For many UK citizens, particularly those with a love of fine food, wine and with a little disposable income to spare France is a great place. For years lower property prices have meant you can pick up some wonderful bargains especially for those brave enough to use the auction market. A decent exchange rate, slightly better climate and loads of simple, cheap ways to get there provide an obvious attraction. All across France many people have transitioned from holidays, to moving and living there.
It’s usually good advice when you move abroad to try and adapt to the local way of life and not create some sort of expat community isolated from the locals. However there is one exception to this, and it leads to the subject of this post – How do I get BBC iPlayer in France? Of course it’s best to try to adapt into your new home’s culture, but all this cultural assimilation can be quite hard work initially, so maintaining this connection to your home certainly helps.
Many of us have experienced the disappointment of trying to access the wonderful BBC site online from France and discovering it’s all blocked. The corporation don’t single out the French though, if you try and access the BBC site from anywhere outside the UK you’ll get redirected to a rather rubbish International version of the site. It unfortunately includes no BBC iPlayer, no Live TV streams or access to all the local and national radio stations. If you try and force your computer to visit the UK version and try and watch anything you’ll just get a screen similar to this:
All very polite and friendly but the implications are huge, no News at 10, no Match of the Day, no wonderful documentaries and a host of other TV programmes that you won’t realise you’re going to miss until you can’t watch them! It seems counterintuitive to restrict a site which is most useful for travelling when you leave the country. There were moves afoot to force BBC to allow UK license fee payers access from anywhere in Europe as part of creating a digital single market. However that’s probably not going to happen now thanks to Brexit.
So I’m afraid some sneakiness is required – here’s the solution.
How Do I get BBC iPlayer in France?
You have to convince the BBC website that you’re actually in the UK which you can do by bouncing your internet connection through an intermediate server called a VPN or Proxy server. Nothing complicated you simply hide behind a UK based server and then everything web based will work as if you were in the UK including the BBC website, iPlayer etc.
Here’s a quick demo video that demonstrates some of the options, unfortunately now all the free ones illustrated here don’t work anymore. However fast forward to about 4:30 and you’ll see a VPN program in action, it’s certainly the fastest and easiest option that still works in 2017 for watching the BBC iPlayer outside the UK:
As you can see it’s quite simple, you merely make the VPN connection to a British based server before logging on to the BBC website and you’ll have access to all the functionality of the site including live TV and the iPlayer archive. Interestingly enough it used to be possible to use a free proxy server to watch the BBC from France or Germany but unfortunately those no longer work. The BBC started blocking proxies late in 2015 and subsequently have increased their detection of these programs.
In the Summer of 2016, the BBC actually started actively targeting VPNs too and hundreds of services were blocked. There are a lot fewer of these services now, but the majority that remain still work – always get a short trial account though before paying for a longer subscription to make sure.