Lots of people have asked us how to get British TV in France, so here’s our guide to how to access the programmes you want to see as well as how to get French TV.
UK Televisions in France
First of all – you can use your UK purchased TV in France. Use a plug adaptor as changing the plug will invalidate any warranties you might have if something goes wrong. TVs in France seem to be more expensive to buy than the UK so you might save money by purchasing in the UK but of course if anything goes wrong you do have to get it back for a service or replacement.
You won’t be able to watch UK terrestrial TV on your UK TV in France – the aerial will not be strong enough and the signal is far too weak.
If you want to watch French TV on your UK bought TV set in France without using a satellite dish check that your TV can accept SECAM broadcasts (as used in France) and not only PAL (UK) or you may only be able to see the programmes in black and white.
Freeview in France
A lot of UK TVs come with incorporated “free to view” box – these don’t work in France with just an aerial, the signal needed to make them effective is too weak. You can get access to the Free View channels via a good non-Sky digital receiver (see below).
Sky in France
Technically Sky are restricted in broadcasting services outside of the UK and if they knowingly provide you with a Sky box for use outside the UK they would be breaking the law. However, it’s a fact that many people take their Sky and Sky+ digiboxes and viewing cards from the UK to France and continue their subscription – they are breaking their terms and conditions but apparently not breaking the law. There are companies in the UK and France which offer Sky and Sky+ digiboxes and specialist satellite dishes (UK Sky mini dishes may not be strong enough). They cannot provide you with a viewing card – this can only come from Sky or Sky approved suppliers. Some companies will also undertake installation for you. A quick search on the web will bring up several companies who offer such services. If you go this route, some Sky facilities are not available such as interactive viewing and Box Office offerings, and note that if Sky are aware that you are using their UK service in France your subscription is almost certainly going to be cut off.
Other Satellite services in France
There are French and UK providers of non Sky digiboxes that will enable you to get access to limited UK TV channels such as Free Sat – a quick search on the web will bring up a number of companies that will provide and install the service which requires a satellite dish. One of the best known for English speakers in France is Free Sat.
Free Sat in France offers 140 digital TV and radio British channels. You buy the box, there are no subscription charges and it’s available to almost every home in Europe. There are no package options as with Sky – all the channels are automatically updated as they become available and include BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Four, ITV2, ITV3, Channel 4, five, More 4 and Film Four.
You can receive French channels through a standard aerial but it’s often a problem in rural or isolated areas where the signal is not strong and you may need to either upgrade to a bigger aerial or to a satellite package.
There are packages available from French outlets that are fairly cheap but often difficult to install and problematic and you may find it pays in the long run to purchase a better system rather than the cheapest – even if you don’t intend to use it a lot.
Shop around at electrical retailers such as Darty, at supermarkets or DIY stores for the best deals or at Orange France who are one of the biggest suppliers of satellite TV in France and there are lots of providers on the net too.
TV Licence in France
In France you need a license if you have a TV set. It doesn’t matter if you don’t receive TV channels – the critical thing is – if you can receive channels then you have to pay up. The charge is included in your Taxe D’Habitation and automatically charged. If you don’t have a TV you need to declare it on your Taxe D’Habitation form to have the charge removed.
UK DVD player in France
If you want to bring a UK bought DVD player to France – you’ll have no problem, if it worked in the UK, it will work in France.