I Went to French Urgent Care and Didn’t Lose My Foot

Published: 2018/04/21

A Harrowing Trip to the Maisons Médicales of Lyon


The story of the time I spent my Saturday afternoon panicking in one of Lyon’s Maisons Médicales, including one very kind pharmacist and a pleasantly amusing doctor.



My new shoes gave me a blister.

My new shoes gave me a blister and I ignored it.

My new shoes gave me a blister and I ignored it and I woke up on Saturday with an ankle swollen to twice its normal size.

My new shows gave me a blister and I ignored it and I woke up on Saturday with an ankle swollen to twice its normal size and I spent my Saturday afternoon in the Maison Médicale de Garde thinking I was going to die.

I don’t know why anyone thinks I’m qualified to take care of myself.

pharmacy lyon france

Pharmacies in France are the first line of defense for anything medical. But if that fails, you’re going to need a doctor instead.

One Girl, Two Jobs, and a lot of Cheap Clothes

Let’s back up a little bit. In addition to writing for our very own This is Lyon, I also babysit a 3-year-old after nursery, which often means walking all over the city in an effort to calm her down when she realizes I’m not her mom.

A few weeks ago, on one of these more challenging days, I took her down to the riverside so she could watch the swans, who I’m convinced she likes way more than she likes me.

And it was there, sitting cross-legged on the ledge of the quay, that I saw the giant hole tearing its way through the sole of my favorite white sneakers. It wasn’t even a hole in the fabric. It was a hole through the actual thick, rubber sole of the shoe.

It’s okay, shoes. I don’t blame you. I wore you for everything my €20 at New Look was worth.

Later that week I also lost my beloved faux leather jacket to a Friday night out, and on Saturday decided it was time to brush up the old wardrobe with a new jacket and equally cheap white sneakers, this time from H&M.

What can I say? It was a bad week for clothes. See above statement about not being qualified to take care of myself.

Blisters, Pharmacies, and a Class-Act Case of Denial

It took all of one day for my new kicks to give me a blister. One blister, on one foot. The other one, meanwhile, was totally unscathed. And if one of my feet gets a blister but the other one is totally fine, you can bet those Red Vines I’m going to keep wearing the shoes.

Fashion is pain, or something like that.

On Friday, three weeks from the infamous hole incident, I wore the shoes again. I went to work, and it hurt. I went to babysitting, and it hurt. I took her home for dinner and bedtime, and it really hurt.

When I finally got around to looking at my sock-covered foot, the skin around the blister was swollen and hot to the touch. Did I listen to my adult-self, yelling at me to go home and rest and see a doctor ASAP?

I think you know the answer to that by now.

I went home, changed my shoes, and went out. Hey, it was Friday night. What’s a girl to do? Stay home and take care of her clearly injured foot and potentially not die of an infection? Pff.

On Saturday morning, it had become bright red, hot, itchy, and twice the size it should have been.

So off I went into the rain in my socks and Birkenstocks, because that was all I could fit over my foot, desperate for something to get me through the weekend until I could find a doctor’s appointment on Monday.

After a fruitless trip to the pharmacy outside my house, I trekked over to the Grande Pharmacie Lyonnaise in Cordeliers, always open and, I hoped, more helpful than the small one.

I rolled up to the counter, bright yellow raincoat, Birkenstocks with socks and all. “Something’s wrong with my ankle. Do you think it’s infected?” I asked, pulling down my sock so she could see the disaster for herself.

Her widening eyes were enough to tell me what I needed to know.

“I’m getting the pharmacist. Hold on.”

The pharmacist came over, looked at my ankle, and looked at me.

“I want you to go to the Maison Médicale de Garde. Please don’t wait until Monday. Please go now. Do you know how it works?”

I shook my head that I didn’t, and I can only assume her maternal instincts took over as she wrote out the phone number and explained what would happened, and yet again implored me to please not wait until Monday.

Which, roughly translated into my already slightly panicked brain, became a resounding:


Over the river and through Vieux Lyon, to the Maison Médicale I go.

The Maison Médicale de Garde Valmy

For those of you who don’t know, as I didn’t, the Maison Médicale is essentially the French equivalent of American Urgent Care, with night and weekend hours.

You call the main number, tell them what’s wrong, and they’ll give you a file number and the address of the Maison closest to your home. You can go whenever you want, and thankfully for me their Saturday hours stretch from noon until midnight.

Not thankfully for me, there were about 10 other people who also decided to hit the Maison Médicale de Garde Valmy for a good time that Saturday and had gotten there ahead of me. I prepared for a long wait, with my phone battery tipping precariously toward the 10% line.

I made it a full hour and a half into the wait before I started to full out panic. I watched people come and go, including one woman who got to skip the line for who knows what reason, all the while feeling the infection start to creep into my toes and up my leg.

Okay, I might have been imagining that. But I wasn’t imagining sitting alone, at an urgent care center, with limited power to text updates on account of my limited battery power, and no power to call my mom because of the time difference that will never work in my favor.

“The infection is spreading. They’re going to cut off my foot. I’m going to die.”

By the time the doctor saw me, I was nearly in tears. It didn’t take him long to realize my ankle was massively infected, and in 10 minutes he prescribed a hefty dose of antibiotics and sent me on my way with the amusing warning to take it easy tonight.

“Pas de folie, ce soir, hein?”

I see you, sir, seeing me, living my best twenty-something city life. But no worries, I can’t currently walk so I’m thinking the wild Saturday night plans may be a bit of a bust.

I’m an Adult and I Still Want My Mom

I limped back to my apartment, prescription in hand, knowing I would have to make the trek back into town to fill it, because it had been made very clear to me multiple times today that I should not, under any circumstances, wait until Monday to fix this.

I made it to the third floor of our seven-floor walkup before I stepped down the wrong way and burst into tears.

In five seconds, everything stressful, every frustration, every bit of sadness, came welling up to the forefront of my brain, culminating in my painful, stiff, swollen ankle.

I want my bed. I want my mom. I want a plane ticket home. And I don’t care if that means I’m not an adult. Sometimes we all just need our mom.

At least I can relate to my babysitting charge now. Hey, positives.


The Maisons Médicales de Garde can be reached at 04 72 33 00 33. They are open Monday-Friday from 8 p.m.-12 a.m., Saturday from 12 p.m.-12 a.m., and Sundays and “jours fériés” from 8 a.m.-12 a.m.


P.S. My ankle has now returned to its normal size. Thank you for asking.

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4 thoughts on “I Went to French Urgent Care and Didn’t Lose My Foot

  1. Thanks for your help: infos about Maisons de garde in Lyon are checked and updated

  2. please update necessary updates: new number and opening hours of the service !

  3. Oh that’s good to know!! Perhaps it was just the day I went that was so busy. Hopefully I won’t have to test the theory! The doctor was super nice and very funny though.

  4. Hi, We visited A&E few times so far and we always got really good treatment from the doctors and nurses. We went to the A&E in Grange Blanche on Sunday and able to see a doctor within an hr.

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