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In general, France is viewed as a "safe" destination. You don't need to get shots, most food is safe, and the water is drinkable. It is easy to get a prescription filled in French towns and cities, Provence and the Riviera have some of the best medical facilities in Europe, and finding an English-speaking doctor is generally no problem in most of the top resorts of the Riviera or major cities in Provence such as Avignon.

Contact the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT; tel. 716/754-4883 or, in Canada, 416/652-0137; www.iamat.org) for tips on travel and health concerns in France, and for lists of local, English-speaking doctors. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (tel. 800/232-4636; www.cdc.gov) provides up-to-date information on health hazards by region or country and offers tips on food safety. Travel Health Online (www.tripprep.com), sponsored by a consortium of travel medicine practitioners, may also offer helpful advice on traveling abroad. You can find listings of reliable medical clinics overseas at the International Society of Travel Medicine (www.istm.org).

Check the following government websites for up-to-date health-related travel advice: Australia (www.smartraveller.gov.au), Canada (www.hc-sc.gc.ca), U.K. (www.nathnac.org), and U.S. (www.cdc.gov/travel).

Safety

France is a generally safe country, although travelers should always be on the lookout for thieves and pickpockets. They frequent tourist attractions such as museums, monuments, restaurants, hotels, beaches, trains, train stations, airports, and subways. Passports should be carried on the body when necessary, and it's safer to wear a bag diagonally across the chest rather than on one shoulder.

Crimes involving vehicles with nonlocal license plates can occur. Car doors should be kept locked and windows closed while traveling in cities to prevent incidents of "snatch and grab" thefts. Similar incidents have also occurred at tollbooths and rest areas. Special caution is advised when entering and exiting the car because that offers opportunity for purse snatchings. There have also been a number of thefts at Nice Airport, particularly at car-rental parking lots where bags have been snatched as drivers have been loading luggage into rental cars. Also, try not to leave valuables in a parked car.

The loss or theft of a passport should be reported immediately to local police and your nearest embassy or consulate, where you can obtain information about passport replacement.

Anti-Semitism has been on the rise in Europe, especially in France, which has registered a significant increase in incidents against Jews. French Jews (not visitors from abroad) have suffered assaults and attacks against synagogues, cemeteries, schools, and other Jewish property. Officially, the government of France welcomes Jewish visitors and promises a vigorous defense of their safety and concerns. The French Government Tourist Office website (www.franceguide.com) has a FranceGuide for the Jewish Traveler in the "Publications" section with more information.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.