FranceOfficial Name: French Republic
Must be valid for a minimum of six months at entry, and valid for an additional three months beyond your planned date of departure from the Schengen area. Please note that “emergency passports” issued by U.S. Embassies and Consulates overseas may not be accepted for entry into France.
BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:
One page required for entry stamp
TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:
Not required for stays under 90 days
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:
10,000 Euro Max
CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:
10,000 Euro Max
Embassies and Consulates
2 Avenue Gabriel
Only the consular sections in Paris and Marseille are authorized to issue passports. The other offices provide limited services to U.S. citizens.
Telephone: +(33)(1) 43-12-22-22
Emergency After-Hours Telephone:+(33) (1) 43-12-22-22
Fax: +(33)(1) 42-66-97-83; +(33)(1) 42-61-61-40 (Special Consular Services)
U.S. Consulate General Marseille
Place Varian Fry
13286 Marseille Cedex 6
Telephone: +(33)(1) 43-12-48-85
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(33)(1) 43-12-22-22
Fax: +(33)(4) 91-55-09-47; +(33)(1) 4-91-55-56-95 (American Citizen Services)
U.S. Consulate General Strasbourg
15, Avenue d'Alsace
67082 Strasbourg Cedex
Telephone: +(33)(1) 43-12-48-80
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(33)(1) 43-12-22-22
Fax: (33)(3) 88-24-06-95
U.S. Consular Agency Nice
7, Avenue Gustave V
Telephone: +(33)(4) 93-88-89-55
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(33)(1) 43-12-22-22
Fax: +(33)(4) 93-87-07-38
The Consular Agent in Nice can also provide some emergency services for U.S. citizens traveling in Monaco.
When calling from within France, drop the country code and add a zero. For example: +(33)(1) 43-12-22-22 becomes 01-43-12-22-22.
Please note that the emergency after-hours telephone number for all U.S. posts in France is: +(33)(1) 43-12-22-22. Ask to speak to the duty officer if you need emergency assistance after business hours.
France is a developed and stable democracy with a modern economy. Monaco is a developed constitutional monarchy on the shores of the Mediterranean. Tourist facilities are widely available.
In addition to the Embassy in Paris, there are two Consulates General, four U.S. Presence Posts, and one Consular Agency in France. The full range of U.S. citizen services, including emergency passport issuance, is available only in Paris and Marseille. Applications for citizenship services (passport, reports of birth) and notarial services may be executed in Paris, Marseille and Strasbourg. Appointments can be scheduled online for Embassy Paris and the Consulate General Marseille and via email for Strasbourg (email@example.com) or Nice via the Consulate General in Marseille.
Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
A current U.S. passport with a minimum validity of six months or more from the date of entry is required to enter most European Union countries, including France. Although U.S. citizens may enter France and Monaco for up to 90 days for tourist or business purposes without a visa, you need to check the expiration date on your passport carefully before traveling to the European Union. Because of the EU’s “Schengen” regulations, U.S. citizens presenting passports with less than six month validity have been denied entry into France and sometimes detained by airport police pending mandatory boarding on a return flight. If your passport does not meet the Schengen requirements, you may also be refused boarding by the airline at your point of origin or while transferring planes. The Government of France does not recognize the 12-page U.S. emergency passport, issued by U.S. Embassies and Consulates overseas, as a valid travel document. Therefore, if you are entering France from outside of the Schengen zone with an emergency passport, you may be refused boarding and/or entry by airline/Eurostar officials or immigration officials.
We recommend that your passport have at least six month validity remaining whenever you travel to Europe and that you carefully read the State Department’s Schengen FAQ. Immigration officers may also request you show sufficient funds for your intended stay and a return airline ticket.
If you are traveling to France or Monaco for reasons other than business or tourism – such as employment, study, or internship – you must obtain a French or Monegasque visa for that purpose before you leave the United States. You should be aware that it is nearly impossible to obtain or change visa status while in France.
Contact the French Embassy in Washington at 4101 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, DC 20007, tel. (202) 944 6000, or the French Consulate General in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, or San Francisco for the most current visa information.
If you are transiting France or Monaco en route to other countries, make sure you know all of the entry and exit requirements for each stop during your trip and final destination. If you don’t have the right documentation, you might be denied boarding to your connecting flight. Please note that the U.S. Embassy in Paris cannot intervene on behalf of private U.S. citizens with regards to obtaining visas or residency permits. Please visit the French Embassy’s Visa Information Page for general visa information and the website page of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Visa FAQS.
Special Note: Overseas departments and territories of France (i.e. those not located in Europe) are not part of the Schengen Agreement. Please see Country Specific Information on French Guiana, French Polynesia, and the French West Indies for entry and exit requirements for those areas.
Monaco: For further information on entry requirements to Monaco, travelers may contact the Embassy of the Principality of Monaco, 3400 International Drive, NW, Suite 2K-100, Washington D.C. 20008, Tel: (202) 234-1530, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; or the Consulate General of Monaco, 565 Fifth Avenue – 23rd floor, New York, NY 10017, Tel: (212) 286-0500, Email:email@example.com. For the most current visa information, visit the Embassy of the Principality of Monaco website. For more information please visit the official site of the Monaco Government, or the Government Tourist Office.
There are strict regulations concerning temporary importation or exportation of items such as firearms, antiquities, medications, business equipment, merchandise samples, and other items. Contact the Consulate General of Monaco for specific information regarding customs requirements.
Visit the Consulate General of Monaco website for the most current visa information.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of France. However, due to the extensive medical benefits provided by the French Government, permanent resident status may be denied to foreigners with terminal illnesses when treatment is available in their home country. Please consult with the Embassy of France concerning any personal needs in this regard before you travel.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
Safety and Security
Political violence in Paris and throughout France is relatively uncommon, although there are occasional instances of extremely large demonstrations simultaneously occurring in many French cities. Large demonstrations in Paris are generally managed by a strong police presence, but even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. We recommend that U.S. citizens avoid demonstrations if possible, and exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstrations. Some sporting events, such as soccer matches, have occasionally degenerated into violence that continued into the streets.
The Government of France maintains a threat rating system, known locally as “Vigipirate,” similar to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Advisory System. Under this system, the government routinely augments police with armed forces and increases visibility at airports, train and metro stations, and other high-profile locations such as schools, major tourist attractions, and government installations. Over the last few years, there have been arrests of suspected militant extremists allegedly involved in terrorist plots. French authorities have spoken publicly about the heightened threat conditions for terrorist attacks in Europe.
After a series of terrorist attacks between January 7 and January 9, 2015, in Paris in which 17 civilians and the 3 perpetrators were killed, the Government of France raised the “Vigipirate” level and continues to evaluate its security posture on a regular basis. Up-to-date information is available on the “Vigipirate” website in French and travelers may consult Travel Information and Messages on the U.S. Embassy France website for the latest information in English.
Although U.S. citizens have not been specifically targeted in terrorist attacks in France in recent history, travelers should remain vigilant. Immediately report unattended packages observed in public places, or any other suspicious activities, to French law enforcement authorities. French authorities are proactive and will respond immediately. If there is a security incident or suspicious package, do not linger in the area to observe.
Public safety and security in France are maintained by three different forces: Municipal Police; National Police; and the military Gendarmerie. These services are professional, competent, and proactive in fighting crime and violence and maintaining overall state security.
For non-emergency assistance, visitors should go to the nearest police station (commissariat) in order to file an official report.
To stay connected:
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements.
- Follow the Bureau of Consular Affairs on Twitter and Facebook.
- Bookmark the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.
- Follow the U.S. Embassy in France on Twitter and visiting the Embassy’s website.
- In the event of an emergency, contact us at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada, or via a regular toll line, 1-202-501-4444, from other countries.
- Take some time before traveling to consider your personal security and checking for useful tips for traveling safely abroad.
CRIME: Prior to travel to France, the U.S. State Department recommends that all visitors check the Department’s website for updated security advisories. Security messages issued regarding demonstrations and strikes in the Paris consular district will now be posted on Embassy Paris’s website Security messages issued regarding demonstrations and strikes in the Marseille consular district will now be posted on Consulate General Marseille’s website.
General: France and Monaco are relatively safe countries. Most crimes are non-violent, but pick-pocketing is a significant problem in many areas. See the section below entitled “Tips on How to Avoid Becoming a Victim.”
The majority of crimes directed against foreign visitors, including U.S. citizens, involve pick-pocketing, residential break-ins, bicycle theft, and other forms of theft with minimal violence. Nevertheless, robberies involving physical assault do occur in Paris and other major urban areas. Visitors to congested and popular tourist areas (e.g., museums, monuments, train stations, airports, and subways) should be particularly attentive to their surroundings. Crimes against visitors are generally crimes of opportunity, though these crimes are more likely to involve violence on the street late at night or when the victim resists. As in any major city, women should exercise extra caution when out alone at night and/or consider traveling out at night with trusted companions. In general, licensed Paris taxis are safe and professionally operated.
Caution is required throughout France when driving through economically depressed areas or on highly traveled thoroughfares such as airport roads where there is a high incidence of “smash and grab” robberies. Thieves on foot or motorcycle will approach a vehicle that is stopped in traffic, smash a window, reach into the vehicle to grab a purse or other valuable item, and then flee. Keep doors locked and valuables out of sight.
There is generally an increase in the number of residential break-ins in August (when most French residents take vacation) and in December. The majority are attributed to residents not using security measures already in place, including double-locking doors and locking windows. Home invasions are often preceded by phone calls to see if the resident is at home. Often thieves who manage to gain access to the apartment building will knock on apartment doors to see if anyone answers, offering the excuse they are taking a survey or representing a utility company.
Paris: Crime in Paris is similar to that in most large cities. Violent crime is relatively rare in the city center; however, extra caution is advised when traveling alone, especially in remote areas or at night. Pick pocketing is by far the most significant problem. In addition to purses and wallets, smart phones and small electronic devices are particular targets. In Paris, pickpockets are commonly children under the age of 16 because they are difficult for authorities to prosecute. Pickpockets are very active on the rail link (RER B) from Charles de Gaulle Airport to the city center. Travelers may want to consider using a shuttle service or one of the express buses to central Paris rather than the RER. In addition, passengers are often targeted on Metro Line 1, which traverses the city center from east to west and services many major tourist sites. Schemes to distract and rob victims, such as asking if you would sign a petition or take a survey, are common and change often. A frequent method is for one thief to distract the tourist with questions or disturbances, while an accomplice pickpockets a backpack or a purse. Thieves may time their pickpocket attempts to coincide with the closing of the automatic doors on the metro, leaving the victim trapped on the departing train.
Many thefts also occur at the major department stores, where tourists may leave wallets, passports, and credit cards on cashier counters during transactions. Thieves use popular tourist sites and congested areas to mask their activities. The crowded elevators at the Eiffel Tower, escalators at museums such as the Louvre, and the area surrounding Sacré Coeur Basilica in Montmartre are all favored by pickpockets and snatch-and-grab thieves.
There have been some instances of tourists being robbed and assaulted near less-utilized metro stations. The area around the Moulin Rouge, known as Pigalle, requires extra security precautions to avoid becoming a victim. Pigalle is an adult entertainment area known for sex shows, prostitution, and illegal drugs. Unsuspecting tourists have run up exorbitant bar bills and been forced to pay before being permitted to leave. Les Halles and the Bois de Boulogne are other areas in Paris where extra security precautions are warranted after dark.
Provence Alpes Maritimes (Paca) / Languedoc-Roussillon/Corsica (Marseille, Montpellier, Perpignan, Carcassonne, Avignon, Aix en Provence, Arles, Cannes, Nice): The PACA/Languedoc-Roussillon region enjoys a fairly low rate of violent crime directed at tourists. The most common problems in the region are thefts from cars (both stopped in traffic and parked), luggage trolleys, and rental car counters at the major transportation hubs, including the Nice airport and railway stations in Marseille, Avignon, and Aix en Provence. Purse snatchings in transportation hubs are also a common problem.
The U.S. Consulate General in Marseille has noted an increase in holiday rental home burglaries and in necklace snatching. Keep your car doors locked and windows rolled up at all times. Valuables should be hidden out of sight to prevent snatch-and-grab attempts. Maintain visual contact with your car when visiting tourist sites, when using rest facilities at gas stations, or stopping to enjoy panoramic views, even for a short period, as thieves will break into windows and trunks to access items left in cars. Victims have reported break-ins within minutes of leaving an unattended car. Keep your passport in a separate location from other valuables.
Organized crime has increased in the south of France—especially in Marseille and Corsica, where feuding groups have been responsible for several recent violent incidents. Although U.S. citizens are not targeted, you should maintain awareness and keep emergency contact information on hand should you find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Strasbourg: Strasbourg's historic center enjoys a fairly low rate of violent crime. Pickpockets and snatch-and-grab thieves tend to concentrate their efforts in the Petite France historic district popular with visitors.
Bordeaux And The Aquitaine, Limousin, And Poitou-Charentes Regions: Bordeaux and other cities in southwest France are considered fairly safe. In cities and during popular festivals that draw huge crowds, you should be wary of pickpockets and other crime aimed at tourists, especially near public transportation. Purses, ID cards, and passports left in cars are often stolen – particularly around renowned landmarks.
NOTE: Swimmers should be careful of strong riptides along the Atlantic coast of Aquitaine and Poitou-Charentes.
Lyon: Although levels of violent crime are low, Lyon has a fair amount of petty crime and vandalism. Late-night weekend rowdiness is common in the center of town and in areas with nightclubs. The city’s public transportation system is safe. Lyon has a 30 kilometer-per-hour zone in commercial districts, and the local police have increased traffic controls for drunken driving. Police have also installed speed and red-light radar systems. The number of stolen passports and personal items in the district remains relatively low, and attacks are rare. Police response to infrequent armed robberies and violence is generally immediate. Bicycle theft is a significant problem as Lyon becomes increasingly bicycle-friendly and more people cycle around town.
Normandy: Break-ins and thefts from cars in the parking lots at the Normandy beaches and American cemeteries are common. Do not leave valuables unattended in a car. Locking valuables in the trunk is not an adequate safeguard as thieves often pry open car trunks to steal bags and other valuables.
Overseas (Non-European) French Departments And Territories: Please see the Country Specific Information for French Guiana, French Polynesia, and the French West Indies for crime trends in these areas.
Rennes: In general, the city of Rennes is relatively safe and secure, and crime rates throughout this consular district tend to be lower than in larger cities elsewhere. There are occasional crimes in the center of Rennes related to drunkenness and rowdy behavior, with the largest and most boisterous crowds tending to gather on Thursday nights in the area around Rue Saint Michel (a.k.a. “Rue de la Soif” or “Thirst Street”) and the adjacent Place Sainte Anne. The local authorities make security a priority. Tourists occasionally encounter theft of valuables and passports. Valuables left unattended in rental cars overnight, or for extended amounts of time, are particularly susceptible to theft. In particular, tourist sites around Brittany warn travelers against leaving expensive items in view in parked cars due to frequent vehicle break-ins.
Toulouse And The Midi-Pyrenees: Toulouse and the Midi-Pyrenees region are generally considered safe. Car theft, vehicle break-ins, petty theft, and burglary are the most common crimes, and they are more frequent in areas near railway stations and in city centers. Car-jacking and home invasions may occur, particularly in Toulouse. Home invasions usually target valuables and cars, but may include violence. Itinerant street people, often in groups accompanied by dogs, are increasingly prevalent in downtown Toulouse, particularly in warmer weather. While alcohol and drug abuse can make them unpredictable, incidents of crime are relatively rare.
Tips on How to Avoid Becoming a Victim: Common-sense security precautions will help you enjoy a trouble-free stay. Most problems can be avoided by being aware of one's surroundings and avoiding high-risk areas.
When going out, carry only essential items: ONE credit/ATM card, ONE piece of identification, and no more than €40-50. Avoid carrying high-value jewelry and large amounts of cash. Valuables should be kept out of sight and in places difficult for thieves to reach, such as internal coat pockets or in pouches hung around the neck or inside clothes. Shoulder bags and wallets in back pockets are an invitation for a thief.
Keep photocopies of travel documents and credit cards separate from the originals, along with key telephone numbers to contact banks for credit card replacement. Raise your awareness level while in crowded elevators, escalators, and metro cars. When possible, take a seat or stand against a wall to deter pickpockets and try to maintain a 360-degree awareness of your environment.
Carry a purse that zips closed and ensure that it is carried under the arm and slightly in front of the body. Swing backpack-type purses around so that they are slightly in front of your body. Carry your wallet in a front pocket. While on foot, remain aware of your surroundings at all times and keep bags slung across your body and away from the street.
Hundreds of U.S. citizens per year have purses or bags stolen from the back of a chair or from under the table while in cafes, restaurants, hotels, and nightclubs/bars, including higher-end establishments. Never leave valuables unattended. Thieves often operate in groups and often come to each other's aid if confronted. If a thief is caught in the act, a simple pick-pocketing could turn into an assault if you attempt to capture the thief. You can shout out for police assistance to attract attention, but do not pursue the thief.
Do not use ATMs in isolated, poorly lighted areas or where loiterers are present. Be especially alert to persons standing close enough to see the Personal Identification Number (PIN) being entered into the machine. Thieves often conduct successful scams by simply watching the PIN as it is entered and then stealing the card from the user in some other location. If your card gets stuck in an ATM, immediately report the incident to both the local bank and your bank at home.
Many theft and assault victims are targeted when making their way home from a late night out after drinking alcohol. If you go out late at night, do so with a group of trusted friends. There is safety in numbers.
Use only authorized taxis. Authorized taxis in Paris have the following equipment:
- An illuminated “Taxi Parisien” sign on the roof;
- A display meter showing the cost of the trip;
- A display at the rear of the vehicle and visible from the exterior that enables the monitoring of the daily duration of use of the vehicle; and
- A plate fixed to the front fender bearing the license number.
Letting the driver know that others are aware of your trip and the license number of the taxi may reduce the chances of sexual harassment or assault. Women may want to consider having another individual walk them to a taxi and, in plain view of the driver, note the license number of the vehicle, or call a friend while in the taxi and communicate the license number.
Avoid public parks after dark, as they are often frequented by drug dealers and prostitutes.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
- Replace a stolen passport.
- Help you find appropriate medical care if you are the victim of violent crimes such as assault or rape.
- Put you in contact with the appropriate police authorities, and if you want us to, contact family members or friends.
- Help you understand the local criminal justice process and direct you to local attorneys, although it is important to remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
If you have been the victim of a pick-pocket and would like to report the items lost or stolen, please see our Guide for Reporting Lost or Stolen Items. For more serious crimes, compensation is available under French law to victims of crime committed on French soil under certain circumstances. Read our information on victims of crime for more information, including possible victim-compensation programs in the United States.
The Paris Police Prefecture publishes a pamphlet in English entitled “Paris in Complete Safety” that provides practical advice and useful telephone numbers for visitors.
The local equivalent to the “911” emergency line in France is 112. In Monaco you may dial 17 to connect to the Police.
Non-French speakers may experience a delay while an English speaking operator is located. Alternatively, one can call French emergency numbers specific to the type of incident: 17 (police emergency); 18 (fire department/paramedics); and 15 (medical emergency/paramedic team/ambulance).
Please see our information for victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
Local Laws & Special Circumstances
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in France, you are subject to its laws. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different from our own. Persons violating French of Monegasque laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in France are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. In France and Monaco, driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. If you break local laws in France, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. Individuals who hold U.S. and French or Monegasque citizenship should be aware that local authorities may treat you as solely French or Monegasque.
There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. You can be prosecuted in the United States for engaging in sexual conduct with children or for using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country regardless of the legality of these activities under that country’s laws. Counterfeit and pirated goods are illegal in the United States and if you purchase them in a foreign country, you may be breaking local law as well.
If you use any of France’s excellent public transportation services, take particular care to retain your used or “validated” ticket. Inspectors conduct intermittent, random checks, and passengers who fail to present the correct validated ticket for their journey are subject to stiff and immediate fines. Inspectors may show no interest in explanations and no sympathy for an honest mistake. Failure to cooperate with inspectors may result in arrest.
Arrest notifications in host country: While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in that country, others may not. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: There are strict regulations concerning temporary importation or exportation from France of items such as firearms, antiquities, medications, business equipment, merchandise samples, and other items. You should contact the Embassy of France or one of France's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements. Please see our Customs Information.
French Foreign Legion: U.S. citizens interested in joining the French Foreign Legion (FFL) should be aware that the cognitive and physical tests for acceptance are extremely challenging. Legionnaire candidates should ensure that they have access to sufficient funds to return home should their candidature be refused. Successful candidates report that the FFL provides a new identity and retains their U.S. passport during a long probation period, complicating routine or emergency travel.
WOMEN TRAVELER INFORMATION: If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.
LGBT RIGHTS: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBT events in France or Monaco. For more detailed information about LGBT rights in France or Monaco you may review the State Department’s annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) travel, please read our LGBT Travel Information page.
ACCESSIBILITY: In France, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation very different from what you find in the United States. French law requires that any new building with public or community space and any existing public building be accessible for persons with disabilities. However, many existing buildings and transportation systems do not yet meet these requirements.
Getting around in French cities can be challenging for those with mobility issues. Many sidewalks are narrow and uneven, and cobblestone streets make access difficult, but the major tourist areas have better facilities. Although the Paris Metro is a very efficient method for traveling throughout central Paris, most stations are not readily accessible for people with disabilities. Few stations have elevators and most have stairways and long corridors for changing trains or exiting to the street. However, many Parisian buses and tramways are equipped with lowering platforms for travelers with limited-mobility, or who are sight- or hearing-disabled. Taxis are also a good mode of transportation.
An English-language Paris Visitors Bureau website and a French-language, government-sponsored website contain additional information and include links to a downloadable local transportation map specifically designed for travelers with special mobility needs. There are many other resources available on the Internet for disabled persons traveling to, or living in, France. For further information, e-mail any of our consular offices.
Medical care is comparable to that found in the United States. In an emergency, dial 15 to connect to emergency medical services. You can also dial the Europe-wide emergency response number 112 to reach an operator for all kinds of emergency services (similar to the U.S. 911 system). Non-French speakers may experience a delay while an English speaker is located. For non-emergency medical assistance in France, you may refer to the embassy’s list of medical professionals.
You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website, which contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
Travel & Transportation
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in France, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Roads are generally comparable to those in the United States, but traffic engineering and driving habits pose special dangers. Lane markings and sign placements may not be clear. Drivers should be prepared to make last-minute maneuvers. Driving is typically faster and more aggressive than in the United States. Right-of-way rules differ from those in the United States. Unless specifically indicated otherwise, drivers entering intersections from the right have priority over those on the left), even when entering relatively large boulevards from small side streets. While many newer traffic circles have yield signs, some intersections do not, and still require traffic in the circle to cede the right-of-way to incoming traffic from the right.
On major highways, there are service stations at least every 25 miles. Service stations are not as common on secondary roads in France as they are in the United States. Paris has an extensive and efficient public transportation system. The interconnecting system of buses, subways, and commuter rails serves more than four million people a day with a safety record comparable to, or better than, the systems of major U.S. cities. Similar transportation systems are found in all major French cities. Between cities, France has extensive rail service which is safe and reliable. High-speed rail links connect the major cities in France. Many cities are also served by frequent air service. Traveling by train is safer than driving.
Pedestrians make up 13 percent of the deaths in motor vehicle accidents in France (roughly the same as in the United States), but this percentage is increasing. Most of these accidents occur when a pedestrian steps out into the street, often when a car or motorcycle is making a turn through a pedestrian crosswalk. Pedestrians should be cautious and aware of traffic even when they have a green walking signal since this is no guarantee against aggressive drivers.
While Paris, Marseille, Lyon, and other French cities actively encourage bicycle rentals through widely available city-sponsored systems, you should be cautious about this means of transportation, especially in a busy and unfamiliar urban environment. Helmets are neither required nor readily available near rental stations. If you plan to ride a bicycle in France, you should bring your own helmet.
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Also, we suggest that you visit the French National Tourist Office’s website for specific information on French driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and mandatory insurance. See Embassy Paris’ Driving in France webpage for information on using U.S. driver’s licenses in France.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government France’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of France’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
Assistance for U.S. Citizens
U.S. Embassy Paris
2 Avenue Gabriel
Only the consular sections in Paris and Marseille are authorized to issue passports. The other offices provide limited services to U.S. citizens.
- Telephone +(33)(1) 43-12-22-22
- Emergency After-Hours Telephone +(33)(1) 43-12-22-22
- Fax +(33)(1) 42-66-97-83 ; +(33)(1) 42-61-61-40 (Special Consular Services)
- Email Citizeninfo@state.gov
- U.S. Embassy Paris