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5 Best VPNs for France

Despite having a free press and a history of promoting free speech online, France has been added to Reporters Without Borders list of ‘Countries Under Surveillance’. The ‘Hadopi’ three strikes law is the most high-profile reason for this, although clauses in the LOPPSI 2 and LCEN laws, together with break-ins on the offices of various online media firms together with court summonses of their journalists and pressure to identify sources are also factors.

Fortunately for those living in France and who want to evade such censorship and surveillance, a French VPN is an easy solution. France itself is an unsuitable location for VPN providers or their servers thanks to its full compliance with the EU Data Retention Directive (DRD), but is close proximity to the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Switzerland, all excellent locations for VPN, means this not much of an issue.

Following a look at our pick of the best VPN providers for France, we will examine the main issues mentioned above in more detail.


Best French VPN Summary

Rank Provider Starting Price Grade Link

1

logo $9.00/mo Read Review > Visit Site >

2

logo $7.00/mo Read Review > Visit Site >

3

logo $6.95/mo Read Review > Visit Site >

4

logo $11/mo Read Review > Visit Site >

5

logo $4.99/mo Read Review > Visit Site >
Winner

AirVPN

French VPN

  • PROS
  • Accepts Bitcoin
  • No logs
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • Dynamic port forwarding
  • Real-time user and server statistics
  • Support for Tor over VPN and VPN through SSL and SSH tunnels
  • Good speeds
  • 3 day free trial
  • P2P: yes
  • Servers all over Europe incl. NL, Luxemburg, Romania, Sweden
  • CONS
  • 0 simultaneous connections by default (but more can be purchased)

AirVPN consists of Italian activists and hactivists who not only show an admirable belief in online privacy and net neutrality, but are willing back these ideals up with some rock-solid security measures. AirVPN keeps no logs, uses shared IP addresses, and accepts anonymous payment using Bitcoins. It also uses 256-bit AES encryption, and supports unusual VPN technologies such as VPN over Tor, and VPN through SSL and SSH tunnels, in addition to providing detailed real-time connection reports (referred to as net transparency by AirVPN). Like Holland, Italy has not applied the DRD to VPN services.

Although only one device can be connected at a time by default, additional devices can be added for $1.99/mo each. All in all, although lacking in some of the flashy extras offered by the likes of PIA, AirVPN is one of the best French VPN services available anywhere.

Try out the best France VPN today!

» Visit AirVPN


2nd place

AirVPN

France VPN

  • PROS
  • Accepts Bitcoin
  • No logs
  • Good speeds
  • Cheap
  • Client features internet kill switch and DNS leak protection
  • P2P: yes
  • Servers in Sweden and Netherlands
  • CONS
  • Some complaints about potential security lapses and performance

Mullvad is great little Swedish VPN outfit, who combine a great attitude to privacy with some cutting-edge features. On the privacy side, it keeps no logs, uses shared IP to make identification of an individual with any online activity almost impossible, and accepts not just Bitcoin payment, but cash sent in the post! On the features front, Mullvad supplies a VPN client for Windows, OSX and Linux that includes an internet kill switch, DNS leak protection, server load information, and port forwarding. We recommending avoiding Mullvad’s German servers as Germany is a terrible location for a VPN, but it otherwise offers a great service.

» Visit Mullvad


3rd place

PIA

  • PROS
  • Accepts Bitcoin
  • No logs
  • Fast
  • Up to 256-bit AES OpenVPN encryption
  • Client features port forwarding
  • VPN kill switch and DNS leak protection
  • P2P: yes
  • 3 simultaneous connection
  • Servers in Sweden, Netherlands, Switzerland (and France)
  • CONS
  • No free trial
  • US based company

In terms of features and overall dedication to privacy, Private Internet Access has always been a leader in its field, which makes the fact that it is a US company all the more painful. Nevertheless, the fact that PIA keeps no logs at all, accepts anonymous payment using Bitcoins, uses shared IPs to make individual identification of users very difficult, has recently improved its encryption cyphers to up to 256-bit AES OpenVPN encryption, with SHA-256 hash authentication and 4096-bit RSA handshake encryption, together with the fact that it has one of the most useful and feature-filled Windows and OSX custom VPN clients on the market, with DNS leak protection, IPv6 leak protection, port forwarding and an internet kill switch, means that PIA remains a top contender for those less worried about NSA intrusion. It also has an ace Android app, and allows up to five devices to connect simultaneously. All in all, a great French VPN option!

» Visit PIA


4th place

NordVPN

  • PROS
  • No logs
  • Accepts Bitcoin payments
  • 256-bit AES encryption
  • 2 simultaneous connections
  • P2P: yes
  • Servers in Sweden, Netherlands, Switzerland, Romania (and France)
  • CONS
  • Inconsistent connection speeds

Based in Panama, NordVPN does not have to worry about either the NSA or EU laws. It has a ‘no logs at all’ policy, uses 256-bit AES encryption, and accepts anonymous payment using Bitcoins. It has just recently rolled out a new ‘double encryption’ feature, were data is passed between two server nodes between you and the internet, being encrypted each time, which sounds fantastic, and fully supports Tor over VPN as well.

» Visit NordVPN


5th place

LiquidVPN

  • PROS
  • Modulating (shared) IPs
  • Strong 256-bit non NIST encrytion
  • No usage logs
  • Fantastic client with customizable scripts
  • Basic service is very cheap
  • 4 simultaneous connections on Pro service
  • Port forwarding
  • Stealth server
  • P2P: yes
  • Servers in the Netherlands
  • CONS
  • Based in US

Last on our list of the best French VPN is LiquidVPN. This small US provider has continually impressed us with its forward-thinking and innovation. The most eye-catching thing about its service is ‘modulating IP’s, which continually changes your IP address, making it very difficult to track your actions on the internet, although the fact that it is the only provider to move away from NIST encryption standards is also praiseworthy, as is the excellent and highly customisable VPN client which can run scripts such as Fix DNS leaks, Disable Internet on VPN, Close Program on VPN Disconnect, and many more. Although performance issues were a problem when we first reviewed the service, this has since greatly improved.

» Visit LiquidVPN


VPN issues in France

The Hadopi law

France’s infamous ‘three strikes’ legislation came into law in October 2009 and, administered by the government agency  HADOPI (Haute Autorité pour la Diffusion des Oeuvres et la Protection des droits sur Internet), promised / threatened to lead the world in anti-piracy measures by cutting internet access to copyright infringers after a third warning.

However, despite employing 60 people and spending €12 million per year on sending out 1.6 million warning emails, only €750 was collected in fines, and a single person was disconnected from the internet for 15 days.

Combined with evidence that the law has done nothing to stop piracy, it was widely regarded as a complete failure, and on 10 July 2013 was revoked on the grounds that the punitive penalties imposed on copyright infringers were disproportionate.

New rules have instead been introduced, which while much milder, still make the use of VPN when downloading advisable. First time offenders are liable for an automatic a €60 fine, which can rise to €1500 for multiple offences.

LOPPSI 2

The Law on Guidelines and Programming for the Performance of Internal Security was adopted in March 2011. Although ostensibly aimed at cybersecurity and child pornography, it has drawn sharp criticism from free speech organizations such as La Quadrature du Net, who stated that during discussions the government ‘opposed all the amendments seeking to minimize the risks attached to filtering Internet sites,’ while Reporters Without Borders concluded that,

‘Loppsi 2 poses a critical threat to freedom of expression, because it provides the option of censuring content deemed suspect by implementing an administrative filtering of the web. Yet filtering often results in over-blocking, which can drag into its net websites or pages whose content has nothing to do with that which is covered by the law, as well as slow down bandwidth speed.’

These concerns have been somewhat allayed by Fleur Pellerin, Minister for the Digital Economy, announcing in July 2012 that Article 4 relating to the administrative filtering of child pornography would not be implemented without a court order.

LCEN

The 2004 Trust in the Digital Economy (LCEN) law caused consternation among free speech activists as it held hosting providers liable if they failed to co-operate with a court decision over content related to ‘ insult, defamation, or denigration’ of an individual.  Criticisms included that it failed to define e-mail as private correspondence (and thus made it subject to greater surveillance), ‘privatized justice’ through administrative notices and extralegal take down procedure, and the fact that several clauses were viewed as overly broad and open to abuse.

Attempts to expand LCEN to give the government further powers to put pressure hosting providers to remove content were dropped in June 2013, but during 2012-2013 takedown requests received by Google from the French government (mainly concerning libel) more than doubled from the previous year.

LCEN also required ISPs to maintain data on their users and customers for a period of one year, but this has been somewhat superseded by France’s wholesale adoption on the European DRD, which requires records to be kept for two years.

Extralegal Surveillance

Hot on the heels Edward Snowden’s shocking NSA revelations, the French newspaper Le Monde revealed how in June 2013 how France’s answer to the NSA, the Directorate-General for External Security (DGSE), was systematically collecting metadata from telephone and computer activity (even within France) in a PRISM-like operation, and storing it at the DGSE facility in central Paris. Even worse, seven different government agencies can access to this huge body of user data without any legal basis or judicial oversight.

Needless to say, such collection explicitly violates French law, but despite widespread outrage at the time, little action appears to have been taken.


Best French VPN Summary

Rank Provider Starting Price Grade Link

1

logo $9.00/mo Read Review > Visit Site >

2

logo $7.00/mo Read Review > Visit Site >

3

logo $6.95/mo Read Review > Visit Site >

4

logo $11/mo Read Review > Visit Site >

5

logo $4.99/mo Read Review > Visit Site >

Douglas Crawford I am a freelance writer, technology enthusiast, and lover of life who enjoys spinning words and sharing knowledge for a living. Find me on Google+

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5 responses to “5 Best VPNs for France

  1. i have heard alot about airvpn but its way too expensive so not sure whether to go for it or not, do they offer free trial for a day?
    If yes than please let me know… i have also experienced pure vpn in france !! they are also very good on multiple devices as i need vpn in my mac as well as lappy !

    1. Hi Kevin,

      Well, I use AirVPN as my personal VPN service, and cannot recommend it highly enough. Not only does it have among the very best privacy technologies and policies around, but it is very fast and very stable. Really, is 15 euros for 3 months all that expensive? A 3 day trial is available for 1 euro.

      1. thanks alot for the suggestions, i would surely go for your suggestions (atleast for a trial which is 1 Euro) as im not satisfied by any of the services during the past cricket worldcup! i was about to move to the smartdns. Does Airvpn has any add on and can i make payment via credit card?

        1. Hi Patrick,

          I believe you can pay via credit/debit card, PayPal, or Bitcoin. There are no add-ons as everything is included in the basic price.

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