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The French vocab you need to get a Covid test in France

Need a Covid test but worried about your level of French? This little language guide can come in handy for foreigners who need to get tested in France.

The French vocab you need to get a Covid test in France
France has massively expanded its testing programme since last spring. Photo: JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK / AFP

Getting a Covid test in France is, fortunately, a pretty straightforward procedure, even for visitors.

READ ALSO: How can tourists and visitors in France get a Covid test?

However, you might not be able to find a pharmacy or testing centre where the staff speak English, especially if you are in a rural part of France.

First, some quick testing vocab:

Dépister – to test

Dépistage – testing

Un test Covid – a Covid test

Un test PCR (pronounced pay-say-air) – a PCR test

Un test antigénique – an antigen test, referred to as a lateral flow test in some countries

Un autotest – a self-test

Test salivaire – saliva test

Test sérologique – antibody test (some testing centres offer these finger-prick tests in addition to the nasal swabs, to determine if you have previously had Covid)

S’isoler – self-isolate

Une ordonnance – a prescription (you won’t need this to get tested for Covid in France)

Sans rendez-vous – no appointment, ie a walk-in centre

When making an appointment to get a Covid test:

Bonjour, je voudrais prendre un rendez-vous pour faire un test Covid, s’il vous plaît – Hello, I’d like to get an appointment for a Covid test, please.

J’aimerais bien faire un test PCR / antigénique / sérologique – I’d like to do a PCR / antigen / antibody test.

Combien coûte le test ? – How much does the test cost?

Oui, j’ai une carte vitale / Non je n’ai pas de carte vitale. – Yes, I have a French health security card / No, I don’t have a French health security card. [if you don’ have the card you can still get a test, but you will likely have to pay for it. Costs vary but are capped at €22 for an antigen test, €54 for a PCR test]

Non, je n’ai jamais eu la Covid. – No, I’ve never had Covid.

Oui, j’ai déjà eu la Covid, il y a quelques mois. – Yes, I’ve already had Covid, a few months back.

If you’re trying to get tested without an appointment:

Est-il possible de faire un test Covid sans rendez-vous ? – Is it possible to get a Covid test without an appointment?

Before getting the test, the health staff might ask you:

Presentez-vous des symptômes à la Covid-19 ? – Do you present Covid-19 symptoms? 

Some symptoms you might want to describe are;

  • Une toux – a cough
  • Un mal de tête – a headache
  • Une fièvre – a fever
  • Des difficultés à respirer – difficulty breathing
  • La fatigue – tiredness

Êtes-vous cas contact ? – Are you a contact case?

Voulez-vous un test antigénique ou PCR ? – Do you want an antigen test or a PCR test?

When getting tested, you might want to say:

Dans combien de temps arrivent les résultats ? – How long does it take for the results to arrive?

Comment allez-vous me contacter? – How are you going to get in touch with me?

Par SMS – by SMS or text message

Par mel/par courriel – by email

Est-ce que ça fait mal ? – Does it hurt?

Aïe, ça fait mal ! – Ouch, that hurt! (hopefully won’t need this one).

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French motorway breakdown services cost rises

Breaking down on a French motorway just got more expensive, as the government raised the prices that breakdown services can charge.

French motorway breakdown services cost rises

If you do break down, you should use the nearest emergency call box rather than your mobile phone (they’re about 2km apart). This puts you immediately in touch with the motorway company, and means your car is easier to locate. 

READ ALSO: Who to call and what to say in a driving emergency in France

If your vehicle can be repaired at the side of the motorway in 30 minutes or less, you will be charged a government-set fee. A decree published in September 2022 indicated that the fee would rise from €131.94 in 2021, to €138.01, plus parts.

If, however, the repair is likely to take longer, your vehicle will be towed. You can decide whether your vehicle is taken to the garage to which the truck belongs, or one of your own choice, or another location within an acceptable distance.

For breakdown assistance that requires a tow (to a rest or service area, to a garage or to a location chosen by the motorist), this rate – again, set by the government annually – varies according to the weight of the vehicle.

These charges are now:

  • €138.01 for vehicles weighing no more than 1.8 tonnes (up from €131.94 in 2021);
  • €170.65 for vehicles with a total weight greater than 1.8 tonnes and less than 3.5 tonnes (up from €163.15).

Be aware: Add 50 percent to these charges if the call was made at weekends and public holidays, or between the hours of 6pm and 6am Monday to Friday.

Meanwhile, running out of fuel is not considered an unforeseen emergency for stopping at the side of a motorway. Motorists are expected to keep an eye on their fuel gauge and ensure they have enough fuel to complete their journey or to be able to reach the nearest service station.

For full details on what to do if your car breaks down in France, plus some handy French vocab, click HERE.