How to call French numbers (and avoid embarrassing misdials)

It’s easy enough to log onto the internet and start spotting and using French internet slang. But what about calling a French number if you want to use some of your newly acquired French text message vocabulary in a text exchange with a friend?

Okay, if you’re overseas, you’ll probably be texting your French friends via platforms like iChat, WhatsApp, and Skype. But if you want to hear their voice, here’s how to do it, in three steps:

What is the country code of France?

The country code of France is 33 so you need to dial +33 or 0033 to call French numbers from abroad.

How to call French numbers From a mobile phone

  1. Press “+” to show you’re making an international call.
  2. Dial the country code for France: 33
  3. Dial the phone number, without the first zero.  So for instance, if a French phone number is listed as 06.23.45.67.89, you would dial 6.23.45.67.89

How to call French numbers from a landline

  1. Dial the international access code: 00
  2. Dial the country code for France: 33
  3. Dial the phone number, without the first zero.  So for instance, if a French phone number is listed as 06.23.45.67.89, you would dial 6.23.45.67.89

How to call French numbers from a French number

If you’re already in France, c cool – you can just call the number as it’s listed, including that first zero. So, if your friend gave you their number 06.23.45.67.89, you would just dial it that way .

Of course, if your phone isn’t a French one, default back to the previous instructions about dialing a French number from overseas.

You can find some more information about calling French numbers here.

A few other things to know about French phone numbers

Here are a few other things to keep in mind when it comes to French phone numbers:

  • As you may have noticed from the examples, French phone numbers are ten digits long.
  • French phone numbers are often written down in groups of two digits, separated by periods.
  • When you say a French phone number aloud, you pronounce each two-digit group as a single number. So for instance, instead of saying “deux-trois” for “23”, you’d say “vingt-trois.” The only exception is if a group starts with zero. Then, you’d say each number individually. For instance, 06 would be said “zéro, six”.
  • If you feel nervous about having to group numbers together into bigger ones in French, you can explain that you want to read them out chiffre-par-chiffre (digit-by-digit (like we do in English)). Just remember to practice grouping them whenever you can, so that you’ll end up getting used to and comfortable with it.
  • As a general rule, if a French phone number begins with 01, 02, 03, 04, or 05, it’s a landline. If it begins with 06 or 07, it’s a mobile phone. Numbers that start with 08 are roughly equivalent to 1-800 numbers in the US; sometimes they’re free, although that’s not always the case.

Alysa Salzberg

Alysa Salzberg is an American writer, worrier, teacher, and cookie enthusiast who has lived in Paris, France, for more than a decade. She has taught English and French for more than ten years, most notably as an assistante de langue vivante for L'Education Nationale. She recently published her first novel, Hearts at Dawn, a "Beauty and the Beast" retelling that takes place during the 1870 Siege of Paris. You can read about her adventures here, or feel free to stop by her website.

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