Updated Sept 2020
It’s only a few miles across the English Channel but when you cross over to France many things obviously change. There are the obvious things like the language and great food everywhere of course, however some changes are less expected. One of those is the internet, after all why should a global digital medium change just because you travelled a few miles over a stretch of water. The truth is that the internet does change when you cross a national border and sometimes it’s quite significant.
Of course, if you travel into China or North Korea you’d expect your internet access to change or indeed virtually disappear. Yet the sad fact is that even crossing into France will significantly affect what you can do online. France doesn’t implement much in the way of internet filters, but the reality is that many of the biggest web presences will alter significantly depending on your location. For UK lovers the first huge change they notice is that suddenly they are unable to access UK TV sites like the BBC iPlayer or ITV Hub. In fact all the UK Television sites are inaccessible from any country outside the UK even France, Spain or even the Republic of Ireland.
How to Watch British TV in France – It is Possible
Fortunately as the barriers are raised for English speaking visitors to France, so the internet provides a solution too that will allow people to watch British TV. That is without having to mess around with a satellite receiver (getting a satellite dish installed in France can be somewhat of a challenge in many places). The method used by these sites (and indeed thousands of others across the world) is called geotargeting and involves looking up where the IP address you connect with is registered. This address is something that you can’t really control directly, however you can hide your real address.
Here’s how you can enjoy all the UK channels using a VPN – called Nord VPN.
As you can see it’s relatively simple, to watch UK TV in France all you have to do is route your internet connection through a server in the correct country. So in the video we choose a server in the United Kingdom and suddenly all UK TV channels online are available. It gives you access to the BBC one both live and through BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, Channels 4 and 5. Indeed it will also allow you to access subscription channels, so watch Sky Go Abroad and Now TV from anywhere too although you still need a subscription.
Yes it does cost money, simply because the servers, support staff and bandwidth come at a cost. People do ask if it’s possible to watch British TV online free in France, however it’s a dangerous route to tread. There are a couple of ‘free VPNs’ available but they’re not really free they just make money from you in different ways. The free VPN companies either fill your computer with adware to generate their income that way, or they resell your internet connection to ‘premium members’. They can cause you all sort of computer problems and all are very slow and painful to use – honestly stay clear of them.
Not Just British TV in France – Any Site, in Any Country
It is important to remember that when you’re connected to a VPN in a different country then your entire internet experience will be based on this country. So if you use a search engine while connected to a UK VPN server then all your search results will be UK based irrespective of your actual location. The ability to switch between different countries can be extremely useful especially if you travel a lot. For example you can use the VPN connection to access all sorts of sites not just British TV channels, for example I use it to access my home banking and to place a bet on Betfair both which are not normally accessible from outside the United Kingdom. Most of these services offer lots of countries so use them, don’t always get stuck and just watch British TV online – try some other stations.
You’re not limited to switching to the UK either, most VPN services provide lots of countries you can switch to. Certainly never subscribe to a service which charges or limits you to specific countries. Try switching to a US server and access all sorts of fantastic media sites restricted to US – Hulu, HBO and ABC all have some great content available online. If you get blocked on YouTube from watching a specific video, simply switch countries and try again. One brilliant use is to enable a US VPN connection before logging into Netflix, irrespective of where you are you’ll get access to the US version which has thousands of more films and TV shows than any other. It should be noted though that most VPN services don’t always work with Netflix including the one in the video, see below for one that will.
I’ve tested loads of VPN services, the two below are best for accessing UK TV online in France or any other country. They’re both fast, and will allow you to view abroad most video channels. This includes your Sky subscription if you have an account which also surprisingly is subject to the same geo restrictions.
SmartDNSProxy – VPN and Smart DNS Service similar to that demonstrated in the video. Unlocks all UK and US media sites plus lots of others, free 14 day trial at the moment.
Nord VPN – My favorite VPN Service with the fastest UK servers I’ve found, plus lots of other countries. One of the only VPN services to work with US Netflix. If you want to watch the BBC and ITV player abroad, without issues and blocks then this is your best option.