settings. All this by wifi from a laptop, tablet or pc.

Update : Long Range Wireless  Wifi for Mac Users

This set up is ideal for Mac users as it is independent of the operating system on the laptop or pc.  Many wifi devices are not supported with Mac drivers and using the R36 with the Alfa AWUS 036H completely avoids this problem.

The R36 Router will also operate with the Alfa Networks AWUS036NHR. The specification for the 036NHR looks good. Should offer good range and the faster 11n speeds.  I will test this combination very soon and post the results but for now the 036H is the favourite.

June 2012

R36 is great with 3G using a plug in USB dongle. One limitation of the set up with the Alfa 036H is that the Alfa searches for its drivers on the connected devices. One of these devices must have Alfa drivers loaded so must be running Windows 98/2000/ XP/Vista/7, Linux Kernel 2.6 (x) or Mac 10.4 to 10.6

September 2012

My fixed line broadband at home is really slow but down the road, about 200 metres away, there is a free wifi hotspot. The Alfa R36 used with the outdoor wifi adaptor mentioned in another post here connects to this hotspot and gives me free internet24/7.  This could also be done with the R36 with Alfa AWUS036H but the outdoor unit with its higher gain aerial gives longer range and better signal.

This set up of Alfa R36 plus outdoor wifi adaptor would be great for boats, caravans, campervans, garden office etc. In fact anywhere a longer distance wifi connection which can be shared locally with any wifi enabled device is needed. One new fact has emerged which needs further investigation. My new tablet connects to the wifi hotspot via R36 and outdoor wifi unit when no other device is running. In theory this should not happen!

Check out this link for more information  –


English Couple offer house sitting in France or Spain

January 13, 2012

Just spent a really nice month in the centre of Barcelona courtesy of John and Siobahn Ward of www. Clear blue skies and brilliant sun almost every day. Great fresh food market just down the road.

Now…… maybe there are people out there who need a house sitter for a week or two or longer . Perhaps to look after valued pets or do a little maintenance work. Dog sitting in France or Spain would be good or maybe look after the cats We like SW France, also the Limousin and Normandy. Northern Spain too. If there was a nice log fire that would be very welcome. We love the remote areas in the French and Spanish Pyrenees and the coastal area around Collioure. No problem with isolated rural houses or city centre.

We have our own Samoyed dog. He is a bit ancient now and gets on well with other animals. especially cats. We have experience of animal care having kept pigs, sheep, turkeys, chickens on a small holding in the UK and good DIY skills.

Rachel is an experienced UK nurse and former NHS Senior Manager and could offer nursing or home care for Granny or Grandad or other adults. Registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council in the UK and a member of the Royal College of Nursing Rachel works independently too  and is available or short or long time contracts at reasonable rates.

If you have need of reliable house sitters or home nursing care  send  an email to me, David,  and we can discuss possibilities.