France

The Eiffel Tower - instantly recognisable
The Eiffel Tower - instantly recognisable

France is widely regarded as an extremely popular holiday resort for tourists, featuring world-famous attractions such as the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the Arc de Triomphe.

Around 17 million British nationals visit France each year, which can be accessed from the United Kingdom either by a short airplane journey or ferry ride.

Train, plane or automobile?

A ferry trip from Dover to Calais takes roughly an hour and a half, an airplane journey from London to Paris is around 30 minutes long, while those taking the Eurotunnel from London to Paris can expect a trip of at least two hours and 15 minutes.

Regardless of your choice of travel, the time spent travelling to France from the UK should not interfere with your diabetes too much.

However, if you are unsure about managing your diabetes while travelling you should consult your diabetes team.

Time difference

The time difference in France is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, which should not greatly affect your diabetes management.

You should discuss your management without your diabetes specialist if you have any doubts regarding medicating in France.

Climate

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The climate of France is very similar to that across the UK.

If you plan any activities in the sun, however, be wary that insulin absorption is enhanced in warm weather so you should regularly check your blood sugar levels.

Diabetes association

The diabetic association of France is the Association Française des Diabétiques, which has been a member of the International Diabetic Federation (IDF) since 1952. The address is:

  • Association Française des Diabétiques,
    88 Rue de la Roquette,
    FR-75544 Paris Cedex 11,
    Tel: +33-1-40092425,
    Email: afd@afd.asso.fr

It is important to note the diabetes associations in the country you are travelling to in case of an emergency.

Currency

The currency in France is the Euro, although many restaurants, hotels and shops will accept credit and debit cards, while money can be exchanged within hotels and money exchange services.

Vaccinations

There are no mandatory vaccinations required to enter France, however rabies is present in bats in France, so it is advised for those planning activities in remote areas that put them at risk for bat bites to receive a rabies vaccine.

If you believe you may require this vaccine then it is advised to consult your doctor eight weeks before travelling which should allow enough time for you to receive it.

Otherwise, the opportunity should be taken to ensure existing vaccinations such as your yearly flu jab and those against polio and tetanus are also up to date.

Have you got a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)?

France is amongst the European countries that allow you to receive state healthcare either at a reduced cost or sometimes for free. It will cover you for medical treatment until you return to the UK.

It is best to apply for an EHIC card directly through the NHS. Your card will usually arrive within seven days if you have applied through the NHS, but it is best to apply two weeks in advance to allow for any delays.

Insulin

You should note which syringes are available in France, with U-100 syringes the most commonly used.

The vast majority of insulin in the UK is U-100 insulin. If you need to take a different strength of insulin, say in an emergency, it’s important that you use the correct device and syringes for that insulin.

For example, you would use a U-40 syringe for U-40 insulin. You will need to work with a doctor getting the right dose if you’re using a different form of insulin.

Access to medication

Medication is available in France, but payment is required from a pharmacy, for which the French translation is conveniently ‘pharmacie’. However, possessing an EHIC card allows you to receive treatment at a lesser cost and this money can be recouped when you get back into the UK.

Many French pharmacies are normally open between 0830 and 1930 with most closing for two hours at lunchtime. Blood and urine testing kits are available from many pharmacies in France.

Tthe emergency services telephone number to be called in France is 112. Alternatively, the number 15 can be called.

Questions

  • How is blood glucose measured in France? Blood glucose levels are measured in mg/dl
  • What language is spoken in France? French, although many locals will have a decent grasp of English, especially those that work in a customer service environment.
  • Will I need an international driving license when driving in France? No
  • If I want to hire a vehicle during my visit, will I face any form of discrimination? No
  • What sugar free drinks are available in France? Mineral water, Diet Coke, Diet Soda
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