Health and safety

Coronavirus update

Current situation in France  (March 21)

Since January 24, the Covid-19 virus has appeared in several clusters across France.   

On March 12, French President Macron announced that as of Monday March 16, all universities in the country will be closed until further notice, at least until the spring break which starts on April 10.  This includes the Institut International d'Études Françaises (IIEF), the language institute where Accès students take most of their classes. Students will continue their studies online. 

Beginning March 13, the Trump administration has issued a 30-day travel ban between the United States and most European countries, including France.   US citizens are not restricted from returning to the US.  The travel ban does not impact current students directly since the spring university semester in France lasts until the end of May. None of the current students were planning to travel to the US before then.

The French government has put in place confinement measures to limit the spread of the virus.  Since Tuesday March 17 and for a period of at least 2 weeks, people are asked to stay in their homes.  Exceptions such as purchasing groceries and going to the pharmacy are allowed.  Anyone who leaves his home must carry ID and a completed form or face a fine of 135 euros.

Foreign nationals are not allowed to enter the European Union, at least until April 17.  Some restrictions on travel within European countries have been put in place.  The border between France and Germany has been closed.  Flights leaving France have been greatly reduced, although some airlines continue to operate. 

No Accès students have contracted the virus.  All students are living with host families, an additional ressource for information and support.  All Accès students who wanted to return to the US have been able to do so.  Several have decided to remain.

The University of Strasbourg has not announced any interruption of the fall 2020 semester.

Accès Study Abroad response

Accès is closely monitoring the situation. We receive regular updates from French health authorities, the US embassy in Paris, the Centers for Disease Control  and the University of Strasbourg.  We meet regularly with the students to keep them posted as new information comes to light.

According to the World Health Organization, the French health care system is one of the best in the world.

We are asking Accès students to:

  • respect the law regarding circulation outside of their home until the end of the confinement period

  • be vigilant about hygiene, especially washing hands and touching possible sources of contamination

  • if they suspect they may be ill, to not go to a doctor's office but instead call the emrgency number "15"

  • follow the recommendations and policies of their home universities in the United States

For any student who prefers to return to the United States early rather than finish the semester in Strasbourg, Accès is offering a refund on the remaining housing and meal fees.  

Because many US colleges are closing as well, we have extended the deadline for submitting application materials for the fall 2020 programs to May 15.


Alerts for US citizens in France 

Emergency contacts Calling in Europe from outside France, add 00133 and drop initial 0 in numbers below:

  • Alex Neff, director: 06 67 18 92 33Hotel de Police Strasbourg
  • Andrea Neff, assistant director:  06 09 88 34 58
  • Mark Rasmussen, Centre College faculty in residence: 07 81 58 23 59 and Helen Willis, spouse 07 81 74 33 38
  • US Consulate in Strasbourg: 01 43 12 22 22
  • Ambulance (SAMU):  15
  • Police:  17 in France, 112 Europe.  The main police station is open 24/7 at 34 route de l'Hôpital, tram Etoile-Bourse
  • Fire department:  18
  • SOS Médecins (doctors on-call 24/7): 03 88 75 75 75
  • Poison center: 03 88 37 37 37
  • Rape hotline (Viol-Femmes-Informations): 0 800 05 95 95

Medical care:  For an emergency, dial 15 within France or 112 anywhere in Europe

You may consult the doctor of your choice.   You can find one near you and make an appointment using the app on your phone or the website Doctolib.  If it is not an emergency, print out the ISIC medical form, take it with you and ask the doctor to fill it out.  Keep all your receipts and turn them in to ISIC for reimbursement. If it is an emergency, get care immediately, contact Alex or Andrea as soon as you are able.

  • Dr Abenhaim, 35 boulevard Tauler.  speaks English.  walk-in consultations Mon, Tues, Thurs: 8:30-11:30 and 16:00-18:00; Wed: 8:30-14:30; Fri: 8:30-11:30.  Closed weekends.
  • Dr. Weinreber, 10 rue du Travail. walk-in consultations Mon & Wed 9-1, 4:30-6:30, Tues 8-1, Thurs 9-10, 2-7, Fri 4:30-7, Sat 9-10, 1:30-2:30
  • Dr. Jacques Metzger (Dentist), 28 ave des Vosges
  • Dr. Charles Nsengiyumva, (Gynecologist) 38 rue de la Première Armée, 03 88 25 59 59
  • Dr. Brigitte Soubrouillard (Psychologist who speaks English too), 1 rue St. Léon

If it isn’t an emergency but you can’t make it to the doctor’s office, call SOS Médecins at number above.  A doctor will come to your house any time day or night. Costs 75€. 

Pharmacies: identifiable by large green cross.  There is always a pharmacie de garde in every neighborhood open all night.  A list is posted at every pharmacy entrance or you can call 32 37 or visit this website. The closest one to Accès is at 3 ave de la Forêt Noire. 

Preventative medicine:  CAMUS is the free university medical service at 6 rue de Palerme: Sexual health, psychological consultations, vaccinations, sports medicine.

Emergency procedures

  • Earthquake, severe weather: Alert is given by 3 undulating sirens. Get under a table stand in an inside doorway. Stay away from windows. Protect your head with your arms.  Leave the building when safe. Beware aftershocks and falling objects from buildings.
  • Hazardous materials release, nuclear incident  Alert is given by 3 undulating sirens.  Go inside, close doors and windows, and if possible, seal them with tape. Turn on radio to France-Bleu Alsace: FM104.1.
  • Fire:  If possible and safe, try to extinguish fire with blanket or extinguisher.  If not possible to control fire, exit the building. Close doors and windows as you leave.  Yell to others to evacuate: “Au feu”.  Pull fire alarm and call the pompiers: 18.  Don’t use the elevator.  Stay close to ground to avoid smoke and breathe through a cloth.
  • Theft:  Contact the police immediately by dialing 17 (or 112) and Accès director.  You may need to file a report at the Hôtel de la Police on the rue du Vieil Hôpital.  If credit card is stolen, call BNP bank to “faire opposition à ma carte de crédit” : 01 40 14 44 00.
  • Evacuation from Strasbourg:  In the event of a major emergency and upon the advice of the US consulate in Strasbourg, Accès will make preparations to evacuate students from Strasbourg.  Students should:  1)  go home or to other safe place 2) call director, or if unreachable, call  one of the other emergency contacts.  3) If we do evacuate we will meet at one of the designated assembly points: CIARUS hostel 7 rue Finkmatt, or place de la gare. From there we will either take a bus or train to a safe destination such as Frankfurt airport.  If instructed to do so, students should pack very lightly and bring their passport.

Avoiding trouble

At night, avoid neighbourhoods with few people, especially around la gare.  Don’t walk by yourself.  You can get a taxi next to train station, on place Gutenberg and place de la République, or by calling 03 88 36 13 13.  Don’t draw attention to yourself on the street by speaking English, being loud or looking lost. On a bus or tram, sit at the front near the driver. In a bar/restaurant, keep an eye on your drink and don’t accept a drink you didn’t see being poured.

If you are being followed or harassed:

  • go where there are other people (a restaurant, a shop, a tram)
  • make noise to get help: “Au secours” or “A l’aide
  • dial 15 or 17 on your cellphone
  • if you have to fight, aim for the nose, eyes, groin or instep. Fingernails and teeth are weapons.
  • If you are a victim of an attack, call the police (17) and Accès director immediately, any time night or day.


Rape is defined in France as "an act of sexual penetration whatever its nature, committed on another person by force, corecion, threat or surprise" (Art 222.23 of the Code Pénal)  This means forcing a person to be subjected to vaginal, oral or anal pentration while using threat violence coercion or surprise.  It is a criminal offense in France.

If you are the victim of a rape, you are not responsible for what happened to you.  Help is available:

  • Call the police (17) or go directly to the police station at 34 route de l'Hôpital (near tram Étoile-Bourse).  Don't take a shower or change your clothes first.  Bring your passport and a change of clothes with you.
  • Don't go through this alone.  Call the Accès directors any time day or night.  Andrea and/or Alex will come.
  • At the station, you should tell the officer that you were the victim of a rape (Je viens porter plainte pour un viol.) If necessary, you can ask for an interpreter.
  • You will have to explain, probably several times to different officers, exactly what happened.  Questions may include: When and where did it happen? Were there witnesses? How did the assailant approach you?  Do you know his identity?  What did he say or do? When did you start getting scared?  Did he hurt you?  How did you react?  How did the assault end?   This information is essential for the police investigation.
  • If you are afraid for your safety, you can use the Accès office address instead of your address in Strasbour (7 ave de la Forêt Noire)
  • You should ask for a copy of your statement (déposition).
  • If you press charges (porter plainte) the police will have you examined by the Unité médico-judiciaire at the Hôpital Civil.  The police will excort you there.  A nurse will greet you, explain everything before it happens and accompany you through the whole procedure.  The examiner will conduct a gynecological exam, document and treat any evidence of violence, both physical and psychological.  You will be offered treatment and care for STDs, infections, AIDS and pregnancy.  You will be offered on-going counseling and medical treatment.  The examiner will write a report and give it to the police.
  • Over the next few weeks, the police will conduct an investigation.  The evidence they find will be turned over to the public prosecutor (procureur de la République) who will decide if charges should be brought against the assailant.  If so, the file is sent on to an investigating magistrate (juge d'instruction) who will formally charge the assailant.  If the case gets this far, you will be offered the opportunity to file a civil suit and see the entire judiciary file, including any statements made by the assailant.   At this point, you should be sure to have a lawyer counsel you.  The court can provide one for you, and you can get free legal advice at the Viols-Femmes-informations hotline number above.  You can continue to press charges, even if you have returned to the US.
  • If you don't press charges right away, you have ten years from the day of the crime to do so.  But the sooner the better.  Physical evidence on your body and clothes, as well as video surveillance footage may be lost within a few days.

Sexual assault

Sexual assault in France is an act "with no sexual penetration, such as harassment, sexual exhibition, molesting, hazing, etc" and is considered a misdemeanor (délit).  (Ar 222.27 of Code Pénal)  If you are vicitim of sexual assault, you should follow the same procedure above, explaining to the police: "Je veux porter plainte pour une agression sexuelle."

If you are the victim of theft:

You should report it immediately to the police.  Any insurance claim that you may be entitled to will require proof that you made a "dépôt de plainte" with the police.  Bring your passport and any information about articles stolen you can find (receipts, Velhop rental contract, photos) to the police station, any time day or night at 34 route de l'Hôpital.  You can call the Accès director to accompany you.

Travel prepared

  • Inform Accès and your host family of dates and destinations of travel.
  • Keep a photocopy of your passport and your Accès emergency card and 50€ in an envelope on your person and separate from your other valuables.
  • Register your itinerary with the US Department of State.  It is simple to do and free.  You will be informed by email or phone if there is a threat to US citizens at your destination.