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Passport and/or Visa Requirements: A passport is required for entry to France and Monaco. A visa is not required for a tourist/business stay up to 90 days in France, Andorra, Monaco, and Corsica, and for a one-month stay in French Polynesia. For further information on entry requirements for France, travelers may contact the Embassy of France at 4101 Reservoir Road, NW Washington, DC 20007, Tel: (202) 944-6000, or the French Consulate General in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York, or San Francisco. For further information on entry requirements to Monaco, travelers may contact the Consulate General of Monaco at 565 - 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10017, Tel: (212) 759-5227. The website of the French Embassy in the United States is: http://www.france-consulat.org.
SAFETY/SECURITY: Violent civil disorder is relatively rare in France. Occasionally, however, student demonstrations, labor protests or other routine demonstrations deteriorate into violent confrontations between demonstrators and police. For this reason, Americans are advised to avoid street demonstrations.
In recent years, France has been the scene of closely targeted political assassinations and random bombings. No U.S. citizens have been killed and only one has been injured. The bombings have resulted in an increased police presence at places where the public congregates. All passengers on subways and trains are urged to be aware of their surroundings and report any unattended packages to the nearest authority.
The Basque Separatist Party (ETA) and the National Front for the Liberation of Corsica (FLNC), continue to operate in the south of France and occasionally bomb local government institutions, banks, travel agencies, etc.
Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: France and Monaco both have relatively low rates of violent crime. Crimes involving larceny are, however, common. Pickpocketing, theft of unattended baggage and theft from rental cars or vehicles with non-local license plates are daily occurrences. Criminals frequent tourist attractions such as museums, monuments, restaurants, hotels, beaches, trains, train stations, airports and subways. Americans in France and Monaco should be particularly alert to pickpockets in train stations and subways. In general, travelers should carry limited cash and credit cards, leaving extra cash, credit cards, passports and personal documents at home or in a hotel safe.
While thieves may operate anywhere, the U.S. Embassy in Paris receives frequent reports of theft from several particular areas.
- Gangs of thieves operate on the rail link from Charles de Gaulle Airport to downtown Paris by preying on jet-lagged, luggage-burdened tourists. Often one thief distracts the tourist with a question about directions while an accomplice takes a momentarily unguarded backpack, briefcase, or purse. Thieves also often time their thefts to coincide with train stops so that they may quickly exit the car.
- The Number One Subway line, which runs by many major tourist attractions (The Grand Arch at La Defense, Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysees, Concorde, Louvre, Bastille), is the site of many thefts.
- Many thefts occur at the major department stores (Galleries Lafeyette, Printemps, Samarataine) where tourists often leave wallets, passports, and credit cards on cashier counters during transactions.
-Thefts from cars stopped at red lights are commonly reported, particularly in the Nice-Antibes-Cannes area, and in Montpelier and Marseille. The thief is usually a passenger on a motorcycle. Similar incidents have also occurred at tollbooths. Drivers should conceal from view purse, luggage, bags, and other items that may attract thieves. Car doors should be locked at all times during travel and windows closed or left only slightly ajar.
- Thieves often target vehicles with foreign or CD (Diplomatic Corps) license plates, or rental cars, which are easily identified as such by a license plate number ending in "51." Rental car companies are in the process of phasing out these license plates but this may take some time.
- Purse snatching by motorcycle riders is also common in the area. Over the shoulder bags should be avoided when out walking.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
U.S. citizens can refer to the Department of State's pamphlet "A Safe Trip Abroad" for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating the laws of France or Monaco, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in France or Monaco are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
DUAL NATIONALITY: U.S. citizens who are considered to have acquired French citizenship may be subject to compulsory military service and other aspects of French law while in France. Those who might be affected can inquire at a French Embassy or Consulate regarding their status. In some instances, dual nationality may hamper U.S. Government efforts to provide protection abroad. For additional information, see the Consular Affairs home at http://travel.state.gov for our Dual Nationality Flyer.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical care comparable to that found in the United States is widely available. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide for payment of medical services outside the United States, and U.S. medical insurance is not always valid in France.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: Check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation. Ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death. Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure "Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad," available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page and autofax service.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention9s international traveler9s hotline at tel.: 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); Fax: 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or by visiting the CDC Internet home page at http://www.cdc.gov.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of France9s Civil Aviation Authority as Category One - in compliance with international aviation standards for oversight of France's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet home page at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa.htm. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the Pentagon at (703) 697-7288.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning France and Monaco is provided for general reference only and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Roads in France are generally comparable to those in the United States, but traffic engineering and driving habits pose special dangers. Generally, lane markings and sign placements are not as clear as in the U.S. Drivers should be prepared to make last-minute maneuvers, as most French drivers do. French drivers usually drive more aggressively and faster than Americans. One particularity of the French traffic code is that of the right-of-way -- drivers entering intersections from the right have priority over those on the left (unless specifically indicated otherwise) even when entering relatively large boulevards from relatively small side streets.
Paris -- the capital and the major city in France -- has an extensive and efficient public transportation system. The interconnecting system of buses, subways, and commuter rails serves more than 4 million people a day with a safety record comparable to or better than the systems of major American cities. Similar transportation systems are found in all major French cities. Between cities, France is served by an equally extensive rail service, which is safe and reliable. High-speed rail links connect the major cities in France. Many cities are also served by frequent air service.
Drivers in France tend to exceed the posted speed limits. On the major highways, service stations are situated every 25 miles or less. Service stations are as plentiful on secondary roads as in the United States.
For specific information concerning French and Monegasque driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, contact the French and Monegasque National Tourist Office hotline at (202)659- 7779, or via the Internet at http://www.francetourism.com. For information about international driving permits, contact AAA or the American Automobile Touring Alliance.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: French customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from France of items such as firearms, antiquities, medications, business equipment, sales samples, and other items. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of France in Washington or one of its consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements. French authorities require an ATA (Air Transport Association) carnet under certain circumstances for the temporary importation of goods into France. The U.S. Council of the International Chamber of Commerce, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues the ATA carnet in the United States. For additional information contact the Council toll-free from within the United States at 1-800-282-2900, or via their web site at http://www.atacarnet.com.
Y2K INFORMATION: U.S. citizens contemplating traveling or residing abroad in late 1999 or early 2000 should be aware of potential difficulties. They may wish to consider taking practical precautions against possible disruptions of services triggered by the Y2K computer phenomenon. Monitor the home page of the Department of State for updates on Y2K issues. See also the Government of France's Internet home page (in French) on Y2K issues at: www.an2000.gouv.fr/cmain.htm.
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS: Americans living in, or visiting, France or Monaco may register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Paris or the Consulates General in Marseille and Strasbourg or the American Presence Post in Lyon to obtain updated information on travel and security within France and Monaco.
-- The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Paris is located at:
-- The Consulate General in Marseilles is located at:
-- The Consulate General in Strasbourg is located at:
-- The American Presence Post in Lyon is located at:
-- The Consulate General in Strasbourg and the American Presence Post in Lyon do not produce passports on premises. American citizens in these areas whose passports are lost or stolen and who have urgent travel needs should address themselves directly to the American Embassy in Paris.
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