There are many reasons to use a VPN, it might be to protect your privacy, stream geo-blocked content or to stay connected to favorite sites and services when in France or traveling abroad.
The French have always valued privacy and security in their personal lives, which extends into cyberspace and makes VPNs very popular in France.
We’ll look at each VPN in detail but if you want a quick recommendation here is a summary:
Best VPNs for France:
- Surfshark Best budget option. A privacy-first VPN that boasts excellent unblocking ability, a no-logs policy, and plenty of security options.
- ExpressVPN Servers optimized for speed making it an excellent streaming VPN. Tough security and no traffic logs, thus great for P2P. Unblocks most major streaming content sites like Netflix.
- CyberGhost Aside from being fast, it is cheap, secure and works with most streaming services.
- IPVanish Perfect for torrenters and Kodi users who need a lightweight, remote-control friendly solution. Excellent security and decent speed. Can be hit-and-miss with Netflix.
- VyprVPN Fast, secure, user-friendly. Not the cheapest on this list.
- PureVPN Strong security, decent speeds, and good mobile apps.
Despite France’s strong commitment to privacy, there are still many reasons to consider using a VPN to safely and securely browse the web in France.
Using a VPN will also unlock a host of geo-restricted content on sites like Netflix, Hulu, and BBC iPlayer. For French residents traveling abroad, using a VPN is also an excellent option if you wish to continue streaming local premium services such as Eurosport, Canal+, and Play TV.
How we select VPNs
We have used the following criteria to select VPNs:
- Strong encryption parameters
- Speed and stability
- No usage logs
- Ability to unblock geo-restricted content such as Netflix
- Suitable for torrenting and P2P
The Best VPNs for France
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
NordVPN has a true zero logs policy – it retains no data on the site’s users visit when connected to its servers, or the time, date, and duration of each session. Its servers have been confiscated, in at least one case, but there was no stored data that authorities could use to pinpoint users.
The default protocol that NordVPN uses is OpenVPN over TCP. It also has servers optimized for things like double VPN, Tor over VPN, anti-DDos, and video streaming. DNS leak protection and an internet kill switch are both included – making it one of the most robust VPNs when it comes to encryption parameters.
The VPN provider has been in the business for over a decade and is capable of streaming HD video without any lag while also permitting online games with low latency and fast downloads. Unlimited torrenting with no speed caps is permitted.
- Operates over 180 servers in France, great for unblocking geo-restricted content
- One of the fastest VPNs on the market
- Trusted provider with over a decade of experience in the industry
- Default security settings and privacy considerations are above standard
- Keeps no logs
- Can select city location of servers, but not specific servers
BEST VPN FOR FRANCE:NordVPN is our top choice. Extremely high speeds make it an ideal choice for streaming and torrenting. Connects up to 6 devices simultaneously. Provides a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it out risk-free.
Read our full NordVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Surfshark has more than 1,700 servers across 60+ countries, including France, making it an excellent choice for anyone looking to stream French TV abroad. Better yet, its speeds are fast enough to watch live video without any noticeable lag or buffering, and with no connection limit, you’ll be able to protect every device you own simultaneously.
With 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, and protection against IPv6, DNS, and WebRTC leaks enabled by default, this VPN ensures your traffic is secure at all times. There’s also a NoBorders mode that bypasses country-wide restrictions, as well as a built-in ad-blocker and malware-scanner. Surfshark doesn’t log any data that could be traced back to you but if you’re concerned about privacy, you can pay in Bitcoin, Ripple, or Ethereum. If you need any help, you can contact support 24/7 via live chat.
Surfshark has apps for iOS, MacOS, Android, Windows, and Linux. It also works with select network routers, although these have to be configured manually.
- Fast enough for flawless streaming
- Great unblocking ability
- Keeps no logs
- Places major emphasis on security and privacy
- Connect as many devices as you like
- Smaller network than some of its rivals
- Some slow servers
Read our full review of Surfshark here.
BEST BUDGET VPN:Surfshark lets you connect an unlimited number of devices, plus it unblocks major streaming platforms from abroad. With high speeds, powerful security features, a low price, and a 30-day money-back guarantee, this service is a great choice.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
ExpressVPN has a stated policy of not storing any user logs except for “dates (not times) when connected to our service, choice of server locations, and the total amount of data transferred per day.”
Its encryption standards raise the bar when it comes to industry standards – using OpenVPN connections encrypted with 256-bit AES-CBC as default. 4,096-bit DHE-RSA certificates are identified by SHA-512 hashing algorithm. The service uses both HMAC authentication and perfect forward secrecy. Split tunneling is an option with this provider.
During our extensive speed tests, we noticed that it streamed 1080p video seamlessly and exhibited zero lag when it came to online gaming. Its servers are optimized for speed and stability, with no speed caps, making it the top VPNs on our list.
ExpressVPN is an excellent choice if you wish to use it for torrents and despite the Netflix ban, it remains one of the few VPNs that’s able to circumvent it.
- Works exceptionally well in France and for unblocking French content while abroad
- Fastest connections which are great for smooth HD streaming and downloading
- Top-notch security and privacy
- Unblocks most major streaming sites including Netflix France, ZDF, Canal+ and France.tv and more
- More expensive than other providers
- Power users may find the lack of advanced features frustrating
FAST, SECURE CONNECTIONS:ExpressVPN is a speedy, privacy-focused service. Excels at unblocking French streaming channels with its entire French network of servers. Hard to beat on privacy and security. There is a 30-day money-back guarantee with all plans.
Read our full review of ExpressVPN.
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
CyberGhost, which is based in Romania, has improved its service considerably following a management shuffle last year. It offers robust encryption, coupled with fast speeds and excellent customer support.
At the time of writing, it provides access to over 5,700 servers in 90 countries. France hosts 418 of them so you shouldn’t face any problems when trying to acquire a local IP address. CyberGhost works very well with geo-restricted streaming services and the client app will guide you through the process with a step-by-step tutorial. Some of the sites it works with are Netflix, BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video.
This provider secures all web traffic with 256-bit encryption, perfect forward secrecy, an internet kill switch, and DNS leak protection. It will not store user data of any nature, including IP addresses. Additional security features include an ad blocker, anti-malware defense, and anti-tracking.
You can access the service on Android, iOS, Windows, Linux or MacOS. A single subscription allows for seven devices to connect concurrently.
- Operates over 320 servers in France, great for accessing local content while abroad
- Impressed by their server speeds during testing
- Apps are very easy to install and use
- Good value provider
- Doesn’t work in China
- Little control over advanced features
beginner friendly apps:CyberGhost has a simple set up. Works well in France and for unblocking French content with no speed caps. Good option if you are looking for a fast, reliable connection and an easy-to-use interface. 45-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full user review of CyberGhost.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
IPVanish is one of the few VPN providers that physically owns the entirety of its server network (unlike others that also rent), making it a valuable ally in the quest to maintain anonymity on the web.
It keeps no records or logs about user browsing history except when people register for the first time. IPVanish uses 256-bit encryption on the OpenVPN protocol by default, SHA512 authentication and a DHE-RSE 2048 key exchange with perfect forward secrecy. DNS leak protection and a VPN kill switch is embedded within the system architecture to keep spying eyes out.
IPVanish isn’t a great choice for unlocking geo-restricted content on Netflix but it does offer impressive speeds so streaming video from YouTube or other major platforms won’t be a hassle at all. Torrenting is definitely part of the package, and it also makes our list of the best VPNs for this specific purpose.
- Preferred by Kodi and Firestick TV for its remote-friendly apps
- Impressive 4K streaming speeds achieved during testing
- Operates in over 60 countries, great for unblocking geo-restricted content
- Strong encryption makes apps secure
- Customer support can be a little slow
- Struggles to unblock larger streaming platforms
VALUE AND PERFORMANCE:IPVanish offers strong privacy and excellent security with a huge number of IPs and servers plus additional protection against DNS leaks. Also popular with Kodi and torrent users. 30-day money back guarantee.
Read our full review of IPVanish here.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
VyprVPN is viewed as a premium service – given the fact that it owns its own servers rather than rent from a third-party – so it’s optimized for things like speed and stability of connection.
However, it does retain data on user behavior which might be troubling for some users. The company says it records “the user’s source IP address, the VyprVPN IP address used by the user, connection start and stop time, and total number of bytes used.”
The company is incorporated in Switzerland, which means it’s out of the reach of pesky government agencies from the US and UK. It uses the OpenVPN protocol, industry-standard AES-256 bit encryption, 2,048-bit RSA keys without perfect forward secrecy, and SHA256 authentication.
If you subscribe for the service, you’ll see that DNS servers are included with DNS leak protection built-in. There’s also a kill switch embedded, meaning that VyprVPN will temporarily halt all traffic if the connection drops.
Vypr isn’t a great choice for torrenting – the company doesn’t permit this activity on its servers – but it does unblock geo-restricted content on services like Netflix and Hulu.
- No logs policy nullifies France’s 1-year data retention law
- Fast speeds are perfect for streaming
- Class-leading security and advanced privacy features
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Other VPNs have more options for advanced configuration
- Two-tier pricing structure can be confusing
UNLIMITED DATA USAGE:VyprVPN is user friendly. Good speeds and uptime as all servers are owned by VyprVPN. Great online privacy and excellent security. Unblocks popular French channels. Not the cheapest option. 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full VyprVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 31 DAYS
PureVPN doesn’t retain any data on user browsing history except for a timestamp and total amount of bandwidth used when connected to a server. The company is headquartered in Hong Kong which has no mandatory data retention laws – meaning it’s out of the reach of government agencies.
Torrenting is allowed on most servers but the service isn’t able to skirt around Netflix VPN restrictions. It uses 256-bit AES encrypted L2TP/IPSec protocol along with DNS leak protection and a VPN kill switch.
- Unblocks geo-restricted services
- Large server network
- Easy-to-use interface with plenty of customization options
- Unlimited bandwidth
- Getting connected occasionally took up to a minute during testing
- Speeds are sometimes unpredictable
- Overcoming the stigma of earlier bad press surrounding privacy
EASY TO USE:PureVPN has a great app. Offers strong security and the ability to unblock popular French channels. It pegs some fast speeds but can have some connection issues. 7-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full PureVPN review.
VPNs to avoid
In some cases, VPN providers have been caught handing over user data to authorities or illegally mining browsing history to sell to 3rd party advertisers. Here are some we recommend you avoid:
Hide My Ass
In 2011 London-based Hide My Ass allegedly cooperated with US and UK authorities and handed over login data of 23-year-old Cody Kretsinger – accused of hacking Sony Pictures.
The incident pointed to a twisted philosophy at the company. It claimed to not record and store any user data – except for log-on and log-off time – but subsequent actions proved otherwise. You can read our Hide my Ass review here.
Israel-based Hola, which had developed a browser plugin designed to circumvent geo-restricted content, was caught engaging in a bunch of spurious activity – including selling your data to anyone willing to cough up the cash for it, diverting traffic through your personal internet connection, and continually monitoring browsing history.
Betternet comes up as a result if you search for a free VPN option and, from the outset, looks like a decent option given that it allows several simultaneous connections and is relatively fast. But it’s not a charity by any means – all the money it pays to rent server space and maintain a technical team is earned back via an ad platform it runs.
This ad platform accesses your cookies to bombard you with advertisements, suggested app installs, and other migraine-inducing content.
Can I use a free VPN for France?
There’s always the option of finding a free VPN service – they’re hiding in plain sight and a casual search on Google or Reddit will definitely do the job. Technically such services don’t charge you any money for usage but that doesn’t mean they’re free by any yardstick.
Our recommendation is to avoid such options like the plague. They’re businesses too – meaning they need to make money in order to stay afloat – so they’ll bombard you with all sorts of nasty advertisements and sell your data to third-party companies for monetary compensation.
Contracting a malware infection is a definite possibility and forget about getting the same speed or customer service that paid VPN options offer. In the long run, you’re better off spending a few dollars and getting exemplary service – trust us, it’s worth it.
How to get a French IP address
If you’re a French resident that’s planning on living abroad for a bit, it’s likely that a bunch of local content will remain inaccessible if you log in from a foreign country. One way to circumvent this issue is by connecting to a VPN recommended above – all you have to do is select a French server before opening your internet browser and you should be good to go.
The advantages of getting a French IP address also go beyond accessing geo-restricted content. Your search engine will assume you’re in France – so it’ll show you the results most relevant to you and in your local language if you prefer. Some French banking and financial institutions also require a local IP before allowing internet access to online services.
What is the future of French internet?
France is often regarded as pro-privacy. For example, French regulators imposed a fine of US$166,777 on Facebook purportedly because of concerns over the way it tracks user data “without legal cover.” Authorities added that the social media leviathan didn’t offer users sufficient warning about the methods it uses to extract personal information about their browsing habits.
However, recent years have seen an erosion of privacy rights.
Emergency powers put in place by President Hollande in 2015 gave authorities sweeping powers to conduct house arrests, raids, and searches of electronic devices such as laptops, PCs, smartphones, and tablets without any warrants.
The same year, the French Constitutional Council approved most provisions of a new law that forces internet service providers to monitor the online behavior of suspicious users and relay that information back to intelligence agencies.
There are concerns that this law can be abused to establish a far-reaching online surveillance apparatus that will directly impact the lives of all French residents, whether they like it or not.
These troubling developments make a compelling argument for using a VPN when browsing the web in France. Short for Virtual Private Network, a VPN encrypts your internet traffic and routes it through a remote server, thereby shielding its content and destination from internet service providers, hackers, and government agencies like the NSA.
Even the United Nations committee for human rights has warned against the tenets of the law – saying it “grants overly broad powers for very intrusive surveillance on the basis of vast and broadly defined objectives.” It added that French authorities must balance the subsequent interference in private life according to defined principles of legality, proportionality, and necessity.
Not only does the law allow electronic monitoring of mobile devices, it also gives intelligence agencies the right to install secret cameras and recording devices in people’s homes. It’s also possible to install keylogger devices and metadata can be stored for up to five years.
Other advocacy bodies, such as Privacy International and La Quadrature du Net, also sharply criticised the developments, saying the poorly-drafted bill makes no provision for judicial authorisation and that the French parliament had “endorsed a fundamental decline in human rights.”
Watching French television when abroad
The use of a VPN can also unlock French television. This means French residents traveling abroad can obfuscate their location by signing up for a VPN (we recommend one of the paid ones on this list), selecting a server in France, clearing the cookies in their web browser, and then accessing the individual streaming links.
The following channels allow free access to anyone with a French IP address. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list and more may be added:
- TV5 Monde
- BFM TV
How do I watch Ligue 1 from outside France?
The French football league, also known as Ligue 1, is massively popular with French residents. Naturally, this translates into an eagerness to watch the matches live as they’re broadcasted. We recommend using a VPN to change your IP address to French and logging into channels like Eurosport who show the games live. You might need to register and sign up for the service with a French credit card beforehand, please consult with individual broadcasters before proceeding.
VPNs for France FAQ
How do you get Netflix shows in French?
Netflix actually lets you watch a ton of content in French, including every Netflix Original title. Here’s how:
- First, start playing a show.
- In the bottom-right, you’ll see a speech bubble icon -- hover over it,
- Now, select French in the list on the left.
- Click on your user icon in the top-right of the screen and choose Manage profiles.
- Select your profile and change the default audio language to French.
Are torrents illegal in France?
Torrenting isn’t illegal in France: after all, it’s just a different way of downloading content. Issues arise if you torrent content that you don’t have the right to, such as movies, TV shows, or games. If caught, you could face a fine, although following the repeal of the HADOPI graduated response law, there’s no longer any risk of your Internet Service Provider shutting off your services.
Which mobile network is best in France?
Roughly 80% of French people are with Orange, making it by far the largest network in the country. This makes it less likely you’ll run into spots that lack coverage, but with SFR rapidly expandings its 4G capabilities and Bouygues Telecom moving into the streaming space, each has something unique to offer. Ultimately, there’s no objectively “best” network, so go with whichever meets your needs and budget.
Is using a VPN legal in France?
It’s perfectly legal to use a VPN in France. In fact, VPNs are legal in most countries. There may be cases where using a VPN goes against the terms of service of a particular website such as Netflix France. However, it’s highly unlikely any action will be taken against you. Of course, using a VPN for any illegal activities (such as distributing copyrighted material) is a different question and may result in legal repercussions as a result.