If you need a doctor while in France but speak limited French, the prospect of finding one could seem daunting.
However, many of them speak English, and here we provide some guidance to help you find one.
How do doctors’ surgeries differ in France from the UK?
In France, many doctors traditionally practise alone and from offices that are often part of mixed residential and commercial blocks, although more and more are now grouping together.
President Emmanuel Macron in his election campaign in 2022, said he intended to double the number of multidisciplinary maisons de santé (community clinics with several medical services under one roof).
Independent doctors outside of hospitals are called libéral (meaning a professional working in a private practice) and their services are sometimes, slightly confusingly, described as soins de ville (‘town’ care).
How to find an English-speaking doctor in France?
There are several ways to find English-speaking doctors in France.
1. Use website doctolib.fr
You can use the popular website doctolib.fr to find an English speaking doctor online.
Once you select the specialism (eg. généraliste) and geographical area then you will obtain a list of doctors and you can narrow it down by languages spoken.
However, not all doctors make use of this site.
2. Use the Australian embassy list
The Australian embassy lists some English speaking doctors mostly located in the Paris area but also in Lille, Nice and Monaco here.
3. Use the American embassy list
Like the Australian embassy, the American embassy also provides an extensive list of (mainly Paris based) medical practitioners able to serve patients in English here.
It is possible to search this list by medical specialism.
4. American hospital of Paris
English speakers may find additional medical services available to them through the American Hospital of Paris which has hundreds of doctors on its books, many of whom see people as out-patients (see ‘Find a doctor’ at american-hospital.org).
This is the only American accredited hospital for civilians in Europe.
Alternatively, there is the Hôpital franco-brittanique (hopitalfrancobrittanique.org) also in Paris, which is run by the Hertford British Hospital Charity.
These are both private non-profit-making English speaking hospitals.
5. Riviera Medical Services
Riviera Medical Services (rivieramedical.com) is a partnership of doctors who speak English and are based across the Alpes-Maritimes.
6. SOS Médecins
The emergency home call outs service SOS Médecins (3624) also says that you may ask for an English-speaking doctor.
7. Ask in your area
If you feel your French is not sufficient to attend a French speaking doctor, ask around in your area to see if anyone can point you in the direction of an English-speaking practitioner.
Can the Cpam website help me find an English speaking doctor?
The Cpam website annuairesante.ameli.fr can help you find a doctor but you cannot search by languages spoken.
It is a directory of doctors (professionnels de santé) and clinics/hospitals (établissements de soins).
If you choose professionnel de santé, you may search by name, specialism or medical act plus location.
You may also specify a sector and specify either male or female doctors and ones who accept or do not accept reimbursement with a swipe of a health card.
Why can it be difficult to search for a doctor who speaks English?
Doctors are officially not allowed to advertise (eg. in press adverts) and there is no official way (on the internet or elsewhere) for a doctor who speaks English or who is of a certain nationality to market that information.
They should also not describe themselves in an overly ‘self-promotional’ or commercial way on websites.
However, saying they speak English would be allowed because it would be seen as ‘information’ not promotion, the doctors’ professional body told The Connexion.