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Home / General Travel Tips /
XYZ Consular Info: France

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XYZ Consular Info: France

U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520
For recorded travel information, call 202-647-5225
Internet Address: http://travel.state.gov
For information by fax, call 202-647-3000 from your fax machine
Consular Information Sheet
FRANCE AND MONACO
April 18, 2002
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: France is a developed and stable democracy. Monaco is a developed constitutional monarchy.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport is required for entry to France and Monaco. A visa is not required for tourist/business stays up to 90 days in France and Monaco. For further information concerning entry requirements for France, travelers may contact the Embassy of France at 4101 Reservoir Road, N.W. Washington, D.C. 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. The web site for the Consular Section of the French Embassy in the United States is: http://www.france-consulat.org. For further information on entry requirements to Monaco, travelers may contact the Consulate General of Monaco at 565 5th Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10017, tel. (212) 759-5227. The Consulate General's web site is www.monaco-consulate.com.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.
DUAL NATIONALITY: Dual nationals, who are French or Monegasque citizens as well as U.S. citizens, are subject to all French and Monegasque laws that affect U.S. citizens. Moreover, dual nationals also may be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on French and Monegasque citizens. In some instances, dual nationality may hamper U.S. Government efforts to provide protection abroad. For additional information, please see the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov for our Dual Nationality flyer.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: The Government of France maintains a national anti-terrorism plan, "Vigipirate Renforce." Under this plan, in times of heightened security concerns, the government mobilizes police and armed forces and installs them at airports, train and metro stations, as well as other high profile locations such as schools, embassies, and government installations.
In recent years, France has experienced political assassinations and random bombings. One U.S. citizen was injured in these attacks, but none have been killed. All passengers on subways and trains are urged to be aware of their surroundings and to report any unattended baggage to the nearest authority.
The Basque Separatist Party (ETA) and the National Front for the Liberation of Corsica (FLNC) continue to operate in the south of France and occasionally bomb local government institutions, banks, travel agencies, etc. During the summer of 2001, there were seven politically motivated bombings on the island of Corsica. No deaths were caused by any of these acts of terrorism. However, Americans should remain vigilant when traveling to Corsica.
Violent civil disorder is rare in France. In the past, however, student demonstrations, labor protests or other routine demonstrations have turned into violent confrontations between demonstrators and police. Americans are advised to avoid street demonstrations. Americans can obtain current travel information at the State Department's Consular Affairs web site at http://travel.state.gov.
CRIME: France and Monaco both have relatively low rates of violent crime. But the overall crime rate has been rising over the past two years. Crimes involving vehicles with non-local license plates are common. Criminals frequent tourist attractions such as museums, monuments, restaurants, hotels, beaches, trains, train stations, airports and subways. Americans in France and Monaco should be particularly alert to pickpockets in train stations and subways.
Although thieves may operate anywhere, the U.S. Embassy in Paris receives frequent reports of theft from several particular areas:
Paris:
* Gangs of thieves operate on the rail link from Charles de Gaulle Airport to downtown Paris by preying on jet-lagged, luggage-burdened tourists. Often, one thief distracts the tourist with a question about directions while an accomplice takes a momentarily unguarded backpack, briefcase or purse. Thieves also time their thefts to coincide with train stops so that they may quickly exit the car. Travelers may wish to consider traveling from the airport to the city by bus or taxi.
*There have been a number of violent armed robberies, including knife attacks, in the vicinity of the Eiffel Tower late at night.
*There have been reports of robberies involving thieves on motorcycles who reach into a moving car by opening the car door or reach through an open window to steal purses and other bags visible inside. Those traveling by car in Paris should remember to keep windows closed and doors locked.
*The Number One Subway Line, which runs by many major tourist attractions (including the Grand Arch at La Defense, Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees, Concorde, Louvre, and Bastille), is the site of many thefts. Pickpockets are especially active on this metro line during the summer months.
*Gare du Nord train station, where the express trains from the airport arrive in Paris, is also a high-risk area for pickpocketing and theft.
*Many thefts occur at the major department stores (Galeries Lafeyette, Printemps, and Samarataine) where tourists often leave wallets, passports, and credit cards on cashier counters during transactions.
*In hotels, thieves frequent lobbies and breakfast rooms, and take advantage of a minute of inattention to snatch jackets, purses and backpacks. Also, while many hotels do have safety latches that allow guests to secure their rooms while they are inside, this feature is not as universal as it is in the United States. If no chain or latch is present, a chair placed up against the door is usually an effective obstacle to surreptitious entry during the night.
*In restaurants, many Americans have reported that women's purses placed on the floor under the table at the feet of the diner are stolen during the meal.
* ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) are very common in France and provide ready access to cash, allowing travelers to carry as much money as they need for each day. The rates are competitive with local exchange bureaus and an ATM transaction is easier than the cashing of travelers' checks. However, crimes committed around ATMs have been reported. Travelers should not use an ATM in isolated, unlit areas or when loiterers are in the vicinity. Travelers should be especially aware of persons standing close enough to see the PIN (Personal Identification Number) being entered into the machine. Thieves often conduct successful scams by simply observing the PIN as it is entered. If the card becomes stuck, travelers should be wary of persons offering to help and even asking for the PIN to "fix" the machine. Legitimate bank employees never have a reason to ask for the PIN.
* Pigalle is the red-light district of Paris. Many entertainment establishments in this area engage in aggressive marketing and charge well beyond the normal rate for their drinks. There have been reports of threats of violence to coerce patrons into paying exorbitant beverage tabs.
Southern France:
*Thefts from cars stopped at red lights are common, particularly in the Nice-Antibes-Cannes area, and in Marseille. Car doors should be kept locked at all times while traveling to prevent incidents of "snatch and grab" thefts. In this type of scenario, the thief is usually a passenger on a motorcycle. Similar incidents have also occurred at tollbooths and rest areas. Special caution is advised when entering and exiting the car, because that offers opportunity for purse-snatchings.
* Break-ins of parked cars are also frequent. Locking valuables in the trunk is not a safeguard. Valuables should not be left unattended in a car.
*Thieves often target vehicles with foreign license plates or rental cars, which are easily identified as such by a license plate number ending in "51". Rental car companies are in the process of phasing out these license plates, but this may take some time.
*Purse snatching and pickpocketing occur throughout the south of France. Passports should be carried on the body when necessary and over-the-shoulder bags should not be used.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate, where you may obtain information about passport replacement. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet, "A Safe Trip Abroad," for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, or via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical care comparable to that found in the United States is widely available.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency services such as medical evacuations.
When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the United States may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties, whereas travelers who have purchased overseas medical insurance have found it to be life-saving when a medical emergency has occurred. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, "Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad," available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning France and Monaco is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Good
Roads in France are generally comparable to those in the United States, but traffic engineering and driving habits pose special dangers. Usually, lane markings and sign placements are not as clear as in the United States. Drivers should be prepared to make last-minute maneuvers, as most French drivers do. French drivers usually drive more aggressively and faster than Americans and tend to exceed posted speed limits. Right-of-way rules in France may differ from those in the United States. Drivers entering intersections from the right have priority over those on the left (unless specifically indicated otherwise) even when entering relatively large boulevards from small side streets. Many intersections in France are being replaced by circles, where the right-of-way belongs to drivers in the circle.
On the major highways, service stations are situated every 25 miles or less. Service stations are as plentiful on secondary roads as in the United States.
Paris, the capital and largest city in France, has an extensive and efficient public transportation system. The interconnecting system of buses, subways, and commuter rails serves more than 4 million people a day with a safety record comparable to or better than the systems of major American cities. Similar transportation systems are found in all major French cities. Between cities, France is served by an equally 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.
For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information concerning French and Monegasque driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the French and Monegasque National Tourist Office hotline at New York at (202) 659-7779 or via the Internet at: http://www.franceguide.com.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of France's Civil Aviation Authority as Category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of France's air carrier operations.
For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at tel. 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at tel. (618) 256-4801.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: French customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from France of items such as firearms, antiquities, medications, business equipment, sales samples, and other items. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of France in Washington, D.C. or one of France's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.
French customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information, please call (212) 354-4480, or send an e-mail to atacarnet@uscib.org, or visit www.uscib.org for details.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating French or Monegasque laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in France or Monaco are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES: In January 2002, the Eurozone Countries, including France, converted from their national currencies to the Euro for all monetary transactions. Monaco also converted from the French franc to the Euro.
The emergency numbers in France for the police, fire and medical assistance are as follows: 17 (police emergency), 18 (fire department) and 15 (emergency medical/paramedic team/ambulance). In Monaco, the numbers are 17 (police emergency), 18 (fire department) and 9375-2525 (medical/paramedic team/ambulance).
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS: Americans living in or visiting France or Monaco are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Paris or the nearest consulate and obtain updated information on travel and security within France and Monaco.
The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Paris is located at 2 Rue St. Florentin, 75001 Paris (Place de La Concorde, Metro Stop Concorde). Tel. 011-33-1-43 12 22 22 or (in France) 01-43 12 22 22; fax 01-42 61 61 40. Further information can be obtained at the U.S. Embassy's web site at http://www.amb-usa.fr.
The Consulate General in Marseille is located at Place Varian Fry, 13086 Marseilles; tel. 011-33-4-91 54 92 00 (Consular Section extension: 304), fax 011-33-4-91 55 09 47.
The Consulate General in Strasbourg is located at 15 Avenue d'Alsace, 67082 Strasbourg tel. 011-33-3-88 35 31 04, fax 011-33-3-88 24 06 95. The Consulate General in Strasbourg does not produce passports on the premises. American citizens in this area whose passports are lost or stolen and who have urgent travel needs should contact the U.S. Embassy in Paris.
The Consular Agency in Nice is located at 7, Avenue Gustave V, 3rd floor, 06000 Nice; tel. 011-33-4-93 88 89 55, fax 011-33-4-93 87 07 38.
The U.S. Government also has consular representation in Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Rennes, and Toulouse that provide some emergency services to Americans. However, their primary focus is economic and commercial.
* * *
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet for France and Monaco of July 27, 2000, to update the sections on Safety and Security, Crime, Medical Insurance, Traffic Safety and Road Conditions, Special Circumstances, and Registration/Embassy and Consulate Locations, and to add the section on Emergency Numbers.