Fire and rescue services
More than 500,000 Australians visit France each year. Most visits are trouble-free. We set out below some information to help you prepare for your trip and stay safe. *source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, OAD rankings year ended Dec 2018
Full travel advice: Safety
Full travel advice: Health
Full travel advice: Local laws
Full travel advice: Travel
France's domestic terror threat is at the highest level.
Terrorists may be planning further attacks.
Attacks can occur at any time.
There's heightened security in public places, including:
Be cautious around locations known to be possible terrorist targets.
There have been several attacks in France:
Authorities have additional powers to deal with counter-terrorism security. In some public areas, they may:
Expect increased security checks at borders. This includes ID checks, which may cause delays.
To reduce your risks:
After an attack, leave the area as soon as it's safe to do so.
The French Government has published advice about how to respond in a terrorist attack.
Follow these Twitter accounts for advice in French during major security incidents:
Terrorism is a threat worldwide.
Protests and large demonstrations are common. Public protests and events that draw large groups of people can turn violent and become riots.
Strikes are continuing across France. Expect demonstrations and some significant disruptions, which will affect public transport and other public services. Unions continue to call for widespread industrial action and demonstrations across France.
Check with your travel provider before travelling.
Demonstrations linked to the Yellow Vest movement may continue across France for some time, including in tourist areas. Protests mostly happen on Saturdays.
To reduce your risks:
Petty crime is common, including:
Petty crime is particularly common on the streets of larger cities such as Paris, Marseilles and Nice.
Take care to protect your personal belongings.
Be particularly careful in crowded tourist areas and at landmarks.
Thieves often work in groups to distract and rob victims. Prime targets include:
Criminals use children to distract tourists or even play an active role in theft.
Violent attacks against tourists by groups of young people have increased. These attacks usually happen late at night around major tourist attractions such as:
To protect yourself from crime:
Violent theft on public transport has significantly increased. This happens especially in Paris and its suburbs.
Muggings and robberies are common on the trains from Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle (CDG) and Orly airports. Consider using a bus or taxi to get from the airports to Paris, particularly late at night and early in the morning.
Violent attacks have occurred on or around:
Vehicle crime includes bag-snatching from cars stopped in traffic and theft from unattended vehicles.
This is particularly common:
Rental vehicles are often targets, even in small villages.
To protect yourself:
Credit card and ATM fraud involving 'skimming' machines that can store card data is increasing. Automated service stations and tourist areas are often targets for this.
Be wary of strangers who invite you for a free drink or show at a private club. Foreigners have had large amounts of money stolen from their credit cards before being allowed to leave.
Be cautious when booking travel. Use reputable travel providers only. Avoid giving your personal details to unknown sources. Identity theft through accommodation scams has been reported.
Avoid common scams around tourist areas. These are often groups of petty criminals and they target foreigners and tourists.
The beaches along the French Atlantic coast can be dangerous, especially on the south-western coast. Several people drown every year.
Swim at supervised beaches, and follow the colour-coded flags that warn against dangerous swimming conditions.
If in doubt, seek local advice.
If you're in an area affected by a natural disaster or severe weather:
Avalanches and mudslides can happen in some mountain areas. Several people have died in recent years.
If you're skiing or mountaineering:
In some areas, if you ski or mountaineer off marked trails, authorities may arrest or prosecute you.
Forest and grass fires occur often during the summer months. They often happen along the Mediterranean coast and Corsica.
Flash flooding can make road travel extremely difficult. People have lost their lives due to flooding.
Disruptions to communication infrastructure may occur.
Get comprehensive travel insurance before you leave. Your policy needs to cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. The Australian Government won't pay for these costs.
If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. This applies to everyone, no matter how healthy and fit you are.
If you're not insured, you may have to pay many thousands of dollars up-front for medical care.
Consider your physical and mental health before you travel, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
See your doctor or travel clinic to:
Do this at least eight weeks before you leave.
Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
If you plan to bring medication, check if it's legal in France. Take enough legal medication for your trip.
Carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating the name of the medication and why you take it.
Health risks are similar to those in Australia.
West Nile virus (WNV) (World Health Organization) has occurred throughout France. There's no vaccine for it.
To reduce your risk of disease:
Measles cases can routinely occur in France, with the country currently experiencing an increase in measles activity. Make sure your vaccinations are up-to-date before you travel.
The standard of medical facilities is similar to Australia.
There's no reciprocal healthcare agreement between Australia and France.
Before they will treat you, hospitals usually need:
Costs for public hospital stays can reach thousands of dollars, depending on the treatment you need.
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that may appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling.
If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Penalties for drug offences are severe. If you're convicted, you can get a long jail sentence.
You must always carry photo ID, such as your passport or driver's licence. Police conduct random checks, particularly at borders.
It's illegal not to offer help to 'a person in danger'. Authorities may charge you if you:
Penalties include suspended prison sentences and fines. The law doesn't apply if helping might risk your safety or the safety of others.
It's illegal to cover your face in public places. This includes wearing:
A maximum fine of 150 euros applies. Under this law, forcing someone to hide their face is also a crime. It's punishable by a year in prison and a fine of up to 30,000 euros. If the person forced to hide their face is a minor, the sentence doubles. Tourists aren't exempt.
It's illegal to photograph security forces, including police. Penalties may include authorities detaining you and taking your film or camera.
Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you're overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.
France recognises dual nationality.
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders.
Make sure you meet all entry and exit conditions. If you don't, the Australian Government can't help you.
Entry and exit conditions can change at short notice. Contact the nearest embassy or consulate of France for details about visas, currency, customs and quarantine rules.
France is part of the Schengen area. This means you can enter France without a visa in some cases. In other situations, you need a visa.
Get a visa from French authorities in Australia if you're travelling for either:
You can't apply for a visa or change your visa status once you're inside French territory. For example, you can't change from a tourist visa to a student or resident visa.
Get a legible entry stamp in your passport when you enter the Schengen area for the first time.
Unaccompanied minors (under 18 years of age) who normally live in France and want to leave French territory need:
Find out more from the French Ministry of the Interior (French).
Some countries won't let you enter unless your passport is valid for 6 months after you plan to leave that country. This can apply even if you're just transiting or stopping over.
Some foreign governments and airlines apply the rule inconsistently. Travellers can receive conflicting advice from different sources.
You can end up stranded if your passport is not valid for more than 6 months.
The Australian Government does not set these rules. Check your passport's expiry date before you travel. If you're not sure it'll be valid for long enough, consider getting a new passport.
Your passport is a valuable document. It's attractive to people who may try to use your identity to commit crimes.
Some people may try to trick you into giving them your passport. Always keep it in a safe place.
If your passport is lost or stolen, tell the Australian Government as soon as possible:
Also go to the nearest Commissariat de Police (police station) to:
This may be useful for any insurance claims.
The currency in France is the Euro.
France is a member of the European Union (EU). If you travel between France and any non-EU country, you must declare cash of over 10,000 euros (or equivalent). This covers all forms of currency, not only cash.
If you don't declare or give the wrong information on entry or exit, you'll need to pay a fine.
You don't need to declare cash if you're travelling to or from another EU country.
Since 2015, asylum-seeker movements have put significant pressure on border controls in Europe.
Make sure you:
To drive in France, you'll need a valid Australian driver's licence.
Car rental companies may also need an International Driving Permit (IDP).
Get your IDP before you leave Australia.
If you live in France, you can swap your Australian driver's licence for a French licence. You must do this within your first 12 months.
Unless otherwise signposted, drivers must give way to vehicles approaching from:
This is the 'priority of the right' system. Understand this system so you avoid road accidents.
Be cautious when you drive or travel as a passenger. Keep your doors locked in slow-moving traffic. Lock your vehicle when you leave it.
There are severe penalties for breaking traffic rules. These may include:
Authorities have cleared the migrant camp in Calais. However there are still disturbances in the area. Be alert when you drive between France and the UK.
All vehicles must carry a reflective vest and warning triangle to use if you break down.
The minimum driving age is 18 years.
Check if your insurance policy covers you when using a motorbike, quad bike or similar vehicle.
Always wear a helmet.
Only use licensed official taxis.
Assaults and robberies have happened in unlicensed taxis. These taxis often target high-traffic destinations such as:
In Paris, licensed taxis have the sign 'Taxi Parisien' on the top of the car.
Private car companies are legal, but you need to pre-book them.
Organised strikes happen often. These may affect transport systems, including trains and airline traffic. Monitor the media and contact your travel provider for the latest details. See Safety
If you use public transport, keep your ticket until you exit the system. Inspectors conduct random checks. If you don't have a valid ticket, you'll get an on-the-spot fine.
If you don't cooperate with inspectors, they can arrest you.
DFAT doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.
Check France's air safety profile with the Aviation Safety Network.
Depending on what you need, contact your:
Always get a police report when you report a crime.
Your insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.
Contact your provider with any complaints about tourist services or products.
Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
For consular help, contact the Australian Embassy in France.
4 Rue Jean Rey,
75015 Paris, France
Telephone: (+33 1) 4059 3300
Check the Embassy website for details about opening hours and any temporary closures.
In a consular emergency, if you can't contact an embassy, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on:
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