How Tourists Should Practice Safety in Paris?
Paris is one of the most popular cities in the world. It attracts tens of millions of tourists every year. And just like the French capital attracts visitors, it attracts scammers and alike. So, albeit the city is a very safe place for tourists thanks to the efficient police force, practicing safety in Paris is still a must. In the following, you will learn how to avoid becoming a victim of a theft or any other crime while visiting this marvelous city.
General rules for safe conduct in Paris
Being aware of your environment is the first step, of course. Whether you are in a park, street or in the public transportation, always assume that someone with bad intentions is around. So, don’t place things you can’t afford to lose where someone else can get them. That stands for any place, even if it is within the reach of your arm. Thieves won’t hesitate to snatch your valuable even from the bench you are sitting on or from a table in front of you in a café.
Thus, never take unnecessary chances and keep your things under control at all times. That will usually deter any thought of stealing from you. Violence rarely occurs since a police officer on duty is usually nearby. So consider a theft and some sorts of scam the most serious crimes tourists in Paris face.
Know what you might deal with
Thieves and scammers are highly versed in Paris, and you don’t wish them to mark you out with your light-minded behavior. To support this claim, I’ll tell you what I saw once.
In broad daylight, I’ve seen a lady walking down the street holding a belt of her handbag. Nothing out of the ordinary except that a handbag was nowhere to be seen. The belt was so skillfully sliced that the lady remained completely unaware of her being robbed. Now imagine how careless she was, which was instantly marked by a “professional” thief.
Just like thieves, scammers are also omnipresent in areas visited by tourists. They might approach you (usually asking for some sort of signature first, then money), or induce you to approach them. The latter might lure you to believe that you can easily win some money through a simple card game. But, the bitter truth is that those games are arranged and you will always be on a losing side.
Finally, avoid getting being hooked by an attractive female in a bar, a cabaret or even a concert hall. You may end up paying exorbitant prices for drinks. If you don’t mind having a company in the “City of Lights”, you can still stay on a safe side. Every information of interest to customers in hospitality facilities is mandatory. Therefore, consult price lists beforehand.
Where you need to be extra careful?
In general, any place where money circulates and that tourists visit can be more risky than others. Lines in front of the top attractions and the public transport call for an additional vigilance. The same holds true for narrow passages and other potentially crowded places with limited maneuverability, such as shop entrances, for example.
A stairway that leads to the Sacre Coeur Basilica in Montmartre can serve as a good example. As you start your way uphill, you may encounter a group of people clustered in narrow places. At spots like that, be particularly careful. It’s not that you are likely to be physically harassed. You just can’t keep an eye on everyone, so have your valuables tightly controlled (Besides, you can ask your hotel manager for advice on ‘safe’ versus ‘unsafe’ local areas).
While getting around by the public transport, never leave your luggage unattended. Also, exchange money only at the official exchange offices. Otherwise, you risk to get badly cheated. Finally, don’t accept services offered by a taxi driver unless you are sure that the taxi is properly marked and registered.
Efficient safety measures
With everything elaborated so far, it is clear that reckless behavior is the major cause of safety issues in Paris. So, all you have to do in order to avoid incidents is to be cautious like you would be anywhere else. By being careful, you are highly unlikely to attract any kind of unwanted attention. Also, keep in mind the following to additionally decrease the possibility of a theft or fraud:
- Carrying personal items and money in a small bag or a hidden pouch is much more desirable than in a handbag, especially in the public transport and other crowded places. Besides, avoid keeping valuables in back pockets of your trousers.
- Always carry a minimum amount of money with you. If you need to withdraw money from an ATM (automatic teller machine), make sure that no one is able to see the PIN code you type on a keypad. Additional precaution would be withdrawing money from an ATM in a street with a lot of passers-by.
- The public transportation tickets are usually sold through ticket desks and machines at metro and train stations. If you don’t understand how to handle the machine, feel free to ask an employee in a nearby office for help. Don’t buy tickets from unauthorized vendors because you may get false tickets or pay much more.
- Wearing jewelry or any other expensive item in an ostentatious way is looking for trouble. The same holds true for any inappropriate display of wealth. The best precaution from becoming a victim of a theft is to “blend into the surroundings” and act like everyone around you.
- Avoid being distracted while withdrawing money from the ATM or making any kind of money transaction. Also, learn the cost of a product (fast food, pastry…) if the price isn’t clearly marked before making a purchase. Although most vendors are honest, some would grab any chance to charge you more.
- Ladies should avoid a prolonged eye contact with strangers. This may be interpreted as an invitation to approach.
- Use services of official taxis only. You will recognize them by a “Taxi parisiens” mark. Even so, it would be beneficial if you know the shortest or the fastest route to your destination.
- If you become a victim of bag snatching or outright attack, make as much noise as possible. Help won’t be far in most cases. If the attacker or thief gets away, try to recall as much about him or her as you can when making a statement. Also, you can ask passers-by or anyone nearby to call the police.
Protect your car from burgling
Car burglars are also active in the French capital. To protect your vehicle from being vandalized, follow these simple steps:
- First and foremost, don’t leave any precious belonging of yours where anyone can see it. That includes cell phones, wallets, laptops, bags and purses, cameras and similar stuff. If the item is too large or heavy for carrying, put it in the trunk.
- Avoid parking your car in poorly-lit or dark areas during the night. In certain cases, consider leaving your vehicle in car parks with surveillance. These are available in the city center and on the outskirts of Paris.
Areas to avoid at night in Paris
Although the city is generally safe for everyone who takes basic precautions, certain areas should be avoided at night. Among these are the suburbs of Saint Denis, Saint-Ouen and Aubervilliers. Areas around Gare du Nord and metro stations Jaures and Stalingrad also tend to be risky at times during the night. Although centrally located, areas around metro stations Chatlet and Les Hales occasionally involve criminal activity during late hours. Finally, Bois de Boulogne is the last place where you should seek a romantic nighttime stroll because of the presence of many prostitutes.
Parisian police force
Supposing that you become a victim of a theft or fraud anyway, don’t hesitate to address a police officer and report the case. Police officers are omnipresent in areas frequented by tourists and many of them are bilingual or multilingual. Also, ask for help in main police stations of every district (arrondissement) throughout the capital of France. Officers working at reception desks also speak foreign languages. These stations work non-stop – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (Find out more information on our Facebook page).
Low enforcement employees may carry badges with flags indicating languages they speak. The advanced S.A.V.E. software enables them to register the compliant and hand a tourist a receipt in any of 16 major languages.
However, beware of people that might approach you and pretend that they are police officers. Those would usually ask to see your papers and try to force you to give them money. If it comes to that, be sure that they aren’t real law enforcers because real officers would never ask for your money. In that case, insist on taking you to the nearest police station. Another effective line of defense is to ask them to show you their official identification. Any of that would suffice.
There are many people who would attempt to take advantage on tourists in Paris, just like in any major city in the world. However, there is nothing to be troubled about if you act reasonably and take basic safety measures. So, be practical and don’t take unnecessary chances, and that’s it.