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MAP: Where in France are the phone and internet ‘dead spots’?

France has vowed to eradicate all 'dead spots' from the map and get even its most rural areas a functioning internet connection. But there are still areas in the country without even a phone signal. Here's a look.

MAP: Where in France are the phone and internet 'dead spots'?
Cellphone connection in France's rural areas can be of highly varying quality. Photo: AFP

If you have moved around in France, you will have noticed the that different areas have (very) varying degrees of internet connection.

A drive into the countryside will often see a super speed 4G connection derail into to a snails-pace 3G.

While that might be annoying, there are some areas of France that still have no connection at all – what's called a zone blanche (white zone).

What is a zone blanche?

Une zone blanche is the French term for areas that are not covered by any mobile network. That means no phone signal and no internet connection at all – what in English is called a 'dead zone' or even 'notspot' (as opposed to hotspot).

Areas with only one or two mobile operators are called zones grises (grey zones), which means there is phone reception, but that reception can be very patchy.

READ ALSO 'Slow, unreliable, expensive' – What the internet is really like in rural France

 

How many zones blanches are there left?

Not many. France's dead spots have been shrinking for years, and the government has vowed to get rid of them completely.

In 2018 the government launched a “New Deal Mobile” together with France's four big phone operators – Free, Orange, Bouygues Telecom and SRF – that sought to identify and target disconnected places and get them connected.

In the two years that followed France increased the areas covered by at least one phone operator from 89 to 96 percent, according to Arcep, the agency in charge of regulating telecommunications in France, which regularly publishes reports on the progress of the New Deal.

Where are these areas?

Zones blanches can be found in sparsely populated rural areas, in the mountains or in the countryside, where mobile operators find it too expensive to install their networks.

Despite the state's efforts to rub them off the map, there are still zones blanches, as shown in the map below.

Photo: Screenshot of Arcep/monreseaumobile.fr

Dark red spots on the map have “very good” mobile coverage, lighter red ones have “good” coverage, whereas the pink ones have “limited coverage”.

For a closer view, go to the full interactive map (link HERE) to see what the status is around your area. 

Even Parisian suburbs have dead zones. The map below shows the remaining dead spots in the greater Paris region Ile-de-France. 

 

As you can see, many are located in forests, but there are others that are just small glitches on the map.

That explains both what happens on that road trip out of the capital when your phone just suddenly has no signal at all for a bit, but also why providing exact details of all France's remaining dead spots is quite a challenge.

“I cannot quantify them,” Arcep boss Sébastien Soriano told Le Parisien. “But our coverage programme still provides for the creation of several thousand sites for several years.”

Soriano added: “The goal is 100 percent 4G coverage by the end of 2022.”

But whether or not they would reach that goal depended, he added, on the government not tightening the rules of the second lockdown to impact the work of installers.

Grey zones

While areas with no coverage at all are gradually shrinking, what is still quite common in more out-of-way areas is coverage that is patchy or unreliable.

So if you're planning a move to the countryside – especially if you want to work online from your rural retreat – definitely check out the speed of local internet coverage and the connection on your phone.

And don't be fooled by people telling you that fibre-optic broadbrand is 'coming soon' to the area – some villages have been expecting this any day now for several years.

Vocab

Zone blanche – dead spot  (area without phone coverage or wifi)

access sans fil à internet – wifi (correct, but rare)

le wifi – wifi (the Anglo variant, which is much more common)

Mot de passe – password

Cliquer – click

Fenêtre – tab or window

Member comments

  1. You’re lucky Tarquin, at least you can replace your string yourself when it breaks…. The rest of us have to wait weeks – and sometimes months – for Orange to come and mend our lines!

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LIVING IN FRANCE

What changes in France in July 2022

Summer's here and the time is right for national celebrations, traffic jams, strikes, Paris beaches, and ... changing the rules for new boilers.

What changes in France in July 2022

Summer holidays

The holiday season in France officially begins on Thursday, July 7th, as this is the date when school’s out for the summer. The weekend immediately after the end of the school year is expected to be a busy one on the roads and the railways as families start heading off on vacation.

READ ALSO 8 things to know about driving in France this summer

Strikes

But it wouldn’t really be summer in France without a few strikes – airport employees at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports will walk out on July 1st, while SNCF rail staff will strike on July 6th. Meanwhile Ryanair employees at Paris, Marseille and Toulouse airports will strike on yet-to-be-confirmed dates in July.

READ ALSO How strikes and staff shortages will affect summer in France

Parliamentary fireworks?

Prime minister Elisabeth Borne will present the government’s new programme in parliament on July 5th – this is expected to be a tricky day for the Macron government, not only does it not have the parliamentary majority that it needs to pass legislation like the new package of financial aid to help householders deal with the cost-of-living crisis, but opposition parties have indicated that they will table a motion of no confidence against Borne.

Parliament usually breaks for the summer at the end of July, but a special extended session to allow legislation to be passed means that MPs won’t get to go on holiday until at least August 9th. 

Fête nationale

July 14th is a public holiday in France, commemorating the storming of the Bastille which was the symbolic start of the French Revolution. As usual, towns and cities will host parades and fireworks – with the biggest military parade taking place on the Champs-Elysées in Paris – and many stores will remain closed.

As the national holiday falls on a Thursday this year, many French workers will take the opportunity to faire le pont.

Festival season really kicks in

You know summer’s here when France gets festival fever, with events in towns and cities across the country. You can find our pick of the summer celebrations here.

Paris Plages

The capital’s popular urban beaches return on July 9th on the banks of the Seine and beside the Bassin de la Villette in northern Paris, bringing taste of the seaside to the capital with swimming spots, desk chairs, beach games and entertainment.  

Summer sales end 

Summer sales across most of the country end on July 19th – unless you live in Alpes-Maritimes, when they run from July 6th to August 2nd, or the island of Corsica (July 13th to August 9th).

Tour de France

The Tour de France cycle race sets off on July 1st from Copenhagen and finishes up on the Champs-Elysée in Paris on July 24th.

New boilers

From July 1st, 2022, new equipment installed for heating or hot water in residential or professional buildings, must comply with a greenhouse gas emissions ceiling of 300 gCO2eq/KWh PCI. 

That’s a technical way of saying oil or coal-fired boilers can no longer be installed. Nor can any other type of boiler that exceeds the ceiling.

As per a decree published in the Journal Officiel in January, existing appliances can continue to be used, maintained and repaired, but financial aid of up to €11,000 is planned to encourage their replacement. 

Bike helmets

New standards for motorbike helmets come into effect from July 1st. Riders do not need to change their current helmets, but the “ECE 22.05” standard can no longer be issued – and all helmets sold must adhere to a new, more stringent “ECE 22.06” standards from July 2024

New cars

From July 6th new car models must be equipped with a black box that record driving parameters such as speed, acceleration or braking phases, wearing (or not) of a seat belt, indicator use, the force of the collision or engine speed, in case of accidents.

New cars II

From July 1st, the ecological bonus for anyone who buys an electric vehicle drops by €1,000, while rechargeable hybrids will be excluded from the aid system, “which will be reserved for electric vehicles whose CO2 emission rate is less than or equal to 20g/km”.

What’s in a name?

Historically, the French have been quite restrictive on the use of family names – remember the concern over the use of birth names on Covid vaccine documents? – but it becomes easier for an adult to choose to bear the name of his mother, his father, or both by a simple declaration to the civil status. All you have to do is declare your choice by form at the town hall of your home or place of birth.

Eco loans

In concert with the new boiler rules, a zero-interest loan of up to €30,000 to finance energy-saving renovations can be combined with MaPrimeRénov’, a subsidy for financing the same work, under certain conditions, from July 1st.

Rent rules

Non-professional private landlords advertising properties for rent must, from July 1st, include specific information about the property on the ad, including the size of the property in square metres, the area of town in which the property is in, the monthly rent and any supplements, whether the property is in a rent-control area, and the security deposit required. Further information, including the full list of requirements for any ad, is available here.

Perfume ban

More perfumes are to be added to a banned list for products used by children, such as soap-making kits, cosmetic sets, shampoos, or sweet-making games, or toys that have an aroma.

Atranol, chloroatranol (extracts of oak moss containing tannins), and methyl carbonate heptin, which smells like violets, will be banned from July 5th, because of their possible allergenic effects.

Furthermore, 71 new allergenic fragrances – including camphor, menthol, vanilin, eucalyptus spp. leaf oil, rose flower oil, lavendula officinalis, turpentine – will be added to the list of ingredients that must be clearly indicated on a toy or on an attached label.

Ticket resto limits

The increased ticket resto limit ended on June 30th, so from July 1st employees who receive the restaurant vouchers will once again be limited to spending €19 per day in restaurants, cafés and bars. The limit was increased to €38 during the pandemic, when workers were working from home.

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