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Summary

  • Exercise a high degree of caution in France due to the threat of terrorist attack. Be vigilant, follow the instructions of local authorities and follow the media for latest information on security. Subscribe to this travel advice for the latest updates.
  • Following a security incident on 18 March, Orly International Airport in Paris has reopened. Contact your airline/tour provider to confirm your travel plans and follow the advice of local authorities.
  • On 3 February, there was a suspected terrorist incident at the Louvre Museum in Paris. Pay close attention to your personal security throughout France and monitor the media for new safety or security risks.
  • There have been several major terrorist attacks in France. Since 2015, over 200 people have been killed and hundreds injured. ISIL has claimed responsibility for some of these attacks. Future attacks are likely.
  • A state of emergency which gives the French authorities additional powers to manage the security situation has been extended until 15 July 2017. Large public gatherings are restricted. Access to public areas may be restricted. See Safety and security.
  • French authorities have also announced border controls at some entry points into France. Travellers should expect increased security checks at borders, including the checking and recording of identification.
  • As of 15 January 2017, new regulations have been implemented for unaccompanied minors departing France. See Entry and Exit.
  • Due to scams, exercise caution when booking travel by choosing reputable travel providers. Avoid providing your identity details to unknown sources. We have had reports of accommodation scams resulting in identity thefts. See Safety and security.
  • Protect your personal belongings at all times, especially your passport. Petty crime, including bag snatching and pickpocketing, is a serious problem in tourist areas and on public transport.
  • Regular demonstrations, occur regularly in major cities around France. Avoid protests and public demonstrations.

Entry and exit

France is a party to the Schengen Convention, along with a number of other European countries, which allows you to enter France without a visa in some circumstances. See our travel bulletin on the Schengen Convention for more information before you leave Australia.

Acquire an entry stamp in your passport from border control staff when you first enter the Schengen zone.

From 15 January 2017, unaccompanied minors (under 18 years of age) departing France must hold their own identity document, a copy of a parent/guardian’s identification and a completed form issued by the French Ministry of Interior. The Ministry’s website provides further details (in French language only).

If you plan to travel to France for reasons other than tourism, or for more than 90 days, you are required to obtain a visa issued by the French authorities in Australia prior to arrival in France. Australians cannot apply for a visa for France inside French territory, nor can they change the status of their visa (for example, from a tourist visa to a student or resident visa).

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of France for the most up to date information.

People travelling directly to or from a country outside the European Union (EU) who are carrying 10,000 euros or more (or the equivalent in another currency) are required to declare the cash at the place of their arrival or departure from the EU. Travellers failing to declare the cash or providing incomplete or incorrect information will incur a fine. In France, this requirement also extends to people travelling to or from another EU country. Failure to declare such funds, or incorrect declarations, can result in prosecution.

While in France, carry identification at all times. Make sure your passport has at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia.

Safety and security

Terrorism

Exercise a high degree of caution in France due to the threat of terrorist attack. Since early 2015 the French domestic terror threat level has been at the highest level ('Attack Alert' 'Alerte – Attentat'). There have been a number of recent attacks in France:

  • On 3 February 2017, in a suspected terrorist incident, an individual attacked a military patrol with a machete at an entrance to the Louvre Museum in Paris resulting in minor injuries to one soldier.
  • On 26 July 2016 an attack on a church resulted in the death of a priest in St Etienne du Rouvray in northern France. ISIL claimed responsibility.
  • A terrorist attack took place in Nice during Bastille Day celebrations on 14 July 2016. At least 84 people were killed and more than 100 injured.
  • 130 people were killed and over 300 injured in coordinated attacks at six locations in Paris on 13 November 2015. ISIL claimed responsibility.  
  • On 26 June 2015, a terrorist attack on a factory in southern France, south-east of the city of Lyon, killed one person and caused a small explosion.
  • From 7 to 9 January 2015, 17 people were killed in related shooting incidents in Paris, including the gun attack on the 'Charlie Hebdo' offices in east Paris.

A state of emergency which gives the French authorities additional powers to deal with the security situation has been extended until 15 July 2017. Large public gatherings have been restricted. Access to public areas may also be restricted.

French authorities have also announced the continuation of border controls at certain entry points into France. Travellers should expect increased security checks at borders, including the checking and recording of identification, which may cause some delays.

Remain vigilant, follow the instructions of local authorities and follow the media for latest information on security.

Heightened security measures remain in effect in public places, including shopping areas, tourist sites and transportation hubs. You should be vigilant in public places and report any suspicious activity to police.

You will observe increased security measures at all major events in France that attract large crowds.

The French police conduct random identity checks, particularly at border crossings. Under French law you are required to carry photo ID at all times.

Local information on public safety issues is available at the following French Government website.

The French government has also released a free smartphone app, SAIP that sends warnings and advice to users in the event of a terrorist attack or other disaster. The app is available for both Apple and Android devices.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Worldwide bulletin for more information.

Civil unrest/Political tension

Protests and large demonstrations occur regularly in France and can sometimes escalate into violence and rioting. You should avoid protests, demonstrations, political rallies and large public celebrations as they may turn violent. Avoid, particularly at night, outlying Paris suburbs where in the past there has been civil unrest and clashes between local youths and police forces.

Regular demonstrations, including large all-night gatherings, occur in major cities around France. Some of these demonstrations have turned violent.

Crime

There is a high and increasing incidence of petty crime, especially bag snatching and pickpocketing throughout France, particularly on the streets of larger cities such as Paris, Marseilles and Nice.

There has been a significant increase in violent theft on public transport, especially in Paris and its suburbs. Airports, public transport, tourist areas, hotel lobbies, restaurants and cafes, and beaches are prime targets for thieves who frequently work in groups using a variety of sophisticated or aggressive methods to distract and rob potential victims. Children can be used to distract tourists or even play an active role in theft.

Take care to protect your personal belongings (bags, cameras, passports) at all times, especially in high density tourist areas such as Pigalle, the Latin quarter, around the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Versailles, in department stores, restaurants, markets, on public transport and at airports. Every landmark in France that attracts tourists will attract interest from criminals.

There are frequent reports of crime, including robbery and muggings, on the train system servicing Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle (CDG) and Orly Airports. Travellers are advised to consider other means of transport from the airports to Paris, such as bus or taxi, particularly late at night and early in the morning.

There is a growing incidence of violent attacks against tourists by groups of young people, usually occurring late at night around major tourist attractions such as the Champs-Elysées, the Louvre and the Palais Royal areas, the Les Halles district, the Latin Quarter in central Paris and the environs of the Gare du Nord train station, main train stations in the provinces and on the RER (regional) train lines linking Paris and its suburbs.

Vehicles are frequently the target of crime, such as purse snatching from cars stopped in traffic and theft from unattended vehicles, particularly in the south of France near the Spanish border, near the Italian border and in the north, on the remembrance trail around the Somme and in Normandy. Be particularly vigilant at isolated automated service stations and avoid sleeping in rest areas beside autoroutes (motorways) and major roads, or in makeshift or unauthorised camp grounds on the outskirts of cities. Rental vehicles are often targeted, even in remote small villages. Do not leave valuable objects in the vehicle at any time.

Credit card and ATM fraud involving 'skimming' machines which can store card data is rising, particularly at automated service stations and in tourist areas. Use ATMs within controlled areas such as banks, shops and shopping centres.

Be wary of strangers who invite you for a complimentary drink or show at a private club. Some foreigners accepting such offers have had large sums debited from their credit cards before they were permitted to leave the venue.

Exercise caution when booking travel by choosing reputable travel providers. Avoid providing your identity details to unknown sources. We have had reports of accommodation scams resulting in identity thefts.

Money and valuables

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

If you have lost, or had your passport stolen, go to the nearest Commissariat de Police (police station) to report the crime. They will provide you with a declaration of theft or loss. This declaration could be useful if you intend to lodge an insurance claim.

Local Travel

The French authorities have completed an operation to clear the migrant camp in Calais. There are continuing reports of disturbances in the area. Remain vigilant when crossing from France to the UK by car.

Exercise caution whilst driving in France or travelling in a vehicle as a passenger. Keep vehicle doors locked in slow-moving traffic and secure your vehicle when left unattended.

Taxis: Only use licenced, official taxis in France, as assaults and robberies have occurred in unlicensed taxis. Unlicensed taxis often target high traffic destinations such as airports, train stations, theatres and nightclubs. In Paris, licenced taxis have the sign 'Taxi Parisien' located at the top of the car. Private car companies are legal but must be pre-booked.

Public transport: If you use any of France's public transport systems, ensure you retain your used or "validated" ticket until you exit the system. Inspectors conduct random checks and passengers who fail to present a validated ticket for their journey are subject to an on-the-spot fine. Failure to co-operate with inspectors can result in arrest.

Driving: If you wish to drive in France, you must have a valid Australian driver's licence issued by a relevant authority before leaving Australia. We strongly recommend obtaining a valid International Driving Permit (IDP) prior to leaving Australia, which may be required by car rental companies, issued by the relevant IDP authority listed on our Road travel page. The minimum age to drive a vehicle is 18. Australians resident in France may exchange their Australian driver licence for a French licence within the first 12 months of their residency.

It is obligatory for all vehicles to carry a reflective vest and warning triangle for use in case of breakdown.

For further advice, see our Road travel page.

Airline safety

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in France.

Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

You are subject to the local laws of France, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

In France, failing to offer assistance to 'a person in danger' is illegal. This means that if you fail to stop upon witnessing a motor accident, fail to report such an accident to emergency services, or ignore appeals for help or urgent assistance, you may be charged. Penalties include suspended prison sentences and fines. The law does not apply in situations where to answer an appeal for help might endanger your safety or the safety of others.

Under French law you are required to carry an identification document, such as your passport, at all times.

It is illegal to conceal your face in public places in France. This includes balaclavas, full veils or any other garment or mask that is used to conceal the face. Failure to comply with the ban is punishable by a maximum fine of €150. Under this law, forcing someone to hide their face is also a crime and is punishable by a year's imprisonment and a fine of up to €30,000. If the person forced to hide their face is a minor, the sentence is doubled. The law does not provide any exemption for tourists.

There are severe penalties for traffic infringements. Penalties may include immediate confiscation of your licence and vehicle and on the spot fines.

It is illegal to photograph security services, including police. Penalties may include detention and confiscation of film and/or camera.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Information for dual nationals

See our Dual nationals page.

Health

Take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our Health pages also provide useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

The standard of medical facilities in France is very high. Costs per day in a public hospital range between $A1,350 to $A3,350, depending upon the treatment. There is no reciprocal medical agreement between Australia and France.

If you require prescription medicine, it is important that you have this medicine with you so you remain in good health. Make sure to check whether your medication is legal in France and always take a copy of the prescription with you or a letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you will be taking and that it is for personal use only. The website of the Consulate-General of France in Sydney provides more information for travellers.

Where to get help

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurance provider in the first instance.

If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the local police on 112. The national emergency number is 112. Obtain a police report when reporting a crime.

If the matter relates to complaints about tourism services or products, contact the service provider directly.

The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can't do to assist Australians overseas. For consular assistance, see contact details below:

For consular assistance, see contact details below:

Australian Embassy, France

4 Rue Jean Rey,
75015 Paris FRANCE
Telephone: +33 1 4059 3300
Facsimile: +33 1 4059 3310
E-mail: consular.paris@dfat.gov.au
Website: france.embassy.gov.au

See the Embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you are unable to contact the Embassy in a consular emergency, you can contact the 7 day 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Avalanches and mudslides are a danger in some mountain areas. There have been a number of fatalities in recent years. If you are skiing or mountaineering, monitor advice on weather and safety conditions. It is highly dangerous to move off marked slopes or trails and may result in detention and prosecution in some areas.

During the summer months, forest and grass fires are a regular occurrence, particularly along the Mediterranean coast and on Corsica.

Flash flooding can make road travel extremely difficult, affect infrastructure including communications and has resulted in the loss of lives. Monitor media reports for potential hazards.

If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

The beaches along the French Atlantic coast can be particularly dangerous, especially on the south western coast. A number of people drown every year. Swim on supervised beaches and respect the colour coded flags which warn against dangerous swimming conditions. If in doubt, seek local advice.

Additional Resources