Would you like to access geo-locked sites from France when abroad? Maybe you’re going on vacation and still want to login to your Credit Agricole or Societe Generale online banking service. Maybe you just want to watch Netflix France, Ligue 1, TF1 or Canal+ during your travels. Whatever the case, you can do so by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to get a French IP address no matter where you are in the world.
Today, we’ll explain how you can obtain a French IP address, regardless of which country you’re in. By using a VPN, you can encrypt your network traffic, keeping your activities hidden from the prying eyes of your Internet Service Provider (ISP), network administrator, or hackers.
However, VPNs also enable you to bypass regional restrictions and connect to servers in a country of your choosing. By connecting to a French server, you’ll be assigned a temporary French IP address; this tricks sites into believing you’re actually in France. You can then access geo-restricted French services as normal from the US, the UK, Spain, Canada, or any other country in the world.
How to get a French IP address with a VPN
Follow these steps and you will be be able to connect to your favorite French content and services from anywhere.
To get a French IP address:
- Start by choosing a suitable VPN service (we recommend ExpressVPN).
- Download and install the software, taking care to get the right version for your operating system.
- Use your credentials to log in to the VPN app.
- Choose a French server from the list and connect.
- Try accessing a geo-locked service. You should find that it loads without any issues, but you may have to refresh the page or restart your web browser first.
TIP: HOW TO GET A FRENCH IP FOR FREE: If you only need a French IP address for a short time, you probably won’t want to spend a lot of money on a VPN. In this case, you can take advantage of ExpressVPN’s 30-day money-back guarantee. This does require an upfront payment, but you can cancel at any time to get your money back, allowing you to use it for risk-free, short-term VPN coverage.
What’s the best VPN for getting a French IP address?
There are hundreds of VPNs on the market, and they’re not all the same. For instance, some provide a myriad of security features, others focus on providing the fastest speeds possible, and some manage to offer it all. To find the best VPNs for getting a French IP address, we looked for services with the following characteristics:
- Has multiple French servers to choose from
- Is capable of unblocking popular French sites and services
- Protects your traffic with strong encryption and various additional security features
- Does not log any personally identifiable information. Bonus points if it keeps no logs whatsoever
- Has strong multi-platform support
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
ExpressVPN currently has three French servers (two in Paris and one is Strasbourg) and further 2,000 servers worldwide. It’s ideal for streaming live HD video too, thanks to its high speeds, strong multi-platform support, and ability to unblock major streaming platforms from abroad. For instance, you can use ExpressVPN to stream Netflix, TF1, and Canal+ from anywhere in the world.
This service keeps you safe using a combination of 256-bit encryption, DNS/IPv6 leak protection, perfect forward secrecy, and a kill switch that stops all traffic when your connection drops (desktop apps only). Best of all, it doesn’t log any information that could identify you and allows you to sign up anonymously. Support is available over live chat, 24/7.
ExpressVPN includes apps for Windows, Linux, MacOS, iOS, and Android. While it has to be manually installed on network routers, ExpressVPN offers custom firmware designed to make this as easy as possible.
RISK-FREE TRIAL: ExpressVPN’s annual plan comes with a 49% discount and three months extra free. With a 30-day trial, there’s no risk whatsoever.
Read our full review of ExpressVPN.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Few other VPNs have as many French servers as NordVPN does; there are 150 to choose from, and even some that are optimized for P2P file-sharing. NordVPN is fast enough to stream HD video with no noticeable buffering, and can unblock services many other VPNs struggle with, like Netflix (it unblocks Netflix France, US, UK, and many more), BBC iPlayer, and Amazon Prime Video. With up to six simultaneous connections allowed, you can protect all of your devices with a single account.
NordVPN also offers more security features than most. 256-bit AES encryption and IPv6, WebRTC, and DNS leak protection are enabled by default, but there’s also an application-specific kill switch, automatic malware scanner, and ad-blocker. You can even use double VPNs or access Tor over VPN. NordVPN doesn’t log any personally identifiable information and accepts Bitcoin, which means you can use it almost completely anonymously by signing up with a throwaway email address.
This service offers apps for Windows, MacOS, Android, and iOS devices. It works with Linux and supported wireless routers, but these have to be configured manually.
THREE-YEAR DEAL: Save 75% here and bring the monthly price down to just $2.99 by choosing NordVPN’s three-year subscription.
Read our full review of NordVPN.
Money-back guarantee: 45 DAYS
CyberGhost is intended for novice users, but there’s plenty to like about it, its high speeds and network, for instance. There are 280 servers in France alone. Looking to stream? This VPN enables you to unblock several major streaming platforms like Netflix France, TF1, and Canal+ with a single click. Better still, up to seven simultaneous connections are permitted. This is very generous and enables you to stream from whichever device you prefer.
This service features an always-on kill switch so you never accidentally browse without protection. It protects your traffic with 256-bit encryption and prevents DNS, IPv6, WebRTC, and port forwardings leaks. CyberGhost does not log any information that could be used to identify you, so your activities remain private at all times.
CyberGhost has Windows, Android, MacOS, and iOS apps. It can be manually installed on Linux-based platforms and select internet routers.
READER DEAL: Get an additional six months free and cut the cost by over 70% with CyberGhost’s one-year deal.
Read our full review of CyberGhost.
Money-back guarantee: 7 DAYS
IPVanish currently offers 26 Paris-based servers and more than 1,000 across the rest of the world. It’s a lightweight VPN that offers fast speeds and the ability to connect up to ten devices simultaneously, which is far more than most of its rivals allow. It’s even capable of unblocking streaming services like TF1 and Canal+.
This service uses 256-bit encryption, but its security features don’t stop there. There’s also DNS and IPv6 leak protection, a kill switch (both in the desktop and mobile apps), the option to switch IP addresses at timed intervals, a local traffic blocker, and OpenVPN obfuscation. No personally identifiable information is logged. If you run into any issues, you can contact support over live chat, 24/7.
This VPN offers excellent multi-platform support, with apps for Windows, MacOS, Android, iOS, and Amazon Fire TV and Firestick. You can also manually install it on Linux devices or wireless routers.
EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNT: Save up to 60% on your IPVanish subscription here. Each comes with a 7-day trial so you can evaluate it risk-free.
Read our full review of IPVanish.
Money-back guarantee: 30 DAYS
Although PrivateVPN has a smaller server network than its rivals (around 80 servers in total with two in France), it’s one of the fastest we’ve seen. In fact, you can use it to stream HD or even 4K content with no noticeable buffering. PrivateVPN is excellent at bypassing regional blocking, and will allow you to stream content from sites like Netflix France, TF1 and Canal+ without any problems.
PrivateVPN uses 256-bit encryption and DNS, IPv6, and WebRTC leak protection to keep your activities private at all times. It doesn’t record any session or activity data and allows you to pay in Bitcoin, so you can browse almost completely anonymously. Where it really shines, though, is its customer service. You can contact the support team 24/7 over live chat, and if you’re really struggling, they can even install or configure the service remotely for you.
This service has apps for iOS, Android, Windows, and MacOS devices. It can be manually configured to work with Linux-based systems and supported network routers.
ONE-YEAR DISCOUNT: You can save over 70% here by choosing PrivateVPN’s annual plan. You’ll even get an extra five months coverage, completely free.
Read our full review of PrivateVPN.
Can I get a French IP address with a free VPN?
Free VPNs can seem like a good idea at first glance, but they actually come with some pretty significant problems. For instance, their networks are usually quite small compared to those of their premium rivals. Free VPNs tend to have more users, which leads to major network slowdowns and makes streaming HD video a frustrating and extremely slow experience. In addition, many larger websites check to see if you’re using a VPN; premium services mostly go undetected, but free VPNs are almost always blocked.
Like any business, free VPN services exist to make money. However, they don’t charge their users upfront, so they have to find other ways to generate income. Sometimes they’ll insert ads into the pages you visit, but some even use tracking cookies to keep track of which sites you like, and how often you visit them. This isn’t recorded for no reason, though; it’s valuable consumer data which can be sold to the highest bidder, usually without your knowledge.
Finally, it’s difficult to tell if the VPN you’re using is actually keeping you safe. Free VPNs usually don’t have the same level of security as their paid counterparts. In fact, many inadvertently leak your information over IPv6. Of course, this is assuming you don’t accidentally install one of the many malware-carrying apps hiding on the Google Play Store. Even well-known VPNs come with risks, as we discovered in 2015 when Hola was caught selling its users’ idle bandwidth to help run a botnet.
Can I watch French TV abroad with a VPN?
Absolutely! By connecting to one of your VPN’s servers in France, you should be able to stream live and on-demand video from some of France’s most popular streaming services like TF1, Ligue 1, and Canal+. Attempting to access these sites from abroad without a VPN usually returns an error, such as TF1’s “Ce contenu est indisponible dans votre région” (“This content is unavailable in your region”).
It’s worth noting that some of these streaming platforms require you to use a payment method registered to a French address, however. With no easy way around this, these measures effectively prevent foreign users from signing up at all.
See also: Best VPN for France