France travel advice
Latest updates: The Health section was updated - travel health information (Public Health Agency of Canada)
Last updated: ET
On this page
- Risk level
- Safety and security
- Entry and exit requirements
- Laws and culture
- Natural disasters and climate
- Need help?
France - Exercise a high degree of caution
Exercise a high degree of caution in France due to the elevated threat of terrorism.
Safety and security
There is a threat of terrorism in Europe. Terrorists have carried out attacks in several European cities.
Over the past few years in France, several opportunistic and premeditated attacks have occurred. These have resulted in many deaths and injuries. Further attacks are likely.
The Vigipirate plan is a set of measures established by the French government to prepare and protect the French population, infrastructure and institutions in the event of an attack. The aim is also to allow rapid deployment of intervention measures if necessary.
As part of this plan, the government maintains a 3-level public alert system for terrorism. Changes in the threat level are communicated online and through local and national media.
Operation Sentinelle allows the deployment of military brigades in public places to patrol and deter terrorist acts. Enhanced security measures have been deployed in various strategic locations, including:
- transport hubs
- public places
- tourist locations, especially in Paris
Expect an increased police or military presence in public places, including some tourist locations, particularly in Paris.
Attacks can occur anywhere. Terrorists may target:
- government buildings and those of local authorities
- places of worship
- places dedicated to culture, such as exhibition galleries, museums, concert halls and theatres
- airports, railway stations and other transportation hubs and networks
- public areas such as tourist attractions, monuments, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners
While in France:
- always be aware of your surroundings when in public places
- be particularly vigilant if attending large gatherings such as sporting events and religious celebrations or other public celebrations
- Information on the terrorist threat in France - Ministry of the Interior (in French)
- How to react in case of a terrorist attack - Government of France (in French)
- Social media accounts of the Ministry of the Interior - Ministry of the Interior (in French)
Petty crimes, such as pickpocketing, and purse and mobile phone snatching are common.
Thieves are very skilled. They often act in groups and are often minors. They may use various techniques to divert your attention and steal your belongings.
Thieves are mainly active in large cities and busy places, such as:
- the main tourist sites
- department stores
- restaurants and patios
- hotel lobbies
- transport hubs
- public transport, in particular the Paris metro and the Île-de-France regional express network (RER) lines linking the capital to its surroundings
Violent crimes are rarer, but still occur.
Tourists are sometimes victims of violent attacks by groups of young people who want to rob them. These attacks usually occur :
- around major tourist attractions
- near railway stations
- on trains of the Île-de-France regional express network (RER) connecting the capital to its surroundings
Assaults can also occur outside night-time establishments and in more isolated areas at night.
Residential break-ins occur, especially in large cities and coastal areas. Burglars sometimes target houses or holiday rental apartments.
While in France:
- be vigilant, particularly when approached by strangers
- ensure that your belongings, including passports and other travel documents, are secure at all times
- avoid showing signs of affluence and carrying large sums of cash
- limit the use of mobile phones on public transportation and in crowded areas to ensure you remain aware of your surroundings and to avoid attracting attention
- don’t keep your credit, debit cards and cash in the same place
- never leave your bags unsupervised
- choose well-secured accommodation and make sure you lock doors and windows at night and when you’re away
Parked vehicles and vehicles on the road
Vehicle break-ins are frequent. Theft of parked cars or their contents is particularly common on beach roads in the south of France and at highway rest stops throughout the country, especially during the summer, when there is a high number of travellers.
- Leave nothing in view in the vehicle
- Use secure parking facilities
- Be particularly vigilant when renting automobiles, as rented vehicles are a target of choice
Drivers are often tricked into stopping their cars by thieves who either obstruct the road or distract the driver by flashing their headlights. They may also pretend that you have a flat tire or even puncture a tire themselves. Once the vehicle is stopped, the thieves seize the opportunity to steal a bag or other valuable objects.
- Beware of any person who waves at you to stop on the highway
- Be especially vigilant when stopped at traffic lights, as bags are often snatched from the front passenger seat by thieves travelling on scooters
- Keep windows closed and doors locked at all times
Victims of crime
If you’re a victim of theft, go to the nearest police station to report the crime. Keep a copy of your theft report, as you will need it if you wish to make a claim to your insurer. If the incident takes place in the metro, a metro officer can direct you to the nearest police station.
You can complete an online pre-complaint for certain types of minor crime, such as property theft, before going to the police station. This may speed up the process once you get there.
- Prevention advice for tourists - Préfecture de police de Paris
- Online pre-complaint - Ministry of the Interior (in French)
Credit card and ATM fraud
Credit card and ATM fraud occurs.
When using debit or credit cards:
- pay careful attention if other people are handling your cards
- use ATMs located in public areas or inside a bank or business
- avoid using card readers with an irregular or unusual feature
- cover the keypad with one hand when entering your PIN
- check for any unauthorized transaction on your account statements
Cybercrime occurs. Perpetrators may compromise public Wi-Fi networks to steal credit card or personal information.
- Avoid using unsecured public Wi-Fi networks
- Avoid making purchases on unencrypted websites
- Be cautious when posting information on social media
- Be particularly vigilant when contacting or meeting individuals known over the internet
Demonstrations occur frequently. They are usually planned as permission from the local authorities is required. However, unauthorized and spontaneous demonstrations also take place.
Even peaceful demonstrations can turn violent at any time. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.
Radical activists and vandals have a history of using aggressive and violent tactics during demonstrations in order to cause damage and provoke a strong response from the police. They sometimes throw stones, smoke grenades, bottles and other debris at rallies. The police normally respond with tear gas to disperse the crowds.
- Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations
Strikes and pressure tactics occur regularly, particularly in key sectors such as transport. These strikes can sometimes complicate travel and disrupt public services.
- Consult local media to be aware of strikes that may affect your stay or travel plans
- In the event of a transport strike, plan extra time to get to your destination
Swimming, boating and water safety
Coastal waters can be dangerous. Always obey warning flags at beaches.
The main warning flags used in France are:
- Green: calm waters, swimming is allowed
- Yellow: agitated waters, swim with precautions
- Red: dangerous waters, swimming is prohibited
- Purple: contaminated waters or presence of dangerous aquatic species, swimming is prohibited
In autumn and winter, be cautious when walking on the shore, as waves can be unpredictable, breaking further than expected and causing strong undertows.
- Avoid visiting beaches or coastal areas during periods of severe weather warnings
- Look out for signs warning of cliff erosion and falling rocks
- Don’t dive into unknown waters, as hidden rocks or shallow depths can cause serious injury or death
- Exercise caution and follow the advice of the local authorities
If you are planning to go boating:
- know the capacity of your boat (people and weight) and don’t exceed it
- know the navigation rules
- follow safe practices for all activities on the water: personal watercraft, water-skiing and towed devices, diving or swimming, fishing, etc.
- equip your boat with a VHF marine radio that will generate your position in case of emergency
- be prepared for emergencies
Search and rescue missions in France are carried out by the Regional Operational Surveillance and Rescue Centres (CROSS). In case of emergency, contact the centre on VHF radio channel 16 or by dialling 196.
Mountain activities, such as hiking, can be dangerous, especially if they are not well prepared. Trails are not always marked and weather conditions can change rapidly, even in summer.
In winter, heavy snowfall can make it difficult to reach some villages and ski centres. Roads may become impassable. There is also a risk of avalanches, some of which can be fatal.
If you intend to go hiking, mountaineering or skiing:
- never do so alone and do not part with your hiking companions
- buy travel insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation
- ensure that your physical condition is good enough to meet the challenges of your activity
- do not venture off marked trails or slopes
- ensure that you’re adequately equipped
- stay informed about weather and other conditions that may pose a hazard
- inform a family member or friend of your itinerary
- know the symptoms of acute altitude sickness, which can be fatal
- obtain detailed information on your activity and on the environment in which you will be doing it before setting out
- Information on mountain conditions - Association nationale pour l'étude de la neige et des avalanches (ANENA) (in French)
- Specialised mountain units - Gendarmerie nationale (in French)
- Avalanche forecasts and warnings - European Avalanche Warning Service (EAWS)
French roads are well maintained.
Drive carefully and respect the Highway Code.
Urban and intercity public transportation is reliable. When using these types of transport, make sure you validate your ticket and keep it until the end of your journey. The authorities carry out regular random checks and you may be fined if you do not have a validated ticket.
There is a problem of illegal taxis in Paris airports and train stations. These scammers charge much higher rates than the official ones.
- Ignore direct solicitations when leaving the airport or train station
- Use only official taxis or a trusted ride-sharing app
- Don’t share a taxi with strangers
We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.
Entry and exit requirements
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders. The Government of Canada cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet your destination’s entry or exit requirements.
We have obtained the information on this page from the French authorities. It can, however, change at any time.
Verify this information with the Foreign Representatives in Canada.
France is a Schengen area country. Canadian citizens do not need a visa for travel to countries within the Schengen area. However, visa-free travel only applies to stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Stays are cumulative and include visits to any Schengen area country.
If you plan to stay in the Schengen area for a longer period of time, you will need a visa. You must contact the high commission or embassy of the country or countries you are travelling to and obtain the appropriate visa(s) prior to travel.
Temporary border controls
The French government has reintroduced internal border controls at certain ports of entry. You may be required to pass through immigration controls when entering France, even if arriving from another Schengen area country.
Entry requirements vary depending on the type of passport you use for travel.
Before you travel, check with your transportation company about passport requirements. Its rules on passport validity may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Regular Canadian passport
Your passport must be valid for at least 3 months beyond the date you expect to leave the Schengen area.
Passport for official travel
Different entry rules may apply.
Passport with “X” gender identifier
While the Government of Canada issues passports with an “X” gender identifier, it cannot guarantee your entry or transit through other countries. You might face entry restrictions in countries that do not recognize the “X” gender identifier. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.
Other travel documents
Different entry rules may apply when travelling with a temporary passport or an emergency travel document. Before you leave, check with the closest foreign representative for your destination.
Tourist visa: not required for stays up to 90 days in any 180-day period
Long-stay or residency visa: required for stays longer than 90 days
Work permit: required
Student visa: required for stays longer than 90 days
More information on Visas - Government of France
Other entry requirements
Customs officials may ask you to show them a return or onward ticket and proof of sufficient funds to cover your stay.
Children and travel
To leave France, any child under the age of 18 who normally resides in France must be accompanied by at least one parent. Children travelling without at least one parent must be in possession of:
- an authorization to leave the country signed by one of the parents
- a photocopy of the signing parent’s identification
- More information on the authorization to leave the country - French administration services
- More about travelling with children
Learn about potential entry requirements related to yellow fever (vaccines section).
Dengue in France
A higher than expected number of dengue cases has been reported in France. Among the outbreaks reported in 2022, the largest ongoing outbreak is occurring in Provence-Alpes- Côte d'Azur.
Dengue is a disease spread to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. It can cause severe flu-like symptoms, and in a small percentage of people infected, the disease may progress to severe dengue, which can be fatal.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times to avoid getting dengue. The mosquitoes that spread dengue bite during the day and night. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
If you develop symptoms similar to dengue when you are travelling or after you return, see a health care professional. Tell them where you have been travelling or living.
Be sure that your routine vaccines, as per your province or territory, are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Some of these vaccines include: measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella (chickenpox), influenza and others.
Pre-travel vaccines and medications
You may be at risk for preventable diseases while travelling in this destination. Talk to a travel health professional about which medications or vaccines are right for you.
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
- There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
- Vaccination is not recommended.
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Tick-borne encephalitis is present in some areas of this country.
It is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).
It is spread to humans by the bite of infected ticks or when you consume unpasteurized milk products.
Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to ticks during outdoor activities.
A vaccine against TBE does exist but is only available in countries where the disease is present.
Learn more on what you can do to prevent tick-borne encephalitis (TBE)
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease. It can spread quickly from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air..
Anyone who is not protected against measles is at risk of being infected with it when travelling internationally.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are fully protected against measles.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease. It can spread from person to person by direct contact and through droplets in the air.
It is recommended that all eligible travellers complete a COVID-19 vaccine series along with any additional recommended doses in Canada before travelling. Evidence shows that vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization and death from COVID-19. While vaccination provides better protection against serious illness, you may still be at risk of infection from the virus that causes COVID-19. Anyone who has not completed a vaccine series is at increased risk of being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and is at greater risk for severe disease when travelling internationally.
For destination entry and exit requirements, including for COVID-19 vaccination requirements, please check the Entry/exit requirements section.
Regardless of where you are going, talk to a health care professional before travelling to make sure you are adequately protected against COVID-19.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Western Europe. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Insects and Illness
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
- In this country, risk of dengue is sporadic. It is a viral disease spread to humans by mosquito bites.
- Dengue can cause flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can lead to severe dengue, which can be fatal.
- The level of risk of dengue changes seasonally, and varies from year to year. The level of risk also varies between regions in a country and can depend on the elevation in the region.
- Mosquitoes carrying dengue typically bite during the daytime, particularly around sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
Zika virus is a risk in this country.
Zika virus is primarily spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. It can also be sexually transmitted. Zika virus can cause serious birth defects.
Pregnant women and women planning a pregnancy should visit a health care professional before travelling to discuss the potential risks of travelling to this country. Pregnant women may choose to avoid or postpone travel to this country.
- Prevent mosquito bites at all times.
- If you are pregnant, always use condoms correctly or avoid sexual contact with anyone who has travelled to this country for the duration of your pregnancy.
- Women: Wait 2 months after travel to this country or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer) before trying for a pregnancy. If your male partner travelled with you, wait 3 months after travel or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer).
- Men: Wait 3 months after travel to this country or after onset of illness due to Zika virus (whichever is longer) before trying for a pregnancy.
For more travel recommendations, see the travel health notice: Zika virus: Advice for travellers
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in Western Europe, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
Medical services and facilities
Health care is excellent and available throughout the country. Up-front payment may be required.
Make sure you get travel insurance that includes coverage for medical evacuation and hospital stays.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
You must abide by local laws.
Learn about what you should do and how we can help if you are arrested or detained abroad.
Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons
Canada and France are signatories to the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. This enables a Canadian imprisoned in France to request a transfer to a Canadian prison to complete a sentence. The transfer requires the agreement of both Canadian and French authorities. This process can take a long time, and there is no guarantee that the transfer will be approved by either or both sides.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences or heavy fines.
You may be subject to identity checks during your stay in France.
Always carry valid identification such as a driver's licence, passport or a copy of it.
Keep photocopies or digital copies of the following documents, in case of loss or seizure:
- the identification page of your passport
- your birth certificate
- your Canadian citizenship card
- your driver’s licence
Keep originals and copies in separate safe locations.
Concealing your face in public places
In France, it’s illegal to cover your face in public places, including international airport arrivals areas.
Offenders risk a very high fine. There is no exemption for tourists or for religious reasons.
- Identity checks - French administration services
- Concealment of the face in public places - French administration services
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in France.
If you are a Canadian citizen, but also a citizen of France, our ability to offer you consular services may be limited while you're there. You may also be subject to different entry/exit requirements.
International Child Abduction
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is an international treaty. It can help parents with the return of children who have been removed to or retained in certain countries in violation of custody rights. The convention applies between Canada and France.
If your child was wrongfully taken to, or is being held in France, and if the applicable conditions are met, you may apply for the return of your child to the French court.
If you are in this situation:
- act as quickly as you can
- contact the Central Authority for your province or territory of residence for information on starting an application under The Hague Convention
- consult a lawyer in Canada and in France to explore all the legal options for the return of your child
- report the situation to the nearest Canadian government office abroad or to the Vulnerable Children’s Consular Unit at Global Affairs Canada by calling the Emergency Watch and Response Centre
If your child was removed from a country other than Canada, consult a lawyer to determine if The Hague Convention applies.
Be aware that Canadian consular officials cannot interfere in private legal matters or in another country’s judicial affairs.
- List of Canadian Central Authorities for the Hague Convention
- International Child Abduction: A Guidebook for Left-Behind Parents
- Travelling with children
- The Hague Convention - Hague Conference on Private International Law
- Canadian embassies and consulates by destination
- Emergency Watch and Response Centre
You must be at least 18 years old to drive a car in France.
You should carry an International Driving Permit. You can drive with your Canadian licence for up to 1 year. If you stay in France, you will have to exchange your Canadian licence for a French licence.
Numerous roadside cameras have been installed to help enforce traffic regulations. You could receive heavy fines if you do not obey the speed limit or the Highway Code. Local authorities may also confiscate your driver’s licence.
Fines must generally be paid within 3 days. They may be increased in case of delay of payment.
A reflective vest and warning triangle are mandatory in all vehicles.
From November 1 to March 31, winter tires or chains are compulsory in some cities and regions in mountainous areas.
Priority to the right
The “priority to the right” system is in effect in France. Drivers must give way to vehicles approaching from the right at intersections, even on secondary roads. This is often a surprise to foreign drivers and results in accidents.
In general, traffic in a roundabout has priority over vehicles trying to enter it. Priority switches to vehicles from the left.
Some cities and territories have put in place low emission zones to reduce air pollution.
Access to these zones is restricted to vehicles that meet certain environmental standards. You may need to get a permit to drive in these areas.
- More information about road travel in France - European Commission
- Obligations to equip vehicles in winter - French administration services (in French)
- Air quality certificates: Crit'Air - Ministry of Ecological Transition (in French)
The currency of France is the euro (EUR).
If you are carrying €10,000 or more, or the equivalent in other currencies, you must make a declaration to customs when you enter or leave the European Union. It includes sums in:
- banknotes and coins
- bearer negotiable instruments such as cheques, travellers’ cheques, promissory notes and money orders
- bonds, shares
- gold coins with a gold content of at least 90 %
- gold bars, nuggets or clumps with a gold content of at least 99.5 %
- any other convertible asset
This does not apply if you are travelling within the European Union or in transit to a non-EU country.
EU cash controls - European Commission
Natural disasters and climate
There is a risk of avalanches in mountainous areas, which can cause fatal accidents. If you intend to ski or climb, find out about the weather and safety conditions and follow the advice given.
- Familiarise yourself with the avalanche risk levels - French administration services
- Information on mountain conditions - Association nationale pour l'étude de la neige et des avalanches (ANENA) (in French)
- Avalanche forecasts and warnings - European Avalanche Warning Service (EAWS)
There is a risk of seasonal flooding, particularly in areas along major rivers and streams. Flooding can hamper overland travel and the provision of essential services.
The French government has a flood forecasting service called Vigicrues.
- Exercise caution
- Follow the instructions of local authorities
- Stay informed of the latest regional weather forecasts
Flooding risk - Vigicrues
Forest and maquis fires
Forest and maquis fires often occur in summer, particularly on the Mediterranean coast and in Corsica.
The air quality in areas near active fires may deteriorate due to heavy smoke.
In case of a major fire:
- stay away from affected areas, particularly if you suffer from respiratory ailments
- follow the advice of local authorities
- monitor local media for up-to-date information on the situation
Dial 112 for emergency assistance.
Dial 17 to connect to the police.
Consular assistance - France
Please call the consulates before visiting them.
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada in France and follow the instructions
Consular assistance - Wallis and Futuna
For emergency consular assistance, call the High Commission of Canada in New Zealand and follow the instructions.
Paris - Embassy of Canada
French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, Monaco, La Réunion, Saint-Barthélemy, Saint-Martin, Saint-Pierre-et-MiquelonAppointment Book your appointment online
Nice - Consulate of Canada
Lyon - Consulate of Canada
Wellington - High Commission of Canada
American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Wallis and Futuna
At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.
The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, expressed or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided.
If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
Learn more about consular services.
- Date modified: