WHETHER you are just visiting France, or live there, it is worth being aware of how to contact the emergency services should the worst happen.
If you struggle with the language, or are just not confident of getting your message across in an emergency situation, then the pan-European Union number 112 is worth keeping to hand.
The number allows people to speak to the emergency services in all member states of the EU, although some people claim almost a third of callers get a poor, or no response at all.
You can call the single European emergency call number 112 from all telephones, mobile and fixed line, even if you have no money, calling credit card or even a SIM card.
More specifically you can contact individual emergency services direct, the numbers are:
Fire service/Pompiers: 18
In rural areas the fire service will be run by volunteers, who will not only deal with fires, but members of the team will have medical experience and you will often see them dealing with road accidents and crashes.
Each département is home to a SAMU head office, which can be reached by dialling the emergency number, 15.
The police service is split between those who serve in larger towns and cities, the police secours, and those who serve in the countryside, the gendarmes.
Maritime rescue/Sauveteurs en Mer: 1616
The volunteer lifesaving association provides rescue at sea, as well as training of sea lifeguards and safety campaigns.
If you want to get a list of chemists in your region then one of the easiest options is to go to Pages Jaunes, type in the word pharmacie and the postal code of your local area.
This will then produce a list of local chemists, as well as provide a map and distances from different locations which are easy to print off and could be kept for future reference.
Problems of a more long term nature, from life threatening illnesses to stress and worries about life in France can creep up on people with little notice, but there are a number of associations who may be able to help.
I've featured many charitable groups on the site in the past, but here is a quick round-up.
Counselling in France
Provides contact information for therapists and self-help exercises that people can use if they face problems or are experiencing difficulties.
For those keen to speak to someone directly, SOS Helpline offers a listening service run on similar lines to the Samaritans, volunteers are available from 3pm until 11pm every day.
Cancer Support France
English-language help and support to both people with cancer and their carers.
British Volunteer Network
For those struggling with illness or distress, especially at times when people have to spend time in hospital and are some distance from family members.
Accueil des Villes Francaises
French based association that can help smooth a move to a new area, and they offer support to all comers, including in English.
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So can you ring one of the individual emergency numbers in France from a UK mobile?
Posted by: Ruth Fielding | 05 August 2009 at 14:00
You site is very interesting and complete.
I've made a personal site as well... to explain the french culture, french habits, ....with humour....
Posted by: clara | 03 September 2009 at 11:11
yes, you can call the 112 : it covers all the emergency services you can need from your mobile,...bye
Posted by: clara | 27 September 2009 at 17:29
Hi Clara, thanks for helping out with the emergency services question.
All the best, Craig
Posted by: Craig McGinty | 29 September 2009 at 09:37