Mobile Phones in La Tania
Update Winter 2017:
Quite interesting to read the below some 10 years on now... With "free" roaming (included in your minutes) from Three.co.uk and other operators charging a couple of quid a day for internet access having a UK phone is not so bad anymore.
It can actually can be better value than getting a local SIM card in certain cases (especially for the USA) but depends on how much internet access and the number of calls / texts you need to make to either local (French) or UK mobiles too.
Of course using WhatsApp, Messenger, Viber or a Skype account to dial real numbers can avoid or keep costs down if you've enough internet data available.
Check for Swiss access being included (it is on 3) for those trips to Geneva too. Bare in mind that 3 throttle the bandwidth and only give you 3G roaming - never 4G in France, even though we have a shiny new phone mast in La Tania disguised as a tree! Fair use policies and restrictions on tethering devices (hotspots) are also in place.
Capping of roaming charges in Europe started in July 2014 and the complete scrapping of roaming charges across Europe took place in June 2017 but remember that although there is no roaming charge for calls within your allowance for dialling a UK to UK phone, dialling a French number from a UK phone can still be up to £1.50 a minute on some tariffs.
La Tania's new mobile phone mast - November 2016
Further information on 3G / 4G reception in La Tania - November 2016
This from 2007....
Introduction - Why?
You're in the mountains and want to get away from all that city life stuff so a mobile phone seems a bad idea? It can be in-valuable in a ski resort however, especially if you're out here working for the season - being able to contact friends for a ski when you finish work (or wake them up to catch first lift), family & friends from the UK can contact you, you can arrange to meet friends for lunch (and book tables), find people when you all get lost at the bottom of a run, contact everyone when transfers & flights are massively delayed and also in emergency situations - though never think of it as a substitute for being properly prepared for off-piste skiing or riding. There is also some strong evidence that mobile phones interfere with avalanche transceivers - a transmitting unit may not function correctly due to a mobile phone being switched on next to it.
The use of txting is a great improvement as messages can be left and read at your convenience - try answering a mobile whilst on a snowboard on an awkward drag lift whilst smoking a fag and it's windy, snowing and freezing... Alternatively you don't have to stop, fumble with your gloves, rip open your jacket and just miss that call when you've been hurtling down an empty powder field! Roaming Txts work seem to work on all networks across most countries now but some strange delays still happen - we've noticed some problems on the Three network sending texts for example.
As you pay all the call charges to receive calls on a UK phone whilst in France it's worth thinking about getting a French mobile. Even if you're only out here for a week but are expecting calls from the UK it may be worth it - definitely worth it if you're here for the season. The best bet if you've got a mobile phone in the UK is to simply buy a new French sim card. You can get a UK pay as you go phone un-locked for £10 at a car boot and for around £30 you'll have a French number using pay as you go vouchers and calls from family & friends (or work) in the UK won't cost you a penny! Top up vouchers are available from The Tabac in La Tania and plenty of places around The Three Valleys. The best option is to buy a French SIM card in advance at 0044.co.uk - and even get your Nokia phone unlocked free!
I used to recommend Mobicarte (now Orange France who were France Telecom and Wanadoo who in turn bought Freeserve) because you could select English voice menus when crediting your phone. These are now in French although still fairly easy to understand. The Tabac in La Tania never seemed to run out of Mobicarte vouchers either.
SFR is also a popular choice and has slightly better reception in The Ski Lodge and there are others . Boygues Telecom is the other main operator which many people use without problems.
Currently the strongest signal seems to be SFR - this works right to the back of the Ski Lodge - you generally need to be near a window with Orange! When you're outside, reception almost anywhere in The Three Valleys is not a problem and it seems to be improving all the time.
Tariffs / Roaming
Like the UK, tariffs are constantly changing but seem to be about the same between suppliers. The French pay as you go phones finally started roaming abroad in 2012 so you can use that last bit of credit when you get home! The small phone shop in the foyer area at Hyper Champion in Moûtiers seems as good a place as any to buy a French phone or SIM card - they cut keys too!