If you try to watch BBC iPlayer from France you will struggle without the help of a Virtual Private Network (VPN). In this article, we explain how to use a VPN to connect to BBC iPlayer as if you were back home in the UK.
If you try to watch BBC iPlayer in France without a VPN, 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”.
This happens because the service has checked your IP address and realized you’re not in a supported country (England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland). Luckily, there’s a simple solution: connect to a VPN server in one of these locations to change your IP address and securely access BBC iPlayer, while on vacation anywhere in the world. Doing so will also encrypt your internet traffic, keeping your activities hidden from your ISP, your employer, and other snoopers.
How to watch BBC iPlayer in France
You don’t have to be a tech expert to access geo-blocked services abroad. Below is a step-by-step guide that’ll have you streaming 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 services
- 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 accessing 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.
- Surfshark: The best low-cost VPN for watching iPlayer abroad. Works flawlessly with BBC iPlayer and provides consistently impressive speeds. Strong on privacy, with no connection limit.
- 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 US, or ITV Hub in France.
- Hotspot Shield: This speedy, user-friendly VPN has servers optimized for watching British streaming platforms. Also boasts a solid set of security features and 24/7 support.
- ExpressVPN: A versatile VPN with an excellent reputation and servers in 94 countries (including the UK). Works well with plenty of British streaming platforms.
- VyprVPN: This no-logs VPN can access BBC iPlayer with ease. Comes packed with security and privacy features and offers decent 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 anyone looking to stream BBC iPlayer in France. Not only is a strong performer when it comes to accessing tricky streaming services, it’s actually one of the fastest we’ve tested. In fact, we’ve seen it deliver speeds of over 100 Mbps, though obviously, it’s limited by your base connection speed. Up to six devices can be connected at any one time.
This provider offers a wealth of security and privacy 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, IPv6, and WebRTC leaks, and a new, WireGuard-based protocol named NordLynx that’s easier to audit than OpenVPN. Although this service is very easy to use, it provides 24/7 support over email and live chat.
NordVPN has apps for Windows, Linux, MacOS, 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
- Two clicks required to disconnect on desktop versions
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 30-day money-back guarantee, meaning you can try it completely risk-free.
Interested? Find out more in the full NordVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Surfshark is the best way to watch BBC iPlayer abroad on a budget. Better still it works equally well with other British streaming services like ITV Hub, Netflix UK, and All 4. There are no bandwidth or connection limits to speak of, and only a very small impact on your connection speeds. In other words, this is an extremely versatile yet low-cost VPN with lots to offer.
Concerned about your privacy? You needn’t worry: this service actually won a 2021 Cybersecurity Excellence Award! It keeps you safe with a blend of 256-bit encryption, DNS and IPv6 leak protection, and a kill switch. Naturally, there’s a no-logs policy in place too. Users can even turn on the NoBorders mode to get around country-wide internet censorship if they decide to visit places other than France. Live chat-based support is available at any time, day or night.
Surfshark apps are available for MacOS, Linux, Windows, Android, and iOS. Alternatively, users can follow manual setup instructions to get it running on supported network routers.
- #1 for speed in our latest tests
- Works with BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, and All 4
- 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. It works flawlessly with most UK streaming services and has no connection limit whatsoever. 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: 45 DAYS
CyberGhost makes it as easy as possible to watch BBC channels abroad. It has clearly-labeled servers for accessing this service, Netflix UK, and Amazon Prime Video UK, plus around 650 general-purpose servers to choose from. Speeds are generally decent and there’s no limit on the amount of bandwidth you can use. With up to seven simultaneous connections permitted, you’ll be able to watch BBC shows whether you’re at home or on-the-go.
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. Newer versions even support WireGuard connections, which is another huge milestone. If you need help, you can reach support staff over live chat at any time.
CyberGhost users can install Android, iOS, Windows, Linux, and MacOS versions of the app. Select routers are supported too but must be configured manually.
- Has a specific server for streaming BBC iPlayer
- 650+ fast servers in the UK
- Pre-configured security tools
- Live chat support available 24/7
- Might not offer enough flexibility to satisfy advanced users
GREAT FIRST VPN:CyberGhost has more than 650 British servers and streams 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 has fewer British servers than others in this list but it has recently been expanding and upgrading its network. To this VPN’s credit, it provides consistently high speeds (71 Mbps in our most recent tests) and works with a huge range of streaming platforms, not just BBC iPlayer. These include Netflix UK, Amazon Prime Video UK, and ITV Hub, so you’ll never be short of something to watch. Users can protect a maximum of six devices at once.
As well as a true zero-logs policy, PrivateVPN shields your activities with DNS and IPv6 leak protection, 256-bit (or optionally, 128-bit) encryption, and an app-specific kill switch. Interestingly, this service is its own server host and ISP, meaning no other company ever has access to your traffic. Customer support isn’t quite available 24/7 but you should never have to wait more than a few hours to get help.
PrivateVPN has apps for MacOS, Windows, 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 allows users to stream BBC iPlayer on up to five of their devices at once. It even has a dedicated server for accessing British streaming services, which makes this whole process as straightforward as it can be. It’s also a great choice for watching French TV during a visit to the UK, since it works reliably with TF1, Canal+, and Netflix France.
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 iOS, Android, MacOS, Linux, Windows apps. Further, it can be manually installed on a wide range of supported routers.
- Boasts specially-optimized UK streaming servers
- Solid security offering
- 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 services (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
ExpressVPN has been a little less reliable with BBC iPlayer lately but is still worth trying since its developers have proven excellent at finding workarounds for stubborn online restrictions. Case in point: this service works with ITV Hub, Netflix UK, and All 4. To sweeten the deal even further, it’s one of the fastest around, averaging 135 Mbps in our most recent testing. Up to five simultaneous connections are permitted.
This service has a clear commitment to user privacy. First off, it refuses to log any data that could identify you personally. It has also developed its own protocol, Lightway, that can protect you even while changing from one network to another. The apps all come with 256-bit encryption, a kill switch, and protection against DNS and IPv6 leaks, plus a feature that lets you block local traffic outright. There’s even a 24/7 live chat help desk just in case you have any trouble.
ExpressVPN apps are available for Linux, Android, Windows, MacOS, and iOS. Users can also install this service’s custom router firmware. This was recently updated and now provides a speedier, more reliable experience than ever before.
- Among the fastest VPNs we’ve tested
- Generally very good at accessing geo-blocked services abroad
- Well-respected provider with lots of security tools built-in
- Has been less reliable with BBC iPlayer of late
- A little more expensive than its rivals
EXTREMELY VERSATILE:ExpressVPN is a solid choice for almost any task, from streaming to torrenting. Has struggled a bit with BBC iPlayer in the past, but is still well worth your time. Still not sure? Why not take advantage of its 30-day money-back guarantee?
Read our comprehensive ExpressVPN review.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
VyprVPN is a reliable, versatile VPN capable of streaming not just BBC iPlayer, but also rival services like ITV Hub, Netflix UK, and Amazon Prime Video. You can secure up to five of your devices at once, and with no bandwidth limits, there’s nothing stopping you from streaming as much as you like. 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. The latest version even supports the WireGuard protocol. This service doesn’t keep any logs at all. What’s more, VyprVPN’s 24/7 live chat service makes it easy to get help if needed.
VyprVPN comes with its own Linux, Android, MacOS, iOS, and Windows apps. If you’d prefer, it can also be manually configured for use with supported routers.
- Ideal for live streaming BBC abroad
- Clearly values user privacy and security
- Budget-friendly VPN with real everyday usage potential
- Speeds could be improved
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, it’s not possible to access BBC iPlayer abroad. Also, generally, the more that are available, the more reliable your connection.
- 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 ITV Hub, All 4, Netflix UK, and Amazon Prime Video to make sure they can stream from a wide variety of services.
- Speeds: BBC iPlayer recommends speeds of 5 Mbps for live HD video. Our recommendations must be able to deliver far, far higher speeds than this (providing your base connection is fast enough).
- 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.
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 secure their services 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.
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. 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:
- Holby City
- RuPaul’s Drag Race UK
- Top Gear
- Celebrity Masterchef
- The Killing