Travelling to France? We always recommend that, when travelling, you make a note of where to get help in case of emergency. Aside from the below, always have the contact details of your local embassy, travel agent, travel insurance, and bank on hand (and remember to make a note of any policy or account numbers accessible in case of emergency).
112: European Emergency Services
If you’re a victim or witness of an emergency situation ANYWHERE in the European Union. It can be called from any phone and calls are free. This will connect you to ambulance, fire, and police. European Commission website
114: Emergency Services for the hard of hearing
As above but accessible by SMS for people with hearing disabilities.
15: The French Emergency Medical Assistance Service (SAMU: Service d’Aide Médicale d’Urgence)
To call for a team for medical emergencies and for referrals to 24-7 health facilities.
17: Police (Police Nationale or Gendarmerie Nationale)
For crimes/offences like burglary, assault, riots, pickpocketing, etc.
- Police Nationale: Paris and urban areas
- Gendarmerie National: Rural areas and smaller towns.
18: Fire Brigade (Les sapeurs-pompiers)For fires, road accidents, and other dangerous emergency situations. If necessary, the fire service can also coordinate other emergency services.
196: French coastguard (Centre Opérationnel de Surveillance et de Sauvetage en mer – CROSS)
197: Riots and kidnapping
In France, pharmacies are usually open Monday to Saturday from 08h30 to 19h30. Note that some pharmacies close during lunch hours (12h00 – 14h00) but this is mostly in smaller towns and outlying areas.
If you need an emergency pharmacy, there are duty pharmacies (pharmacie de garde) are open on a Sunday to serve an area when other pharmacies are closed. You should find the information on these by contacting the commissariat as well as by checking in the window of the pharmacy as they are required to post the information there.
Alternatively, visit the Reso Gardes website to find one near you. Although it is in French only, it is easy to use – simply input the postal code or town in the ‘Recherche en ligne’ section and it will show you the available pharmacies.
It is important to stay up to date on the Covid-19 situation. Visit the French Diplomatic website for information.
South African Embassy in France
Address: 59 Quai d’Orsay, 75343 Paris, CEDEX 07, FRANCE
Phone: 003 315 3592323 / 334 724 45179
Although it isn’t something anyone wants to think about, sometimes when you travel, you see things that you may want to report in order to get help for those affected.
The first point of contact, be it people or animals in need, should be emergency services, as per details provided above.
119: Abused children
3919: Domestic violence
Animals: Society for the Protection of Animals (Société Protectrice des Animaux)
Call 01 43 80 40 66 or
Sick or injured wild animals:
The Network Of Wildlife Care Centers In France (Reseau Centres des Soins Faune Sauvage)
A note on English
Be aware that you may not be able to find assistance in English. With the 112 European emergency number, there are translators but, when phoning local police, etc. – particularly outside Paris – you may struggle to find an English-speaking operator. If there is someone with you who can translate, it will be best to ask them for assistance.
The following phrases may be of assistance. Even if all you can say is the most important phrase and give your address, this should help.
|Do you speak English?||Parles-tu anglais ?|
|I do not speak French.||Je ne parle pas francais.|
|Help me .||Aidez moi.|
|Please help me.||S’il vous plait aidez.|
|I have had an accident.||J’ai eu un accident.|
|There has been a car accident.||Il y a eu un accident de voiture.|
|I need a doctor.||J’ai besoin d’un médecin.|
|Not breathing||Ne respire plus|
|Very sick||Très malade|
Here is a useful video to help you with pronunciation.