Most of us that have moved to France end up speaking French, some of us maybe a bit more easily than others. Sure, we can go to the boulangerie and order our pain au chocolat without any major issues. And the more adventurous of us maybe spend some time chatting with our neighbors at the local watering hole, chilled petit chablis in hand. However, when it comes to discussing our health, even the biggest francophones of us often prefer to have English speaking doctors and pediatricians.
Having an illness or a medical emergency is stressful. The last thing you want to worry about is a lack of clinical medical terminology or fighting to make yourself understood in a second language that you might not yet be too comfortable with.
Luckily, there are a number of resources that make it easy to find English speaking doctors in France! Embassies are a great wealth of information. They generally keep a list of doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other places where you might want to parlez en anglais.
Both the Australian Embassy and American Embassy have an updated list of English-speaking medical professionals around France. In fact, the American Embassy has an entire web page that lists different types of English-speaking professionals you might need while living in France, such as lawyers, accountants and notaries.
For situations where you might feel like you just need to reach out for a sympathetic ear, there is the SOS Help Crisis line (01 46 21 46 46) you can dial. SOS Help provides emotional support by telephone. Callers may speak in confidence and anonymity about whatever is on their mind to a non-judgmental, trained volunteer listener.
For more local information, it would be useful to ask your neighbors and the English speaking community around you. Often times, even though a service isn’t listed as speaking English, there is someone around with a good enough level of English to help you out. My wife and I discovered this with our pediatrician. I was having a hard time coming up with the word for “snot” and the pediatrician interrupted my bumbling and started speaking fluent English. He wasn’t even on the embassy list and there he was, across the desk from me and my crying little boy, telling me calmly to make sure I kept his nose clean while jotting down a prescription for a nose spray.
Whatever your level of French, you can rest assured that medically-speaking, it won’t be a problème grave.