“Orange” you glad you need a téléphone?

Orange Store Rue de Bonne, Grenoble

I never thought that one of the happiest days of our time here would be when we agreed to a mobile phone contract.  When we left NC I had just ended my 5 year “relationship” with Sprint.  The phone that I used there I had gotten in the summer of 2005 when we moved out of Durham.  As many of you know my phone did nothing more than allow me to make and receive phone calls.  You remember phones like that, don’t you.  No camera, no texting, no internet connection.  After the initial 2 year contract, I was on a month to month basis with Sprint.  I liked it that way.  There were “no strings attached”.  I knew my non-state-of-the-art phone wouldn’t work here in France.  And when we left I called them and just said, “Au Revoir“,  turn it off.  But we found that without a phone here we were nobodies, and we needed a phone to be able to set ourselves up in France. I longed for my old phone back.

Steve had called  the Apple  headquarters before we left, and they said he could indeed use his beloved iPhone in France, but it could not be unlocked  in the U.S.  He would have to wait to do that after we arrived.  So, we arrive in Grenoble.  We see a few phone stores in Grenoble named Orange,  SRF, and  Bouygues. We decide to visit the ubiquitous Orange “boutique”.  This is the equivalent of an AT&T or Verizon store in the U.S.  We sashay in and start looking around.  Eventually, we discover that we should sign-in first. Une faute that elicits smirks and  glances from the Orange employés. Finally, we are invited into a side room where the employee sits on a stool at a high counter and the client stands next to him.  With our handy-dandy dual language dictionary we try to get the phone unlocked so we can put in a new SIM card.  Surprise!  No, they can’t do that. We protested.  Apple had said Orange was  authorized to do that!  No, Monsieur, they were wrong. So, Steve cannot use the iPhone  at this point except to connect to the internet. (Actually, you can pay someone under the table at one of the electronic stores to do it.)

What to do now?  As mentioned in  a previous post, the visiting teachers at CUEF have been very kind to us. Marie-Charlotte works at an Orange store and offered to help us.  Marie-Helene brought in one of her own old mobiles for us to use with a new SIM card. She even accompanied us to the Orange store to do this.  She spoke to the employee there explaining our situation.  No, no SIM card can be had.  We did not have a French bank account  nor a permanent address as of yet.  We offered our Visa card.  Not good enough. With new security they don’t just hand out cell phones like candy anymore. We are missing most of the essentials for getting a phone.  We have a pièce d’identité (passport will do), but no carte bleue or chèque annulé, RIB, or justificatif de domicile.

The RIB and the carte bleue can only be gotten by opening a French bank account.  (That is another full  story for a future blog entry!) For the present entry, we finally do get the above-mentioned items. We return to the Orange store.  We enter the hallowed alcove and meet Pierrick, a young male fashion plate with a beautiful smile.  (Sorry, I didn’t take any pictures of him, because I thought we’d never get a phone if I tried that.) We show him the mobile avec Orange catalogue turned to the page with the phone we want. The forfait allows for 1 hr.  30 min.. talk time, unlimited SMS in France, and 200 Mo in France (2000 webpages/mo.). All this for a one year commitment at the “economical” price of  about $30 per month. The price of the phone after rebate is €1!!!

At this point this only takes care of the mobile phone.  We still didn’t have internet, cable or a land-line phone in our new apartment.  Now that we had an address we could go ahead with all that.  We didn’t need to go with Orange for that, so we started checking out other providers.  Yes, they could set that up for us.  It would be about 25 days for that to be installed.  We couldn’t believe it – 25 days!  They also would need to know whether it was an “open or closed line”. How would we know that? What was that?  If we could tell them the previous tenants, they could check. How would we have that info?   We went to see our Guardian Angel, Madame Pellissier. She had owned the apt. for about 2 years, maybe she would know who lived there before her previous tenant.  Madame was busy at her office, but stopped to see if she could find out the info.  She made a few calls and then asked us if we would like  her to call Orange/France Telecom to make the arrangements for the service and give them the info.  We were so tired by that time that we almost kissed her!  She made the call, and the service was turned on yesterday- less than 2 weeks time.  That must be a record.

There were more misadventures hooking up the Livebox (for the internet connection), the Décodeur TV,  and connecting the phone.  I cheated  by finding  the English version online for the phone manual after Steve got it hooked up, but I  am still trying to figure out how to put a voice message on it. Do I record it in English or my French with my southern twang?  Even  in English I’ve never been very good at programming devices. (Have pity, I was an English major. Steve’s the engineer.) I’d like to say “we” hooked everything up, but you know that’s not true.  I’m not sure if Steve wasn’t an engineer that it ever would have been up and running.

So I am now able to work on this blog in the privacy and comfort of our own apartment.  Without an internet connection here we skulked nefariously from place to place searching for free Wi-Fi (pronounced wee-fee here).  For the price of a café au lait at McDonald’s down the street  (another blog topic to come)  or the tram ride to la bibliothèque, we could access free internet. Since the Ville de Grenoble provides some free Wi-Fi areas in the parks we’ve occasionally  accessed it  on a park bench  dans le place Victor Hugo while  enjoying the beautiful Grenoble weather .  We’ve even Skyped in the park with Beth. You should have seen the looks that got us.

Even after all that the best way to reach us from the U.S. is by email, FaceBook or by posting on this blog.

My Skype name in MaureenCWalsh.  If you’re interested in skyping for free, email me and we’ll set up a time to talk.  We’d love to hear from you!

Orange Store, Place Grenette, Grenoble :The modern boutique version

Un faute:a mistake
pièce d’identité : form of identity
carte bleue or chèque annulé,: debit card or voided check
RIB: Relevé d’Identité Bancaire:  Bank details for automatic payments
justificaif de domicile: proof of address
mobile avec Orange catalogue: mobile phone with Orange
forfait : package
la bibliothèque: the library   (libraire is a book store)
dans le place Victor Hugo: in the Victor Hugo Square


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Aunt Margie
    Aug 17, 2010 @ 21:45:50

    What an adventure ! One might think you were in a foreign country.
    We enjoy the further trial and tribulations of “Pauline”, and always comment on how well written they seem, even under unusual
    circumstances.. Patience and Tenacity must rule the day.
    Love you ,
    Mel & Brian


    • steveandmo
      Aug 18, 2010 @ 10:18:28

      The way we look at it we’re here and we’ve got to do what needs to be done. Although that seems to change day-to-day! Today I am in search of yeast to make a pizza dough. Without the internet I don’t know what we would be eating. One of the manufacturers (Vahiné) has a website that I found with recipes and Pictures! I am off to find levure de boulangerie, as opposed to Levure chimique that we bought that is for pastries, I think.


  2. Beryl
    Aug 17, 2010 @ 23:03:20

    My goodness! No wonder the Disney World in France had trouble — they’re just not into customer service, are they? I’m glad you’ve met some individuals who’ve gone out of their way to help!

    I love the detail! You’re going to have so much fun reading back through your blogs in 15 years or so. But you really do need a photo of Pierrick to complete the story.



    • steveandmo
      Aug 18, 2010 @ 10:08:11

      Yes! I think I may try to get a picture of him in due time. I’m sure he is used to papparazzi. He told us that he goes to school in Lyon and could not wait to return there. He finds Grenoble dull! If that’s the case, I can’t wait to go Lyon!!


  3. Elaine
    Aug 20, 2010 @ 01:16:30

    Thanks for sharing, and so glad you’re plugged in and in such a nice place! Sounds like you’re successfully cracking the bureaucracy Francaise! (I’ll think twice next time I complain about AT&T!!;).


  4. elise hahn
    Jun 21, 2011 @ 00:38:06

    I have to tell you, I’ve probably read through half your blog just this afternoon! My husband and I are moving to Grenoble in July of this year, and the information and helpful tips on your blog have already proven absolutely invaluable. We are currently trying to figure out exactly what to do with our Canadian iPhone and reading your story was so helpful.

    Thanks again for your wonderful (and entertaining 🙂 posts. I hope you both have a wonderful summer!



    • steveandmo
      Jun 21, 2011 @ 11:16:53

      Thank you for your kind words. We came July of 2010, so you will find much the same experiences that we did. Hopefully, I will have smoothed over some of the uncertainties for you. I can email you some other information that has not been posted, but that you might find helpful. Our good wishes go to you on your new adventure. ~Maureen


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