Despite having a free press and a history of promoting and protecting free speech, France is one of many countries under heavy surveillance. This is due to an increasing number of oppressive laws and overreaching databases. They have been brought on mainly by the terrorist attacks that have sadly plagued the country in the past few years.
For those living in France who wish to evade censorship and surveillance, a VPN is an easy answer. By signing up for a service, they can protect their online activity. VPN users also gain other perks, such as access to geographically restricted content and websites.
We here at BestVPN.com have rounded up our top picks for VPNs for France. All boast servers either in the country or in close proximity, sturdy security measures, and reliable speeds. Read more after the jump!
Best VPN for France: Summary
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- Servers in 87+ countries
- Excellent encryption
- Doesn't keep usage logs
- Blazing fast speeds
- 24/7 customer support
- A bit pricey - but worth it!
ExpressVPN easily secured the top spot on this list of the best VPNs for France. The industry-leading provider has everything that people looking to access content (both inside and outside of the country) need from a VPN service.
ExpressVPN boasts a mind-blowing 87+ server locations, including many in (and immediately surrounding) France. It has an ample three simultaneous connections policy. Hence you can take advantage of the massive server network and other great features from all your devices.
On the security front, ExpressVPN gets checkmarks across the board, thanks to its extra-strong 256-bit AES encryption, kill switch, and no collection of usage logs. This well-rounded service is definitely your best option if you’re looking for a VPN for France.
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- Up to five simultaneous connections
- Free service
- Impressive number of locations
- Transparency page
- Some performance concerns
CyberGhost is a Romanian VPN that stands out with a free service without any restrictions. Our CyberGhost review found them to be a very transparent VPN with a commitment to not keeping any logs or user information. More than 600 servers in 30 countries across the globe doesn’t hurt either.
Unfortunately, the free and Premium plans only allow you one simultaneous connection, so you will need to purchase the Premium Plus plan ($10.99 a month) to use up to five devices with CyberGhost. Use the link below to test out CyberGhost for yourself.
- No logs policy
- Based in Panama
- Servers in 61+ countries
- Supports P2P
- Mediocre speeds
Some people are looking for a VPN for France in order to access TV shows and other content that’s geographically restricted to the IPs within the country. Others are looking for a VPN service in order to protect themselves from France’s government surveillance and data collection. If you’re one of the latter, NordVPN is your best option.
NordVPN is a Panama-based provider with a heavy focus on online privacy. In addition to its stellar location, it also boasts other great security features. These include a strict no logs policy and extra strong encryption. Increased security comes at the cost of slightly reduced speed on select servers. However, we think safety-conscious individuals are more than happy to pay the price.
- Supports P2P
- Keeps no usage logs
- Servers in 60+ countries
- Reliable speeds
- Accepts Bitcoin
- A little pricey
IPVanish is a great option for privacy-minded individuals looking for a French VPN. The provider is a veteran in the industry but never fails to impress us year after year. Highlights include anonymous torrenting, zero collection of usage logs, 60+ server locations, and above-average speeds.
In addition, this feature- and tech-heavy provider has user-friendly apps for all devices. Hence it is a good fit for both VPN novices and veterans. Think that IPVanish is the VPN for you? You can give it a go risk-free thanks to its seven-day money-back guarantee!
- Great for streaming
- Hundreds of servers to choose from
- Excellent apps
- Based in UK
- Questionable logging policy
HideMyAss is a U.K-based provider that is highly popular within the industry, especially when it comes to streaming geo-restricted content. They also have a great track record when it comes to customer service. HideMyAss offers live chat, telephone, and a ticket system should you run into any problems while using their service.
It is worth mentioning that our reviewers found HideMyAss does make us slightly uneasy when it comes to privacy, especially when we consider some recent headlines the company has made. They also keep connection logs to their service, as required by U.K law.
Give them a try with a 30-day money back guarantee to see if they might be right for you!
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Considerations for VPNs in France
Controversial Anti-privacy Bills and Laws
In December 2014, the French government quietly passed a surveillance law that permitted the collection of information and documents processed by electronic communication networks or services, the list of numbers called and callers, and duration and timing of communications.
While the bill was hugely controversial, it was bolstered by another, more intrusive surveillance bill in 2015. Human Rights Watch pointed out the most problematic areas of the bill as:
“Expansive powers for the prime minister to authorize surveillance for purposes far beyond those recognized in international human rights law; lack of meaningful judicial oversight; requirements for private service providers to monitor and analyze user data and report suspicious patterns; prolonged retention periods for some captured data; and little public transparency.”
Human Rights Watch general council Dinah PoKempner added:
“Though the goal of the bill is to place France’s surveillance practices under the rule of law, it in fact uses law to clothe a naked expansion of surveillance powers. France can do much better than this, especially if it wants to distance itself from the overreaching and secretive mass surveillance practices of the US and the UK that have attracted so many legal challenges.”
2015/2016 Terrorist Attacks
2015 and 2016 were dark years for France. The beginning of 2015 saw the Charlie Hebdo shootings, when two members of terrorist group Al-Qaeda forced their way into the office of the satirical weekly newspaper. On 7 January they killed five staff members and left 11 wounded.
This tragedy was followed by the 13 November 2015 Paris attacks, coordinated by ISIL. They involved suicide bombings and mass shootings at cafes, restaurants, and the Bataclan theatre. The attacks claimed 130 lives and left 368 people seriously injured. It was the deadliest attack on France since World War II. Consequently, the country is in a prolonged state of emergency.
2016, sadly, saw its share of tragedy as well. On the evening of 14 July a cargo truck deliberately drove through crowds of people celebrating Bastille Day in Nice. As a result, 86 people were killed and 434 were injured. ISIL claimed responsibility for this attack as well, hence the extension of the country’s state of emergency to 26 January 2017. France also increased airstrikes on ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
PS Biometrics Database
On 30 October 2016, an illegal database containing the biometric details of 60 million French citizens was created in secret. The enormous database was created by France’s Socialist Party in response to the current state of emergency, dubbing it necessary for national security. Called “Secure Electronic Titles” (TES), it contains the personal and biometric details of nearly everyone in France. This includes a photo of the face, fingerprints, eye color, weight, geographical addresses and IP addresses.
The database violates limits on the use of biometric data, making it illegal. It also has other grave implications, such as being used for mass surveillance, or being vulnerable to hackers and other cyber threats.
French VPN: Conclusion
The French government is using the threat of terrorist attacks to justify pre-existing mass surveillance laws, as well as the passing of new ones. Worse yet, it is creating illegal (and vulnerable) databases of its citizens’ information. While the government says that it’s vital to national security, it is sad and startling to see such a pro-libertarian country falling prey to the mentality that has so many countries stripping their citizens of their basic rights in the name of safety through surveillance.
With government surveillance at an all-time high, French residents who value their online privacy would be wise to sign up with a trustworthy VPN provider. Subscribing to any of the providers mentioned above will ensure that you can go about your online activities without having to worry about who’s watching.