Whether you need to call an ambulance or report a theft, dealing with emergency situations is never easy, especially when living or holidaying in a foreign country. That’s why it’s important to prepare in advance — this guide will ensure you know who to call and what information to give.
Calling Emergency Services in France
Unlike in the United States or UK, where there is one easy-to-remember number to call in an emergency, France has several different numbers to call depending upon the nature of the emergency. It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with these priorto anything happening – being prepared will ensure you know what to do if you ever find yourself in such as situation.
Dial 18 for The French Fire Brigade or ‘Sapeurs Pompiers’
In France, ‘les pompiers’or the fire brigade are often the first port-of-call, not only for fires, but for many other emergencies, including road traffic accidents and domestic injuries or accidents. If you find yourself or others in any kind of life-threatening situation, dial 18.
The French Fire Brigade are able to coordinate all emergency services and have trained paramedics. In rural France, they are often very swift to respond.
Dial 17 for The Police in France (la Policeor les Gendarmes)
The Police Nationale cover urban areas and the Gendarmerie Nationale covers rural areas – the national number will then connect you to your nearest station. This is the number to call to report a theft, attack, or other crime, and you should do so as soon as possible – at least within 48 hours.
It might be an idea to make a note of the telephone number of your local station.
Dial 15 for the SAMU (Service d’Aide Medicale Urgente)
The SAMU provides medical care, deals with medical emergencies and provides ambulances and specialist medical teams. The call centres are run by a hospital local to you and operators have medical training. When you telephone, the staff will assess the most appropriate form of support be that an ambulance, a home-visit from a doctor or a visit to your local doctor.
Dial 112 for Emergency help in Europe
This is a free number which can be dialled from any landline or mobile phone during an emergency. Operators speak English and will connect you to local services. If in doubt, or if you are worried about being able to explain the emergency in French, this is the number to use.
What to Do in An Emergency in France
In an emergency situation, try not to panic. When ringing an emergency service, be prepared to state your name, telephone number and location. State the location clearly and how many people are injured. Describe the situation succinctly and whether any hazardous substances, weapons or anything else likely to pose a risk to others is involved. If you are calling for a personal medical emergency, you should also be prepared to explain your condition and any medication you take.
It’s a good idea to practice how to say these things in French beforeyou find yourself in an emergency situation. You could even write down key phrases and keep a copy in your wallet, in your car, or pinned to your fridge.
Visiting the Accident and Emergency Department
As in other countries, you can make your own way to a hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department and receive medical treatment (be sure to bring your Carte Vitale and details of your mutuelle). Howver, it is worth noting that not all hospitals have an Accident and Emergency Department (Urgences) so do check before you set off.
Reporting a Road Traffic Accident in France
If you are involved in or witness a road traffic accident in France where people are injured, you should dial 18 andinform the fire brigade as soon as possible. If it is safe to do so, display the warning triangle 30 metres ahead of the collision to alert other motorists.
If there are any injuries, you should also contact the Police as soon as possible and remain at the scene until they arrive.
For all incidents, including minor collisions where the police and fire brigade do not need to be called, you will need to fill out an accident report sheet (constat amiable d’accident). See our article Car Insurance in France: Insurers, Policies, and Making a Claim for more details.
Additional Emergency Numbers in France
Lost or Stolen Mobile Phone
Call your service provider in order that they may block the device. If you believe your phone has been stolen, report this to the Police with your IMEI number.
Lost or Stolen Bank Cards
- Dial 08 92 70 57 05 for Lost Bank Cards– to block your card immediately to ensure no further transactions can be made. Here are the numbers for the major Credit Card Providers:
- VISA 08 00 90 11 79
- MASTERCARD 08 00 90 13 87
- AMERICAN EXPRESS 01 47 77 70 00
Gas leak – 01 40 33 80 60
Emergency Electrical Services – 01 43 35 40 86
Directory Enquiries – 12
If a child has ingested anything potentially poisonous, state their name, age and weight. Try to find out what was taken, in what quantity and at what time. Here are the anti-poison centres:
|Angers||02 41 48 21 21|
|Bordeaux||05 56 96 40 80|
|Lille||0800 59 59 59|
|Marseille||04 91 75 25 25|
|Nancy||03 83 22 50 50|
|Paris||01 40 05 48 48|
|Toulouse||05 61 77 74 47|
Useful Emergency Phrases in France
What to say in an emergency in France.
C’est un cas d’urgence!– It is an emergency!
Je m’appelle … – My name is …
J’habite à– I live at …..
L’adresse est… – the address is…
Au secours!– Help!
Une crise cardiaque– a heart attack
Mon numéro de téléphone est …– my telephone number is…
Calling an Ambulance in France
I need an ambulance: J’ai besoin d’une ambulance OR Il me faut une ambulance..
I’ve had a heart attack: J’ai eu une crise cardiaque.
My husband/my wife has had a heart attack: Mon mari/ma femme a eu une crise cardiaque.
My son/my daughter is no longer breathing (has stopped breathing): Mon fils/Ma fille ne respire plus.
My husband/my wife is no longer breathing: Mon mari/ma femme ne respire plus.
Calling the Police in France
There’s been a break-in at my house: Il y a eu un cambriolage chez moi
I need help: J’ai besoin de l’assistance
Reporting a Fire in France
My house is on fire: Ma maison est en feu.
My land is on fire: Mon terrain est en feu..
There’s a fire at my house: Il y a le feu chez moi.
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