Greetings all -
Over the years, here at Wandering France we have tried (and failed) to find a user-friendly cell phone option – or any option. There was the never-to-be-forgotten Rail Europe calling card fiasco at the train station. Turns out the calling card did not work on public phones, i.e., where one would expect to use it. There was the attempt to rent a cell phone at the airport and the earnest young man basically refusing to let me have it because, in his view, I wasn’t going to be in Paris long enough. His heart was pure, but I still did not have a phone. There was the valiant attempt to connect with Verizon AND Apple to unlock the iPhone, but turns out I needed a sim card. I do not live in a big city or even near one. On-line can only do so much. And you still have to make it work.
Yes, the iPad is great and gets one almost there, but what if there is no wireless and you absolutely have to speak, in person, to someone, right now, say, for example, oh just offhand here, to pick an example entirely at random, the landlord in Old Town Antibes to get the key to our beautiful apartment and we had missed each other?
And, of course, there is the cellular service international charge trap. Yes, I know to turn off the cellular service and go only with WiFi. Let me clarify: I know that now.
And the winner is: Insidr. Everyone is writing about this service. I checked out the website. Sign up on-line to rent a smartphone (29 euro for a weekend, 45 for a week, 6/day for longer trips). They will deliver it to you, in Paris. Your phone comes with international and local calling and texting capabilities. It serves as a WiFi Hotspot. According to the very happy reviewers, it works all over France. It is preloaded with Google Maps for select areas in Paris, plus a currency converter, translator, and an app that connects travelers to local tour/trip guides. The Apps are MeeTrip or Trip on Demand (Tod). It even provides people to call via WhatsApp (“Angel Insidrs”) who will share tips and advice via messaging, any time. Excellent when you’re hungry and it’s 3 a.m. in Paris. In August. On Sunday.