How to Make an Emergency Call in France

Bonjour !

Today on Comme une Française TV, a rather serious topic.

You know how sometimes you realize that if something bad happens to you or your loved ones, you have NO idea how to deal with it?

Who will you call in France if your son breaks his leg?
What to do if your dad has chest pains in Paris?
Will you need a French Social Security number to go to the Emergencies to get stitch points on this wound you got from cutting tomatoes?

This topic came up on Facebook, proposed by Lesley: “How to make an emergency call in France”

To answer this today on Comme une Française TV, I’ve invited my dear friend Olivier, who is… guess what… a real life French doctor!

Dr Olivier will tell you how to call, what to say in French, what if you don’t speak French and what will happen next.

Note: Use headphones as the sound of the interview is not as loud as usual.

Et toi ?
Did you know all this? What’s your biggest fear when thinking about this kind of emergency?
Have you ever had to deal with an emergency in France?

Want to help?
If you liked this video, share it with your friends on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest! That helps me spread the word about Comme une Française. Merci beaucoup !

Gros bisous,


PS: Here’s a related post, on the pharmacy in France.

Join the conversation!

  • I just think it is funny how despite the relentless slandering of men in recent years. There is still no scientific evidence of the gender wage gap.

  • did you know that, despite making up only 13% of the US population, african americans make up 50% of all violent crimes?

  • Souvent on découvre malheureusement le bricolage en plomberie par une fuite, un problème d’évacuation bouchée ou un mécanisme de chasse défectueux… Ce sont en généralement des interventions urgentes ce qui donnent envie, si on n’est pas du tout bricoleuse ou bricoleur, avec un peu d’outillage et de pièces détachées, de faire appel à une société de dépannage ou un artisan. Comme nous vous le rappelons dans le forum Litiges Travaux il est impératif de faire réaliser un devis écrit mentionnant le prix de l’intégralité de l’intervention avant que l’entreprise ne réalise la réparation ou les travaux nécessaires. Même si vous vous trouvez en situation d’urgence, prenez quand même le temps de demander plusieurs devis. C’est pour cela que fait appel à
    plombier zingueur paris

  • Il y a deux années nous (mon mari et moi) étions en vacances a Vence prés de Nice. Mon mari a avalé une arrete (de poisson) qui s’est logé dans le gorge. En regardant une carte de Nice nos avons trouvé un hôpital. Nous y sommes allés mais on ne peut pas trouver l’accueil où la porte d’entrée. Donc nous avons essayé d’en trouver un autre hôpital. Après quelques minutes nous avons vue une parmacie ou les pharmaciennes nous ont aidé! Elles nous ont montré un hôpital a peu près (sur la carte de ville). Malheureusement c’était privé et, en arrivant, ils nous ont demandé 1,000 Euros arrhes. Heureusement l’opèration était un succés. Le docteur a enlevé une grande arrète. Notre assurance nous a payé 600 Euros mais ce n’était pas gratuit. Je regrette que je n’ai pas pu trouver les pages jaunes chez notre location. Merci Géraldine je comprends beaucoup plus maintenant.

  • Merci, Géraldine ! C’était très informatif.
    Pour moi, j’ai traduit mes antécédents médicaux en français et je porte une copie avec moi quand je suis en voyage.

  • Hi Geraldine,
    this is very nice and I know from experience when working with foreign students in the UK that emergency numbers were rarely covered in typical welcome packs, so I think it fills an important info gap!
    I just wanted to point out to expats though that not all GPs in France charge 23 euros (mine in Paris charges 60!). I don’t know how you find the cheap ones, though, maybe you could explain? Also, for travellers from the UK, I understand that a) you can also use 112 in the UK and b) your mobile phone company almost certainly tells you the emergency number as part of their ‘welcome’ SMS when you arrive in France (or wherever). Certainly the last 2 UK companies I have used always do this. (I have also read that most mobiles are clever enough to reroute usual emergency numbers, so I guess if you panic and forget the foreign number, this may be useful, although clearly not the best option! It may also explain why 112 works in the UK? Perhaps someone can tell us more).

    • Bonjour Adele,

      23€ is “le tarif conventionné”, so if your GP charges you more in Paris and you don’t have any special “connection” with him, feel free to change GP! 😉
      Sometimes, we have a “special connection” with a doctor because of our personal medical history. But if not, there’s no need to pay extra.

      Thanks for your adds!

  • Bonjour Geraldine! Merci pour faisant ce vidéo qui est très important pour tous les voyageurs étrangers. En juin j’étais à Sancerre et je me demandais qu’est-ce que ce sont les numéros des urgengences. Merci aussi à Dr. Olivier!

  • Bonjour Geraldine et Dr Olivier! Thank you for this, its something I have been thinking about lately so it arrived just at the right time. What would be great is a PDF that we can print of the key phrases so we can keep by the phone along with the list of phone numbers. As much for me but also for my daughter who speaks French but would have no idea of certain phrases to use in case of an emergency.
    Merci beaucoup Geraldine.

  • Hi Geraldine
    C’est une Bonne idee pour the mois d’aout . J’etais en vacance et encore a la fin du mois.

  • In the past 5 years we have had to call all three emergencies! My husband called as he speaks much better French than I do. The operators all slowed down and spoke clearly to him. I would recommend these tips too: Print out the emergency numbers and stick them on your telephone. DO memorise them though! This goes for your own telephone number too in case your neighbour makes the call for you! Know the emergency pharmacy If you have time, write down key words before you tel. We did this when we had to call the gendarmes. Keep your medical records safe and within easy reach. Grab them if you need to go to hospital as they may be useful when asked what medicines have been prescribed or if a radio/echiograph has recently been done. The healthcare system here has to be one of the best in the world, the pompiers are great, the gendarmes DO have a sense of humour too….you just have to search for it! Great video! VERY useful! Many thanks!!!!

  • So glad you made this video! J’ai adoré, super pratique. Thanks Géraldine and Dr. Olivier! I just realized recently that I had forgotten the emergency number in France (um… after being here two years… whoops!) Géraldine, do you have any eye-doctor friends? I’ve never ordered contacts in France and I’m nervous because I don’t know how it works or what it costs (I don’t have a mutuelle.) It’s a little nerve-wracking navigating healthcare here (le kiné! l’ostéopathe! le dentiste! les specialistes!) because I don’t really know what to expect and I never know what my French social security covers and what it doesn’t apart from a basic doctor’s visit. I LOVE the cost of basic care and medicine here! So cheap compared to the US.

    • Bonjour CatherineRose,

      For the eye docteur (ophtalmologiste) :
      – Find it on (enter “ophtalmologiste” and your city)
      – Call to enquire about the price. (“Combien coûte une consultation ?”)
      – That’s it. 🙂

      FYI, I just went a few months ago and paid around 70€. Then, to make your contacts, it depends on the contact.
      Here’s a site to get an idea: http://www.toutesmeslentill… (I’m planning on buying mine here next time I have to).

  • First, your videos are fantastic–especially for those of us who do not speak french beyond the menu at a restaurant. Similar to the British question, do I just dial 112 from a us phone, or do I need to dial the country code first.

  • Fabulous video, many thank to you both! A family member ended up in St Malo hospital with mushroom poisoning, he had excellent care & recovered well. Although I didn’t have to call 112, I have always wondered what to say (in my very limited French) if I had to call. Thank you!

  • I broke my wrist in the Paris Metro the night before I was scheduled to fly home–I was unfamiliar with the medical system, was terrified that I’d miss my plane early the next morning since I wasn’t completely packed, so I went to a pharmacy, bought an ace bandage, wrapped my wrist up tight, kept it elevated, took pain killers and flew out the next morning and went straight to the hospital emergency room when I arrived.

    • WOW Pamela, that’s STRONG! I’m impressed. 🙂 I think I would have fainted somewhere in your story…

  • merci beaucoup pour l’information – c’est très important et je vais ajouter les numeros à mon portable tout de suite!

  • Merci Geraldine! C’etait tres utile! J’ai habite en France pendant un an et je ne connais pas le numero d’urgence! :-O eek! J’etait tres malade trois fois mais c’etait pas un urgence. J’ai vu deux docteurs et j’ai paye un 45 euros et l’autre 25! Bizarre! Merci pour l’information!!! c’etait tres utile!!

  • Great video. When my 89 year old father fell ill with pneumonia in Paris, he was taken to the American Hospital in Neuilly. Excellent service snd the bill ended up being less than 300us dollars.

    • Bonjour Mary,
      The “Hopital Américain” is where many famous people go. 🙂
      Glad your father was ok.

  • Very helpful video on emergencies. I wonder if you can do one on over the counter medicines. Generally, you need to speak to someone at the pharmacie and I have struggled to ask for antacids or cold medicine when I didn’t know the French brand names. For example, it took a few different tries to finally find the French equivalent of Tums!

  • I’ve had two medical experiences, back in the 1990s and both dans La Corrèze.
    My first wife and I awoke with raging food poisoning. Being less ill, I drove to the nearest pharmacy in Meyssac, where I collapsed. On coming round the pharmacist led me to the nearest doctor who immediately gave me several shots etc.. Then we drove off following his deputy to see my wife who was really hors de combat. She was treated immediately and the whole cost including medicines was about FF 140. I was very impressed. We recovered quickly. It was a fête weekend so I took a traditional cake to the pharmacy where the staff said ‘but we only did our job!’ with a very French combination of embarrassment and joy.

    The next incident was at Brive gare SNCF. My nephew dislocated a finger. The staff jumped into action and I was immediately lead through heavy traffic at top speed to the emergency hospital entrance. Straight into triage and then the young man and his dislocated finger were led off, to emerge 10 minutes later absolutely fine. What happend? “She just stroked my finger whilst talking to me then snap it was back in place, no pain!” What a medical service and such public sprited rail staff that I can’t imagine here. Oh yeah: nothing to pay.

  • Magnifique et très informative! Pendant ma première visite en France j’ai essayé de faire un appel aux USA utilisante le numéro gratuit, le 1800… Trois fois je l’ai essayé et trois fois un monsieur à répondu en disant quelques choses que je n’aie pas compris. Enfin j’ai trouvé un français qui parle anglais, qui m’expliquait que le 18 est le pompiers! Quel horreur! Alors, vive les touristes… Merci pour ce clip, c’est génial!

    • Bonjour

      Yes SAMU saved my husband life in France.
      My husband had une crise cardiaque in france 2 yeras ago , and les pompiers arrived in less than 10 min and took him with them .our home was 30 minutes away from hospital , apparantly les pompiers called SAMU and SAMU meet the les pompiers in between way to hospital . we all are so grateful for such a good service and no one ask for money in advance, however we had an insurance,

    • 112 works from your UK mobile. It’s also often possible to dial the 112 without even the code to unlock the phone (on the IPhone for example).

  • Bonjour Geraldine. Wonderful informative video. I just got back from a trip to France and I was thinking what would I do in an emergency situation. Good thing nothing happened but I now know what to do! Merci!
    A bientot

    • Bonjour Sandra,
      Yes! It’s always good to know “just in case”. Glad your trip went well!

    • Thanks Kirsty! I’ve known Olivier for 20 years and knew he’d be the perfect guest on this topic. 😉

    • C’est vrai – vous formez un beau couple, Géraldine. Et grâce à vous, je saurai quoi faire en cas d’urgence dans l’avenir, j’espère cependant ne pas avoir un tel besoin. 😉

  • Thank you Geraldine for this informative video! I wholeheartedly agree with you that the price of medical care here in France is not expensive compared to the US. We live in Lyon and have had several instances where we have needed quick medical care. Once I broke my tooth (something that had happened when I was living in the US and cost me $350 to fix), and I was able to quickly see a dentist and get it taken care of for only 50€! Also, I recently learned through a friend that the cost to deliver a baby here without being part of the social system is around 900€, which is a fraction of what we pay in the US (even having insurance!). So, any Americans living in France, please don’t be afraid to see a doctor here if you need to! 🙂

    • Absolutely Melissa! If you need to see a doctor in France, GO TO SEE A DOCTOR. 😀
      Even a dentist.

  • Thankyou Geraldine and Docteur Olivier. Very informative. I live in the countryside with my husband and my French is limited so that sort of info is perfect for me. Ann.

  • Thank you both, thanks Olivier for giving up your time. This is really helpful, when a friend fell and split their head open badly and lost a lot of blood I had to call Samu, it was nerve racking but I got the message across. The main mistake I made was not using a reflexive verb for He cut His head badly. But they understood. Had to do it again another time when the previously mentioned guys wife had a bad fit that she couldn’t come out of, went to urgences with them as well to help with the language, and I’m only learning not fluent. Scary but we were understood. All this extra info is really helpful, thanks. I have shared this post on Ladies in France (lift), might help other people.

    • Hi Donna,

      The verb you were looking for is “s’ouvrir la tête” –> “Il s’est ouvert la tête”.
      Congrats for dealing with such situations so well.
      And thanks for sharing with The Ladies in France, it will help them too!

      • Thanks Geraldine. I would not of guessed that verb, sounds so much like opened his head to a English ear. But I will remember to use it in future if the need arises. I think I used ‘couper’ when I should of used ‘se couper’. I basically think I might of told them he had cut off his head 😉 mind you they did arrive quickly.

  • Hi! Fantastic video! What a friendly doctor! In Spain, Italy, and other countries, 112 is the emergeny phone number too. Maybe this is the number used for continental Europe? Best regards from Barcelona (cloudy, today, sad, sad, sad!!!!),

    • Bonjour Marta!
      Yes, it is a number for all European Union countries.
      Thanks for adding this!
      It’s pouring rain here in Grenoble. 😉

    • This video was very helpful to 2 American ex-pats who have lived in Provence for almost 4 years! I can’t thank you enough, Geraldine and Dr. Olivier.

    • This is an awesome video. My husband and me visit France once or twice a year. Even though we are middle age and healthy this information is good to know. It’s refreshing to know that in France your treated first and can pay later. I would not expect people in France to pay for any emergencies if we had any. We would pay for any medical expenses ourselves.

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