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Prepaid mobile with 3G data in France

Despite lots of resources on the web, getting a prepaid SIM card with a data plan is still time consuming and frustrating. The Orange Mobicarte with the Internet Max data plan seems to be the most recommended so here are my tips if you’re going down this road:
– Go to an Orange shop and buy the Mobicarte (micro sim is available for iPhones) – 10 Euro
– Buy a top up – suggest 25 Euro if you’re going to use data and want some call credit. 15 Euro is a bit tight
– Now, call 225 to activate your SIM card. You need to do this once. When you call, you’ll hear a recorded message and then the call will hang up. You’ll then receive an SMS with a welcome message and the expiry date of your SIM card in six months time
– Now, call 224 to add your top up to your card. This is where it gets tricky if your French isn’t good. You will be prompted to key either 1 or 2, to topup by entering the 14 digits of the voucher and then #. There doesn’t seem to be any pattern on whether you’ll be asked for 1 or 2. I topped up 4 mobiles and there was no pattern. You may want to try topping up using the menu system by calling #123# but I didn’t use this method
– You will receive an SMS showing you the new balance of your mobile. You can always check by calling #123#
– To add Internet Max to your package, follow the helpful information here
– Another gotcha – there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to remove Internet Max. The link suggests dialling 220 will give you an option cancel or “supprimer”, but I’ve asked a few locals to see if they can find it and all have failed
– Above all, this will take at least an hour. Most Orange shops are busy with a queueing system. You need luck to get a person who can speak enough English and knows the Mobicarte product. I’ve been into two Orange shops and one of them was great, the other not so.