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Healthcare in France

Life in France may bring you joie de vivre, but it is best to come prepared. The French can be very proud of their heritage, so get informed before starting your new life. Our expat guide to France will equip you with essential info on the locals, the language, and topics like healthcare.
A daily glass of wine is said to be good for your health.

You’re in Good Hands

The French healthcare system was named the best in the world by the WHO in 1997 and 2000. Both French citizens and expats benefit from a comprehensive network of hospitals, doctors, dentists, and other medical facilities. In 2013, more than 200,000 medical doctors working for state hospitals and private organizations were looking after the health of all French residents.

Different Types of Hospitals

France is the world-leader in medical research, and state hospitals are well equipped with modern facilities and treatment methods. Locally, all state hospitals are grouped within the Assistance Publique for one specific region. They are categorized in hospital groups (groupe hospitalier), general hospitals (centre hospitalier), and university hospitals (centre hospitalier universitaire).

All public hospitals in Paris, for example, can be found on the website of the Assistance Publique for Paris, the AP-HP. Dentists usually operate in private practices. There are also a number of walk-in clinics for mental health issues and social work, the Centres Médico-Psychologiques and Centres Médico-Psycho-Pédagogiques, which can be half public, half private.

Go See the Doctor, or Let the Doctor Come to You

Private hospitals are called cliniques and often specialize to a higher degree than state hospitals. Some private clinics offering, for example, rehab facilities, surgery for sport injuries etc., cooperate with state hospitals, so their facilities may be used to support public hospitals if necessary.

It is customary for French families to have a family doctor whom they consult first for all common ailments. Every doctor should issue you with a bill for the treatment you have received, which you will need for insurance claims.

Most doctors sign an agreement with Sécurité Sociale (social security in France) which regulates the fees they can charge for certain treatments. This is important when choosing a doctor: anything charged above this limit will not be reimbursed by Sécurité Sociale (although it might be by a supplementary health insurance provider).

You’re Well Taken Care of as a Mother-to-Be

First things first: a minimum of eight weeks of maternity leave are compulsory for every mother. This number of weeks increases after the second child.

Sixteen weeks of maternity leave (congé maternité) are optional. The eight additional weeks of congé maternité are unpaid, but families are eligible for benefits during this period.

Mothers-to-be who have been with their employer for more than a year are free to take up to two years out for bringing up their child (congé parental d’éducation). After this period they must be re-employed in the same position or a similar job.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

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