I am planning to travel to France. When I have traveled recently, I often find myself drinking a lot of water after a lot of walking.

Sometimes buying water can be expensive, especially in central areas. I have recently thought about filling up my water bottle in the hotel sink, but was unsure how safe it was.

So is the tap water in France (specifically Toulouse) safe to drink?

  • 8
    I lived 18 years in Toulouse and always drank tap water. You will be fine.
    – Hajopa
    Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 13:16
  • Reminds me of when I was a sophomore in high school and I spent a semester in France. I was chatting with a lovely young lady on the plane there but the conversation got awkward when she offered me some diarrhea medication and warned me about the water. I didn't accept and made it through my time there drinking tap water without incident. Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 23:30
  • 1
    Also note that in restaurants and bars, you can always ask for tap water for free with your meal. I've never bought bottled water in a restaurant in France. Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 12:33
  • @Hajopa I'd be wary of accepting that as a blanket statement. "Travel sickness" is a very real phenomenon, where a visitor will get sick from germs that the locals are immune to because of their long exposure. Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 17:34
  • Drinking tap water was fine in the end.
    – Xnero
    Commented Dec 15, 2021 at 13:23

5 Answers 5


Tap water (“eau du robinet”) is always safe to drink, unless you have a sign that says otherwise (“eau non potable” is the most common), which is often the case in public bathrooms for instance.

Note that in most restaurants for instance, tap water is always an option (“une carafe d’eau”).

Whether it’s actually “good” is mostly a matter of taste, and of course it will vary locally based on the origin of the water.

Note that if you want to buy bottled water in any supermarket, a large bottle (usually 1.5l) is nearly always cheaper than a small one (way less than one euro for the former, always more than one for the latter), though the smaller ones may be sold refrigerated as well.

  • 15
    “eau non potable” does however not mean that the water really has a low quality. It's rather a 'drink on your own risk, don't sue me'.
    – FooBar
    Commented Oct 9, 2019 at 9:17
  • 19
    @FooBar it could mean the water is grey water (e.g, collected from a roof, or stored in an unsealed water tank), or that it's perfectly good water but they don't want you to sue them. But do you want to chance it?
    – James_pic
    Commented Oct 9, 2019 at 14:12
  • In my experience, most of the water served in restaurants had a horrible taste of chlorine. But that is just my personal opinion, I guess it is save though.
    – Lehue
    Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 11:31
  • @James_pic best is to ask the locals, but I think most of the time they will say it's fine
    – Didier L
    Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 14:02
  • 6
    @DidierL If I see "eau non potable", I will certainly not drink it or advise anyone to do so! There's plenty of drinkable tap water available, why bother with water that is explicitly stated as not drinkable?
    – jcaron
    Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 14:29

In 2017 the "linternaute" did some tests on water quality in some big French cities. They wrote an article (in French) about it.

They also tested the water quality in Toulouse which seemed to be very good.

Toulouse water quality

Personally I would drink water from the tap throughout France, never got sick and I have been on vacation there every year in different places.

A rough translation of the text on the page:

L'unique réseau alimentant cette commune du Sud-Ouest en eau le fait avec moins de 5% d'analyses non-conformes suivant les dernières analyses des Agences régionales de santé, en terme de "limites de qualité" (les critères pour lesquels des normes non-respectées peuvent représenter un danger pour la santé). Un argument de plus pour inciter les Toulousains à consommer l'eau du robinet, un geste bien plus écologique que l'eau en bouteille, effet de serre oblige : l'eau minérale en bouteille parcourt 300 kilomètre par an en moyenne dans les camions-bennes. Le prix de l'eau du robinet à Toulouse est le troisième moins cher au m³ parmi les villes de plus de 100 000 habitants à la qualité de l'eau du robinet "bonne pour 100% des réseaux" en France.

The single network feeding this southwest commune with water does so with fewer than 5% of non-conforming analyses, according to the latest analyses of the regional health authorities, in terms of "limits of quality" (the criteria for which broken standards can represent a health danger.) Another argument for Toulousains to consume tap water, a much more ecological action than bottled water, is the greenhouse effect: bottled mineral water travels 300 km per year on average in trucks. The price of tap water in Toulouse is the third cheapest per cubic meter among the cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants for which all networks in the area had "good" quality of tap water.

  • 8
    Can you summarise what the article says (or did they only say the water in Toulouse is very good)?
    – muru
    Commented Oct 9, 2019 at 5:35
  • 20
    I think that to properly answer the more general question you should at least mention that the page you link says that 2.8 million people in France have polluted tap water, mainly due to agricultural pesticides. The big cities may be fine, but in rural areas it may be a lottery. Commented Oct 9, 2019 at 6:38
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    Is this a sample of 1? That's not much of a test then.
    – Mast
    Commented Oct 9, 2019 at 7:04
  • 2
    @PeterTaylor While it is true that areas in France have tap water contaminated with pesticides residues in concentration higher than the standards, I never heard of any case of acute water-poisoning in France.
    – Frédéric
    Commented Oct 9, 2019 at 7:16
  • 2
    @Mast: Réseaux means "networks" or "systems"; they're saying that the one water supply system in the Toulouse area supplies good water. (Other towns have multiple systems.) It's not immediately clear how many samples they took from that one system; more details on the methodology can be found here (in French), but I was unable (with my barely-passable French) to figure out how the sampling was done. Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 13:56

Yeah, I do it every time I visit and have never had an issue. I see all the locals doing the same thing, the restaurants serve us tap water and the schools have drinking fountains from the same thing.

  • 3
    the schools have drinking fountains from the same thing - how do you know there that water comes from and that it isn’t filtered?
    – Xnero
    Commented Oct 8, 2019 at 15:19
  • 1
    Just from what I've been told by the students who go there, but ur right they could be wrong
    – mappergo
    Commented Oct 8, 2019 at 15:21
  • 14
    In school you drink water directly from the faucets in the WC during breaks. And yes, most restaurant will serve you free tap water if you don't ask specifically for a bottle.
    – Jemox
    Commented Oct 8, 2019 at 23:49
  • @Echox: the true words of someone who attended school in France :)
    – WoJ
    Commented Oct 9, 2019 at 9:44
  • Arguably though, I have noticed here in Japan that while the locals are all fine drinking tap water I cannot because its chlorine levels are just too high. So YMMV on that one ;) (Point to notice: I have not yet had trouble with French water.)
    – Jan
    Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 8:09

You can get a rough estimation of how safe tap water in a country is by looking at the WHO map detailing the use of safely managed drinking-water sources. Roughly, tap water is OK in countries with >75% of population using safe water sources. This threshold will indeed depend on how certain you choose to be, and the location you stay at. E.g. in decent hotels, tap water will usually be fine even in countries which are just above 50%, because such hotels will have above-average water quality. If you're staying in a sleazy motel on a countryside, it wouldn't be unreasonable to refrain from drinking fresh tap water in countries where less than 90% of water sources are safe.

enter image description here

For my level of risk aversion, filling up a bottle from an hotel sink in Toulouse would be fine.

  • 1
    Very useful graphic, thanks.
    – Xnero
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 0:55

I agree that the tap water is safe in the most of countries.

But I have a personal rule: do not drink tap water in any place when I am traveling.

Why? It could be safe for local residents, but the water could have microorganisms that your body never saw before.

I already had issue during trips for different countries and lost part of my vacation staying sick. So, usually I buy a big bottle of water and use my small bottle in my backpack

  • 12
    That might be true in some countries, it is not a problem in France (not most of Europe).
    – Willeke
    Commented Oct 9, 2019 at 16:01
  • 1
    "the water could have microorganisms that your body never saw before" isn't that true of any water, tap, bottled, spring or otherwise? Commented Oct 9, 2019 at 19:50
  • 3
    Filters are not needed for French tap water. Dirty filters make for dirty/more dangerous water.
    – Willeke
    Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 8:07
  • 1
    The question wasn't about sharing personal preferences, it was about safety of tap water in general. Unless your issues happened in France, I don't think your story helps the OP with their question. Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 7:13
  • 1
    A lot of bottled water comes from exactly the same sources as the tap water. Unless you only buy mineral water. Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 12:53

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