When I took the metro to go to work, I routinely scanned the stations and cars to spot the tourists and try to guess where they came from.
Spotting tourists in Paris is really easy as they do not behave or look like parisians at all.
Here are a few things that will immediately reveal that you are a tourist
1. Carrying a guide (written in a foreign language) in your hand while walking on the street or in the metro
2. Studying maps for a long time in public places. Staring at the metro station map when travelling. Looking dumbfounded and unsure of yourself.
3. Trying to interact too much with other people. This will make parisians uneasy as they generally do not speak to someone met on the street (hence their zombie look and the MP3 player earbuds some are wearing all the time)
4. Not moving fast enough in a public place. Staying in the the way of other people
5. Carrying your camera in your hand or around your neck everywhere. Taking pictures in metro stations, restaurants and other uninteresting places.
6. Asking someone to take a picture of you and your pal in front of a picturesque place.
7. Wearing relaxed clothes while parisians do not: flower shirts, fancy T Shirts, shorts, hiking shoes. This does not apply in the holiday season.
8. In a group: staying as tight as possible not to lose anyone. For instance, trying to fit all in one crammed metro car.
9. Speaking loudly in a foreign language, especially in public places. Most parisians tend not to speak too loud in the metro.
10. Taking too much time to react when interacting with locals (taking orders in a cafe for instance).
To summarize: try to look confident, "blasé" and indifferent all the time (even if you are not), move swiftly and try to dress like a parisian.
Advice on all aspects of Safety
Find a policeman when you need one:
Addresses of the Police Stations in the 20 Arrondissements are listed on this page
When we were visiting Louver in less than 3 hrs we got an anounsment to exit the building - "For safety reasons we are asking all visitors to leave the museum..."
When we were leaving, we saw a backpack someone left on the lobby floor by itself...
The strange thing is - why they made all people from the whole museum go through the lobby with the "posible bomb" to leave Louver??? instead of exiting your nearest exit.
I have had encouters with Gypsies in Madrid, Rome and London. I found that if you just ignore them when they approach you and be very stern with them if they come near you. In Rome I stomped my feet and frightened them away. I also learned to bring little as possible of value (dont wear jewerly) keep your passport and money tucked away. I had a very close call in Madrid when I was in an internet cafe, I should have had my purse tucked under my feet. I had it next to me and a gypsy came behind my chair, I caught him in time and scared him off! That was my error for not paying attention and not keeping my purse wrapped around my feet or on my lap. Most of all just use common sense and mostly enjoy your trip, don't let that keep you from enjoying yourself. I was in Paris last year and was only approached once by gypsys, I just gave them a scowl and walked away from them.
A word of warning if you do decide to go and see Sacre Coeur. Keep your hands in your pockets ( literally) as there are so-called 'string men' hanging around the area just at the bottom of the hill to con the unsuspecting traveller. They grab your arm, talk you full while starting to weave a string bracelet around your wrist. Happened to me on my first visit to Paris a couple of years ago. When they are finished they then try to charge you exorbitant prices for that bit of string ( 25 euro! about 8 years ago....probably more now, I avoided them because I was forewarned on my last trip there). Most of them are not menacing but it is quite unnerving (and not easy) trying to get away from them!
hope this helps
I was lucky enough to stay in Paris for a month on my second trip. It was the first time I experienced a foreign capital city and by myself. I will agree with all those who said that Paris is safe in general. Of course, Place Pigalle is a no-no place if you're a girl and alone, you can be molested even during the day. Watch out for the little streets around place du Tertre, Montmartre. They sure are picturesque, but dark, and it is difficult to find your way out, if you aren't used. Be sure to avoid Gare du Nord after-hours (train station areas by night- need I say more?). I didn't have problems with pickpocketing, overpricing, drug-dealers or anything of the kind. It goes without saying that, as a traveler, your brain must positively be in your head and not floating about (even if the city's beauty is OVERWHELMING).
The best thing to do would be to, yes, speak a few words of french. It's exceptionally helpful ,especially when you need to ask for help, you'll find out that french are a lot more keen to help when they hear "au secours!" (yes, kinda stupid, but it's true). If you need directions, ask for them, and be sure to pick whom will help you. I always went for well-dressed women and men that seemed to be returning from their jobs. If you are in a "dangerous" area, by no means let the people around you understand you got lost (this tip goes for Omonoia in Athens and Quartieri Spagnoli In Naples as well). Gendarmes are at every corner of the main roads, ready to offer help. Be kind. Even if the French are used to tourists, try not to flaunt that you are one, try to familiarize with local traditions, tone of voice (don't speak too loudly) and politeness (make sure to greet shop owners, restaurant and cafes waiters and touristic guides with a "Bonjour" and a smile, with the necessary eye-contact, and you won't regret it!). Paris is the most amazing city in the world, and nothing will ever change this fact.
I spent 4 days in Paris and I never felt in danger maybe because I am Arabic :) but in general watch you wallet and IGNORE people trying to ask you about something..
I was in Champs Elysee and one lady ask me: Do you speak English and I was happy: I said Yes yes and then she give me a paper saying "I lost all my famliy and bla bla ... and then .. Please give me 10 Euros... Just ignore them :D
as much as love paris i always seem to find myself in drama when i'm there.
so the story goes like this...
me and my bestfriend(who is a girl too) got the metro from gare du nord at about 3pm and the train was super packed out!! so we were waiting on the platform and some french tramp asked me in french " if i had a lighter" i said " no sorry i dont" and that was that(well thats what i thought!?) anyway me and my friend got on the next train that came and that was also very packed but we got it anyway! me and my friend were standing up, and the tramp started kissing some women that he was sittin next to! and see seemed to like it!!!! then they started talkin?! and then they both looked up at me and the women said something to the tramp and the next thing i know the tramp jumped on me and started trying to kiss me!!!! my friend moved away down the carriage of the train and i was trying to push him off me! and everyone on the train was watching but did nothing! then a another guy on the train came and pulled the guy off me! and my friend was in tears! so we got off the next stop and i was in shocked the whole of out trip in paris!! and in fear when on the metro! the men are too loose in france they always shout stuff at me in the street "i love you" stupid stuff like that! i'm from London & they make out there intrested in that but there not they just want a ***!
so ladies be carefull when in paris, i go there all the time as its only a train ride away from London, so i have kinda steped my game up when i'm there, dont get me wrong i love paris but i just wish that some of the men would calm it down when they see a girl with blonde hair! and not be so forward.
when i was in paris, everywhere i went i saw beggars.. my oma told me to not pay attention to them but it was soo hard..one lady came up to me and asked me if i spoke english.. i told her i did and she was going on about how her and her family are stuck in paris because someone had stolen their passports and they needed money to leave.. it was crazy.. my oma ended up pulling me but the lady was still following!!!! one time i was walking on champs elysees and there was these ladies crying their hearts out.. one had a cane and the other was sitting in the middle of the walk way with her head down.. it was kinda scary.. i especially get annoyed by the guys at trocadero and beneath the eiffel tower.. they would not leave you alone!!! they would grab you and follow you until they get your attention.. my advice would to be just ignore it.. don't give them any attention at all!!! avoid them and ignore them.. and don't tell them you speak english!!! what i also noticed about the beggars is that they are mostly women.....
Wherever there is open space and benches a small gray-haired woman dressed in black will appear and begin feeding pigeons. This will happen most often in parks, but here she is below Sacre Couer on Montmartre. (I am sure it is not the same woman following me around). Although it looks quaint, keep your distance so that you do not dampen your clothes or day of touring. St. Mark's square in Venice is not the only place. I have been hit in small hill towns.
We spent 3 1/2 days in Paris and always felt generally safe; we never felt in danger. We had the best trip of our lives, with the only regret being we didn't stay long enough.
Paris is nothing to be scared of. We walked down the street in front of the Moulin Rouge in broad daylight and felt quite at home; we never had the chance to frequent the area at night so I can't speak for that.
If you make it a point to IGNORE beggars and string-bearers, you've a better chance of them thinking you're a local. At any rate they're likely to leave you alone if you ignore them, never even making eye contact.
Main roads, or side roads, you take your life definately in your own hands if you are not too observant crossing the roads. Even if the green man is lit on crossings it doesn't mean it is safe to cross, pay special attention when crossing any road or you could become part of the tarmac. The drivers take no prisoners!
I just returned to the US from Studying Abroad in Paris for the month of June. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed it, and how incredibly safe the city is, if you take the necessary precautions!
I know this has been repeated over and over, but try not to look like a tourist! American tourists are very easily recognized, and this can lead to pickpocketing or general harassing. Instead of being a tourist, try to blend in with your surroundings. Don't wander around, staring at everything/everyone interesting. Look like you know where you're going. If you need a map, I HIGHLY suggest the 'Paris Practique' or something similar. It is not a huge fold-out map, but instead looks like a small book. It's wonderful, and also very discreet. I followed these guidelines, and I guess I really did look Parisian because I even had several people stop me on the street to ask me for directions!
I did not have any instances where I was assaulted/aggrevated/bothered at all. There are many beggers in the metro, but they will not bother you if you let them know that you will not help them. However, I realize that, since I'm male, I have less of a chance of being harassed. For women, an important thing to remember is that the French do not smile as much as Americans, especially in public. Many french men interpret the smiles of girls as a form of flirting, even if the girl is just trying to be polite. If you are approached by someone, DO NOT smile and say "No thank you" (Non merci) if you aren't interested...if you do not want to be bothered, a stern NON will suffice. Smiling leads men to think that, even though you're saying No, you are still interested.
Still, Paris is one of the safest big cities in the world, so if you take some precautions, you should have very few (if any!) problems.
I read so many scare stories on this site prior to my trip that I was reticent about going in the end.
I left behind my camera so it couldn't be stolen and was ready for everyone to be a thief or con artist. Saw one girl at Gare Du Nord handing a begging card to someone, as described in these pages, but no problems in our 4-day stay in the Latin quarter. I guess there must be so many people who have trouble-free visits to Paris and DON'T write in to this site, that it acts as a filter, attracting the minority of unfortunate (or careless) tourists, whilst skewing the actual incidents of crime to proportions that seem scary.
Around the right side of the Sacre Coeur is a sign for crypt-dome. This is about the only site in Paris with NO QUEUE. Great, you may think, but you will have to pay 5 euros if you want to go in and there is no information about what's inside. take my advice - DO NOT GO IN!!!!! it is a winding staircase up the tower, which goes ON AND ON AND ON AND ON and if you do not like dark confined spaces i would advise you to avoid it. it takes you up to the top and the view is amazing. but personally i don't think it's worth it.
however if you want to be pushed to the brink of human endurance go for it. you will go into that crypt and leave it a different person.