France Traveler’s Practical Guide

France travel and foodIn my series of useful posts for tourists I’ve written about how to use the  Paris Subway  and how to make sure French people won’t be rude to you, so far.  On this post I wanted to gather several must know items that you may be needing when traveling to France.

Where to go for money, sending mail, first aid, emergency numbers and more. I definitely hope that you won’t need any the emergency phone numbers, though, but it’s always good to know them,  just in case.

France Emergency Phone Numbers

Especially if your are renting a house instead of staying in a hotel, you should know the main emergency phone numbers. They are easy to remember, but you just need to know them.

SamuSAMU for Medical Emergnecy Dial 15

A must know number is the SAMU “Service d’Aide Medicale d’Urgence” (urgent medical assistance).  Only two number to remember 15.

If you are able to speak or if you call for someone else be prepared to give your last name, first name (always give last name first in France), address and phone number, and of course, your emergency.

If your condition is very serious and wouldn’t be able to give this information to the operator, the SAMU also has a system that will record your phone number and location after the first ring even before they pick up.  It will detect even unlisted number and mobile phones.

Les Pompiers (Fire Department) Dial 18Pompiers

Again, let it never be something you need, but if you rent a house during your stay in France, make sure you know that the fire department phone number is 18.

Fire trucks in France are the same obvious color as the ones in the US.

PolicePolice Dial 17

For any issue where you may need to call the police, their number is 17.  While police uniform is different than the one in the US, the police is easily recognizable in France as well. Will the word “police” is pronounced a bit differently than in English it is as you see the exact same word.

Emergency for All European Union Countries Dial 112

There’s also a number good for all European Union Country (including France) If you are in one of such countries and don’t know their specific emergency numbers dial 112.

First Aid

Pharmacie_460Pharmacie

Pharmacies are pretty different form the US in France, expect for the spelling.

Pharmacies are sickly about medicines (no candies or teddy bears).

Employees of any Pharmacie can answer most basic health questions and give guide you to non-prescription medicine.  Pharmacies employees are not just clerk but all have pharmaceutical degrees and other health related training.

Pharmacies are very easy to recognize with a big flashy green cross that you can see a mile away.  Some pharmacies close very late and some in big cities are open 24/7.  They are very neat stores with white coat people helping customers.

They used to be one of my favorite stores when I was little. I was always impressed when I came in a pharmacie.

Mail

La Poste

La Poste

If you need to send a package or buy stamps you need to look for this recognizable yellow and blue sign which is the logo for the post office, called la poste in French.

La Poste is one of the oldest public services in France and probably still the most liked and respected.  France has of the highest number of post offices and post-boxed in the world. You can recognize them easily with that bright yellow sign.

If you go to a poste in a big city chances are that someone will speak English (maybe with a strong French accent) if you go to a poste in a small town, chances are they won’t, but you might manage without saying much.

Money

BanqueBanque

This is the word/sign you need to look for if you need to go to a bank to exchange your dollars with Euros, or need to do some type of banking transaction in France.

Most bank doors are lock and you have to push a security button in order to be allowed to come in.  This system exists for over 30 years in France to prevent bank robberies.

Anyone with a suspicious look wouldn’t be allowed to come in.  Just make sure you’re not trying to get into a bank with a coat in summer time or something like that!

Handy Places For Tourists

Ambassade (Americaine)

Ambassade

You might want to know where the closest embassy of your country is, especially if your stay is going to be a long one. When I first arrived in New York, my French Embassy is one of the first things I tried to locate.

As you may already know, people working at your Embassy are citizen of your country and it’s also considered your country’s territory.  The language barrier won’t exist in your embassy.

The American Embassy in Paris is located 4 avenue Gabriel, 75008 Paris at the Concorde Metro station.

CEICentre d’Echanges Internationaux

International Exchange Center is a center who handles short linguistic stays for students, abroad sport events, educational vacations, language lessons and much, much more.  This center was created in 1947.

If you’d be interested in visiting this center it’s located 1 rue Gozlin, 75006 Paris, in the Saint-Germain-des-pres area. Their phone number is 01-43-29-6020. I’m pretty sure the staff is multi-lingual.

Office de TourismeOffice de Tourisme

There are six offices of tourism in Paris, and they are more active between April and November with extra staff to help the huge influx of tourists in Paris during that time period.

They can guide you to find hotels, restaurants, museums, events, shopping and more.

The office of tourisme can provide you with any kind of city maps, museum maps, subway maps, and any type of information you may need.  The staff in any office du tourisme does speak English and other languages.

I know this in French, but it would give you an idea of how you’ll be treated in a French pharmacie.

Was this helpful tips to you? Please, let me know.

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15 Comments

  • Shalu Sharma says:

    You have listed all the information needed for your travels in France. I do wish to go there one day. Perhaps this summer. Just wondering, how is the word for Bank in French Banque pronounced?

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Shalu,

      Well, I don’t know how to spell phonetics but if you say bank as in English they should understand. It’s just that the “an” in French is more nozzle and sounds more like a British “an” as in can’t, not American pronunciation.

      Make sure you take this info with you wnen you go there 🙂

      Have a great week end and thanks for coming by 🙂

  • AdrienneTwitter: adriennesmith40 says:

    Wow Sylviane,

    If I ever do go to France without you (lol) then I’m going to bookmark all of these posts you’ve shared about your wonderful beautiful country so that when I run into trouble, which I know I would, I can find what I need to know and I’m all good.

    This is such a great idea on how to help people if they’re traveling to France because we never know what will happen or what we may need. Not being able to speak the language well could really hurt us so having this information is priceless.

    Way to go girl! Great job!

    ~Adrienne
    Adrienne invites you to read..Thankful Thursday: Brand Love, Marketing & Blog Mistakes, Twitter & TriberrMy Profile

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Adrienne,

      Well, I’m glad it seems that I hit a mark with that one.

      You see, since I know these things like the back of my hand I would tend to think that it’s not such big deal of information, but then, if’d I go to a foreign country I know nothing about and I found a post like this, I would definitely find it useful. So, bottom line, I thought It should be useful for people who’ve never been to France and don’t speak French.

      I hope this little post will be helpful for many and thank for coming here, Adrienne 🙂

      Have a great week end!

  • Jeremy Norton says:

    With all the wonderful things I’ve read about France in this site, it makes me wanna visit France all the more. France is definitely the first in my vacation list for this year.

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Jeremy,

      Great to hear that. I hope this blog will be helpful to you then.

      Thanks for coming by.

  • Toni Nelson says:

    I’ll have to share this post with my friend who is planning a trip to France in the future.

  • mike clarke says:

    I love France…Complete information about travelling to France. Very helpful entry!

  • Sonia says:

    Sylviane, that was so cool. I wish some of what they did in Paris was done here. I like the idea of dialing 2 numbers and getting the police or having it get my number in seconds. Or even the bank having locked doors for my own safety. Banks here, you just walk in and you never know if it is getting robbed or what. See other countries take better precautions then American businesses. It is no wonder why we get robbed or have other related problems. I love how you outlined everything and it makes me want to go just so I can see everything you explained in this post.

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Sonia,

      Very nice to see you on this blog and I’m glad you enjoyed this.

      I know for a fact that that France doesn’t have anything much to be envious of the US. It’s a country where everything is pretty much thought of and some things are actually much more modern and sophisticated than in the US.

      The first time my brother visited me in New York he actually had quite a few laughs at seeing some things that didn’t existed in France for a while, then, such as parking meters and old looking gas pumps, for example.

      I know that a lot of people in the US think that the US is the most modern country in the world, but it’s just not. The US could us banks like in France for sure having so many bank robberies. France has this system for well over 30 years for sure.

      Thanks for coming and for your input 🙂

  • Sue PriceTwitter: suejprice says:

    Hi Sylviane

    What a great post. You are certainly turning this blog into a great resource for anyone who is traveling to France.

    We used to have pharmacies like that in Australia but they are now becoming much more like those in the USA. I loved the video and it does give a great idea of what to expect.

    Thanks Sylviane for this information.

    Sue
    Sue Price invites you to read..Mindset – Do You Need To Work on it Everyday?My Profile

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Sue,

      Wow, I didn’t know you used to have pharmacies like that in Australia. I wonder why they would turn them into pharmacies like in the US. I hope they stay the way they are in France, tough, I like them like that 🙂

      Thanks for coming, Sue 🙂

  • apu mridha says:

    Thanks for sharing this amazing and informative article … enjoyed every bit of it .. 🙂

    Apu

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