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Hi we have recently bought a house in France and plan to come for 4 wk holidays until we can retire there in about 3 years.  I thought it would be easiest to purchase a french cell phone and time package for the time we are there rather than connect a land line.  Can you buy this type of deal in France (ie pay as you go)? or is it strictly long term contracts?  (We're from Canada, and I am checking out the cost of an international plan, if there is such a thing, but a french cell seemed easier).  Can you advise a link that would give me this info?  Also, want to purchase a GPS once we get there.  Can you buy one that has both English and French language in France?  We will be close to Toulouse -- any adivce on where to get a bargain (both cell and gps)?

Thanks for your help

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Their expensive in France compared to the UK so here's my advice.

You can buy a 'un locked' phone on Ebay UK for as little as £18 depending on what you want from the phone, in French these are called Débloqué phones. If you want to use this phone in the UK then you just need to get a SIM from somebody like O2. When you get to France go to the LeClerc supermarket (take ID and poof of your French address) and buy one of their PAYG SIM's. Lots of people do this and it's cheap and they don't take the number off you for a long time if you don't use it plus you can charge it over the Internet which I think even works from the UK. The only slight problem is that the O2 SIM will have one (UK) phone number and the Leclerc SIM will have another which will be a French number. You just swap the SIM's over depending on the country you are in.

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Hi Deb and welcome,

The best PAYG seems to be Leclerc a large supermarket chain in France, hopefully someone knows the web address.

GPS from Garmin or Tomtom have various languages that are selectable at will French, English, German etc. Some of the new tomtom's are being dumbed down so you can only use their data base for points of interest and speed camera database (they are comming over all apple) third party databases are often much better.

I have just updated my maps on tomtom and still roads that have been their for 3+years are not featured and incorrect turning and one way information is still there. They said the maps feature new informatin and much more detail, not from what I have seen. What they have done is reduced the number of countries maps you can select as the GPS unit is not now large enough to store all the countries of western Europe as they did before. Map share doesn't work and is just marketing.

I.E. Buy a Garmin!

 

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Hi Deb,

Buy yourself a Garmin in Canada or the US, either with built in European mapping or you can purchase the European mapping on DVD or Memory Card seperately. I think you'll find it substantially cheaper bought on the other side of the pond than in France.

Updating both the unit and mapping software is easily carried out via the web, and the mapping is far better than many other models on the market.

With regard to cellphones, just follow Théière and Quillan's advice and you won't go wrong.

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Thank you all for the help. I won't be going to the UK. Do you know if French PAYG SIMS will work in a north american phone?

Regarding the GPS, I did try to get a Europe map for the GPS I have (its a Magellan) and was told that you can't change the map and I'd have to buy a European GPS with the Europe maps built in. Perhaps this was just the particular brand and model I have. I will check out Garmin here.

Again - thank you all for your quick response!
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[quote user="Salty Sam"]

[quote user="pachapapa"]After a week guided by a TomTom + iPhone; not sure about merits of a Garmin/Nuviphone.[/quote]

Well perhaps if you had the opportunity of using a Garmin, you might discover some of the merits !

[/quote]

Have you ever owned a tomtom to balance your opinion?

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[quote user="deb in bc canada"]Thank you all for the help. I won't be going to the UK. Do you know if French PAYG SIMS will work in a north american phone? [/quote]

Check if your N American phone is locked to a particular network and also check what frequency your phone uses as different countries use different frequencies. Some phones will cover three of the frequency bands and therefore work pretty much everywhere.

Explanation here

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If you can get your phone sorted, here's another vote for Leclerc. We both have their sims, and find their system good value and straightforward. It costs €1.50 each month, which works out a lot less than we used to lose on top ups when living between two countries, and money paid lasts for a year. Top up online is also useful.

 http://www.leclercmobile.fr/formules/formule-mini.html

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I have had a Garmin and now have a TomTom (920T, now called the 950) and I think the TomTom is better. One thing mine does is work in tunnels, underground carparks and more importantly in big cities and the mountains where GPS signals can be a bit weak or none existent.

I added my road via Mapshare and although it took till the next map update it was on the map.

I bought my TomTom from the US over the Internet as it was the cheapest, I could have had North American maps or European. I have used my TomTom for touring Spain selecting the hotels I stayed at by a mixture or Tripadvisor for finding a good hotel and POI on the TomTom (most of the hotels were also on the TomTom, only one or two were not) and it took us to the door of every one (even in Madrid and Barcelona, both are nightmare cities to drive in for the first time). I took a map with me just in case but to be honest I never used it, TomTom did it all without problem.

I pay as small amount every quarter towards new maps when they are released.

The latest maps are 4.4gb in size so if you have an older TomTom with less memory the maps will be segmented or you can put a bigger (or add) SD memory card in. I checked mine and all the maps are loaded so I don't know how the 'segment' maps work with reference to countries etc.

One nice feature which having been 'done' for using a mobile on a public road (even though I was stopped and the engine turned off) is that it 'bonds' with many mobile phones that have Bluetooth so you can make and receive calls hands free, call hotels (and other things) on route as the numbers are in the POI list and it even displays SMS text (you can send them as well but I wouldn't try it whilst driving, more dangerous than using a phone).

So all in all I personally prefer the TomTom but at the end of the day its personal choice really and what you feel happy with. One thing before I go is that the maps are now owned by TomTom (I read somewhere) and the maps are also used by Google (Tele Atlas) and there is software you can download which interfaces your TomTom with Google maps. Never used it but it might be of interest to some.

So going back to the phone, if you go for a TomTom with Bluetooth it may pay you to look for a phone which also has it. I looked on Ebay.com and there are loads of 'unlocked' phone around like Apples (used) for around $70 to $90 but as mentioned you need to check that they will work in Europe (signal wise) or you could wait till you get to France and buy one here.

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A friend of ours who regularly visits France from Canada got his phone from:

http://www.callineurope.com/

Phone and kit all supplied, (which you buy)  calls cost 35 US cents a minute (including back to Canada).  You get charged in US dollars on a credit card. In France it uses the SFR network, and can be used anywhere in Europe.

He recommends this service.

Mrs H

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Again, thanks to all!! I have checked and find that I can buy a Garmin 1370T here which has N America and Europe preloaded, Have found it for Cdn $249 which looks to be a good deal (at least for here!)

Thanks for the info of what to look for to ensure that a Cdn phone will take the French SIMS -- am checking with service provider here to see if it is GSM and has correct band. If not, I think I will go with the LeClerc phone for 27.90. I don't think I could get a new phone with correct band for that price here.

We arrive at Toulouse and I see there is a LeCerc at Blagnac so will go there. I noticed a post that said that some LeClerc's don't sell phones. I couldn't tell from the website if that particular one does. Anyone happen to know?
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[quote user="deb in bc canada"]Again, thanks to all!! I have checked and find that I can buy a Garmin 1370T here which has N America and Europe preloaded, Have found it for Cdn $249 which looks to be a good deal (at least for here!) [/quote]

A good choice deb, and this model has had some pretty good reviews. If you look for a phone with Bluetooth capability, you'll be able to link it to the Garmin.

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[quote user="Théière"]

Have you ever owned a tomtom to balance your opinion?

[/quote]

I've been very fortunate over the years in being able to field trial a number of GPS units and navigation software from various manufacturers including TomTom.

Since the acquisition of Tele Atlas, I'll hold my hands up and say TomTom mapping has improved but it has a long way to go before overtaking Navteq as used by Garmin. Many of the highlighted points Quillan refers to regarding TomTom, are equally applicable to many Garmin models and, as Quillan says, it is down to personal choice at the end of the day.

If you require more detailed mapping featuring Ordnance Survey or French IGN mapping, consider one of the models featured on this page: [url]http://www.memory-map.co.uk/acatalog/adventurerpilot7000.html[/url]

Many of the 'problems' experienced are simply due to user error where the incorrect information has been inputted on initial set up of the instrument. Where errors regarding the mapping is concerned, if the cartography company aren't aware of a change - it's unlikely to appear on the next update !

If you run TomTom and notice an error on the mapping, report it: [url]http://mapinsight.teleatlas.com/mapfeedback/index.php[/url],

and for Garmin: [url]http://mapreporter.navteq.com/?continueIE6=1[/url]

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As a backup or when I am out with my mates and I am not the driver I have Garmin GMobileXT installed on my Nokia N95, its not as good as the TomTom but in a tight spot (read lost somewhere in France) it is a 'get out of jail card'. It is however much better than the software that comes with the phone and its maps as that software does the calculating via the Internet and thats very expensive to use on my SFR phone with my current tariff. Going back to the GMobileXT software, I don't think its the phone because for walking I have also installed Viewranger for mushroom and truffle hunting and that works quite well.
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One last question, folks.  I just checked out LeClerc and see that I can buy a Garmin 1340 in France for 130 euros - if the french versions allow you to select English as the internal language then that would seem better than paying $249Cdn for the version here that has a europe map -- since I have to go to \leClerc anyway for the phone/SIMS.  Does anyone know if you can select english as the language, or if there are any concerns with the 1340?

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[quote user="Salty Sam"][quote user="Théière"]

Have you ever owned a tomtom to balance your opinion?

[/quote]

it's unlikely to appear on the next update ! Or the one after that or maybe even the one after that. I have reported a load of errors and as soon as it's map update time I check if they have corrected them and sadly in almost all casses the answer is no.

If you run TomTom and notice an error on the mapping, report it: [url]http://mapinsight.teleatlas.com/mapfeedback/index.php[/url],  That address is in my favorites list I am not actually sure anyone receives the messages as you only get a pre draughted reply which is the same no matter what you tell them. I once emailed them their building was on fire and just got the standard reply.

and for Garmin: [url]http://mapreporter.navteq.com/?continueIE6=1[/url]

[/quote]

Back to Deb in Canada,

If you want to read up on reports of what owners think of their satnavs here is a good link.

 

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[quote user="Théière"]

If you run TomTom and notice an error on the mapping, report it: [url]http://mapinsight.teleatlas.com/mapfeedback/index.php[/url], Rolling laughter emoticon (Laughing Emoticons) That address is in my favorites list I am not actually sure anyone receives the messages as you only get a pre draughted reply which is the same no matter what you tell them. I once emailed them their building was on fire and just got the standard reply.

[/quote]

Interestingly due to several issues, Google is no longer using Tele Atlas data in the USA. A good reason to go for Garmin perhaps ? [:D]

 Alternatively purchase a 'real' mapping device.

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