France is a safe destination for travellers, even in the big cities. However, it’s always important to be prepared and to protect yourself by organising appropriate travel insurance up front.
Aside from the 2015 terror attacks, France hasn’t faced major crime problems. Having said that, petty crimes like pickpocketing do happen, particularly in tourist areas, so be aware of your belongings and keep your valuables safe, as you would in any other public place.
Some areas in France, like Paris, have been the target of terrorist attacks, which means the authorities have improved security in these areas. With this in mind, don’t feel alarmed if you come across heavily-armed police officers and military units in popular tourist spots and transport hubs.
Stay up to date with the latest terrorist threat alerts at www.smartraveller.gov.au
Along with pick pockets, there are many street hustlers in France who are waiting to con tourists. These might include street vendors who try to sell you items from their duffel bags or suitcases – they usually sell fake items for a good price. Another common one is someone asking you if you’ve dropped a gold ring – keep walking. If you tell them the ring doesn’t belong to you, they might try to sell it to you for a discounted price.
Remember to look at the weather before going skiing or hiking in the country. Avalanches, mudslides, forest fires, and flash floods have affected tourists in the past, so be sure to stay on top of weather warnings. Note that all RACV travel insurance policies provide natural disaster coverage if purchased before the natural disaster occurs.
France also has a handful of rules that may catch first-time visitors off guard. These are:
- Don’t photograph security guards or law enforcement officers.
- Don’t hide your face in public – not even for religious reasons.
- Don’t hesitate to assist someone who’s crying out for help, unless it would risk your safety.
- Always carry some form of photo ID when you go out in public.
Hospitals and clinics in France offer a very high quality of healthcare, treatments can be costly. The cost of hospitalisation, for example, ranges between $1,450 and $3,500 per day. You may also have to pay out-of-pocket or produce a guarantee from your insurance provider if you require medical treatment. Treatments can be costly, so, always make sure your check whether any pre-existing conditions are covered by your travel insurance policiy.
If you get injured while hiking or exploring remote areas in France, you might have to pay to be medevacked to a health care centre.