Living with my great-aunt Hugette in Paris gave me a fabulously spacious Paris apartment to stay in, delicious meals and lively conversation—all while allowing me to spend my student budget on food and fun rather than on rent. While I wouldn’t trade in my time with Hugette, there were definitely a few drawbacks to living with an 80-year old Frenchwoman– and a lack of an internet connection in her apartment was one of them. I spent many cold nights huddled under blankets on her patio attempting to catch a stray wi-fi signal in an effort to connect with the world via the web.
Lack of an internet connection at home and pure cheapness lead me to search out the best places in Paris to get free wi-fi. While you will certainly not have a hard time finding internet cafes in Paris and places around Paris where you can get a wi-fi signal, not all internet connections are free.
Free Wi-Fi Hot Spots in Public Places
While I used to visit the McDonald’s near my classes at La Sorbonne to use the free wi-fi, there are many more free wi-fi spots in Paris now than there were during my time as a student. In 2007, Paris announced that there would be 260 free internet access point scattered around the city located in various public parks, town halls, libraries and museums throughout the city.
The 260 free internet spots are accessible only during government office hours (which are capped at 35 hours a week). However, there are free wi-fi available in all 20 arrondissements.
>>Here is a great map pin-pointing all of the free wi-fi spots around the city, some of which are in truly beautiful places. Need to send a quick email to mom telling her you are still alive and well in the City of Lights? What better place than sitting in the Square Jean XXIII behind Notre Dame (one of the free wi-fi hot spots on the list and pictured above).
Keep in mind, however, that while you will still have to pay for wi-fi in places like Montparnasse train station and Charles de Gaule airport. If you have some time to kill before catching a train, check out the map for a free hot spot nearby the train station—there may just be one next door.
Also note, as discovered by our Paris based writer Parisgirl, that while wi-fi is free in these public places, the electricity is not. Yes, that’s right, they won’t let you plug in your laptop to recharge it.
>>If you are looking for a place to get wi-fi and be able to plug in your laptop (or don’t have one), check out Paris Internet Cafes.
Free Wi-Fi at Cafes and Restaurants
You can also snag free wi-fi at many Paris cafes and restaurants, making an afternoon spent people watching, sipping on coffees and checking your email for free sound pretty appealing.
While you may not want to step foot in a MacDonald’s on your trip to Paris, the American fast-food restaurants also have free wi-fi and are usually easy to spot.
>>Check out this list of all the cafes in Paris where you can find free wi-fi (on top of the free wi-fi in public places).