France started using digital audio broadcasting (DAB) in June 2014, centred on Paris, Nice and Marseille.
Since July 2017, the focus has been on upgrading to DAB+ for benefits that include lower transmission costs, reduced spectrum usage and a more robust reception quality.
That’s again concentrated on the same areas initially, with further phases extending the coverage.
So DAB radio is certainly available in France. But, for British visitors or expats living there, the question is can they listen to UK stations?
DAB Stations Available in France
At the launch of DAB in France, the four main commercial radio groups decided not to bid and so the initial take-up was decidedly slow.
Coverage has since improved and certain French stations broadcast in DAB+ format as well as analogue.
Popular French-language radio stations available on DAB+ in France include FIP, Mouv and RFI.
Listening to UK Radio Stations in France
UK DAB radio stations aren’t available in France, except perhaps if you’re in Calais or other parts of France that are very close to England.
It may be possible to listen to Radio 4 and the BBC World Service using an AM radio if you’re in Northern France. Otherwise, you will need to listen via the internet or digital television.
The BBC World Service and BBC Radio 4 are available in northern France on longwave using the frequency 198 kHz. This frequency broadcasts BBC Radio 4 during the day and first part of the night, switching to the World Service between 1 and 5.30 am UK time.
You can also listen to the BBC World Service on 648 kHz medium wave in parts of north-eastern France.
You can also listen online via the BBC website, a standalone internet radio or an app.
The only way to listen to popular commercial stations such as Heart, Capital FM, Smooth, Classic FM and Kiss is online.
English-Language Radio in France
There are a number of English-language radio stations aimed at expats that broadcast in France. These include the following:
Alternative Ways to Listen to UK Radio in France
If you can’t access the stations you want via a DAB radio, which is highly likely, there are alternatives.
If you have Freesat, you should be able to access lots of radio stations (as well as UK TV).
You can buy dedicated internet radios that let you listen to radio from all over the world as long as you have an internet connection. This means you’ll be able to easily listen to UK stations while living or travelling in France, provided you have broadband.
You can also listen to UK radio stations online using a PC, tablet or mobile phone (see the best radio apps here).
Certain stations have geographic focus and may block some broadcasts, such as live sport, due to rights issues.
Some radio apps are free to use while others have a monthly fee. Listening to radio via Wi-Fi typically uses about 55 MB per hour so be aware of charges if your data usage isn’t unlimited. See an overview of how much data radio apps use here.