France’s varied countryside, dotted with picturesque villages and rolling hills, makes it a perfect place for a walking holiday. Choose somewhere with easy terrain and plenty of things to visit nearby, and you can have an idyllic – not to mention cheap – holiday, as suitable for pensioners as it is for young children.
By their gentle nature, walking holidays have a low injury rate, but, as with any holiday, accidents can and do happen. Thankfully, these injuries are usually minor, but walkers can present with sprained ankles, minor fractures, Baker’s cysts and other repetitive strain injuries, as well as (depending on the area and the time of year), environmental complaints such as hypothermia or heatstroke. Most injuries tend to affect heavier or older people with more wear and tear on their joints, while the latter two tend to affect younger members of the family who are physically smaller and whose bodies are less adept at controlling their internal environment.
For this reason, for UK travellers, every member of the family, regardless of age or walking experience, should be equipped with an EHIC to cover any emergency treatment. The EHIC, however, may not cover every eventuality, so even if you’re travelling on the cheap, family travel insurance should be set in place in order to avoid any unexpected medical costs.
Visits to the Doctor or the Hospital
While the majority of your holiday will be spent happily exploring French villages and the countryside with the family, there’s always the possibility that you’ll need to see a doctor – whether for a walking related injury or an unrelated complaint. If you do have to see the doctor, EHIC or not, it’s possible that you’ll need to pay up front and claim a refund later. If this happens, you can either present your EHIC and any relevant paperwork at the local Caisse Primaire D’Assurance Maladie (CPAM) office, or you can claim your refund upon your return to the UK.
You should be aware that it’s possible you’ll only be eligible to be refunded a percentage of the cost (up to 70%), meaning that, while you won’t be completely out of pocket, what you do have to pay may not be cheap. A cheap family travel insurance policy can cover emergency doctor visits, but it’s worth checking the details before you travel, or your low-cost walking holiday could end up more expensive than anticipated
While we all hope to have an incident-free and healthy holiday, sometimes visits to the hospital are, regrettably, necessary. If this happens, simply present your EHIC and in many cases you won’t have to pay anything refundable up front – saving you the bother of having to chase a refund later. There may be a non-refundable payment comprising 20% of the total cost required, however, which you will have to pay even with presentation of an EHIC. This is not always the case, but even if it is, even a cheap family travel insurance policy should cover it. If you’re unfortunate enough to have to stay in hospital for a few nights, there’s a charge of 16 euros per night that’s not covered by EHIC.
If you’re prescribed anything by a doctor while you’re on holiday, the cost of filling the prescription should fall within EHIC’s remit. Just be sure to fill the prescription at a pharmacy that operates within France’s national healthcare system so as to ensure that EHIC will cover it. Pharmacies are very easy to find in France and there are usually several in all but the smallest villages.
As long as you cover your bases appropriately with both an EHIC and private travel insurance for your family, any unforeseen health issues you may encounter on your French walking holiday should not leave you too much out of pocket.