Location: Western Europe
Time zone: GMT/UTC plus 1 hour
Daylight savings time: during northern hemisphere summer
Current time: 05:07
Dialling code: +33
Internet suffix: .fr
France is one of the most popular traveller destinations in the world. With a distinctive history, extensive cultural wealth, varied but often pleasant climate and good infrastructural development its popularity comes as no surprise, although it is not immune to social instability and political violence.
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Overall security situation: mostly secure
Crime rate: extremely low
Murder rate: very low
Gun ownership levels: very high
Kidnapping hotspot: no
Maritime piracy hotspot: no
Do landmines/unexploded munitions pose a significant risk in parts of the country: no
France is overall a safe and stable part of the world from a security perspective. However, the country has been hit with a number of deadly terrorist attacks in recent years, causing extensive damage and casualties. Further incidents are to be expected, although they will remain infrequent and the statistical likelihood of being caught up in one will remain low. Tens of millions of people will continue to visit France each year and the overwhelming majority of them will be safe.
While urban areas may suffer petty crime like most cities in developed countries, the crime rate is overall very low, with infrequent incidents, good police coverage and a well-resourced, professional judicial system. Institutions are highly resilient, well-resourced and capable.
Socio-economic development levels are high and society is largely content, with some, mostly single-issue grievances. Civil society is healthy and highly evolved and the country has a long tradition of civic engagement and public protests. Demonstrations are therefore frequent, and while they are often disruptive, sometimes even with sporadic violence, casualties are normally minimal and the risks are easily mitigated.
Aviation safety levels: standard
Annual road fatality rates: low
Vehicles drive on the: right
Infrastructure quality: excellent
Urban ATM availability: very good
Electricity supply: 230V 50Hz
Electricity supply reliability: consistent
Plug types: C and E
Plug type C (2 round pins, not grounded/earthed)
Plug type E (2 round pins with 1 round hole to accommodate a round pin from the socket, grounded/earthed, socket compatible with plug types C and F)
Is tap water drinkable: yes
Healthcare quality: among the best healthcare provision in the world
Infectious disease prevalence: extremely low
Travellers should consult a medical practitioner prior to their trip but the following vaccines may be considered before travelling to the country, depending on factors such as specific destination, planned activities, intended time and length of stay as well as personal medical conditions (in some cases no additional vaccines may be required at all):
- Standard vaccinations (ie those commonly used in the developed world, such as diphtheria, measles, mumps, polio, rubella, tuberculosis and tetanus)
Malaria risk: none (although it is present in French Guiana)
Yellow fever presence: no (but present in French Guiana)
Dengue fever prevalence: rare/non-existent
Rabies prevalence: rare/non-existent (low risk in French Guiana)
HIV prevalence in society: low
Hepatitis A prevalence: low
Hepatitis B prevalence: low
Hepatitis E prevalence: not highly endemic
Cholera status: low risk
Chikungunya virus presence: present
Zika virus presence: not recently reported in most of the country but overseas dependencies in the Caribbean have either suffered recent outbreaks or are considered vulnerable to future ones
Japanese encephalitis presence: no
Cutaneous leishmaniasis presence: endemic
Visceral leishmaniasis presence: endemic
Onchocerciasis presence: non-endemic
Schistosomiasis presence: none
Tick-borne encephalitis status: present but low risk
Chagas disease presence: none
Typhoid fever presence: sporadic
African trypanosomiasis presence: none
Plague status: not thought to be present
Rift Valley fever status: not present
Lassa fever status: not present
Polio status: not endemic
Ebola outbreaks: no
Meningococcal meningitis hotspot: no
Climate: generally cool winters and mild summers, but mild winters and hot summers along the Mediterranean; occasional strong, cold, dry, north-to-northwesterly wind known as mistral
Terrain: mostly flat plains or gently rolling hills in north and west; remainder is mountainous, especially Pyrenees in south, Alps in east
Natural disaster risk: very low
Natural hazards: flooding; avalanches; midwinter windstorms; drought; extreme temperatures; forest fires in south near the Mediterranean
Tropical storms: few/none
Volcanic activity: low/none
Previous earthquake(s) with over 1,000 fatalities: no
Government type: republic
Socio-economic development levels: 10/10 (among the highest levels of socio-economic development in the world)
Adult literacy rate: 99%
Unemployment rate: moderate by global standards
Civil liberties: well respected
Investment rating: investment grade
Corruption levels: fairly low
Same-sex sexual activity: legal
Death penalty: abolished
Languages: French (official) 100%, rapidly declining regional dialects and languages (Provencal, Breton, Alsatian, Corsican, Catalan, Basque, Flemish), Creole patois and Mahorian also spoken in overseas departments
Ethnic groups: Celtic and Latin with Teutonic, Slavic, North African, Indochinese, Basque minorities. Overseas departments have black, white, mulatto, East Indian, Chinese and Amerindian communities
Beliefs: Christian (overwhelmingly Roman Catholic) 63-66%, Muslim 7-9%, Jewish .5-.75%, Buddhist .5-.75%, other .5-1.0%, none 23-28%
- The following advice has been compiled by travel safety specialists and ex-special forces personnel.
- However, please note that it is of a general nature only and may not reflect the reality of your circumstances.
- Ensure you have proper insurance cover in place.
- Select good quality accommodation and properly prepare for any tasks, excursions or other activities you have to undertake.
- Be mindful of local laws and cultural norms, bearing in mind that they might be different to what you are accustomed to.
Safe country guidelines
- Even in relatively safe parts of the world, accidents, illnesses and other incidents can still affect traveller safety.
- Make sure you know how to find help if you need it (such as the local emergency service numbers).
- There may still be a risk of opportunistic crime so be mindful of your belongings and take responsibility for your own actions.
- If rainfall, flooding, extreme temperatures or other types of severe weather are a concern, check the local weather patterns to find out if there are times of the year where the risk is much higher.
- Consider avoiding travel to at-risk destinations during these times.
- Try to stay in good quality accommodation.
- Take appropriate clothing and footwear.
- Take appropriate protection for any sensitive equipment you wish to bring.
- Note that storms, flooding and other types of harsh weather can overload infrastructure, lead to traffic jams and power cuts.
- Flooding and heavy rainfall can also raise the risk of landslides, as well as insect- and water-borne diseases in some parts of the world.
- As such, be prepared to delay, alter or even cancel travel plans to affected or high-risk areas.
- Civil unrest can lead to road closures and even curfews, which can affect your travel plans.
- Be prepared for delays and route alterations.
- Avoid demonstrations as they can turn violent.
- If demonstrations take place on a frequent basis, research the trends which tend to accompany them.
- Where do they tend to take place? Do they tend to turn violent? Do attendees target specific types of building or representative interests associated with a specific nationality, industry, political group (such as party political offices, state buildings or foreign-owned businesses)?
- Once you have identified the sorts of risks, trends and areas of higher risk to be avoided you can start planning to minimise your exposure.
- Terrorism can pose a risk, even in otherwise mostly safe countries.
- Assess the trends and tactics of any relevant terrorist organisations with the potential for targeting your location and identify potential targets.
- Be vigilant in and around these areas, which could include crowded places, symbolic or sensitive political sites, or busy restaurant, nightlife or tourist spots.
- Use your judgement on the frequency of incidents taking place. Just because an incident has taken place in a certain city does not mean that the city will regularly be hit again – use rational judgement to decide whether or not there is a likelihood that you will be caught up in any future incidents.
- Be aware of your surroundings and be prepared to react at short notice in the event of an incident.
- In the event of an incident, get out of the area quickly if it is safe to do so.
- Alternatively hide and try to keep out of harm’s way.
- In most cases you should only try to help other people if it is safe for you to do so.
- Keep quiet and notify the relevant authorities, colleagues or loved ones only when you are out of danger.
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