The French National Health Care system has been organized to provide fully equipped, fully staffed hospitals within 30 minutes of every resident in Paris. A sign of a white cross in a blue box appears on all hospitals. This book does not list the major Paris hospitals, as the French government prefers that an emergency operator assign you the best and most convenient option for your emergency. Note that if you're able to walk into a hospital emergency room by yourself, you are often considered "low priority," and the wait can be interminable. So if time is of the essence, it's best to call the fire department (18 or 112); a fully trained team of paramedics will usually arrive within five minutes. You may also dial for a Samu ambulance (15); there's usually an English-speaking physician available who will help you assess the situation and either dispatch an ambulance immediately or advise you about your best course of action. Be sure to check with your insurance company before your trip to verify that you are covered for medical care in other countries.
In a less urgent situation, do what the French do and call SOS Doctor or SOS Dental services; like magic, in less than an hour a certified, experienced doctor or dentist arrives at the door, armed with an old leather doctor case filled with the essentials for diagnosis and treatment (at an average cost of €65). The doctor or dentist may or may not be bilingual, but, at worst, will have a rudimentary understanding of English. This is a very helpful 24-hour service to use for common symptoms of benign illnesses that need to be treated quickly for comfort, such as high fever, toothache, or upset stomachs (which seem to have the unfortunate habit of announcing themselves late at night).
The American Hospital and the Hertford British Hospital both have 24-hour emergency hotlines with bilingual doctors and nurses who can provide advice. For small problems, go to a pharmacy, marked by a green neon cross. Pharmacists are authorized to administer first aid and recommend over-the-counter drugs, and they can be very helpful in advising you in English or sending you to the nearest English-speaking pharmacist.
Call the police (17) if there has been a crime or an act of violence. On the street, some French phrases that may be needed in an emergency are Au secours! (Help!), urgence (emergency), samu (ambulance), pompiers (firemen), poste de station (police station), médecin (doctor), and hôpital (hospital).
A hotline of note is SOS Help for English-language crisis information, open daily 3 pm-11 pm.
Doctor and Dentist Referrals
SOS Dentaire (01–43–37–51–00.)
SOS Médecin (01–47–07–77–77; 3624 €0.12 per min. www.sosmedecins.com.)
U.S. Embassy Consular Section (4 av. Gabriel, 8e, Paris, 75008. 01–43–12–22–22, appointments required (online form) except for lost or stolen passports and emergencies. france.usembassy.gov. Concorde.)
General Emergency Contacts
Fire Department (18.)
General emergency services for police, fire, and ambulance (like 911) (112.)
Police (112 or 17.)
Hospitals and Clinics
The American Hospital (63 bd. Victor-Hugo, Neuilly-sur-Seine, 92200. 01–46–41–25–25. www.american-hospital.org.)
Institut Hospitalier Franco-Britannique (3 rue Barbès, or 4 Rue Kléber, Levallois-Perret, 92300. 01–47–59–59–59. www.ihfb.org/en.)
SOS Help (01–46–21–46–46. www.soshelpline.org.)
Pharmacie Les Champs Dhéry. Les Champs Dhéry is open all day, every day. Galerie des Champs, 84 av. des Champs-Élysées, 8e, Paris, 75008. 01–45–62–02–41.
Pharmacie des Arts. Pharmacie des Arts is open Monday–Saturday, 9 am–9 pm. 106 bd. Montparnasse, 14e, Paris, 75014. 01–43–35–44–88.
Pharmacie Internationale. Pharmacie Internationale is open daily, 8 am–1 am. 5 pl. Pigalle, 9e, Paris, 75009. 01–48–78–38–12. https://pharmacieinternationale.pharminfo.fr.
Pharmacie Matignon. Pharmacie Matignon is open 24/7. 1 av. Matignon, at Rond-Point des Champs-Élysées, 8e, Paris, 75008. 01–43–59–86–55. www.pharmaciematignon.com.
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