Paris skyline at dusk

Travel Insurance for France

Travelling to France? Compare and select the right travel insurance for your French getaway

From the rich culture and history of Paris, to the stunning landscape of the French Riviera, France makes for an incredible holiday experience. Before you leave Australia to see the world class museum's and architecture for yourself, make sure you have a travel insurance policy.

Compare travel insurance quotes to France by filling out your trip details below

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What are some travel risks specific to France?

There are risks that visitors need to be aware of when travelling in France. These are hazards common to many European countries and include:

  • Increase in terrorist threats. Terrorism has become an escalating concern across the globe and France has not escaped its reach. There have been several incidents in recent years, including the murder of cartoonists in Paris in the Charlie Hebdo shootings and the recent Paris attack.
  • Civil unrest from protests and demonstrations. Protests and demonstrations are common in France and can turn violent at times. Tourists should avoid such gatherings, particularly at night and in outlying Paris suburbs.
  • Petty crime/pickpockets. Petty crime is widespread in France, particularly in larger cities where tourists are often the targets. Be vigilant on public transport, don’t leave belongings or hire vehicles unattended and only use ATMs in controlled areas such as banks and shopping centres.

There are risks such as these in every country to varying degrees and they serve to highlight why it is so important to have travel insurance when holidaying overseas.

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What activities should you consider getting extra cover for?

There are a huge range of activities to pursue in France, from bicycle riding by the Seine to skiing in the French Alps. They include:

  • Tramping – walking holidays are extremely popular in France and there are many tour operators offering packages.
  • Climbing – France is home to the majestic Pyrenees and mountain climbing can be all year round, although some of the higher routes remain snowbound until late in the year.
  • Cycling – France has some 60,000 kilometres of cycle paths and many tour operators specialise in French cycling holidays.
  • Skiing and snowboarding – the best skiing is in the Alps and downhill, cross-country and snowboarding are all catered for. You can learn more about travel insurance for the snow here.
  • Water sports – the Mediterranean offers a range of water sports including sailing, fishing, diving and jet skiing.
  • Motorcycling – this is a popular pastime in France, but due to the somewhat chaotic traffic conditions, tourists need to be extra vigilant.
  • Adventure sports – these include hang gliding and paragliding, popular in the Pyrenees and caving in the Alps, Pyrenees and Massif Central.

Some of these activities are regarded as being higher risk than others, particularly motorcycling and adventure sports, so it would pay to take out extra cover for those activities not automatically covered by your travel insurance.

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7753681500_b70e04047e_zThe dangers of cycling in Paris

Cycling is a popular means of transport in Paris, which has around 650 kilometres of dedicated cycle routes. Because of the number of cyclists on the roads and the famously erratic driving habits of Parisian motorists, cycling in Paris can be a dangerous pastime.

Between 2007 and 2012, 12 cyclists have died and more than 660 have been injured, which is a relatively low number, but should make you cautious nonetheless. Cycling around the Arc de Triomphe for instance can be particularly perilous, with traffic coming at you from all directions and no one apparently willing to concede right of way.

Do you have travel insurance cover?

So if you plan to cycle in Paris, make sure it’s covered by your travel insurance and read the PDS carefully to see what the conditions are. And if the cover doesn’t seem comprehensive enough, you might want to consider taking out extra cover … just in case. 

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What other European countries are usually covered for travel insurance?

European travel insurance cover

When travelling to France, it is likely that you will visit it's neighbouring countries and it is important to know exactly which countries are included. Always double check with your insurance provider, but generally, European countries covered by travel insurance include:

  • Albania
  • Algeria
  • Andorra
  • Armenia
  • Austria
  • the Azores
  • the Balearic islands (Ibiza, Majorca, Minorca)
  • Belarus
  • Belgium
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Bulgaria
  • Canary islands (Tenerife, Fuerteventura, El Hierro, La Gomera, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma)
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Egypt
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Kazakhstan
  • Latvia
  • Lebanon
  • Libya
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • FYR Macedonia
  • Madeira
  • Malta
  • Moldova
  • Monaco
  • Morocco
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • San Marino
  • Serbia
  • Republic of Montenegro
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Tunisia
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom
  • Vatican City
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How do I make a medical claim

The French hospital system

If you are unlucky enough to become ill or injured in France, you will be glad you took out travel insurance with overseas medical cover. France has no Reciprocal Healthcare Agreement with Australia and the average cost per day in a French public hospital is around $517.53.

General claims procedure

Ideally, you want your hospital bills to be paid directly by your insurer and some hospitals require such upfront payment. So when making a claim, you will need to contact your insurer and request upfront payment of your medical bills and submit a claim form, along with any necessary supporting documentation (i.e. medical bills, police reports etc).

Always read your policy carefully

This piece of advice is crucial, as your eligibility to claim will largely depend on certain conditions in the fine print of your policy.

Julia's excess surprise

Julia had worked long hours in hospitality to fund her 6 month Euro-trip on a budget. Just before she left, Julia bought a basic travel insurance plan from Virgin. After nearly 6 months of exploring the continent, Julie decided to spend her final week and what was left of her budget, in the southern part of France, Nice. On a lazy afternoon spent at the beach, Julia cut her feet badly on broken glass. With blood rushing out of her feet, she was rushed to Hospital Saint-Roch. The costs of the ambulance, stitching and other hospital costs totalled over $5,000. When Julia attempted to claim she was quoted a $500 excess charge, sending her into a severe panic as she had withdrawn from her emergency funds to pay for her final week's accommodation. Luckily, Julia was able to nominate her Dad to pay for the excess and return home smoothly, with the hospital bill taken care of.

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Who do I contact in an emergency?

If an emergency situation arises while you are holidaying in France, there are several ways you can get help:

  • Call friends and family. Especially if you need urgent cash.
  • Call the insurer’s 24/7 emergency hotline. Most insurers offer overseas support.
  • French police. Use national emergency line 112, if it is related to a crime.
  • Australian Embassy. Locations and contact details can be found below.

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What are the specific entry requirements or rules for France?

Visa for over 90 days of stay

As a general rule, Australians holidaying in France or in countries that are part of the "Schengen" convention for less than 90 days do not need a visa. If you are planning to spend more than 90 days, you will need to apply at the French Embassy in Australia for a visa before you depart

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When is the best time to travel to France?

Climate should not be a major consideration when planning your trip to France. The weather is largely wet and unpredictable, with the most reliable weather being on the Mediterranean coastline, where winter is short and summer is long and hot. 

A more important consideration is tourism numbers. The main French holiday periods are from mid-July to the end of August and as most French people holiday at home, almost the entire country closes down at this time, apart from the tourism industry. School holidays should also be avoided in Paris around Easter and in the ski fields in February, as tourism numbers (and prices) skyrocket.

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Organising money for France?

France uses the Euro as its currency and money can be changed at most post offices (banks, airports, ferry ports and train stations all offer poor exchange rates). You will need cash for smaller purchases and in rural areas and it should be in smaller denominations, as larger notes will often not be accepted.

Credit cards are widely accepted in major cities and towns, although some businesses only accept French credit cards. If your bank has an associate bank in France, you can get money from an ATM at a reasonable exchange rate and with no transaction fees. Travellers’ cheques are another option, although these are no longer widely accepted and require a trip to the post office to cash.

One way to carry and access money in France is to purchase a pre-paid travel card before you leave home. The better travel cards don’t charge a conversion fee or withdrawal fee and reward you with bonus points every time you spend.

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Common scams in France

As in many parts of the world, tourists can be seen as fair game by less desirable locals. When travelling in France, always carry your money securely in a money belt or internal pocket and be on the lookout for pickpockets, thieves and scam artists, particularly around major tourist attractions such as the Eiffel Tower. Popular scams include:

  • The gold ring. A gypsy will ‘find’ a gold ring and give it to you. If you take it, they will demand their share of its value
  • The string trick. A magician will show you a magic trick by tying a piece of string around your finger. While your arm is disabled, an accomplice will steal your wallet
  • The clumsy jogger. A jogger will ‘accidentally’ bump into you and then steal your wallet while helping you to your feet
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5 steps to selecting travel insurance 

When selecting the level of travel insurance you will need, there are five questions to ask yourself:

  • Where are you going? Understand which part of France you are going, some parts of France may have a higher crime rate for instance
  • How long are you going for. Decide on single trip or annual multi-trip cover
  • What will you do there? Ask yourself if you will need extra cover for risky activities such as cycling
  • Are you taking valuable items? Consider extra cover for expensive cameras and electronics
  • Do you have any medical conditions? Make you declare any pre-existing medical conditions and pay for any extra cover necessary

General benefits and exclusions

Travel insurance offers a range of benefits, including cover for medical expenses and evacuations, cancellations and delays and loss or theft of belongings. However, there are some common exclusions where cover will not be provided. These include;

  • Unattended belongings
  • Unapproved pre-existing medical conditions
  • Incidents involving reckless behaviour
  • Risky activities for which you do not have extra cover
  • Travelling against government advice
  • Ignoring road and driving rules
  • Changing your mind and choosing not to travel

As this guide shows, there are risks involved with travelling to any country and France is no exception. But as long as you exercise common sense and have comprehensive travel insurance to cover the unexpected, there is no reason why your French getaway shouldn’t be a safe and memorable experience.

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Picture:Moyan Brenn , licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (image cropped)

Picture:Franz-Michael S. Mellbin, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (image cropped)

*Price based on quote for basic policy for 2 weeks trip for 18 year old traveller. Please note that prices are subject to change.

*The use of terms 'Best' and 'Top' are not product ratings and are subject to our disclaimer. You should consider seeking independent financial advice and consider your own personal financial circumstances when comparing travel insurance policies.

Picture: Shutterstock

Maurice Thach

Maurice is a publisher for finder.com.au. Daily research of Australia's insurance offerings allows him to breakthrough the noise of the many policies out there to uncover what can (and can't) be covered. Maurice hopes to make finding the right insurance easier for all.

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