The Best VPNs for France in 2020

Best VPN for France

Maybe you’re in France trying to watch the BBC iPlayer, US Netflix, Hulu, or other international content without much luck.

Maybe you’re a bit concerned that under French laws, your internet privacy is far from guaranteed.

Or maybe still you’re outside the country trying to stream your favorite show from a local French channel but can’t.

In all those cases – and many more – a good quality VPN can help. And there are plenty to choose from too.

That said, each provider has its own unique set of features, benefits, and drawbacks, and getting the decision right is not always easy.

So, to that effect, here is a guide to help you choose the best VPN for France.

The Best VPNs for France Overview

Before digging in, let’s take a peek at the top VPNs for France. A quick summary may be all you’re looking for, and fair enough.

  1. CyberGhost

    Best VPN for France. The perfect balance of a large server network, speed, and security. Unblocks geo-restricted content in France and internationally. Industry-best 45-day money-back guarantee.

  2. PureVPN

    Breakneck connection speeds and specialized streaming servers make it an excellent choice for accessing geo-blocked video and for P2P. Huge server network spanning 131 countries lets you connect anywhere.

  3. Surfshark

    Blazing-fast no-logging VPN with unlimited simultaneous connections. Unblocks all geo-restricted content and supports P2P. Intuitive yet powerful client app. The most inexpensive option around.

  4. NordVPN

    Big, well-performing server network that works with Netflix and all other popular streaming services. No logs, safe jurisdiction, and the best set of privacy features in the industry.

  5. ExpressVPN

    Well established and optimized global network with good download speeds. Lets you watch any content you want. An excellent client with many advanced features. Customer support that’s second to none.

Why Use a VPN in France

There are plenty of good reasons for using a VPN in France, and not all are obvious. While I briefly mentioned a few of these already, here’s the exhaustive list.

  • France Is Part of the Nine Eyes Intelligence Pact

    If you’ve read a bit about VPNs, you’ve probably come across references the terms Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and Fourteen Eyes.

    These names refer to a collection of international intelligence-sharing agreements that stitch together the major western democracies into one, big, (sometimes) happy, spying network.

    France is part of the Nine Eyes agreement. They are obligated to share electronic intelligence with other member states, including:

    • United States
    • Canada
    • Australia
    • New Zealand
    • United Kingdom
    • Denmark
    • Netherlands
    • Norway

    If you’re a French internet user, spy agencies from any of these countries could theoretically get access to the history of your online habits as well as any other relevant electronic data.

    When you use a VPN in France, you prevent the government from eavesdropping on your internet activities. And if they can’t eavesdrop, they have nothing to share.

  • ISP Logging

    France, like other EU member nations, was once bound by the 2006 Data Retention Directive.

    The law forced French ISPs to log the internet activity of all customers and to retain that data for at least one year – even if you terminated the service.

    Fortunately, the EU’s court of justice struck that law down in 2014. But, the precedent for ISP eavesdropping remains, and a newer, overarching French intelligence gathering law has since taken its place.

    With a VPN in use, however, that kind of logging is impossible.

  • Digital Copyright Laws

    France digital copyright laws are among the strictest and most user-unfriendly in the world.

    It allows French copyright holders almost unlimited ability to access your personal information if you’re even just suspected of piracy. And, if you’re found violating the law at least three times, your ISP can ban you.

    A VPN shields you from copyright holders who, not surprisingly, tend to be a bit overzealous in enforcing their claims.

  • Watching French TV Abroad

    Traveling outside of France usually means losing access to French-language entertainment. Most local TV channels and streaming services won’t let you watch anything unless you’re in the country.

    A VPN makes it seem like you are. And by using one, here are just some of the French channels you’ll be able to access, no matter where you roam.

    • 6play
    • CNEWS
    • France 2
    • France 5
    • FranceTV
    • Play TV
    • TV5 Monde
    • Arte
    • Euronews
    • France 3
    • France Ô
    • Gulli
    • RTBF
    • BFM TV
    • Eurosport
    • France 4
    • France24
    • LCP
    • TF1
  • Accessing Geo-Blocked Content From Around the World

    We’re all citizens of the world. I like to consume internet content from all over the globe, as I’m sure anyone in France does.

    Just like a VPN can unlock French streaming services from abroad, it can unlock geo-blocked content from other parts of the world in France.

    If you’re frustrated with not being able to watch Netflix from other countries, for example, a VPN is the cure.

Are VPNs Legal in France?

With such thorough surveillance laws in place, it’s not a stretch to imagine France banning VPN services. Thankfully, they have done no such thing.

VPNs are legal in France.

As a French citizen, resident, or visitor, you are free to use VPNs whenever and however you want. That said, you shouldn’t use them to do anything illegal.

Using a VPN to prevent someone from reading your email is perfectly fine. However, using one to coordinate any form of illegal activity is not.

A VPN does not absolve you from otherwise breaking the law.

In other words, using a VPN in France is legal, but don’t do with it anything you shouldn’t.

What to Look for in a VPN for France

Not all VPNs are a good choice for France. To maximize your chances of finding one that is, here are several features to look for.

  • Multiple French Servers

    Any VPN worth considering needs to have several servers located in France. Without a French server, you won’t be able to connect to the country.

    Having multiple servers – ideally spread across several locations – makes sure you have plenty of connection options and gives the best possible internet experience.

  • Good Server Selection in Other Countries

    To get the most use out of a VPN service, it should also have a large and geographically diverse server network.

    With plenty of servers in a lot of countries, you’ll be able to access geo-restricted services and content from anywhere in the world.

  • Strong Encryption Standards and Security Features

    A VPN is supposed to keep your data and internet traffic secure. So, any service you pick needs to use modern protocol and encryption standards.

    Think 256-bit AES encryption over OpenVPN.

    Security features like an VPN kill switch and DNS leak protection are also a must.

  • No-Logging Policy and a Privacy-Friendly Jurisdiction

    Since France – and many other countries around the world – has no qualms about spying on your online habits, you should pick a no-log VPN based out of a privacy-friendly jurisdiction (Panama, Romania, Switzerland, etc.)

    This way, no one will be able to force your VPN to turn over data. And even if someone tried, they would have nothing to give.

  • Good Server Speeds

    Using a VPN will always slow down your internet connection a bit – there’s no way around that. But, there are slowdowns, and then there are slowdowns.

    Picking a fast VPN – one with a reputation for great performance and reliable servers – will keep your connection humming along.

    It will let you download files quickly and happily stream video even at the highest quality settings.

    The wrong provider, on the other hand, can reduce your internet speeds to an unusable crawl.

  • P2P Support

    If you’re planning to use file-sharing services with your VPN – and, considering the draconian copyright laws in France, even if you aren’t sure you will – choose a provider that explicitly supports P2P.

    Also, double-check the VPN doesn’t throttle connection, has no bandwidth restrictions, and comes without data caps.

  • Can Unlock Geo-Restricted Content in France and Elsewhere

    A huge benefit of a VPN is that it should allow you to access geo-restricted internet content from both France and around the world. Though in practice, not every service does.

    You’ll want to opt for a VPN that unlocks Netflix both in and outside of France, as well as any other worthy streaming service like the BBC iPlayer.

    The provider should also work well with popular French services like France.tv, CNEWS, MYTF1, etc.

As an aside, any provider I suggest here as a good VPN choice for France checks all of the above boxes. I encourage you to do your own research, of course, but you can also use one of my tried and tested picks as a good starting point.

The Best VPNs for France

Though you now know what to look for in a VPN for France, I’ve also gone ahead and did some of the legwork for you. Here’s a roundup of what I believe are the best VPN providers for France.

1. CyberGhost

CyberGhost logo


CyberGhost is a service that checks all of the boxes for use in and outside of France.

It boasts a large server list of over 6100 servers in 90 countries. Among those, 440 are in France. That makes for one of the biggest networks among all providers. And it’s a fast network too.

CyberGhost is a zero log VPN. The company’s headquartered in Romania – an excellent jurisdiction for data privacy.

Not only is Romania not subject to EU or Eyes-alliance surveillance, but it has a reputation for non-compliance with external user data requests.

In terms of features, CyberGhost offers top of the line encryption and security, works very well for P2P, and unlocks US Netflix and other major streaming sites like BBC’s iPlayer, Hulu, and MYTF1.

It’s also inexpensive service that even comes with an industry-leading 45-day money-back guarantee.

The bottom line is, CyberGhost is a perfect VPN for France.

Pros
  • Zero logging for maximum privacy
  • Excellent server distribution with over 6100 servers in 90 countries
  • Very fast connection speeds
  • Works with US Netflix and BBC iPlayer
  • Allows P2P torrenting
  • Long 45-day money-back guarantee
Cons
  • Parent company with questionable reputation
  • Convoluted manual OpenVPN setup
  • Doesn't work from China


2. PureVPN

PureVPN logo


PureVPN is next on the list of the best VPNs to use for France.

Other than their uncanny ability to unblock streaming services, PureVPN’s big claim to fame is their huge server network – it spreads across 160 locations in 131 countries.

A total of 42 of the servers are inside France, split up among two locations.

These numbers give PureVPN an unparalleled global reach and a large presence on French soil. And let’s not forget server performance either, which is among the best you can get.

Based out of a privacy-friendly location, PureVPN is an independently verified no log provider.

They also use state of the art encryption and includes both a split-tunneling and kill switch features.

Their client comes with broad device support and can be used on over 50 different platforms.

PureVPN’s price is one of the lowest around, and with a 31-day money-back guarantee, you get plenty of time to test it all out.

Pros
  • Excellent speeds
  • Huge server network (131 countries)
  • Unblocks Netflix, iPlayer, and over 70 other streaming services
  • Compatible with over 50 devices and platforms
  • Independently verified zero log VPN provider
  • Dedicated IP option
  • Great value
Cons
  • Apps could use a bit more polish
  • Some intermittent connection problems


3. Surfshark

Surfshark logo


One of my personal favorites these days, Surfshark is another excellent VPN pick for France.

While they have a slightly smaller server list, featuring just over 1040 servers in 63 countries (including, of course, France), they make up for their size with blazing-fast speeds.

Surfshark, who is a zero log VPN, operates out of the British Virgin Islands. Despite the name, the jurisdiction isn’t subject to the surveillance of the UK or its allies.

The clean and intuitive client comes packed with features.

It includes things like an ad and malware blocker, a double VPN setup, and split tunneling. And, as I cover in my Surfshark review, that’s barely scratching the surface too.

The service works very well with geo-blocked content, and you’re even allowed an unlimited number of simultaneous connections – something no other top-tier VPN provider does.

Oh, and one more thing other top-tier VPNs cannot match is Surfshark’s price. It’s is the least expensive provider on this list.

Pros
  • Excellent privacy and security with no logging
  • Great server performance
  • Unblocks Netflix, BBC, and many others
  • Easy to use client
  • Unlimited simultaneous connections
  • Torrenting support
  • Inexpensive
Cons
  • Inconsistent speed at a few locations
  • Fairly slow customer support


4. NordVPN

NordVPN logo


In the world of VPNs, few companies are as well-known and respected as NordVPN.

They operate a massive server network that consists of 5499 servers in 59 countries, with 223 servers in France alone.

The company operates out of Panama, which is among the best privacy jurisdictions in the world. NordVPN is also a no-logging provider, a claim they back up with a comprehensive third-party audit.

In terms of security, NordVPN is top-notch.

Besides excellent protocol and encryption standard pairings, they also provide useful privacy features like a double VPN and the ability to combine VPN and the Tor network.

Though it’s a bit on the pricey side (be sure to use one of their coupons), NordVPN is, without a doubt, one of the best VPNs for France.

It comes with reliability, infrastructure, server speeds, and quality that few other providers can match.

And did I mention NordVPN unblocks Netflix and just about any other geo-blocked content you can throw its way?

Pros
  • Excellent privacy with zero logging
  • Large (and ever growing) server network
  • Good connection performance
  • Specialty servers (including double VPN, obfuscated, and Tor over VPN)
  • Clean, easy to use client
  • Works with Netflix and most other streaming services
  • Allows Torrenting and P2P
  • Offers dedicated IP addresses
Cons
  • No split tunneling feature
  • A bit pricey on shorter-term plans


5. ExpressVPN

ExpressVPN logo


ExpressVPN is another excellent choice and works very well both in France and abroad.

The company runs a good-sized network of 3000+ servers in 95 countries.

While they have a relatively small footprint in France of just 3 servers, the quality of that hardware is among the best in the industry.

Headquartered in the British Virgin Islands – a jurisdiction with plenty of privacy benefits – ExpressVPN has a strict no-logging policy.

The app is refined and easy to use, but still feature-packed.

Advanced functionality like a kill switch, encryption and protocol settings, and split tunneling is all there, but neatly tucked away for when and if you need it.

ExpressVPN also excels at unblocking French and international geo-restricted content and, thanks to excellent server speeds, is a great choice for file sharing.

The customer support is second to none too.

Even though ExpressVPN is a bit on the expensive side – though a lot cheaper if you take advantage of their sales – the service is worth every penny.

Pros
  • A feature rich and intuitive client
  • Strong back-end technology
  • Plenty of servers and server locations
  • Fast and consistent connection speeds
  • Works with US Netflix
  • Top-notch customer support
Cons
  • Some aggregated logging
  • Not the cheapest


How to Get a French VPN

You now know how to find a good VPN for France, as well as have several recommendations you can consider.

Here are the easy steps to follow to get your French VPN up and running.

  1. Pick a top VPN service – one with great privacy, performance, and plenty of French and international servers.
  2. Go to the provider’s website and sign up.
  3. Download the provider’s VPN application and install it on your device.
  4. Launch the VPN client, pick a French server, and connect.

How to Get the Best VPN Speeds in France

To get the best possible connection speed when using a VPN in France, connect to a server that’s as close to you geographically as possible. That will minimize the distance your data needs to travel and reduce the odds of running into poor network conditions.

For example, if you want to use a VPN for a bit of extra privacy and are just outside of Paris, picking a French server in Paris is ideal. Don’t connect to, say, Iceland.

And if you’re trying to stream American Netflix from France, pick a server on the east coast of the US. Connecting to Los Angeles will unnecessarily add several thousand kilometers to your data’s journey.

That said, you should realize that even under ideal conditions, a VPN will still slow down your internet connection. It shouldn’t be by much, but you’ll never reach the same speeds as over your regular connection.

If you’re picking a close server and find performance unreasonably slow – which can happen – here are several things to try to increase your VPN speed.

A VPN also can’t fix any pre-existing internet connection or speed issues – unless they’re due to ISP throttling or other similar restrictions.

Using a Free VPN for France

You may be tempted to try out one of the many services that offer free VPN access in France. After all, most providers – and indeed every one I list on this page – cost money.

I strongly advise you against it.

Using a so-called “free French VPN” is almost always a risky move. Many are riddled with privacy and security issues. Others resort to sketchy practices like ad injection and selling your data to third-parties.

Compared to paid VPNs, free services are also typically slow, unreliable, and subject to bandwidth restrictions.

Honestly, you’re better off trusting your French ISP and the government surveillance you’re trying to avoid in the first place – at least then your internet connection would be somewhat safe and fast.

Conclusion

There are plenty of reasons to use a VPN in France. You may want protection against draconian data collection and surveillance or to keep copyright trolls from causing you legal headaches.

Or you may just want to unblock and enjoy content restricted to a different country.

Whatever your reason, you now know what to look for in a VPN for France. And you even have a list of top providers to use as a starting point – most of which offer great discounts too.

So, don’t delay. Get the online freedom and privacy we all deserve. Start using a VPN.

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