Emergency phone numbers in France
15 - SAMU
The French Emergency Medical Assistance Service
To call out a medical team for a medical emergency as well as to be referred to a round-the-clock health facility.
The SAMU is the coordinated service to call in case of any serious medical emergency. A qualified doctor is always available to determine the type of response that best fits your situation, specifically, whether you need an ambulance. Otherwise, you’ll have to carry the cost of the ambulance transport. Alternatively, you could request a light medical vehicle (véhicule sanitaire léger or VSL) to get to hospital.
17 - EMERGENCY POLICE NUMBER
To report a crime requiring an immediate police response.
This number puts you in contact with the appropriate emergency police services nearest you, whether that is the Police Nationale or the Gendarmerie Nationale. For non-urgent situations, make a note of the direct phone number for your nearest police station (commissariat de police or gendarmerie).
18 - FIRE BRIGADE
The French fire brigade, les sapeurs-pompiers, is also available in cases of medical emergencies, such as traffic and domestic accidents. They work closely with the SAMU and employ professional, health, medical and volunteer brigades.
114 - FRENCH EMERGENCY NUMBER FOR DEAF AND HARD-OF-HEARING PEOPLE
If you are a victim or witness of an emergency situation and require emergency assistance.
This number can be accessed by SMS.
When you travel in a European country or if you do not know the national emergency numbers
112 - UNIQUE EUROPEAN EMERGENCY NUMBER (when calling from mobile phones)
If you are a victim or witness of an accident in a country of the European Union.
You can call 112 when you urgently need an ambulance or the help of the fire brigade or of the police.
SOS help - helpline in France for English speakers: 01 46 21 46 46 from 3 pm to 11 pm
SOS Help is a helpline in France focused on helping English speakers deal with emergency problems, from emotional breakdowns to feeling homesick or isolated, or just a question about a mobile bill.
Confidentiality and anonymity.
Hôpital de Pontchaillou
2, rue Henri Le Guilloux – 35000 RENNES
02 99 28 43 21
02 99 28 37 02 (Accident & Emergency number)
Metro A: Pontchaillou
Service Santé Etudiants (Student Health Center) – University of Rennes 1
Campus de Beaulieu – Bâtiment 21
Avenue du Général Leclerc
35042 RENNES Cedex
02 23 23 55 05
Taxis Rennais: 02 99 30 79 79
Emergency French phrases
Everybody should practice how to give clear indications in French of one’s name, address and telephone number — you may come across an operator who speaks English but there is no guarantee of this.
- Police: la Police Nationale or gendarmerie
- Fire brigade: les sapeurs-pompiers
- Emergency services/ambulance: Service d’Aide Médicale d’Urgence or SAMU
- Poisoning emergency: urgence d’empoisonnement
- Road emergency services: services d’urgence routière
- Emergency numbers: numéros d’urgence
- It’s an emergency: c’est un cas d’urgence
- My name is…: je m’appelle…
- My telephone number is…: mon numéro de téléphone est…
- I live at…: j’habite à…
- Help!: au secours!
- Ambulance: une ambulance. I need an ambulance : j’ai besoin d’une ambulance.
- Heart attack: une crise cardiaque
- Stroke: une attaque cérébrale
- Choke: s’étouffer
- Difficulty breathing/gasping: haleter or difficulté à respire. I have difficulty breathing: j’ai des difficultés à respire.
- To bleed: saigner. I am bleeding a lot: je saigne beaucoup.
- Hemorrhage: une hémorragie
- Concussion: une commotion cérébrale
- Diabetic: diabétique. I need insulin: j’ai besoin d’insuline.
- To be poisoned: s’empoisonner
- Please take me quickly to hospital: emmenez-moi rapidement à l’hôpital
- I was attacked: J’ai été agressé
- I was kidnapped: J’ai été kidnappé
- I got robbed: Je me suis fait voler
Do not be alarmed when you hear a siren every first Wednesday of the month at noon. France’s sirens are tested nationwide with three consecutive blasts of almost two minutes, separated by five seconds of silence. In the event of an unplanned siren, you can find information on France Inter or France Info radio stations.
An explanation of national emergency services in France
There are three main emergency services in France: the SAMU (Service d’Aide Médicale d’Urgence), the fire brigade and the police. The SAMU is the national emergency service that deals only with very serious cases. The SAMU provides both ambulances and specialist medical teams.
The French fire brigade, les sapeurs-pompiers, also deals with medical emergencies. They provide ambulance service with their specially equipped vans. In France, it is very often the fire brigade who are called first to deal with road injuries and domestic accidents and in many areas, especially rural regions, they will be fastest to the scene. They coordinate with all other emergency services and will, if the situation demands, call in the specialized SAMU emergency medical service.
The national police force in France is divided between the Police Nationale and the Gendarmerie Nationale. Very broadly, the Police Nationale is responsible for urban areas while the Gendarmerie covers the rural regions. The Police Nationale is authorised to conduct criminal enquiries, perform security operations like traffic control and identity checks while the military gendarmerie also carries out criminal investigations and other security activities involving airports, military locations, coastal areas and the countryside. From wherever you call the emergency number for the police, you will be directed to the appropriate service.
It is advisable to also note down the normal, eight-digit number for your local police or gendarmerie station. Larger towns have an additional secondary police force called la police municipale, which are managed by the local town hall and have limited powers within the district. The local municipal police handle general law enforcement, minor traffic and domestic offenses and lost property.
The French government has recently launched a free smartphone app to alert users about possible security incidents, including all major natural, technological and terrorist-related risks. The app, called SAIP (Système d’alerte et d’information des populations), is available in both English and French and allows users to view alerts for up to eight geographical areas. SAIP can be downloaded in the Apple App store or Google Play.
There is also a volunteer-run SOS Helpline in English for residents living in France and beyond, providing support to expats on a range of issues, from how to understand a tax form to finding an English-speaking doctor, to dealing with loneliness and isolation, commonly felt by expats, or suicidal thoughts and breakdowns.