France Travel Advice
Security travel advice for France
How safe is France?
Threat level: Medium-High
Following the attack in the city of Strasbourg on Monday 11th of December 2018, France has raised its security alert level to 'emergency attack' with 'the implementation of reinforced border controls and tightened controls on all Christmas markets in France to avoid the risk of a copycat' attack.
On the 11th of December 2018, a shooting took place at a Christmas market near the Grandes Arcades street and the Kleber place in the eastern French city of Strasbourg, shortly after 8pm local time. Three persons have been killed and sixteen persons have been injured. The attacker, Cherif Chekatt - a 29-year-old local man, ran away from the scene and was found 48 hours after the attack and shot by police. The Strasbourg Christmas market has since been reopened.
Caution is advised for the country, following recent attacks within France and the current migrant situation, the French domestic terror threat is currently be alert of a potential attack.
Following the government's new plan on implementing a new tax for fuel to combat global warming, protests against it are taking place all over France by protesters wearing yellow vests (les gilets jaunes); expect disruptions, including blocked roads and motorways. Visitors in France are reminded not to take part in any demonstrations that can turn violent, as this could lead to arrest. Further to the riots in Paris on the 1st of September, Macron mulls state of emergency.
On the 1st of November 2017, the end of the state of emergency was declared and was replaced by a new counterterrorism law. This law gives law enforcement agencies greater powers to conduct house searches and identity checks, especially at border crossings, put suspected jihadist sympathisers who are not accused of a specific crime under house arrest, and close places of worship, if suspected of preaching extremist views. A piece of photographic I.D. must be carried at all times as it is compulsory under French law.
For specific security threat information with regards to Paris, see our: Paris Travel Advice.
On the evening of the 12th of May 2018, a lone attacker killed one person and injured a number of others in Paris. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.
On the 23rd of March 2018, a gunman shot a policeman and took hostages in a supermarket in Trèbes (near Carcassonne) in the South of France. The gunman claimed to be from the Islamic State group and asked for the terrorist, Salah Abdeslam, to be freed. He was shot by the police. 4 people died in the attack and 15 persons were injured.
In the past few years, there have been a number of lone wolf knife attacks at a number of train stations in France, in what is being seen as a change in tactic by ISIS followers. The latest of these attacks took place in Marseilles, on Sunday the 1st of October.
On the 8th of August 2017, a suspected terrorist attack was carried out by a driver of a BMW, who drove into a group of soldiers leaving their barracks in Levallois-Perret, a northwestern suburb of Paris.
On the 19th of June 2017, the Champs Elysees was cordoned off, following a car crashing into a police van which burst into flames. The driver was knocked unconscious and seriously injured, he was found to be armed. No one else was hurt during the incident.
On the 6th of June 2017, a man attacked and injured a police officer with a hammer at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. The attacker was shot by colleagues of the officer.
On the 20th of April 2017, two gunmen shot and killed a Police officer, injuring another on the Champs-Elysees in the centre of Paris. For more information, see our Paris page. Paris Travel Advice
On the 18th March 2017, there was a shooting at Orly Airport, where a man snached a weapon from a French Soldier, before being shot dead by security forces. This attacker was also involved in an earlier incident in the North of the city.
In Febuary 2017, there was an attack in the Louvre museum in Paris. A French soldier opened fire after a man entered the Louvre museum with a knife and is believed to have tried to attack the soldier. It is thought the attacker was shouting 'Allahu Akbar' during the attack.
In August 2016, there was rising tensions on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, after a village mayor banned Burkinis, a full-body Islamic swimsuit, in response to a brawl between families of North African descent and local youths, in which 5 were injured.
The situation quickly escalated and turned violent when cars were burned and weapons were used in the fight.
This comes just days after the mayor in Cannes also banned Burkinis in the south of the country, amid increasing tensions in the country. No one has been arrested for the violence that has happened yet as investigations continue.
Two armed men took a number of church goers hostage at a church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, northern France, in late July 2016. Both men were shot dead by police after brutally killing one of the hostages. It is thought that the attack is terror-related and that one of the attackers was being monitored by the police, having tried to travel to Syria to join ISIS on two occasions. A further two individuals believed to have been involved in the planned attack, have been arrested by police.
France has been subject to a number of attacks in recent months, such as the Nice attack on 15th July 2016, in which a truck ploughed through large crowds of people. Eighty-four people were confirmed dead and over 100 injured. Guns and ammunition were found in the back of the truck, “suggesting a premeditated attack,” according to Le Figaro.
The attack, which was aimed at a Bastille Day celebration, caused maximum damage and publicity as the truck hit what could be classed as a soft target. The driver was reported dead after forces had shot at the oncoming vehicle.
It is believed that the attack is linked to ISIS in a response to their calls to attack civilians of countries involved in the coalition to bring the terrorist group down. Visitors to France should remain on high alert and keep a look out for any suspicious behaviour.
French troops are being redeployed to popular tourist destinations to provide additional security during this period of instability.
In present day France, the terror threat is from Islamic-sponsored groups of individuals following their ideology. Recent attacks include Daesh (ISIS), who are claiming responsibility for the recent coordinated Paris attacks, where 130 people were killed with 300 injured and the Saint-Quentin Fallavier beheading in Port de Vincennes, where a Jewish supermarket was targeted. In January 2015, there was an attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo’s office in Paris, which killed 14 and injured 22 people.
Crime is reasonably low in France but tourists should still be aware of petty crime in popular destinations, such as Paris and Nice, also whilst riding public transport all places where there may be pick-pocketers and bag snatchers. Criminals have been known to ask unsuspecting individuals for money or scamming them with fake information. This is particularly bad at the Gare du Nord in Paris, where many pose as ticket advisers asking for bigger prices. Car theft, vehicle break-ins, petty theft and burglary are the most common crimes to remain vigilant to.
In the past, Corsican nationalist group (FNLC) have been responsible for a number of explosions in tourist locations, including public establishments and holiday destinations. Although many of these attempts have failed, travellers are advised to remain wary of any suspicious behaviour.
France's International Relations
France is a prominent international country that plays an important role in European and world politics and has many links with other countries, especially being part of the Schengen agreement. France is one of the founding member of the United Nations, of NATO and of the European Coal and Steel Community.
The French police and intelligence service are highly professional, but with France's porous borders with the rest of Europe and the influx (mainly North African) of immigrants, the intelligence battle is hard fought.
Travelling around France
If you are planning to drive in France, make sure to be vigilant of other road users, particularly in congested areas like Paris and at road junctions. In your vehicle, you must carry a red reflective warning triangle and a high-visibility vest at all times, failure to do this can result in large fines.
Beware of taxi drivers and make sure that you only use properly licensed, marked taxis. Licensed taxis are marked by a white roof sign and quite often the driver’s professional identity card is displayed on the left-hand side of the windscreen.
The political situation in France is currently stable, however, people should be wary of outbreaks of social unrest, such as strikes. Pay particular attention to strikes involving public transport, such as air strikes and train strikes.
The French government has also recently enforced a new employment law featured in the Code de Travail that has taken effect as of 1 January 2016. This has mainly affected French workers which has led to more strikes, often leading to political outbursts, such as demonstrations, blocking of roads, railway tracks and even blocking fuel depots. This causes huge congestion on the roads and extended delays on trains. Bear this in mind when travelling through France and if travelling by car, think about taking an additional supply of fuel. More information about fuel restrictions through the Euro Tunnel can be found here: France fuel restrictions
Large public events and gatherings have been restricted for the safety and security of the population due to the recent surge in European-based attacks. If you do see a large gathering beginning to develop, avoid the situation at all costs.
Emergency services in France
General emergency from a mobile/cell: 112
Police emergency: 17
Fire emergency: 18
Ambulance emergency: 15
Religion: Christianity (Roman Catholic)
Time now in Paris:
Consular information for France
U.S. Embassy Paris
4 avenue Gabriel,
Telephone: +33 1 4312 2222
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +33 1 4312 2222
British Embassy Paris
35, rue du Faubourg St Honoré,
Paris Cedex 08,
Telephone: +33 1 4451 3100 (British Embassy Paris)
Telephone: +33 5 5722 2110 (British Consulate Bordeaux)
Telephone: +33 4 9115 7210 (British Consulate Marseille)
Visa requirements for France
Visitors to France are only exempt from entry and long-stay visa requirements if they are from: Member States of the European Union and the European Economic Area (EEA), Andorra, Monaco and Switzerland. Other passport holders such as American and Canadian citizens, may enter France for up to 90 days without a visa. If you are still unsure, please check with your local French Embassy.
Healthcare and Immunisations
It is advised that visitors to France are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. It is further recommended that most travellers also get a Tetanus vaccination. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
The healthcare in France is of a very high standard. It is advised when travelling to France to obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) but take into account that for some medical assistance, you may still have to pay. Other international visitors such as those from USA and Canada, are also strongly advised to obtain comprehensive travel insurance in order to cover all expenses overseas.
Our office in France
In 2017, Intelligent Protection International Limited opened an office in Paris, France to better serve our Clients.
For further information on our services in France, see: Close Protection Services in FranceIntelligent Protection International Limited - France
Tel: +33 1 53 531411