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.
My daughter (15) and I just returned from 9 days in Paris. Prior to our departure, I read virtually every tip I could find regarding safety. I would like to say that we had no problems thanks to the many tips on this site. We carried a very small amount of cash, which we stuffed in our pockets. We did NOT carry purses or backpacks whick can be easily snatched.
In spite of the fact that we looked like American tourists, by not looking like an easy target, we did not become one.
Ladies, there are pouches out there that slip down into your bra that will hold credit cards and motel room keys. Give up the purse. If you can't stuff it in your jeans pocket or down your bra, you don't need it anyway!!
(Aug 2003) Try not to wonder around Les Halles alone at night, especially if you are a single female. I made the mistake of cutting through it alone one night and it was not a pleasant experience. I was there during the daytime for some shopping and thought it would be fine to return in the evening. Boy was I ever wrong! Gets quite seedy when the sun goes down and all the shops close. Encountered a shadowy figure that approached me and offered to sell me some "stuff". Needless to say I made a bee line straight out of there. Luckily for me it wasn't very late yet and there were still a few "normal" looking people about. If you must, make sure to travel in a group.
I cannot stress this enough - Do not look for trouble. What I mean is that if you felt that a dimly-lit alley or street is not safe, then don't go there. In crowded places, take care of your personal possessions; be careful with your purse/wallet/bag, etc. Don't get easily distracted. Watch your back. Watch your friends' backs.
I guess it is many people's perception that since Paris is in Western Europe, and therefore it is generally safe, etc., etc., then they let their guard down. For me, it was my mistaken perception that Paris was generally safe (I didn't read much warnings in travel guidebooks about Paris, as compared to, say, about Barcelona or Lisbon or Rome or Romania).
Anyway, as for me, it is "Once bitten, twice shy".
I am not saying that you should be extra careful and all tensed up during your visit to Paris, but let's be a smart tourist.
My brother got whack and camera snatch when he is in paris last Xmas (Trocadero to be exact, where ALL the tourist are.Afternoon)(maybe is his face, hehe). Anyway, i was a bit worry when i go there this Xmas. Generally, its ok, metro can be a bit dodgy but i feel quite safe. the only place i do feel unsafe is sacre coeur, there were ppl around the staircase to tie 'lucky string' on your hand and then ask you to pay them for their 'kindness'. Just put both hand in the pocket and politely refuse them or use the staircase at the side. definitely safer than lisbon, hehe
There was a story a while ago that shocked Brazil: A famous Brazilian actress was stabbed in the back on the Metro in Paris; in Brazil, a third world country with a serious crime problem, this news was greeted with dismay.However it doesn't surprise us. I (john) witnessed a violent crime in Paris at night, whilst walking, a serious assault on the driver of a car .. unfortunately these types of crimes are all too frequent in Paris ..
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