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How to get free help with French admin problems

Pimms Médiation can guide you through the maze of bureaucracy - even if you do not speak French

The walk-in agencies can help guide visitors through the maze of French bureaucracy Pic: Pimms Médiation

Pimms Médiation is a network of non-profit associations present in many towns in France with a remit to help people access public services and administration. We look at what it offers and how it could help you.

Short for Point information médiation multiservices, or multiservice mediation information points, Pimms Médiation is made up of 37 associations with 97 walk-in centres around France that offer face-to-face help with a variety of tasks.

The network is financed by the state along with partners in the private sector including La Poste, Veolia, Enedis and the SNCF.

What can Pimms Médiation help you with?

The Pimms Médiation network offers help on many aspects of everyday life in France.

In particular, they help with:

  • Access to legal services
  • Connecting to online services
  • Understanding public services
  • Administration and paperwork
  • Professional orientation
  • Creating a budget
  • Dispute mediation (with energy companies for example)
  • Finding the right service to address for your needs
  • Access to social services

Many of these areas overlap with those of France Services, a larger, government funded network of 2,750 walk in centres around the country.

However, Pimms Médiation told The Connexion that unlike France Services agencies, which can vary significantly in what they are able to propose, Pimms agencies have a standard model.

In places where both are present, Pimms Médiation works together with France Services to ensure that people have even better access to assistance.

Read more: French bureaucracy: 12 ways your local France Services office can help 

Can Pimms Médiation help people who do not speak French?

Pimms Médiation told The Connexion that part of its remit is in helping non-French speakers to access public services.

“We can’t guarantee that there will be an English-speaker to help you in every office, but we promise that we will be patient and try to help,” said communications officer Cassandra Garnier.

“But the only way to ensure that a given Pimms Médiation agency speaks English is to call or visit it.”

The Nice agency said that a majority of their visitors do not speak French as a first language. 

Many of them are immigrants who come for help with administrative tasks. However, the agency says that it also tries to see what other kinds of help each visitor could benefit from.

“Much of what we do is showing people how to go about their administrative tasks in the right order and at the right places,” said Ms Garnier. “If we can’t help directly, we will send people where they need to go.”

Where can I find a Pimms Médiation centre?

Pic: Pimms Médiation

The Pimms médiation network is unevenly distributed around France, with eight centres in the Lyon area and only three in the entire south-west - all of which are in Bordeaux.

If you want to visit a Pimms médiation agency, check here to see if you need to reserve a visiting time. Some agencies accept visitors without reservations.

Read more

What documents do non-French people need to purchase a car in France? 

Help desks at prefecture can support with French online administration 

‘The torturous tale of my missing carte Vitale and French bureaucracy’ 

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