home | usa | canada | australia | guides | travel 101 | bakpak girl | about

Staying Safe in Paris


The City of Lights has another, less romantic name, the "City of Daylight Robbery." Here are some tips to help you stay safe and keep your wallet in your pocket while you're hanging out in Paris. 

1) Buy a scarf.  You can pick one up on the street for two to six euros.  Everyone in Paris, male and female, wears a scarf, whether to protect against the often cold and rainy weather, or just as a fashion statement.  Without one, you'll stand out.

2) If you're going to Paris during the cold season (October-April, usually) you'll want a jacket.  Make sure this jacket has an inside pocket that zips closed, and carry your wallet and important documents in this pocket and keep your jacket buttoned or zipped while you're outside.  This is the best way to ensure that no one can pick your pocket.

3) Carry valuables in a shoulder bag or small backpack.  If the weather is warm and you don't have a jacket, you can carry your wallet in this bag too, although I advise leaving your most important documents (passport, train tickets, etc) under lock and key at your hostel's reception.  Shoulder bags should be worn so that the strap crosses your chest, because a thief on a bicycle could easily rip it off your shoulder and be gone before you know it.  And, I can't stress this enough to carry your bag in front of you, where you can see it.  In crowded areas and on the metro, keep your hands on it.

4) Only put enough cash in your wallet to get you through the day.  If you have extra cash, carry it in a money belt, along with your passport, transportation tickets and other important documents, if for some reason you can't leave them in the safe at your hostel's reception.

5) Keep your eyes peeled on the metro and in crowded tourists areas.  If you go to the Marche des Puces (flea market) in the 19th, be especially vigilant.

6) Be wary of strangers who approach you on the street.  Often, someone will approach you and ask if you speak English.  They want cash, not directions.  Don't make eye contact and don't speak to them; walk away.  The same goes for strangers who may show you a card bearing a message written in French, English or another language.  Some people will try to put a piece of jewelry, a necklace or bracelet, usually around your wrist or on your neck.  I've even had people try to entice me to put my finger in a Chinese finger trap.  Ignore all of these types.

7) Avoid the 19th and 20th arrondissements, and the area around the Gare de l'Est and Gare du Nord train stations, at night.  Be vigilant if you go to these areas during the day.  You'll no doubt want to go to the 18th "Pigalle and Montmartre" at night.  It's a good idea to do this with friends.

8) The Bois de Boulogne is perfectly safe during the day, but never under any circumstances should you go there at night.

9) If you're a woman, then plenty of men in Paris are going to want to chat you up.  Usually, if you ignore them, they go away, but sometimes they will follow you like dogs. I've even had men follow me right up to my front door!  If this becomes annoying or even disturbing, and you find you can't lose the guy, join a crowd of likely-looking tourists, quickly explain the situation, and chat for a few minutes.  Sometimes, just standing near a crowd of people does the trick.  Otherwise, ask a shopkeeper or policemen for help, or simply scream "F_ _k off!" at the top of your lungs.

Despite its flaws, Paris remains one of the most beautiful and romantic cities in Europe.  Follow these tips, and your trip to Paris will definitely be memorable in the best possible way.