The French National Health Care system (la Sécu) 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. 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 (but nowhere near as long as at an ER stateside). So if time is of the essence, it's best to call 112—the French equivalent of 911. Be sure to check with your insurance company before going abroad 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 Médecins or SOS Dentaire services; like magic, in less than an hour, a certified, experienced doctor or dentist arrives at the door, armed with an old leather 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 (a late-night digestive consequence of eating like the French).
The American Hospital (which also has a dental unit) and the Institut Hospitalier Franco-Britannique (formerly 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 (112 or 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 police (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; www.sosmedecins.com.
U.S. Embassy Consular Section. 4 av. Gabriel, 8e, Champs-Élysées, Paris, 75008. 01–43–12–22–22; france.usembassy.gov.
General Emergency Contacts
Fire Department. 18.
General emergency services for police, fire, and ambulance (like 911). 112.
Police. 112; 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 des Arts. 106 bd. Montparnasse, 14e, Montparnasse, Paris, 75014. 01–43–35–44–88. Mon.–Sat. 9–9.
Pharmacie Internationale. 5 pl. Pigalle, 9e, Montmartre, Paris, 75009. 01–48–78–38–12; pharmacieinternationale.pharminfo.fr. Daily 24 hours.
Pharmacie du Drugstore des Champs-Elysées . Galerie des Champs, 133 av. des Champs-Élysées, 8e, Champs-Élysées, Paris, 75008. 01–47–20–39–25. Daily 24 hours.
Pharmacie Matignon. 1 av. Matignon, at Rond-Point des Champs-Élysées, 8e, Champs-Élysées, Paris, 75008. 01–43–59–86–55; www.pharmaciematignon.com. Daily 24 hours.