Health care in France is of an extremely high standard, with major hospitals near every major city, supplemented by many smaller regional hospitals. EU citizens are guaranteed reciprocal healthcare, but other travellers should take out appropriate health insurance.
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Before You Go
No vaccinations are required for France, but the World Health Organization recommends travellers be vaccinated against diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio, regardless of destination.
EU citizens and those from Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein are covered for emergencies by the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), but not for non-emergencies or repatriation. Every family member needs a card. You will need to go to a state healthcare provider (conventionné); private healthcare not covered. Pay directly and keep receipts for reimbursement.
In the UK, you can find EHIC application forms at post offices, or apply online at www.ehic.org.uk.
If you're not from Europe you need to determine whether your country has reciprocity with France for free medical care. If you need health insurance, strongly consider a policy that covers worst-case scenarios, including emergency medical evacuation. Determine in advance if your insurance pays directly for overseas expenditures or reimburses you later (it's probably the latter). Keep all documentation. Make sure you know the number that you need to call in the event of an emergency. Carry relevant insurance documents with you to show to healthcare providers.
In Provence & the Côte d'Azur
Availability & Cost of Health Care
- For emergencies, dial 15 for ambulance (SAMU) or urgent house call. Or find the nearest hôpital or salles des urgence. Doctors' offices are cabinets médicals.
- For medical referrals and minor illnesses, pharmacists dispense advice and sell medications; look for green neon crosses.
- Doctor visits cost about €25.
- Emergency contraception is available by prescription. Condoms (préservatifs) are commonly available.
- If your problem is not sufficiently serious to call SAMU but you still need to consult a doctor at night, call the 24-hour doctor service, operational in most towns in the region.
French tap water is safe to drink, but water from fountains reading 'eau non potable' is not.