Nothing ruins a holiday more than getting sick or being injured. You’re away from home, in a country with a different healthcare system… and all in a foreign language! But never fear; thanks to our resident expat blogger here’s what you should know if you need to seek medical treatment in Paris.
Little “Bobos”, Sneezes and Coughs
A “bobo” is a cute way to say a small injury. You trip and graze your knee? That’s a bobo. It’s also a word used to describe French hipsters, shortened from “bohemian-bourgeois”. Neither bobo should be taken too seriously…
If you need a bandaid or light medicine such as painkillers or over-the-counter allergy treatment, your local pharmacy should be your first stop. Look for the bright green cross that hangs outside the store. If you’re not sure what’s wrong, pharmacists are highly trained and will help diagnose your symptoms. If they think something more serious might be the cause of your rash/cough/sore stomach, they won’t hesitate to recommend you to a doctor. For late-night sickness, Paris has several 24-hour pharmacies. Check this site for addresses.
A Trip to the “Médecin”
If your condition requires a visit to the doctor, check the Ameli website. It’s in French, but is fairly easy to navigate. Filter your results by location and/or speciality. A doctor who is “conventionné” (has Social Security authorization) will be significantly less expensive than one who is “non-conventionné” (can choose his/her own rates). In general, a visit to a “conventionné” doctor in Paris will cost you between 22-30 euro.
For those with a French health insurance card (Carte Vitale), most of this charge is reimbursed, as are any prescriptions. You can also get your money back if you have a EHIC (European Health Insurance Card), but if not we recommend checking with your travel insurance.
If you don’t feel well enough to go to the doctor (those who’ve had food poisoning will understand this scenario!) it is very easy to call out a doctor, whatever the time. The rather scarily-named SOS Medecins do night visits, but cost more than a regular doctor: around 50-70 euro. Be aware, you have to pay in cash or check directly. Ask for an English-speaking doctor when you call.
Serious Problems and Emergencies
If you or a family member/friend need urgent medical attention, call 15. This is the number for the SAMU (ambulance). Alternatively, call 18, the number of the fire department (pompiers) who are also medically trained and will take you to the nearest available hospital. They are also nearly always very good-looking, which can help with the pain…
You can also drop in to hospitals if you need to. We recommend the private American and British hospitals, who are used to treating anglophones, and are reputed for excellent care. In France, you don’t have to have health insurance to be treated. They’ll take care of you and talk finance afterwards. Be aware, public hospitals can have long waiting times, so try to go private if you can.
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