In order to popularise the telephone, the French government installed telephone booths on its own premises beginning 1 January 1885, and starting from 1889, telephone booths were installed in public and private places.
Telephone booths were installed inside post offices and in public places, such as bars and town halls.
Telephone subscribers had access to the urban network of their city by presenting a subscription card issued by the administration. Others could subscribe to a special annual plan or pay for calls in cash or with telephone stamps. The equipment used in these booths was wall mounted.
The use of the booths was limited because they required an operator or booth manager, and their operation was linked to the opening and closing times of the premises where they were installed.
Phone booths equipped with automatic devices were soon installed on the streets.
For this purpose, the administration selected the Taxiphone, a device designed by the FW Hall company in 1922 and developed in France by a telephone inspector. This device worked on all urban and interurban networks.
In 1923, the management of automatic payphones was entrusted to the private company “Le Taxiphone”. Tokens were used to pay.
In 1979, the public telephone situation had become very difficult. The boxes had to be collected, transported, sorted, and 10,000 tonnes of coins counted. Fraud and theft were on the increase. The General Directorate of Telecommunications decided to generalise the payphone with prepaid cards referred to as “telecards”.
In 1990, France was equipped with more than 210,000 payphones (telephone booths),
In 1992, a new generation of more efficient payphones with cards appeared.
On 14 February 2014 (Valentine’s Day) the public service contract with Orange to operate the phone booths came to an end.
In September 2017, the removal of the 5,450 phone booths still in service in France was planned by the end of the same year. At their peak, in 1997, there were 300,000 phone booths in France..