Click here for emergency contact information and some common phrases to use when in need of help.

In a serious emergency, PFS recommends calling 112 or 15 from a cell or land-line.
In France, there are four “emergency” numbers, NOT one such as with 911 in North America.

15 (the “SAMU” medical emergencies)
18 (the fire departrment or “pompiers”)
112 (pan-European emergency number).
3624 (SOS Médecins for house calls -EXCELLENT SERVICE.

Callers will receive a “welcome” message in French and may be put on hold.  The operator cannot automatically locate you – (as with 911) and so will ask you what city you are in, what your exact address is, what the emergency is and for whom (age, gender, etc.)

Most staff at 15 and 18 have been trained to speak in English but you may wish to consult the link above for useful phrases”.



The best doctor is nature: it cures three quarters of illnesses, and never speaks evil of its colleagues” Louis Pasteur


Paris is a very dangerous place. You might fall in love. You might get hooked on champagne. You might broaden your mind. You might become an expert on great masters, foie gras, goat’s cheese and modern philosophy. You might even pick up some French. You might make your friends jealous. Mon Dieu, you might just never go home.

You will survive all that, and much more. And have a wonderful time.

But there are other dangers in Paris – especially if you’re over 50, wearing bifocals, and beginning to feel a stiff bone or two. Here are some tips and things to watch out for:

…beautiful but challenging!


There are a lot of them in Paris. In hotels, museums, and in public spaces. Don’t gawk at the sights unless you have a firm grip on a railing – all the way down. Watch in particular the bottom two steps – it’s easy to miss where the bottom is.

This video features Roberta McGillvary of Ottawa, Canada. She took a tumble down a flight of stairs in Paris and has some words of warning for PFS visitors:






Watch PFS host Keith as he encounters some sidewalk dangers North Americans may not be used to:



* Posts: When walking of a busy sidewalk, watch out for those meter-high posts often lining the sidewalk to stop cars from parking there. Walking into a post at groin level is not a happy experience.

* Manholes: Most are covered, but a few may be left inadvertently open. An easy way to break a leg.

* Scaffolding: Safety standards are good in France, up to a point. You may feel more comfortable walking around scaffolding, not under it. But if you step around it, watch for oncoming threats in the street.




In large hotels, they are wide enough and modern. In smaller hotels, you may get to know your neighbor better than you wished. And you will develop a new sympathy for sardines. Don’t overload these quaint little elevators with people or luggage. Chances are the elevator will not plummet down, but it might stop between floors – just when you needed to visit the bathroom. In the “lifts,” travel light, and light-hearted.


It’s often weak and unpredictable . That’s especially true in hotel corridors (unless you’re in a 5-star hotel), in stairways, and at ground-floor exit doors opening onto the street. In restaurants, walking down often winding staircases can be lethal unless you cling to the banister, and walk slowly and deliberately. Watch for the final steps – bifocals can play tricks. Lighting in any rented premises, including cheaper hotels or suites, almost always goes on for only 30-60 seconds, then goes off to save electricity. Be sure, when walking a corridor, to note and remember where your next illuminated light-switch is.

If you’re visiting French friends, you may get trapped inside the street door unless you can locate the lumière (light) and porte (door) switches, usually side by side.

In your hotel room – even any expensive one – you will likely find the bedside lights glaring you in the face or non-existent. Soft, indirect lighting is not common. You may have a ceiling light or no light. If you want to read in bed, bring a battery-operated flashlight just in case.



Marlene and Chuck Kinsey of California have been coming to Paris for over 30 years! When they first came to this beautiful city in their early thirties, they could run up the subway stairs and walk the streets of Paris at all hours without  ever feeling vulnerable.  Over time, they have had to adapt the way in which they physically get around the city (métro stairs are now an issue) and have had to become aware of how they might be perceived as” vulnerable senior tourists.”  We had the pleasure of meeting this lovely couple one night while walking our dog, Max, in the Latin Quarter. When they found out about Paris for Seniors, they graciously offered to  share some of the invaluable information they have collected over the years. In these two videos, they share some vital information on how  to keep safe in Paris.








* Drivers: Paris drivers, even women, can be thoughtless and selfish. Some drivers are courteous, but never count on any truck, car or bicycle to make your crossing worry-free. Buses are better, but again: “only the paranoid survive!”

* Stop-lights: respect them always, even when most people disobey them. And most do ignore them when they see the coast looks clear.

* Zebra lines: These are wide white lines painted on street crossings. Pedestrians are supposed to have priority, but plenty of cars – and bikes – ignore your priority and just race through. Be hyper-careful, and trust no one except yourself once you step off a curb. Once you do, it’s wise to point your hand clearly to the other hand, and stare at oncoming drivers to ensure they see you and intend to stop. It’s best also not to talk with companions with crossing – distractions take your mind off surviving.

* Curbs: These come in all shapes and sizes: thin, thick, curvy and gradual. Look down before you step off the curb – as always taking time to look left and right for cars, trucks, bikes, scooters and motorcycles. Even bikes break bones.



If you stay in a pricey hotel and eat only in upscale restaurants, no problem. But you will be glad in emergencies that you carry your own small packet of hand-wipes or small disinfectant bottle. Louis Pasteur, 19th-century prophet of hygiene, would approve. A pocket-pack of Kleenex is also handy.


In recent years, the dog-poop problem in Paris is less serious than in the past – thanks to crippling fines. But watch out anyway. Slipping on dog dropping can send you to the hospital, or at very least ruin your shoes.

Don’t worry about dogs in restaurants. They are legal, and rarely bite. In the street, most dogs bark only at other dogs.


CONCLUSION: Now that you are completely paranoid, make all this stuff a habit — then have fun!