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How to find English speaking doctors in France and what to expect

Finding a doctor in France isn’t hard if you know what to do. Here is how to find an English speaking doctor in France and what to expect.

By Annie André ⦿ updated January 10, 2024  
Doctor visits are very affordable. About 23 euros a visit
Doctor visits are very affordable. About 23 euros a visit

Imagine needing to find a doctor in France while on vacation. Maybe you suddenly feel ill after eating a bad escargot. Or maybe you slipped on a banana peel and sprained your ankle at the Eiffel Tower.

Either way, you need to find a doctor — but how do you find a doctor in France?

Accidents and illness can happen when you least expect it, and you need to be prepared. I should know. 

When we moved to France back in 2011, the challenge of figuring out how to navigate our new life was fun and exciting.

Then my husband got sick. It was the kind of sick that leaves you flat on your back, and we weren’t prepared. We had no idea how to find a doctor in France. We were unsure how the French health system worked or how to get the medical help we needed. 

We had so many questions about finding a doctor in France.

  • Do we go to a hospital?
  • How do we find a doctor’s office?
  • Do we call a doctor and make an appointment or walk into a random French doctor’s office?
  • Will our travel insurance cover our visit?
  • How much will it cost?
  • Will it be expensive? 

And on and on and on. We eventually figured out how to find a doctor in France using different options. Everything listed here is based on my personal experiences. 

In this article, we’ll go over helpful information tourists and newly arrived residents should know about finding a doctor in France.

We’ll also cover some basic medical phrases in French, which can be incredibly handy when communicating with healthcare professionals in France. Knowing how to say simple things like “I feel sick” or “It hurts here” in French can make your medical experience smoother.

And finally, I’ll also provide tips on how to find an English speaking doctor in France for those who feel more comfortable speaking English or don’t speak French. French doctors usually take some medical classes in English as part of their medical training, according to our doctor, but that doesn’t mean you should expect them to speak English. Think about it. How much do you remember from that time you took a semester of another language? 

Start At The Pharmacy for non-urgent medical issues. 

Green pharmacie sign with cross in France

If you need medical advice, you may be able to get it from a pharmacist. 

Pharmacists in France have the authority and qualifications to give general medical advice beyond what pharmacists in the U.S. or Canada are qualified to do.

For example, pharmacists in France are trained to diagnose mushroom poisoning and can even help you identify if those wild Mushrooms you picked in the forest are poisonous.

French pharmacists can also diagnose and prescribe medication for certain common illnesses, including achy joints, allergies, gastrointestinal issues, sprains, eye infections, the common cold, minor skin infections, cuts and abrasions, etc. 

How to find a pharmacy

One distinguishing feature of pharmacies in France and some other European countries is that they always have a large neon green cross hanging out front, often lit up or blinking.

However, If you’re in a small town, there’s a slight chance you may be unable to find a pharmacy because only towns with more than 2,500 inhabitants are allowed to have pharmacies. (source).

You can also search for a nearby pharmacy using the French website Doctolib. See the section below about Doctolib.

Pharmacies are usually closed on Sundays.

Pharmacies are usually closed on Sundays due to cultural norms and regulations. The idea behind this is to give workers a designated day of rest and to protect their work-life balance.

However, each region designates a rotating schedule of on-call pharmacies, called a”Pharmacie de Garde,” that take turns staying open during weekends and holidays.

If you need to find a Pharmacy open on Sunday in France, use this site. You can also download the app onto your phone for iOS or Android.

How doctors work in France

Understanding how doctors work in France is important for anyone planning to visit or move there.

In France, some doctors (“les médecins” /Lay Mehd-sahn/) and medical professionals work in hospitals and private clinics. However, most doctors have private practices and work alone, often from converted apartments in residential areas or shared offices.

Doctors and medical practitioners with their own private practice are called “médecin Libéral.”

How much does it cost to see a doctor in France?

Medical visits are generally affordable in France, and you will pay the same price as a French resident. The main difference for tourists is that the state automatically reimburses French residents up to 70% of the cost through their French medical card “carte Vitale.” Tourists and visitors are not reimbursed unless they’ve purchased private travel insurance. 

Contracted doctors

If you need to see a general practitioner, it will cost between € 28 and €30 if they are “conventioné,” which means they have contracts with the French national health insurance system and charge fixed rates set by the French “social security.”

If you need to see a specialist such as a gynecologist or dermatologist, expect to pay 50 to 75 euros or more. 

Non contracted doctors
There is a small group of doctors who are “non conventionné,” do not have a contract with France’s national health insurance system, and can set their own fees, which are usually higher than contracted French doctors. Usually, non-contracted doctors specialize in a field or treatment not covered by the French healthcare system. Oftentimes, it’s easier to get an appointment with a noncontracted doctor. 

Payment methods

When you visit a doctor, you must pay for the consultation directly using a credit card, cash or a French check. Although this is rare, some doctors in France don’t accept credit cards, so bring cash just in case or ask in advance.

As a tourist receiving medical care in France, you should ask for a “Feuille de soins” claim form, which you can submit to your private health insurance or travel insurance. Whether you get reimbursed or not will depend on your medical insurance provider.

Doctor hours

Most doctors and generalists with private practices and clinics in France only see patients Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Outside of these hours, on weekends and French public holidays, you’ll have to call a service called “médecin de Garde” (doctors on duty) by dialling 116-117, who can come to your location if need be. 

Appointment Process

To book an appointment, some French doctors prefer online appointment booking platforms, while others prefer patients to call them directly or email them. Some may even take walk-ins.

Our first three doctors in France didn’t take appointments; it was a love-hate relationship. 

Here’s how it works with walk-in clinics and doctors taking walk-ins.

Doctors in France: waiting room at a hospital in Montpellier France

  • The good part about doctors who take walk-ins is you can walk in and get seen that same day.
  • The bad part is that it’s first-come, first-serve. 

You show up at the doctor’s office. Sometimes, there’s a doorbell you have to ring to get buzzed in. There may or may not be a receptionist, but chances are there won’t be one. In this case, you walk straight to the waiting area and take a seat.

If you get there and see a waiting room filled with people, it might be a while until it’s your turn to see the doctor. Figure about 20 minutes per patient. Sometimes, you get lucky, and only two people are waiting.

The doctor will come in after each patient and ask for the next patient. The first come first served is on the honour system, so make a mental note of who comes in after you. 

How To Get A Prescription Filled

If the doctor gives you a prescription (ordinance) for medication, take it to any pharmacist/chemist. 

For medical emergencies or an ambulance: Don’t call 911 in France

cell phone on red background with EU emergency number displayed which can be used in France and all of the EU

If you have a severe or life-threatening emergency, you should go to the nearest hospital. If you can’t get to the hospital, there are two numbers you can dial. They are 112, the universal emergency number in Europe. 

Related: I wrote an article about all the important French emergency numbers you must know when travelling in France and the E.U. 

SOS médicins

Sos Médecins in France has doctors that make house calls. You can ask for an English speaking doctor in Paris

If you’re a tourist in France and need a doctor to come to you outside of regular office hours for a non-life-threatening medical issue, SOS Médecins can be a convenient option to consider.

“SOS Médecin” is a French medical service with a network of medical professionals and doctors who make house calls 24/7. 

They also provide urgent medical similar to an emergency medical service but focus on non-life-threatening medical issues. When you call them, you can request an English-speaking doctor, and they will do their best to send someone who can speak English.

Using SOS médecins will cost 80 euros or more, which is more expensive than going to a traditional doctor in France or a clinic that charges between 26 and 65 euros.

Tel.:+33 1 47 07 77 77 or dial 3624

How to find a general practitioner in France and make an appointment

find an English speaking doctor in paris France

General practitioners

If you need medical care in France, it’s usually best to start with a general practitioner unless your condition is life-threatening. A general practitioner can evaluate your situation and refer you to a specialist. 

General Practitioner (Médecin Généraliste)

The first thing you need to know about doctors’ offices is how to identify one when walking down the street.

In large French cities and many towns, doctors’ offices are usually private practices located in converted apartments without clearly marked signs that can be easily seen from afar. Their entrances often blend in with local businesses, making them hard to find. 

big green doors to a doctors office in Montpellier

For instance, in the image above, the entrance to one of the general Practitioners in Montpellier are those two big doors to the right of the store.

Where’s the signage? Well, if you look closely, you’ll see a small gold plaque to the left of the door that has the doctor’s name, with their specialty and the words “cabinet médical,” which means doctor’s office in French. 

How to find an English speaking doctor in France

Doctors, dentists, and other medical professionals working in France are not required to speak English; however, some have a basic or advanced understanding, especially in big cities and touristy areas.  

Unfortunately, it’s very challenging to find an English speaking doctor in France because there are strict regulations that prohibit healthcare professionals from advertising and emphasizing their services based on their language proficiency.

Nevertheless, it is possible. Here are a few ways in which you can find an English speaking doctor in France.

Use Doctorlib to find an English speaking doctor in France.

how to find an English speaking doctor in France and make an appointment using Doctolib


DoctoLib is a well-known French healthcare booking platform and my go-to method for scheduling appointments with healthcare providers, including doctors, dentists, physical therapists, gynecologists, therapists, specialists and more. 

Founded in 2013, Doctolib was among the early pioneers to establish a database and platform that allows patients to search for doctors and other healthcare professionals in France based on location and book an appointment. It works similar to how online hotel booking websites operate.

On Doctolib, each doctor has their own profile page where you’ll see their prices, specialty, and language(s) spoken. 

Using the site is straightforward.

STEP 1: Create an account:

To find a healthcare provider and make an appointment with Doctolib, you’ll first need to create an account. Don’t worry; the platform is free to use for patients.

STEP 2: Search for the type of doctor you need:

In the search box, input the type of healthcare provider you’re looking for generalist, therapist, etc. Enter your location, city or postal code to find someone near you. 

The site is entirely in French, so you’ll need to know some basic terms for the type of doctor you are looking for. 

For instance, if you want to see a general practitioner in Paris, you’ll need to type “généraliste” in the search box and choose Paris as the geographical area or the postal code to get a list of doctors near you in Paris. 

Here are some Healthcare provider names in French and English.

  1. General Practitioner – Médecin Généraliste
  2. DoctorMédecin
  3. DentistDentiste
  4. DermatologistDermatologue
  5. GynecologistGynécologue
  6. AcupuncturistAcupuncteur (male), Acupunctrice (female)
  7. PharmacistPharmacien (male), Pharmacienne (female)
  8. PediatricianPédiatre
  9. PsychiatristPsychiatre
  10. PsychologistPsychologue
  11. OphthalmologistOphtalmologiste
  12. PhysiotherapistKinésithérapeute
  13. RadiologistRadiologue
  14. OptometristOptométriste
  15. PodiatristPodiatre
  16. HomeopathHoméopathe

You may be able to get a doctor’s appointment that same day or the same week. However, some specialists like dermatologists and eye doctors may not have openings for months. 

How to find an English speaking doctor in France using Doctolib

Screenshot of doctor lib showing how to choose English speaking doctors in France using their website
Screenshot of Doctor Lib showing how to choose English-speaking doctors in France using their website

If you need to find an English speaking doctor in France, a German-speaking doctor or any other language, narrow your search by using the language filter and choose “Anglais” for the English language. 

For instance, in the screenshot above, I selected from the drop-down menu “Langues parlées,” which means language spoken. Then, choose “Anglais.” to find the doctors in France who speak English. 

2) Some embassies and consulates have lists of English speaking doctors in France.

Many embassies and consulates have a running list of doctors, dentists, specialists, and hospitals with staff that can communicate in English.

For example, here are the lists of medical professionals who have informed the U.S. Embassy & Consulate in France and the Australian Embassy of France that they are sufficiently competent to provide services to English-speaking patients.

3) Ask the hotel concierge

If you’re staying in a hotel, ask the concierge for help finding or recommending a doctor who can speak English. If you’re staying in a rental like Airbnb, call the owners to see if they can recommend someone. They may also have a booklet of handy information within the Airbnb. 

4) As someone at a Tourism Office:

Find the nearest tourist office and ask them for a list of English speaking doctors. Tourism offices usually have staff that can communicate in English, especially in cities and tourist areas.

5) Ask a pharmacist or shop owner:

Pharmacies are everywhere in France, and are very knowledgeable about local doctors. They may be able to direct you to an English speaking doctor, especially if they are located in a tourist area.

6) Ask your insurance provider for Assistance:

If you have travel insurance or international health insurance, try contacting them to see if they can help find an English-speaking doctor in Paris for you. They often have resources and contacts to help policyholders find healthcare professionals in their destination country.

7) Ask Google:

Type “Find a doctor near me” in Google and start digging through the results.

Tips if you don’t speak French or can’t find an English speaking doctor in France:

If you can’t find an English speaking doctor in France, there’s still hope. 


Be prepared to explain your symptoms if the doctor doesn’t speak English.

Learning a few basic medical phrases in French can help communicate your needs and symptoms. Here are a few ways you can go about 

  1. Use Google Translate and translate your symptoms into French. Write them down and bring the paper when you see the doctor. My husband did this when we first arrived in France before he learned to speak French.
  2. Bring someone who can translate.
  3. If you have a smartphone with data, download a speech-to-speech translator app to translate your words on the fly. I did this in Thailand to communicate with my Thai aunts.

How to say your “Sick” in French and other useful medical phrases 

here are a few general medical terms that might come in handy. 

Remember to say Bonjour first before you launch into speaking French. It’s considered impolite in France not to. 

Hello, we need to find a doctor urgently. Bonjour, nous avons besoin de voir un médecin au plus vite. C’est urgent.

I’m not feeling well. : Je ne me sens pas bien.

Hello, I need to make an appointment with the doctor: Bonjour, Je voudrais prendre un rendez-vous avec le médecin.

I have a headache—J’ai mal à la tête.

I have a stomach ache—J’ai mal au ventre.

I need a doctor. J’ai besoin d’un médecin.

Hello, where is the nearest pharmacy? Bonjour, où est la pharmacie la plus proche ?

I have a fever. J’ai de la fièvre.

I need medicine for [specific symptom]. J’ai besoin de médicaments pour [symptôme spécifique].

I’m allergic to [mention your allergy]. Je suis allergique à [name of your allergy].

It hurts here: J’ai mal ici –> [zhay mahl ee-see]

  • Sick: malade –> [mah-lad]
  • Doctor: un médecin–> [uhn med-sen]
  • (GP) Gernal Practitioner: Médecin généraliste—>[uhn-med-sen zhen-ay-ra-list]
  • Medical clinic/office: le cabinet médical–>[Luh- Ka-bee-nay  Med-ee-kal] Not to be confused with “les cabinets,” a formal way to say W.C., toilettes or restrooms.
  • Doctors office: le cabinet du médecin —> [Luh- Ka-bee-nay  Med-sahn] 
  • Medicine: médicament—> [meh-dee-ca-mawhn]
  • Pharmacie : Une pharmacie –> [oon farm-ah-see]
  • Prescription: Une ordinance –> [oon or-dee-nawnse]

Wrapping up, how to find a doctor in France

Finding a doctor in France can be a bit of a hassle, but having the correct information and resources can help make that process smoother.

Make sure you do your research and have all your paperwork in order. With this in mind, you can feel confident that you’ll be able to find a qualified doctor in France when you need one most. 

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how to find an English speaking doctor in France when your sick

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a 'petite commission' at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through my links. It helps me buy more wine and cheese. Please read my disclosure for more info.

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Annie André

Annie André

About the author

I'm Annie André, a bilingual North American with Thai and French Canadian roots. I've lived in France since 2011. When I'm not eating cheese, drinking wine or hanging out with my husband and children, I write articles on my personal blog annieandre.com for intellectually curious people interested in all things France: Life in France, travel to France, French culture, French language, travel and more.


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