INTRODUCTION: Influenza is a serious health problem in Europe. Vaccination is the only preventive measure, reducing mortality and morbidity of influenza in all age groups. OBJECTIVES: The authors had for aim to assess influenza vaccination coverage during two seasons in France, to understand the incentives and barriers to vaccination and to determine vaccination intentions for the following winter. METHODS: A random-sampling, mail-based household survey was made among non-institutionalised individuals aged 15 and over. The surveys for 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 used the same questionnaire and were subsequently pooled. Three target groups were determined for analysis: (1) persons aged 65 and over; (2) people working in the medical field and (3) persons aged 65 and over or working in the medical field. RESULTS: Influenza vaccination coverage in France decreased from 23.0% in 2001-2002 to 22.4% in 2002-2003. Most frequent reasons for being vaccinated were advice from the family doctor (50.8%), influenza considered as a serious illness (45.3%) and free vaccine (44.1%). Reasons for not being vaccinated mentioned by people who had never been vaccinated were young age (27.0%), not considering vaccination (18.9%), and not expecting to catch influenza (13.9%). CONCLUSION: Vaccination coverage decreased during the 2002-2003 season in comparison to the 2001-2002 season. The family doctor is the most important source of encouragement for people to be vaccinated against influenza. We therefore suggest that family doctors be better informed on influenza vaccine and the disease itself, so that they can actively inform their patients on these topics.