In urgent matters, you just need to speak English to communicate effectively. Luckily, in France nowadays you can increasingly find English-speaking help with larger organisations. Find out below how to contact the useful English-speaking helplines in France, and how to do so if you live abroad and are calling France from the USA or calling France from the UK for instance.
Helplines for Healthcare in France
European Emergency Number
112 is the European Emergency Number. You can dial this number throughout Europe, free of charge, from a fixed telephone line or mobile phone, and reach emergency services (fire and rescue, ambulance, police).
Operators in France will be able to answer calls in English as well as in French (and in most cases should be able to respond in English in other countries as well).
This number operates alongside the other French emergency numbers, which are:
French Emergency Numbers:
- 112: European Emergency Number
- 15: SAMU (for ambulance and medical emergencies)
- 17: Police (in French: policiers)
- 18: Fire (in French: pompiers)
- Find a full list of French emergency numbers in our guide.
Carte Vitale / Health Insurance
Healthcare in France is largely covered by the state via mandatory enrolment into the state social insurance. CPAM, or the Caisse primaire d'assurance maladie, is the administrative body that manages healthcare in France at the regional level, but in most cases your first point of contact will be the Assurance Maladie, or Ameli. This is also the service through which you can sign up for your very own French Carte Vitale.
Students can either enroll with the Mutuelle des étudiants (LMDE) or with a regional mutuelle (find more information about your mutuelle options here), but working-age adults can contact Ameli directly.
Ameli has English-speaking help available at 36 46. Note that this is a paying number, and calls cost 0.06 €/min + any applicable operator call charges. To call from abroad, dial +33 811 70 36 46 (calls cost 0.06 €/min + long distance charges). Alternatively, the Ameli website has pages in English, so you will also find plenty of resources over on there.
Moving to France from the UK?Find out all you need to know about the process, pre and post Brexit in this dedicated article on moving to France from the UK.
SOS Help is an English-language line for internationals in France that need emotional support. It is run by the association SOS Help, and offers volunteer listeners that are trained in empathetic and non-judgemental listening seven days a week, from 3 - 11 pm. To join this line, dial 01 46 21 46 46.
Who to Call to Sort Out French Utilities
Below is a breakdown as to how to set up your energy and telecom contracts in France.
Set Up Electricity in France
Start electricity service in minutes with SelectraCall our dedicated English speaking helpline to open an electricity account in your name with an alternate supplier, and enjoy guaranteed savings compared to EDF regulated rates!
Just call +339 87 67 37 93, or get a free callback.
You need to open an account with an electricity provider to start electricity service in France. EDF (Electricité de France) is the historic and largest electricity supplier in France, and is currently the only one to offer a dedicated English language customer service line, available at 09 69 36 63 83. It also used to offer a network of EDF Boutiques nationwide, but these shut down in 2019.
Moving to France from the USA? Find out all about how to proceed, from your visa to healthcare in this guide dedicated to moving from the US to France.
Set Up Gas in France
As is the case for electricity, you need to open an account with a natural gas supplier in order to have gas service in France. Engie (formerly GDF Suez) is the largest natural gas supplier in France, and while it does have some English language customer support on its website, the company does not have a dedicated English-speaking customer service line.
Are you looking to start natural gas service? Call Selectra's English speaking customer service helpline at +339 87 67 37 93 or ask for a free callback (Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 8 pm, Saturday from 9 am to 6 pm) to open an account in your name with an alternate energy supplier at guaranteed savings compared to regulated rates
Setting Up A French Phone Plan
You have a choice of French telecom operators throughout most of France, from big suppliers such as SFR, Bouygues Telecom, Free Mobile and Orange, though homes in rural areas are still tied to the historical provider Orange (formerly France Telecom).
Orange has a dedicated English-language customer service line at 09 69 36 39 00.
You can also call Selectra at +339 77 55 72 27, or get a free callback (Monday to Friday from 9:30 am - 7:30 pm) to reach an English-speaking counsellor that will find a supplier and plan that meets your needs, free of charge.
Travel and French Transportation
Train Services in France
SNCF (Societé Nationale des chemins de fer français) is the national train operator for France. Their English speaking customer service number is 36 35. Dial 1 as soon as the call connects to access English-speaking customer help. Calls cost 0.40 €/min including tax, plus any fees charged by your telephone provider.
To book trains over the phone from abroad, call 00 338 92 35 35 35. You will be charged the cost of an international call, plus any applicable operator charges.
Air Services in France
For booking a flight, Air France's English-speaking customer help is available at 3654. Calls cost 0.35 € /min + any operator charges, and support is available seven days a week from 6:30 am to 10 pm (French local time). When calling from abroad, dial 0033 892 702 654.
Haven't found what you're looking for?Find more information about calling in France in our guide