Sunday, March 12, 2017

Pro Tip: Free Wifi isn't Free

One of the things I hear from every tourist who comes to the city is why is it called Free wifi if it isn't free? You'll no doubt turn on your wifi and go scrolling for an unsecured line once you land (if you haven't switched to a French network) and see "Free" pop up without a little lock next to you. You will assume you've hit the motherload and found a nice open wifi line. Once you connect you will realize you were wrong.

First up, Free is the name (Free Mobile) of a mobile provider in France. And the word for "free" in French is gratuit. Free in this case is mobile without limits, not free to use.

Most tourist areas of Paris have free to use wifi (the city will list them under Paris_Wifi_####, or WifiLib will have free connections with the creation of an account). You will also see that all of the major providers (SFR, Bouygues, Free and Orange) have open wifi spots too. If you know someone before you come to France, and they can give you their log in for these, more power to you. But if you don't have a login you're going to have wait and find a connection elsewhere. Most cafes have gratuit wifi, as well as the chains; Mc Donald's, Starbucks, Burger King (Quick does not), and you'll also find them in certain areas of Paris. For instance the entire Champs Elysees has wifi accessible by supplying an email address. French libraries (bibliotheque) also provide free internet.

This site lists the free spots provided by the city: https://opendata.paris.fr/explore/dataset/liste_des_sites_des_hotspots_paris_wifi/

Pro Tip: Know Your Doorcode

One of the surprising things about Paris is showing up here and realizing you can't get into any building without a door code. No one really tells you that. And while most doors are open during business hours, some (like mine) are the rare exception that don't open during these times. So just a quick tip, if you're renting an airbnb or going to someone's flat, make sure you have the digicode to get into the building. And then make sure you have the name on their interphone once you're inside. Otherwise you're going to be waiting outside trying to get them on the phone. And if you're flying into Paris and haven't switched your phone to a French network, good luck with that.

Life Hack: Montparnasse

I advocate never changing at a train station. The walk is long, there are too many people, and it's just a hassle all around. But let's say you need to catch a train out of Paris or you need to do some shopping on Rennes. Well first things, if you're catching a train out of Paris take ligne 6 or 13 into Montparnasse. Those are the lines that are in the station. If you're just looking to go to Galleries Lafayette or need something on the high street (Rennes), ligne 12 or 4 are the lines that don't intersect under Montparnasse station. And if you're needing to make a change, wait until Raspail for line 4 or Pasteur for line 12. If you're changing from the 6 to the 13, then you won't need to walk all the way across the station because they're next to each other. But for line 4 or 12 to line 13, prepare yourself for a long walk.