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/

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.


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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France to roll out ID cards app

Technology is being rolled out to allow people to carry their French ID cards in an app form - and could be rolled out to other cards, including driving licences and cartes de séjour residency cards.

France to roll out ID cards app

Holders of French carte d’identité (ID cards) will soon be able to carry certified digital versions of them on their smartphone or other electronic devices, a decree published in the Journal Officiel has confirmed.

An official app is being developed for holders of the newer credit card-format ID cards that have information stored on a chip. A provisional test version of the app is expected at the end of May.

Users will be able to use the ID card app, when it becomes available, for a range of services “from checking in at the airport to renting a car”, according to Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market.

All French citizens have an ID card, which can be used for proving identity in a range of circumstances and for travel within the EU and Schengen zone – the new app will be in addition to the plastic card that holders already have.

Under the plans, after downloading the app, card holders will need merely to hold the card close to their phone to transfer the required information. According to officials, the holder then can decide what information is passed on – such as proof of age, or home address – according to the situation.

The government has not given any examples of situations in which the app would need to be used, but has set out the main principles and the ambition of the plan: to allow everyone to identify themselves and connect to certain public and private organisations, in particular those linked to the France Connect portal.

READ ALSO What is France Connect and how could it make your life simpler?

Cards will continue to be issued for the foreseeable future – this is merely an extension of the existing system.

Only French citizens have ID cards, but if successful the app is expected to be rolled out to include other cards, such as driving licences, cartes de séjour residency cards or even visas. A digital wallet is being developed at the European level – Member States have until September to agree what it could contain.

READ ALSO Eight smartphone apps that make life in France a bit easier