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 emergency phone numbers to call. And #911 (like in the U.S.) is not an option.
#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
#196 – Maritime emergency
#197 – Terror attack emergency
“More is more” in France. The French Government has its quirks, and this is one of them. 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 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.
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.
Hopefully, you never need this list, but just in case you can save this list of the French emergency numbers, to keep it handy. Bon courage et à bientôt!
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