Panic, it’s an emergency! Except don’t panic, if you are in an emergency in France, you need to keep a cool head. You’re going to have to figure out which one of the 11 French emergency phone numbers to call. And #911 (like in the U.S.) is not an option.
What is 911 in France?
So what is the #911? Well, it is one of these numbers right here, you pick.
|Phone numbers||Purpose of the call|
|#15||SAMU (Service d’Aide Médicale d’Urgence) for ambulances and serious medical emergencies|
|#17||Police (commissariat de police or gendarmerie).|
|#18||Sapeurs pompiers for the fire brigade|
|#112||General European emergency (may redirect your call). Should be able to communicate in English|
|#114||Hearing impaired emergency number. You can also text this number if speaking is not possible|
|#115||Homeless person emergency|
|#116||Missing child emergency|
|#119||Child danger protection emergency|
|#191||Aircraft in distress emergency|
|#197||Terror attack emergency|
The Logic behind so many Phone numbers
The general rule to living in France is “More is more”. If you look at the number of taxes, the paperwork, the laws, everything is thoroughly detailed. French paperasse is legendary.
And when it comes to an emergency, the French believe that it is better to send the specialists right away, assuming that the person making the phone call can make that decision.
There is a general #112 number for those confused souls who don’t know who to call (standard across Europe), but #112 may transfer you around to the correct service. Not ideal, but I suppose it will do in a pinch.
So if you are in a panic, just call #112, but if you have a moment, look up the correct number and call one of the above.
Other Medical Emergency numbers
Other important stuff, if you need to see a doctor but it is not an emergency, there is also S.O.S. Médecin (open 24 hrs, 7 days a week) who will come to you. You pay out of pocket (around 80 euros), but if you have a French health card (or travel insurance), you should be able to get it reimbursed.
The phone number depends on where you are, so if you go to their website and enter their address, they will be able to direct you.
Urgences Médicales de Paris
If you are in Paris intra-muros, you can also call Urgences Médicales de Paris who will come to your home. Their phone number is 01 53 94 94 94 or you can make a request online.
Pharmacy open at night or on holidays
Grocery stores in France do not carry items like aspirin or other medications, so you will have to find the closest pharmacy. And French pharmacies are usually closed on Sundays and holidays. If you need to find the nearest open pharmacy, you can dial #3237 (paid number). You can also look online at http://www.3237.fr/.
However, if you are outside Paris, you should contact the Police at #17, and they will direct you to the closest pharmacy.
I should note that it is not always a given that the Emergency Services will be able to respond to you in English. While they will certainly try, it may be harder to communicate, especially over the telephone. If it is not a true medical emergency, you may prefer to make an appointment with a doctor nearby, which you can do so online on www.http://www.doctolib.fr.
☞ READ MORE: French Healthcare: 12 Differences with the U.S.
Here you can look for Médecin généraliste (General doctor), type in your address, and pick Anglais (English) for language as highlighted above. This should give you a list of doctors available immediately in your neighborhood.
☞ READ MORE: Living in Paris: the Good, the Bad & the Ugly
Hopefully, you never need this list, but just in case! Bon courage et à bientôt!