Get a Bank Account within 5 minutes of Arriving in France
When trying to get a bank account, you will most likely run into similar problems as with the phone service. You need a phone number to get a bank account (it's really so complicated here). But when I arrived I found N26 and Revolut, both which really saved me, and actually sufficed for an entire year. I recommend N26 if you need an account right away when you arrive (which you do, if you want the housing aid). Both are apps. Both are free, with no monthly costs. You download them, add a photo of your ID, take a selfie, and you have an account within minutes. There is no service fee for atms (up to 5 withdrawls a month I believe, I have never passed the limit so I'm not positive). The downside is that there is no physical location, so if you need to deposit checks, you can not. For me this was not a problem, the only check i received was during the train strikes, I got reimbursed for my train pass. I had to hold on to the check for a few months until I got a new bank account, but it was only for 30€ so it wasn't the end of the world.
The difference in the two is that N26 is german and since Germany is in the EU, it worked for getting paid from my job and to receive housing aid. Revolut doesn't always work since it's based in the UK, but the card is cool because I am able to put money on it with my Bank of America credit card, which is nice at times, but besides that, N26 is better. Like I said, the account worked for me for a year, until last summer. The government was giving aid to students because of the epidemic. I applied for the aid but they told me I absolutely needed a french bank account to receive it, and the account had to be in my name. They recommended Nickel. I looked into it, but it wasn't going to work for me. I think it had to do with my visa, it can be a bit complicated to open a french account, but supposedly this is one of the easier ones to get, if you're interested in looking into it for yourself.
In the end, I had a friend who had a friend working at LCL and he helped me set up an account, but I also have other foreign friends who were not able to open one with LCL even with a french boyfriend on the same account. She had to try several times before she was able to. Luckily I knew someone, and I think that's why it was simple, but if you don't know anyone, you may have to try several times before getting an account. Be persistant though. I have learned here that often you have to be persistent to get what you need; They always say no at first, but you just have to insist. Once I got my account, I was able to receive the COVID aid and was able to deposit my checks!