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Health Advice for France

Stay Safe, Mesdames et Messieurs

When you travel abroad it can be easy to worry about the little things you take for granted. You don’t want to panic while on your gap year, so we’ve put together a few safety tips about France to help your backpacking adventure run as smoothly as melted cheese.

Tap water

The tap water in France is perfectly drinkable in the big cities, and in the countryside. Just exercise the normal caution that you would at home – don’t drink out of the tap in places like rest areas and sinks in train bathrooms. Look for the sign eau non potable – which means don’t drink. As always on your gap year, if you’re not sure about it, just splash out and buy some bottled instead.

Medical help

The health care in France is to a very high standard – if anything does happen on your gap year you shouldn’t fret about going to the hospital – they’ll take good care of you. If you need a doctor you can easily get one with a general practitioner for around €25.
Like much of Western Europe the pharmacies in France are marked out by a green cross, generally in neon. Here you can find all the medicines, contraceptives and beauty products you could ever need. The pharmacist will be able to help you with any prescription drugs you may need. If you need the pill you will need to bring your original prescription with you.
You can also get the basics – such as condoms, lubricant, bandages and disinfectant – from supermarkets.


The hospital emergency room will be signposted Urgences.
The following numbers are toll-free:

  • 15 Medical emergencies
  • 17 Law enforcement emergencies (for e.g. reporting a crime)
  • 18 Firefighters
  • 112 European standard emergency numbers.
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