France is a very low-crime area, and is one of the safest countries in the world, but large cities are plagued with the usual woes. Violent crime against tourists or strangers is very rare, but there is pickpocketing and purse-snatching.

Safety in France

The inner city areas and a few select suburbs are usually safe at all hours. In large cities, especially Paris, there are a few areas which are better to avoid. Parts of the suburban are sometimes grounds for youth gang violent activities and drug dealing; however these are almost always far from touristic points and you should have no reason to visit them. Common sense applies: it is very easy to spot derelict areas.

Numbers to call to report a crime

Crime-related emergencies can be reported to the toll-free number 17. Law enforcement forces are the National Police (Police Nationale) in urban area and the Gendarmerie in rural area, though for limited issues such as parking and traffic offenses some towns and villages also have a municipal police.

Identity documents

Foreigners should carry some kind of official identity document. Although random checks are not the norm, you may be asked for an ID in some kinds of situations, for example if you cannot show a valid ticket when using public transportation Paris; not having one in such cases will result in you being taken to a police station for further checks.

Emergency numbers

France’s emergency services are conveniently streamlined. Here are toll-free numbers which can be helpful.

  • 15 Medical emergencies
  • 17 Law enforcement emergencies (for e.g. reporting a crime)
  • 18 Firefighters
  • 112 European standard emergency numbers.

Operators at these numbers can transfer requests to other services if needed (e.g. some medical emergencies may be answered by firefighter groups).

Here are some French phrases that may be needed in an emergency: Au secours! (Help!), urgence (emergency), samu (ambulance), pompiers (firefighters), préfecture de police (police station), médecin (doctor), and hôpital (hospital).


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