To contact the emergency services in any EU country from any phone, fixed or mobile, dial 112, free of charge. However, in those parts close to borders with other countries, there is the slight risk that you will connect to the service in the adjacent country.
The launch of a new emergency phone number in August 2015 – for terror alerts and kidnappings – means France now has 11 different numbers for calling the emergency services.
Having specific numbers for each type of emergency is designed to route callers to the people who can help as quickly as possible. All the numbers are free from a landline or mobile.
If you cannot remember them all, then dialling the Europe-wide 112 is a good first port of call.
English-speaking SOS Helpline: 01 46 21 46 46
15: SAMU (medical emergency)
17: Police and gendarmerie
18: Fire fighters (sapeurs/pompiers are also paramedics and can respond quickly to heart attacks, etc.)
112: Europe-wide emergency number
114: Text-message emergency number for deaf/hard of hearing
115: SAMU social (domestic violence/care for homeless in winter)
116 000: Missing children
116 117: Out of hours doctor
119: Social services (mistreated children/child in danger)
191: Aeronautical emergency
196: Maritime emergency/coastguard
197: Terror/kidnapping hotline
In France, first aid, medical advice and chemists’ night-service rotas are available from chemists/drugstores ('Pharmacie', identified by a green cross sign).
Visitors from the United Kingdom, Ireland, etc. should ensure that they have health insurance cover before travelling.
UK visitors should obtain the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which has replaced the old E111 form. The EHIC, which is usually issued for up to five years, covers any medical treatment you may need during your visit, as a result of accident or sickness. The card gives access to treatment by doctors, dentists, and in public hospitals, or private clinics operating within the French "sécurité sociale" (health service) framework. Note, however, that the EHIC does not normally cover the full cost of medical treatment in France or other countries; the NHS recommends that all travellers also take out private health insurance, to cover the difference.
Visitors who do not come from EU countries must take out private health insurance cover in order to benefit from France's excellent state health service.