English-speaking doctors in Paris are common and you can begin looking for one before you arrive. The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT), http://www.iamat.org, is a non-profit association that provides a list of approved English-speaking doctors. Embassies have lists of English, and other foreign, language speaking doctors and dentists, and Paris Anglophone, http://www.angloinfo.com, lists physicians by specialty.
Nevertheless, there are some cultural particularities that should be considered. While some private offices may be found in clinics or private hospitals, most are located in apartment buildings or houses. It is not uncommon for doctors in private practice to use part of their apartment or home as office space. You may have to ring first at the interphone of the apartment building and then at the door of the office/apartment. Sometimes, the door opens, or is already open, and you will walk into a waiting room with or without a receptionist. If there is no one, have a seat and wait for someone to come to you.
Communication may be different from what you are accustomed to in your home country. French doctors are quite reserved in answering questions and discussing diagnoses with patients. You should feel free to ask questions.
Inside the office, the doctor’s desk and the examining equipment may be in the same room. There is not usually a nurse and gowns or drapes are rarely provided when a medical exam is performed. When the exam is over the doctor will usually go back to the desk and this is a cue to redress. If you have any doubt, do not hesitate to ask.
It may seem like an outdated luxury, but the house call is alive and well in Paris. Many doctors make house calls, often the same day, for just a slightly higher fee than an office visit. It is extremely comfortable and efficient when you or a child is ill, or even if it is a simple visit to give a vaccination. Your neighborhood pharmacy, friends and acquaintances, or even your doctor can refer another physician who makes house calls. MESSAGE, http://www.messageparis.org, also can make referrals, but you must be a member.
If you are sick and your doctor is not able to come, there are several services you can call. They will take information from you over the phone (usually in French, so have a dictionary handy with the symptoms highlighted) and then send someone to your home.
- SOS Medecins ( http://www.sosmedecins.fr ), 36 24 (short number) for a doctor to make a house call within one hour or less
- Urgences Medicales de Paris (http://www.ump.fr ), 01.53.94.94.94 for a doctor who can make a house call later that day
- SOS Pédiatrie ( http://urgencespediatrie.com ), 01.44.09.84.85 for a pediatrician who can come within an hour
Children and the Carnet de Sante
All French children’s vaccinations are recorded in their Carnet de Sante (permanent health record). This small booklet is issued at the time of birth and used until age 15 to record all vital medical information including vaccinations, well and sick visits and growth. Your child’s health records will most likely be accepted as long as you can explain the various entries, or in some cases provide a translation. If you plan to stay in France for a while, it may be worth getting a Carnet de Sante for your child by asking at the mairie. (You can find your arrondissement’s marie through their website. The website for the 1st arrondissement is: http://www.mairie01.paris.fr – the others are the same, only changing the number from “01” to whatever the arrondissiment is)
You might want to try to ensure your child meets the vaccination requirements before arriving in France. These tend to change each year and the best way to check is to visit http://vaccine-schedule.ecdc.europa.eu/Pages/Scheduler.aspx.