Crime is usually present in any big city and Paris is no exception. This said, violent crime isn’t frequent and common sense will go a long way into making your stay completely safe.
The city center is usually packed with policemen and is probably the safest area in Paris. Still, don’t let the amount of policemen give you an excuse to be foolish. Keep your possessions safe and don’t flash them irresponsibly.
Pickpockets and Thieves
Crowds can certainly be plagued with pickpockets and snatch-and-run thieves, so take necessary precautions to avoid being robbed. Paris’ popularity has its downside in the sheer amount of crowds gathered on entrances, elevators, metro stations and its many markets, something pickpockets look for in order to hide themselves. Beware if someone approaches you asking for directions or just to talk – you don’t need to be rude, but keep a hand or eye on your pocket just in case.
Bars and Restaurants
Cabarets and seedy bars are part of Paris’ allure for some visitors. If this is your case, just make sure you know how much drinks cost when you’re buying some for yourself or companion. Some bars have the habit of cushioning their free entrance by luring customers into buying drinks for attractive females. The ladies actually work for the bar – and drinks can go up to over €600 each!
Some restaurants have been known to rip tourists off. The best way to avoid this? Clearly state what you’re ordering, point to the item on the menu and maintain eye contact with your waiter. If you still get a wrong bill, complain. If complaining doesn’t work, just stand up and leave.
Taxis are safe in Paris but make sure you’re riding an official one. Illegal taxis can be found, looking to rob tourists instead of taking them to their destinations. You might also want to keep your luggage in the taxi’s trunk – it’s not really that common, but robbers may break your taxi window during a red light to steal your luggage.
Try to avoid people who approach you asking for help or money. They’re very persistent and, in the worst cases, working with pickpockets. You may also see street gamblers as you stroll down the City of Lights: don’t be fooled. Street gamblers are the same everywhere else and will probably cheat in order to get your money.
At some attractions – and especially on the steps up to the Sacre Coeur – some African men will approach you desperate to show you a magic trick or tie a friendship string on your finger. All these men are looking for is a chance to pickpocket you or money for the string. They can be really, really persistent but simply keep on going and clearly refuse each time they ask.
Smoking is forbidden in all enclosed public spaces, including restaurants and bars. You can still smoke if sitting on tables outside or on a terrace.
General Safety Tips
• Choose cashpoints or ATMs protected by doors that allow only one person in at a time.
• Keep a note of the number of your travelers’ checks and credit cards. Do not keep them in your wallet! If any of them get stolen, report them right away.
• Have as much money on you as you’d afford to lose.
• Don’t keep all of your eggs in one basket: put some money in your wallet, some in your shoe and some anywhere else where it’ll be safe.
• Use your common sense!
• Make sure your bag, purse or backpack is properly closed. Do not get money from any secret hiding place in public. Do not leave your wallet on your back pocket – or, if you do, keep a close eye on it. Try to take the essentials with you and leave the rest at the hotel.
The Vigipirate plan is France’s special terrorist contingency plan that was installed to prevent and deal with terrorist attacks in the city. Under this plan, citizens must report any abandoned package or luggage they find, which may be destroyed by the police.
If the Vigipirate plan is announced, several changes can be seen throughout the city: litter boxes will be sealed, luggage left at stations and airports are unavailable, public buildings and tourist sites reinforce their security checks and cloakrooms and lockers in museums and monuments may close.
IMPORTANT NOTE: if you have been robbed or mugged in Paris, please head to your arrondissement’s police station to file a report. Each arrondissement or neighborhood has a different police station that tends to it; make sure you know what police station (“commissariat”) you should go to in case you’re mugged or robbed.
For more information about security and safety in Paris or attractions in Paris, contact us and we will gladly send you further material about any subject of your interest. We will e-mail this information at no cost within 72 hours and it will be specific to your requirements.
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