Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Stay Safe & Healthy in France

EuropeFranceStay Safe & Healthy in France

Read next

Stay safe in France

Crime

Crime-related emergencies can be reported by calling the toll-free number 17 or 112 (European emergency number). The law enforcement agencies are the National Police in urban areas and the National Gendarmerie in rural areas, although some towns and villages also have a municipal police (Police Municipale) for minor offences such as parking and traffic offences.

France generally has a low crime rate and is one of the safest countries in the world, but there are the usual mishaps in the big cities. Violent crimes against visitors are very rare, but pickpocketing and purse snatching do occur in tourist hotspots. If you take the usual precautions to avoid such crimes, you and your valuables will be safe.

The city centre and a few selected suburbs are generally safe at all times. In larger cities, especially Paris, there are a few areas that are best avoided. Some parts of the suburbs are frequented by youth gangs and drug dealers; however, they are almost always away from tourist areas and you should have no reason to visit them. Common sense applies: it is very easy to recognise abandoned areas.

The topic of crime in poor suburbs is very sensitive because it can easily have racist connotations, as many people associate it with young workers of North African origin. You should probably only express an opinion on the subject if you feel comfortable with the person you are talking to.

Although it is not obligatory for French citizens to carry an identity document, they usually do. Foreigners must carry an official identity document. Although random checks are not the norm, you may be asked for an ID in certain situations, e.g. if you cannot show a valid ticket when using public transport; if you do not have one, you will be taken to a police station for further checks. Even if you think that law enforcement officers do not have the right to check your identity (they can only do so under certain circumstances), it is not a good idea to get into a legal discussion with them; it is better to bear with them and show your identity document. Again, this is a sensitive issue because the police are often accused of targeting people based on their ethnicity (e.g. the offence of “selling face” = literally “dirty face crime”, but perhaps synonymous with the American “driving while black”).

Due to the international terrorist threat, the police, with the help of military units, often patrol monuments, the Paris Metro, train stations and airports. Depending on the status of the “Vigipirate” plan (anti-terrorist units), it is not uncommon to see armed patrols in these areas. The police presence should be useful for tourists as it also deters pickpockets and others. However, suspicious behaviour, public disturbances, etc. may attract police attention for the wrong reasons.

In France, failure to render assistance to “a person in danger” is in itself a criminal offence. This means that you can be charged if you fail to stop, if you witness a traffic accident, if you fail to report such an accident to the emergency services or if you ignore calls for help or urgent assistance. Penalties include a suspended prison sentence and fines. The law does not apply in situations where responding to a call for help could put your life or the lives of others in danger.

Controlled substances

Transporting or consuming narcotics, from marijuana to hard drugs, is illegal regardless of the quantity. The penalty can be severe, especially if you are suspected of trafficking. Trains and cars from countries with a more lenient attitude (such as the Netherlands) are particularly affected. It is known that the police often stop entire carriages and thoroughly search each passenger and their luggage.

France has a liberal alcohol policy; there are usually no ID checks when buying alcohol (unless you look much younger than 18). However, causing trouble by public drunkenness is a criminal offence and can lead to a night in the cells of a police station. Driving under the influence of alcohol is a serious offence, punishable by heavy fines and imprisonment.

A small note on etiquette: while it is customary to drink beer straight from the bottle at informal gatherings, the same is usually only done with wine by tramps.

Stay healthy in France

Tap water

Tap water is drinkable except in rare cases, such as rural rest areas and railway carriage washrooms, where it is clearly labelled as non-potable. Drinking water is potable (but you do not like the taste and prefer bottled water).

Medical aid

Health care in France is of a very high standard.

Pharmacies are marked with a green cross, usually in flashing neon. They sell medicines, contraceptives and often cosmetics and similar products (although these can be very expensive). Medicines must be ordered without a prescription, even over-the-counter ones. The pharmacist is able to help you with the different medicines and can offer generic medicines.

As the brand names of medicines vary from country to country, even if the active ingredients remain the same, it is better if prescriptions use the international nomenclature in addition to the brand name. Prescription medicines, including oral contraceptives (also known as “the pill”), are only dispensed on the basis of a doctor’s prescription.

In addition, supermarkets sell condoms (preservatives) and often also lubricants, plasters, disinfectants and other smaller medical items. Condom dispensers are often found in the toilets of bars, etc.

Medical treatment can be provided by independent doctors, clinics and hospitals. Most general practitioners, specialists (e.g. gynaecologists) and dentists are independent; look for signs saying “Doctor” (GP stands for “General Practitioner”). The normal price for a consultation with a GP is 23 euros, although some doctors charge more (this is the total price and not a co-payment). Doctors can also make house calls, but these are more expensive.

European Union residents are covered by the French social security system, which generally reimburses or directly covers 70% of health costs (30% co-payment), although many doctors and surgeons charge extra. Other travellers are not covered and must pay full price even if they go to a public hospital; non-EU travellers must have travel insurance to cover medical costs.

Emergencies

Hospitals have an emergency room marked “Emergency”.

The following numbers are free of charge:

  • 15 Medical emergencies
  • 17 Law enforcement emergencies (e.g. to report a crime)
  • 18 firefighters
  • 112, the European standard emergency number.

The operators of these numbers can refer requests to other services if necessary (e.g. some medical emergencies can be handled by groups of firefighters).

Smoking

The law prohibits smoking in all enclosed places open to the public (including train and underground carriages, station premises, workplaces, restaurants and cafés), except in areas specifically reserved for smokers, and such areas are few and far between. There was an exception for restaurants and cafés, but since 1 January 2008 the smoking ban also applies in these places. You risk a fine of 68 euros if you are caught smoking in these places.

In addition to the police, metro and train drivers can also enforce the anti-smoking law and fine you if you smoke in undesignated areas; if you have problems with a smoker on the train, you can contact the driver.

As hotels are not considered public places, some offer both smoking and non-smoking rooms.

Only persons over the age of 18 are allowed to buy tobacco products. Retailers may ask for photo identification. A pack of 20 cigarettes costs about €6.

How To Travel To France

By planeFlights to/from ParisThe main international airport, Roissy - Charles de Gaulle (IATA: CDG), is probably your point of entry if you arrive in France by plane from outside Europe. CDG is the headquarters of Air France (AF), the national airline, for most intercontinental flights. AF and the SkyTeam...

How To Travel Around France

By planeThe following airlines offer domestic flights in France:Air France has the largest domestic network in FranceHOP!, a subsidiary of Air France, operates domestic flights with smaller aircraft than Air France.easyJet, a low-cost airline, has the second largest domestic network in FranceRyanair, another low-cost airline, mainly serves secondary airports.Volotea...

Visa & Passport Requirements for France

Minimum validity of travel documents• EU, EEA and Swiss nationals, as well as third-country nationals who are exempt from the visa requirement (e.g. New Zealanders and Australians), only need to present a passport valid for the entire stay in France.• However, other nationals subject to visa requirements (e.g. South...

Tourism in France

France was visited by 84.7 million foreign tourists in 2013, making it the most popular destination in the world. Thanks to shorter stays, it ranks third in tourism receipts. 20% more tourists spent less than half of what they spent in the United States.France has 37 sites inscribed on...

Destinations in France

Regions in FranceMetropolitan FranceMetropolitan France" comprises the 12 administrative regions (French: régions) of the continent plus Corsica, i.e. the entire French territory in Europe. They are distinct from the country's overseas territories on the other continents, which are discussed below. For travel purposes, the 12 regions are best understood...

Weather & Climate in France

The climate in France is generally favourable to cultivation. Most of France is located in the southern part of the temperate zone, although the subtropical zone includes its southern edge. The whole of France is under the influence of oceanic influences, tempered by the North Atlantic drift in the...

Accommodation & Hotels in France

France is a diverse and colourful country and you will find everything from beautiful wooden chalets in the Alps to castles in the countryside to seaside villas on the Côte d'Azur - and everything in between!Hotels in FranceThe hotels are divided into 5 categories from 1 to 5 stars....

Things To See in France

When you think of France, you may picture the emblematic Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe or the famous smile of the Mona Lisa. You may think of drinking coffee in the lively Parisian cafés where great intellectuals once lingered, or eating croissants in a local bistro in a...

Things To Do in France

Going to the top of the Eiffel Tower in ParisStrolling the great Parisian boulevardsThe climb from Montmartre to ParisSee the Gothic buildings on the Île de la Cité, in particular the Sainte-Chapelle and Notre-DameYou can admire world-famous works of art at the Louvre or visit the equally impressive Musée...

Food & Drinks in France

Food in FranceWith its international reputation for gastronomy, few would be surprised to learn that French cuisine can be quite good. To prove it, France is joint first with Japan in the ranking of countries with the most Michelin-starred restaurants. Unfortunately, it can also be quite disappointing; many restaurants...

Money & Shopping in France

VacationsMany French people take their holidays in August. Therefore, outside the tourist areas, many small shops (butchers, bakeries...) will be closed for part of August. This applies to many businesses as well as doctors. In tourist areas, shops are naturally more likely to be open when tourists come, especially...

Festivals & Holidays in France

Holidays in FranceFrench public holidays are based on the major Catholic holidays, with the exception of Good Friday, which is only celebrated in the prefecture of Alsace. Although most of them are movable, the Assumption of the Virgin Mary always falls on 15 August, All Saints' Day on 1...

Internet & Communications in France

Phone numbersTo call a French number from abroad, dial: international dialling code + 33 + local number without the leading 0, for example: +33 2 47 66 41 18.All French numbers have 10 digits. The first two digits are:01 for Paris Region02 for the North West03 for the North-East04...

Language & Phrasebook in France

French is the official language of France as well as some of its neighbouring countries, is a working language of the United Nations and is the official language of some 270 million people worldwide. Any tourist who does not make a little effort to speak French is missing out...

Traditions & Customs in France

In the restaurantIn French restaurants, as in other parts of Europe, it is considered rude to put your elbows on the table, but it is also considered rude to leave food on your plate or to put your hand on your lap while eating. When consuming drinks such as...

Culture Of France

France has been a centre of Western cultural development for centuries. Many French artists were among the most famous of their time, and France is still known worldwide for its rich cultural tradition.Successive political regimes have always encouraged artistic creation, and the creation of the Ministry of Culture in...

History Of France

Prehistory (before the 6th century BC)The oldest traces of human life in what is now France date back about 1.8 million years, when humans were confronted with a harsh and changeable climate marked by several ice ages. The first homonids led a life as nomadic hunter-gatherers. In France there...

Asia

Africa

South America

Europe

North America

Most Popular