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Useful information for visiting Paris

It's always hard to know about the finer details of a city when you're visiting; such as, how or when to tip, what do you do if you fall ill? We've tried to anticipate all of your queries with this list of useful information that's good to know before you travel. Here are some answers to those important questions and need-to-know answers to come to Paris prepared... you never know, just in case... Tips In French a tip is called a pourboire. Tipping in France is not compulsory though customary, and it is mainly a matter of personal discretion - so don't feel pressured! Here are some rough guidelines of how to tip in Paris: Taxi drivers will expect a tip around 10% of the metered fare, but that's not compulsory. Almost all restaurants, cafés and bars include 15% service charge (“service compris”) in their prices. If you are particularly pleased with the service it is customary to leave a little extra change for the waiter. At hotels, if you're in a particularly nice one - and depending on the level of service - give €8 to €15 to the concierge. Likewise, if you have a particularly good tour guide or museum guide, it is customary to tip your guide roughly €2-3 and up to 15% depending on the service and the quality of your tour. Security Paris is a pretty safe city and violent crime is uncommon - so no need to worry! Having said that, as you would elsewhere, exercise caution if you're walking alone and when it's dark at night and beware of pickpockets on the metro, on busy streets and even at Charles de Gaulle airport, where they target tourists. It's wise to...

  • Never keep your bag or luggage unattended
  • Never carry large amounts of cash
  • Split your money, credit cards and documents in different purses, pockets and bags
  • Carry your passport in a buttoned or zipped inside pocket
  • Leave your passport and identity papers at your hotel and just carry photocopies
Metro The metro sees 1.5 billion people travel on the metro system per year, so you can expect it to be busy pretty much any time of day. We would advise you to be careful on the moving escalators, especially at rush hours; and at any big stop (such as Opera, Châtelet, Gare du Nord, Montparnasse-Bienvenue, République ...) where crowds and queues can be quite overwhelming.Here's another tip, don't stand or sit near the door as it's easy for pickpockets to steal your bag and make a quick getaway just before the doors close! Lost or stolen documents In a worst case scenario and your identity papers go missing, you have to report it to the nearest “commissariat de police”. For missing passports, a special receipt will be given to you; this is needed to obtain replacements at your embassy or consulate. You need to do this in order to get back home! Health care and hospitals Pharmacies are everywhere in Paris and they are usually very good at treating 'over the counter' symptoms. They are signposted with a neon green sign and generally open from 8am until 8pm. Some pharmacies are open 7 days a week and 24 hours a day, or at least very late. If you need to see a doctor, the pharmacist can recommand one nearby, or one best suited to your ailment. They can even call the doctor and set an appointment for you if you don't speak French. If you make a doctor's appointment, you can expect to pay around 23 Euros. French doctors also make house calls when necessary - so if you're bed bound, don't worry, your concierge can also help set up an appointment. During the week-end and the night you can call the following health care numbers:
  • S.O.S Médecins: 01 47 07 77 77
  • SOS cardiologie: 01 47 07 50 50
  • SOS psychiatrie: 01 47 07 24 24
  • Pediatrician emergency service: 01 43 94 35 01
In case of real emergency call SAMU: 24 hours a day, a specialised doctor will answer you: SAMU Tel.: 15 If you require a hospital appointment, you can consult a general practitioner or a specialist, or go to the emergency services, depending upon the severity of your condition. If your French isn't good, there are three hospitals with English-speaking staff:
  • The American Hospital, 63 blvd Victor Hugo 92202 Neuilly, Tel. 01 46 41 25 25
  • The British Hospital, 3 rue Barbès 92300 Levallois, Tel. 01 46 39 22 22
  • The (French) Hôpital Foch, 40 rue Worth, 92150 Suresnes, Tel: 01 46 25 20 00
If your French is up to conversational standard, or better, you can also visit the Hospital de la Pitie Salpetriere, which is located in Paris’s city-centre. Salpetriere is known world-wide for its high standards at treating international patients. Don't forget, if you're from the EU your medical costs can always be refunded upon your return. So be sure to take an International Social Security form E111 with you.
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