Visitors to the French Riviera will find here all essential information, from healthcare in France to French emergency numbers and etiquette.
The French healthcare system is generally recognised as offering the best, or one of the best, services of public healthcare in the world.
The European Economic Area (EEA) is a free trade zone between countries of the European Union (EU) including France, and Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.
The regulations on access to healthcare in the EEA also apply in Switzerland.
Prior to travelling to France, it is highly recommended to get the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). You and your family members can apply for it here.
Advantages of having the EHIC while on holiday in France
The EHIC will let you get state healthcare at a reduced cost or sometimes free.
It will cover you for treatment that is needed to allow you to continue your stay until your planned return. It also covers you for treatment of pre-existing medical conditions and for routine maternity care, as long as you're not going abroad to give birth. Note: Your EHIC does not cover private treatment, so make sure you are treated by a state healthcare provider in France (in French: conventionné). It is an equivalent of NHS doctor /GP).
In any case, must pay the practitioner (doctor or dentist) directly. They will then fill out a treatment form (in French : la feuille de soins) and a prescription if necessary. The treatment form is necessary to claim any refunds in France. You can claim back around 70% of the standard treatment cost.
Advice: Remember to keep all receipts and any paperwork (make copies if necessary) as they might be needed by you or your insurance company to apply for any refund or reimbursement.
You can search for health professionals for the area you are staying in via the l’Assurance Maladie website (information in French only).
What emergency number to dial should emergency arise while on holiday in France
In an emergency when travelling or on holiday in France dial 112 ( to read more about emergency numbers in France click here ). This is the European emergency number that is valid in all EU/ EEA member states and is free of charge. You can use it to reach emergency services such as ambulance or police from any telephone or mobile phone free of charge.
In France local French people go to chemist shops called in French ‘pharmacies’ ( la pharmacie ) for medicines and advice.
Pharmacies are almost everywhere and you’ll easily recognise them by the green flashing cross displayed outside. When the green cross is flashing it means that pharmacy is open, when it is switched off pharmacy is closed. They’re all privately owned and chain stores don’t exist.
Pharmacies are usually open from Monday to Saturday from 08:30 to 19:30. Many pharmacies close between 12:00 and 14:00 for lunch break, although in shopping centres and large towns, pharmacies will stay open non-stop.
To find the closest duty pharmacy- in French ‘la pharmacie de garde’ – dial 3232 ( Read more about emergency numbers in France here).
France has state imposed price restrictions for medicines.
Coming to France as a tourist you will pay the total cost for your medicine.
Pharmacists in France are highly-trained, as they hold a diploma requiring six years of university studies. They are generally highly competent in providing advice regarding common illnesses and ailments. However, they cannot be considered as doctors’ substitute so if you are really poorly you should go see a doctor ( Read more about Healthcare in France here).
French pharmacies are drug stores so sell drugs. But you’ll also find there all kinds of things like aspirin, muscle creams, vitamins and even Frontline for pets. French pharmacies also sell toothpaste, skin care creams, eau de parfum, baby bottles and other drug store items, but you’ll pay more than you would at the grocery store such as Monoprix.
France is a quite restrictive in the distribution of medication. Many drugs (such as antibiotics) that may be freely available in other countries are strictly prescription drugs in France.
You can buy paracetamol and other painkillers from French pharmacies only. Dafagan and Doliprane are main manufacturers of paracetamol in France. You do not need prescription for painkillers in France.
If you (or a member of your family) find yourself in a serious, life-threatening emergency (as a victim or witness), you should go to the accident and emergency (A&E) unit (in French: les urgencies) of the nearest hospital.
If you need an ambulance, dial 112 (or 114 hearing assisted). This is free of charge from any fixed or mobile phone.
It is important that you stay calm and provide the following details when calling emergency services in France:
Most emergency services and doctors speak some English, but there is no guarantee. If possible, have a local person able to speak French and assist you with your call. In addition, take a note of these practical French phrases for emergencies and doctors appointments.
Note: In France, a doctor ( in French : le médecin) has to confirm that you are really in need of an ambulance service, otherwise you’ll have to carry the cost of the ambulance transport. Alternatively, you could use a light medical vehicle ((in French: véhicule sanitaire léger – VSL) to get to hospital.
Other important phone numbers to note down:
For further information see the link here.
I have had an accident: J’ai eu un accident [ ʒe yœ̃n aksiydɑ̃]
Injured: blessé(e) [blese ]
Broken: cassé(e) [ kase ]
Unconscious: sans connaissance [ sɑ̃ kɔnɛsɑ̃s] / inconscient [ ɛ̃kɔ̃sjɑ̃] / évanoui(e) [ evanwi ]
Headache: mal à la tête [ mal a la tɛt ]
Not breathing: pas de respiration [ pa də ʁɛspiʁasyɔ̃ ]
Bleeding: ça saigne [ sa sɛɲ ] / saigner [ seɲe ]
Blood: du sang [ dy sɑ̃ ]
Heart attack: une crise cardiaque [ yn kʁiz kaʁdjak ]
Stroke: AVC [ avaiyse ] (Un Accident Vasculaire Cérébrale)
Drowning: noyade [ nwayad ] /se noyer [ sə nwaye ]
Burn: une brûlure [ yn bʁylyʁ ]
Very sick: très malade [ tʁɛ malad ]
Vomiting/ throwing: vomir [ vɔmiʁ ]
I am in labour/having contractions: Je suis en train d’accoucher [ ʒə sɥiz-ɑ̃ tʁɛ̃dakuʃe ]
Need a doctor: J’ai besoin d’un médecin [ ʒe bəzwɛ̃dɛ̃ medsɛ̃ ]
Need assistance: J’ai besoin d’aide / d’assistance [ ʒe bəzwɛ̃ dɛd /dasistɑ̃s ]
Need an ambulance: J’ai besoin d’une ambulance [ ʒe bəzwɛ̃ dyn ɑ̃bylɑ̃s ]
Fire: un incendie [ œ̃n ɛ̃sɑ̃di ]
Fire risk: risque d’incendie [ ʁiskdɛ̃sɑ̃di ]
The house is on fire: la maison a pris feu [ la mɛzɔ̃ a pʁI fø] / la maison est en train de brûler [ la mɛzɔ̃ ɛt- ɑ̃ tʁɛ̃ də bʁyle]
The car is on fire: la voiture a pris feu [ la vwatyʁ a pʁI fø ]
Burglar: un cambrioleur [ ɛ̃kɑ̃bʁijɔlœʁ ] / un intrus [ ɛ̃n- ɛ̃tʁy]
I am being burgled: Je suis en train de me faire cambrioler [ʒə sɥiz-ɑ̃ tʁɛ̃də mə fɛʁ kɑ̃bʁijɔle ]
Someone is in the house: Quelqu’un est dans la maison [ kɛlkɛ̃ ɛ dɑ̃ la mɛzɔ̃ ] / chez moi [ ʃemwa ] ( Quelqu’un est entré par effraction chez moi [ kɛlkɛ̃ ɛ ɑ̃tʁe paʁ efʁaksjɔ̃ ʃe mwa ] )
Emergency: une urgence [ yn yʁʒɑ̃s ]
Help me: aidez-moi [ ede-mwa ]
Help!: au secours! [ o səkuʁ ]
Missing child: un enfant perdu [ ɛ̃n-ɑ̃fɑ̃ pɛʁdy ]
I have lost my child: J’ai perdu mon enfant [ ʒe pɛʁdy mɔ̃n-ɑ̃fɑ̃ ]
Swallowing: avaler [ avale ]
Poisoning: empoisonner [ ɑ̃pwazɔne ]
Poison: une poison [ yn pwazɔ̃ ]
*Please note that we applied the phonetic transcription in brackets using International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) symbols.
A First-Time visitor? French Etiquette. What does 'etiquette' mean? According to a dictionary, it is "a code of behaviour that delineates expectations for social behaviour according to contemporary conventional norms. Etiquette has changed and evolved over the years". Here you'll find tips on how to navigate the pitfalls and how not to offend the local people during your stay on the French Riviera or in Monaco.
When addressing a stranger with a question in the street, it is a must to greet them first, and then ask your question. It is an important rule of French etiquette to always greet someone officially first before speaking to them.
Note that, when offered something (a fill-up of your wine glass, more bread, a minor treat), simply saying “Merci” indicates refusal, as in English “No, thank you”. This is quite different from British practice, where saying a simple “Thank you” implies acceptance, as in “Yes, thank you”. So, if you want your wine glass filled or more bread, don’t say “Merci”. Say “Oui, s’il vous plaît.”
Don’t just assume everyone speaks English. If you don't speak French, ask politely if they speak English before continuing. This can be done in English or, better yet, in French. You can ask "Hello...Do you speak English?" by saying "Bonjour...Parlez-vous l'anglais s'il vous plaît?". If you find it helpful make sure you have a French phrases book with you at all time if you are not already fluent in French.
It is of importance to always use 'Monsieur/Madame/Mademoiselle' if you don't know someone, if you have just met them, or if they are someone important.
Round-the-clock snacking is far less common in France than in the UK – as is eating or drinking in the street. French practices are loosening, but you’re still unlikely to draw admiring glances if you’re walking along at 4pm with pizza in one hand, a can of beer in the other.Technically it falls under rules of French etiquette as a 'what not to do'. Remember- French love their food and table manners. They eat at regular intervals during the day and enjoy it very much so. Even children have their "goûter" time at 4pm...