You just arrived in France – congrats!
You’ve tasted some great food, learned to do “la bise” in the morning and mastered the “pff” that can mean “I don’t know”, “I don’t care”, “I don’t have an opinion”…
But there’s still a few steps for you to fully enjoy your time there.

1. Open a French bank account💰

We know that you’re an adult and that you already have your own bank account – however in France, you will need a French bank account for all the fun following steps.
The good news is, it’s fairly easy for you to open an account : just go to the BNP Paribas bank office of CEA Cadarache in cantine 1.
They are open grom 12.15 to 2.45.
Just tell them that you are a PhD student of CEA and you will not have to pay to open it.

2. Get a French phone number ☎️

The second thing you need and that will simplify your life in France is to have a French phone number.
For example, Red by SFR is a cheap company, but you can find the company and the offer you like best. Find all options at

Easy peasy lemon squeezy, right ?
Once those first steps are done, you can start with the you did the two first points, you can start with the difficult difficult lemon difficult stuff.

3. Be part of the French health system 👩‍⚕️👨‍⚕️

The French health insurance system is two-headed : the general health insurance system (sécurité sociale) and your insurance (mutuelle) work hand in hand to pay for your bills, partly or entirely.

You need to have a social security number (numéro de sécurité sociale) to access these benefits. Like in other countries this number is your health ID. To get one, fill out the Fiche CPAM following the instructions given in the CEA help file.

Once the procedure is done, you will receive two cards (Carte Vitale and Carte de mutuelle) that you need to present each time you visit a doctor, pharmacist, dentist, etc.

Coming up : an article detailing how to get reimbursed and how to book an appointment with a doctor.