Due to regional restrictions, you won’t normally be able to watch channels like BBC Three or BBC Alba while visiting France. Instead, you’ll see one of two errors: either “BBC iPlayer only works in the UK. Sorry, it’s due to rights issues” or “This content is not available in your location”. Luckily, it’s possible to regain access to all of your favorite British content by connecting to a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
VPN services encrypt your data, shielding your online activity from snoopers. However, they also send this data through a server somewhere else in the world, which we can use to sidestep BBC iPlayer’s geo-restriction and continue watching while traveling abroad.
How to watch BBC iPlayer in France
You don’t have to be a tech expert to access British streaming platforms abroad. Just follow these steps and you’ll be watching BBC in a matter of minutes:
Here’s how to watch BBC iPlayer in France with a VPN:
- First, register with a suitable VPN provider (we recommend NordVPN).
- Install the app onto any device you use for streaming regularly. Most major VPNs let you connect five or so devices at once, so don’t worry if there are a few.
- Log into the VPN app and select a server in the UK.
- Sign in to BBC iPlayer and try accessing a live stream. If it fails to load, clear your cookies and cache, then try again. You should now be able to use the service as normal. For help with more stubborn issues, we’d recommend contacting your VPN’s support team.
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Choosing the right VPN for watching BBC iPlayer abroad
You can’t just use any old VPN to access BBC iPlayer in France. Even if a particular service works, there’s no guarantee it’ll perform as well with other tasks. That’s why we decided to only recommend VPNs that met all of the criteria below (more on these later):
- Works with BBC iPlayer and other popular UK streaming platforms
- Has a minimal impact on your connection speed
- Uses a wide range of security features including encryption to keep you safe
- Refuses to store any personally identifiable information
- Provides apps for all of the most popular operating systems
It’s worth noting that BBC iPlayer has very strong VPN-detection features, and as such, most services won’t work. We’ve rounded up seven that do, and will cover these in more detail below. For now, though, here’s a brief overview of each:
The 7 best VPNs for streaming BBC iPlayer in France
- NordVPN: Our top VPN for watching BBC iPlayer in France. Combines an exceptional set of security tools with above-average speed and streaming ability. All plans include a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
TIP In our testing we found that the cheapest NordVPN plan (Standard) works perfectly for BBC iPlayer.
- Surfshark: The best low-cost VPN for watching iPlayer abroad. Works flawlessly with BBC iPlayer and provides first-class connection speeds. Strong on privacy, with no connection limit.
- ExpressVPN: A versatile VPN with an excellent reputation and servers in 94 countries (including the UK). Works with almost every online streaming service we’ve tested
- CyberGhost: Quick, secure, and easy to use, with specific servers designed for streaming BBC iPlayer abroad. Has 24/7 customer support and beginner-friendly apps.
- PrivateVPN: A zero-log provider that ranks highly for speed and security. No issues streaming BBC iPlayer, Netflix UK, or ITVX in France.
- Hotspot Shield: This speedy, user-friendly VPN has servers optimized for watching British streaming platforms. Also boasts advanced security features and 24/7 support.
- VyprVPN: This no-logs VPN can access BBC iPlayer with ease. Comes packed with security and privacy features and offers decent connection speeds.
Best VPNs for live streaming BBC iPlayer abroad
Let’s begin by taking a look at the first of our recommended services, NordVPN:
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
NordVPN is our #1 choice for watching BBC iPlayer in France. Not only is it great for accessing popular streaming services, it’s actually one of the fastest we’ve tested, with average speeds of nearly 200 Mbps. There are many server locations in the UK and users are permitted up to six simultaneous connections.
This provider offers a wealth of security features including 256-bit encryption, a customizable kill switch, and a regularly-verified zero-logs policy. There’s also a built-in ad-blocker, protection against DNS and IPv6 leaks, and a Meshnet feature that can help you securely connect to your other devices back home. Although this service is very easy to use, it provides 24/7 support over email and live chat.
NordVPN has apps for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. It’s also possible to manually configure this service for use on supported home routers.
- 400+ UK servers
- One of the best at accessing streaming services abroad
- Ranks highly for speed
- No-logs VPN with apps packed full of security tools
- Stores advertising IDs on mobile devices
BEST VPN FOR BBC IPLAYER:NordVPN is our top pick. Not only is it an excellent way to live stream British TV abroad, but it’s extremely security-conscious too. This zero-logs provider even offers a risk-free 30-day money-back guarantee.
Interested? Find out more in the full NordVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Surfshark is the best budget VPN for BBC iPlayer. In fact, it works equally well with other British streaming services like ITVX, Netflix UK, and Channel 4. There are no bandwidth caps or simultaneous connection limits, and four UK server locations to choose from (two in Scotland, two in England). In other words, this is an extremely versatile yet affordable VPN with lots to offer.
This VPN secures your internet connection with a blend of 256-bit AES encryption, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, and a kill switch. Naturally, there’s a no-logs policy in place too. Users can even change their IP address periodically or turn on the NoBorders mode to get around particularly strict regional restrictions. Live chat-based support is available at any time, day or night.
Surfshark apps are available for all major opersating systems (MacOS, Linux, Windows, Android, and iOS). Alternatively, users can follow manual setup instructions to get it running on supported network routers.
- Exceptional streaming ability
- Quick and reliable speeds
- Very strong on security and privacy
- Connect as many devices as you like
- Menus could be better organized
BEST BUDGET VPN:Surfshark is our top low-cost option. Great for streaming BBC iPlayer’s content abroad. Additionally, it punches above its weight on security and comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Check out the full Surfshark review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
ExpressVPN is far better at unblocking BBC iPlayer than it used to be. Whether you’re looking to stream BBC News or major sports events, this service has you covered. Best of all, ExpressVPN is one of the fastest providers we’ve seen, with average speeds well over 150 Mbps. There’s even 24/7 assistance available live chat in case you have any problems.
This VPN is ideal for watching your favorite content securely. It combined 256-bit AES encryption, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, and a kill switch that stops sending data the moment your connection drops. ExpressVPN also has a couple of more advanced security features, like automatic obfuscation and tracker-blocking but these run in the background so you don’t have to do anything. This VPN follows a strict no-logs policy and has been audited many times to prove it.
ExpressVPN apps are available for every popular operating system, including Linux, Android, Windows, MacOS, and iOS. Users can also install this service’s custom router firmware.
- Impressive connection speeds
- Unblocks both the BBC iPlayer website and mobile app
- Well-respected provider with lots of security tools built-in
- A little more expensive than its rivals on monthly plans
EXTREMELY VERSATILE:ExpressVPN is a solid choice for almost any task, from streaming to torrenting. Makes watching BBC Four as easy as possible. Still not sure? Why not take advantage of its 30-day money-back guarantee?
Read our comprehensive ExpressVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
CyberGhost has more than 90 server locations to choose from, and roughly 700 servers in the UK alone. Some of these are even specially-configured for beating BBC iPlayer’s geo-blocking measures! In our experience, these work just as well on mobile devices as on desktop. This VPN offers 24/7 live chat and a seven simultaneous connection limit, plus it won’t slow down your internet connection in any noticeable way.
Plenty of services claim to be open about their privacy policies, but CyberGhost puts its money where its mouth is by publishing regular transparency reports. Not only that, but its apps come with 256-bit encryption, leak protection, and a kill switch enabled by default. You can also set up smart rules that tell the VPN to automatically connect under certain circumstances.
CyberGhost users can install Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, and Linux versions of the app. Select routers are supported too but must be configured manually.
- Works with many British streaming services
- Top-tier connection speeds
- Pre-configured security tools
- Live chat support available 24/7
- Menus could be easier to navigate
GREAT FIRST VPN:CyberGhost has more than 700 British servers and unblocks BBC iPlayer with ease. It’s very user-friendly, requires minimal configuration, and provides 24/7 support just in case. Best of all, there’s a 45-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full review of CyberGhost.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
PrivateVPN works with a huge range of streaming platforms including BBC iPlayer, Channel 4, and ITVX. Not only that, but it boasts steady speeds and offers over 60 server locations, operating and hosting its own network to keep your data out of the hands of third-parties. Users are allowed up to 10 simultaneous connections and can contact support staff nearly 24/7 via the live chat service.
This provider shields your activities with DNS and IPv6 leak protection, 256-bit AES encryption, and an app-specific kill switch. It also offers a stealth mode capable of beating the world’s strictest digital censorship, and a true no-logs policy. We’d like to see it undergo an independent audit like its competitors, however, since this ensures you don’t have to take the company’s privacy claims at face value.
PrivateVPN has apps for Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices. It works on Linux-based platforms and wireless routers as well, after a little manual configuration.
- No issues accessing BBC iPlayer or similar services in France
- Consistently high speeds
- Impeccable security and privacy credentials
- Doesn’t offer 24/7 support
WATCH UK TV ABROAD:PrivateVPN is known for three things: its high speeds and commitment to privacy. As such, it’s perfect for people looking to safely stream British TV on a trip to France. All plans include a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Take a look at our in-depth PrivateVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
Editor’s Note: Hotspot Shield is owned by Pango, Comparitech’s parent company.
Hotspot Shield is a great choice for watching British television in France. In fact, it has specific servers for this exact task! With fast, reliable connection speeds, a 10 simultaneous connection allowance, and the abiility to access all kinds of online content, this is one of the most versatile VPN services on the market.
This VPN has its own proprietary protocol, named Catapult Hydra, which it claims is easier to audit and faster than OpenVPN over long-distance connections. The latest version of the apps also offers IKEv2 support, 256-bit encryption, leak protection, and a kill switch for even greater security. Hotspot Shield doesn’t store any personally identifiable data after you’ve disconnected. Support staff are quick to respond and can be reached 24/7 via live chat or email.
Hotspot Shield offers apps for all major operating systems (iOS, Android, MacOS, Linux, and Windows). Further, it can be manually installed on a wide range of supported routers.
- Works with almost every popular streaming service
- Strong on security
- Helpful support and easy to use apps
- Doesn’t accept any anonymous payment methods
QUICK AND EASY STREAMING:Hotspot Shield has servers dedicated to accessing British platforms (like BBC iPlayer) abroad. Further, it includes a wide range of tools to help you do so safely. This security-conscious provider offers a 45-day money-back guarantee.
Why not read our complete Hotspot Shield review?
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
VyprVPN happily unblocks the iPlayer, allowing you to watch channels like BBC Three and BBC Four wherever you go. It also works well with rival services like ITVX, Netflix UK, and Amazon Prime Video. This provider permits up to 10 simultaneous connections and offers around-the-clock support via live chat. Speeds are decent, but far from the best on the market.
This provider prides itself on its privacy credentials. Its apps use self-owned DNS servers and offer 256-bit encryption, leak protection, and a kill switch, as well as a feature that can connect you automatically any time you use an unsecured network. This service doesn’t keep any logs at all. What’s more, VyprVPN is very newcomer-friendly, so it’s a great choice for first-time users.
VyprVPN supports every operating system you can think of, including Linux, Android, MacOS, iOS, and Windows apps. If you’d prefer, it can also be manually configured for use with supported routers.
- Ideal for streaming British television abroad
- Clearly values user privacy and security
- Budget-friendly VPN with real everyday usage potential
- Speeds could be improved
- Doesn’t accept cryptocurrency
STREAM SECURELY ANYWHERE:VyprVPN makes it very easy to watch BBC channels in France. It’s extremely privacy-conscious, too, with a true zero-logs policy and its own connection protocol — great for anyone concerned about security. Includes a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Have questions? Find answers in our full review of VyprVPN.
Methodology: How we chose the best VPNs for BBC iPlayer
There are a few key things to look out for when your goal is live streaming foreign TV. We carefully considered all of the following factors when deciding which VPNs are best for watching BBC iPlayer in France:
- British servers: Without a server in the UK, you can’t get the British IP address needed to access BBC iPlayer abroad. Ideally, there’d be a few locations to choose from since the closer the server, the better your speeds
- Streaming ability: Obviously, the goal is to securely access BBC iPlayer. However, we test potential recommendations against a variety of other British streaming services including ITVX, Disney+, Netflix UK, and NOW to make sure they can stream from a wide variety of services.
- Speeds: BBC iPlayer recommends speeds of 5 Mbps for live HD video. We perform regular speed testing to make sure our recommendations far exceed this.
- Security: We won’t recommend any service that doesn’t provide adequate protection from snoopers. At a minimum, all of the VPNs above offer 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, and a privacy-first logging policy.
- Value: Users can trust that the services we recommend are priced fairly. We consider things like free trials, money-back guarantees, long-term discounts, and how a VPN stacks up against similarly-priced rivals before deciding if it charges more than it’s worth.
- Ease of use: Our priority is making sure everyone has the tools to stay safe online. The VPNs above offer user-friendly apps, live chat-based support, and expansive help sections on their respective websites.
This isn’t actually the full extent of our testing! If you’d like to find out more, just read our guide to Comparitech’s VPN testing methodology.
Streaming iPlayer in France: FAQs
Can I watch shows downloaded from BBC iPlayer while traveling abroad?
Although BBC iPlayer is geo-restricted, there are no limits on where in the world you can watch previously-downloaded content. In short, if you’re able to download a show in the first place, you’re free to watch it, even if you travel outside of the UK. The BBC’s own website confirms this, saying “If you download a program on BBC iPlayer when you’re in the UK, you can watch it anywhere in the world”.
Does BBC iPlayer offer French subtitles?
Unfortunately, BBC iPlayer only offers English subtitles, even on S4C and BBC Alba, its Welsh and Gaelic-language channels.
What can I watch on BBC iPlayer?
BBC iPlayer allows users to stream 11 TV channels and one radio station live online. These are:
- BBC One
- BBC Two
- BBC Three
- BBC Four
- BBC Scotland
- BBC Alba
- Radio 1
- BBC Parliament
- BBC News
Additionally, recently-aired content is added to the service’s on-demand library, resulting in a constantly-updating catalog of some of the UK’s favorite shows. Here are just a few available at the time of writing:
- The Great British Sewing Bee
- Waterloo Road
- The Graham Norton Show
- The Apprentice
Can I watch BBC iPlayer in France with a free VPN?
Trying to watch BBC iPlayer with a free VPN is a bad idea for several reasons. First off, this platform has gotten especially good at identifying VPN traffic, so there’s a high probability your chosen service simply won’t work. Secondly, free providers often limit the amount of bandwidth you can use each month. In other words, even if everything works perfectly you might only be able to watch a handful of shows for free.
There are more serious concerns around free VPNs too. Specifically, we’ve seen free providers outright lie to their users about the kind of logs they kept and how privacy conscious they really are. With plenty of free VPNs failing to use encryption or using outdated ciphers, it’s really luck of the draw as to whether you’re protected in any meaningful way. To protect yourself, we strongly recommend taking other factors into account when choosing a VPN, instead of making a decision based on price alone.
Is the BBC iPlayer free?
Technically, yes — BBC iPlayer is free to watch once you’ve signed up for an account (which is as simple as entering your email address, postcode, and password).
However, British law requires you to have a TV license, even if you’re only watching on-demand. This is highly unusual, and is actually the only streaming service where this applies; you can use ITVX and Channel 4 for on-demand streaming without a license, and only normally require one to watch live content.