France's emergency services are streamlined and universal, so no matter where you are in the country, you can dial the same phone numbers, listed below. Every town and village has a médecin de garde (on-duty doctor) for flus, sprains, tetanus shots, and so on. To find out who's on any given evening, call any généraliste (general practitioner) and a recording will refer you. If you need an x-ray or emergency treatment, call the ambulance number and you'll be taken to the hospital of your choice—or the nearest one. Note that outside of Paris it may be difficult to find English-speaking doctors.

In case of fire, hotels are required to post emergency exit maps inside every room door and multilingual instructions.

If you need assistance in an emergency, you can go to your country's embassy or consulate. Proof of identity and citizenship are generally required to enter. If your passport has been stolen, get a police report, and then contact your embassy for assistance.

Over-the-Counter Remedies

For a headache (mal à la tête) ask the pharmacist for aspirine (aspirin) or doliprane (Tylenol). For gas pains, ask for smecta, and for menstrual cramps you will be given spasfon. For car and boat sickness, primperan. For cuts, scrapes, and other minor "ouchies," which the French call "bobos," you will be given a disinfectant spray called Bétadine. Gel d'Apis treats mosquito bites (you may need this if you are traveling in the Camargue). Sore throats are treated with lozenges called pastilles, and cough syrup is sirop. Diarrhea (diarrhée) is treated with Immodium.