Here are details of the main French receivers that I use on my installations.
First just to bring everyone up to date. On April 15th 2019 Fransat ended its lifetime card, both TNT and Fransat cards now have to be renewed every 4 years.
Since 2016 all the FTA ( free to air) main French channels ie. TF1, France 2,3,4 and 5 etc require a Card and Decoder to view.
There are 4 services used commonly in France TNT, Fransat, BIS and Canal+.
TNT : Broadcast from Astra 1 satellite. All the popular channels and no subscription
Fransat : Broadcast from the Eutelsat 5 west satellite. All the popular channels and no subscription.
BIS : Subscription prepaid cards available, broadcast from the Hotbird satellite. Channels include all the TNT channels above, plus some movie and sports channels
Canal+ Subscription based service, from the Astra 1 satellite, you will need a French address and bank to set up an account.
TNT & Fransat Receivers
French manufacturers Cahors, Strong and Aston all make TNT and Fransat receivers. The two models look exactly alike only the Decals, Card and card reader are different. Having installed a lot of these, they do all work fine, they just have a few “rough edges” to be aware of.
Strong have produced a good low-cost receiver with all the functions but few frills. The outputs include HDMI, Scart and composite video. A remote sensor is included , so the box can be positioned out of sight. After the initial “Quick” search, which places the French channels in the menu in the usual positions , you can if you want multi satellite or say German with French , do another scan and the new channels will appear at the end of the current list starting at number 1000. Some models I have installed have to have the card present and correct , to facilitate the search , although it does try to search without, but comes up with “no channels” . This hopefully is now updated in the latest software.
Good all round receiver with simple menu system
Like Citroen, the very stylish looking Aston has always been a little eccentric in its design. Notice it only has HDMI out, the Scart is gone, AV out is facilitated with RCA plugs only.
The menu system is graphical and does not always make it easy to find functions, though, like it predecessor the Diva model the menu is context based, so for instance if you have the channel list open, pressing the menu will give you options to store favourites, groups, delete channels etc.
There are 2 models, a single tuner and a twin tuner . ( twin shown here ) The single tuner is just a little more expensive than the other makes, but the twin tuner is a bargain compared to other twins on the market.
When setting up in England, be careful not to engage the WiFi. Otherwise it may constantly remind you to set up a function which I think is only available in France, so it cannot be completed . The only way out of this software loop is to start again from scratch, as it cannot be turned off!
Like the Cahors model, the Aston has 2 card readers, so you can have BIS card and Fransat card together , or RMC sports with Fransat.
Good receiver, menu comprehensive but can be confusing.
Note that if you connect one straight from a High Street store like Currys, it may not recognise it as a drive or may give a drive speed error. Note too that the USB socket on these receivers is USB 2.0 standard , whereas the drives you will buy in the stores are USB 3.0 which has a higher current demand, so in practice some drives just will not work. Email me for details, if you have a problem.
For customers with more than one receiver, you might consider a NAS (network drive) Enabling you to record and playback from different locations in the house. See NAS Drives
If you want not just French but German, Italian and or Spanish then the above 3 receivers are definitely NOT the best choice.
Only available with Fransat , ( not TNT) the technisat receivers have fully programmable channel editing. All your favourite French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian and Polish free to air channels arranged exactly as you want them.
Also available with UK channels, on the Wide angle dishes. See All Europe + UK package
2020 UPDATE: Due to the problems with the new Eutelsat satellite which broadcasts Fransat, this dish will only work in the South of England, Further up the country bigger dishes or 2 separate dishes will be required.