What to Do in an Emergency in Paris

Travel Tips, What's New — By renata on July 26, 2011 at 6:05 pm

If you save one number into your cell / mobile phone, make sure it is 112 – this is the European general emergency number.

It’s extremely unlikely you will have an accident during your stay in Paris but it is as well to be prepared. European citizens who have an EHIC card ( https://www.ehic.org.uk/ ) will be able to claim back a large proportion of the cost of medical treatment, but it’s wise to take out special travel insurance to cover your health, belongings and any general travel problems.

A useful website (apart from www.nileguide.com/travel/destination/paris of course!) is www.parisinfo.fr : the official tourism website for the French capital which has details in English on all sorts of health information, hospitals and pharmacies.

In a real emergency call 112 – or one of the different emergency numbers (see below) dedicated to the different emergency services. But before you call any of them you need to know the answers to these three questions:

  • Qui êtes vous (who are you)? Victime (victim)? Témoin (witness)? Or accompagnant (someone accompanying a victim)?
  • Où êtes vous (where are you)?
  • Pourquoi appellez-vous (what’s the problem)?

Paris Sapeurs-Pompiers cheered on parade on the Champs Élysées Image: David.Monniaux / Wikipedia Commons

More Useful Numbers

If you need an ambulance or it is a medical emergency call le SAMU at 15. The operator will assess your needs and send the appropriate service

Call 17 in case of violence or robbery. The operator will send the officers who are nearest to you. If the need is not urgent call the 10-digit telephone number of the local commissariat of police.

Call 18 for the famously handsome Sapeurs-Pompiers, who deal with fires, gas escapes, structural collapses, floods and road accidents. Their telephone operators also deal with 112 calls

For emergency medical treatment in English try the American Hospital at Neuilly, just outside the city. It has a round-the-clock bilingual (French-English) emergency service, which can call on all sorts of specialists. It also has a special advisor to explain its administration to Americans: american.relations@ahparis.org, as well as Chinese and Japanese advisors.

Hôpital Américain de Paris
63 boulevard Victor Hugo
92200 Neuilly-sur-Seine
+33 (0) 1 46 41 25 25

Call +33 (0) 43 37 51 00, or you can be seen the same day at 87 boulevard du Port-Royal, Paris 75013. Your hotel should be able to help you find an English-speaking dentist.

If it’s just a bit of a twinge…

Make sure your need really is urgent before you call any of the emergency numbers. If you can get to an accident and emergency department by taxi because you ony have a slightly twisted ankle, do so. (See the hospital list on www.parisinfo.fr )


Paris pharmacies often have English-speaking staff – your hotel will be able to advise you of the nearest.Two pharmacies open round the clock are at:

  • 84 avenue des Champs-Elysées, 75008, + 33 (0)1 45 62 02 41
  • 6 place Clichy, 75009, +33 (0) 1 48 74 65 18

The French are renowned for their hypochondria, so le pharmacien is well used to discussing maladies and treatments at length and giving expert advice on that tummy ache or sore throat. The French are also renowned for taking their medicine “from the other end” as it were. So don’t be surprised if you’re prescribed a suppository rather than a pill. Homeopathic and herbal medicine is also very popular and many pharmacies carry a wide range.

If you’ve fallen in the water…

If you fall in the Seine, shout Au secours! (That’s French for “help!”) There’s a speedboat service patrolling the river.

Tags: accidents, ambulance, emergencies, Emergency, fire, health, Paris, police, useful telephone numbers