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.
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.
Paris is great, but it is also full of crazy bums and weirdos!! I got harrassed a lot whenever I wore a nice dress. I even got attacked once! It totally freaked me out!!!! So I always dress down--just simple tops and jeans. I know it's a pity not to wear your beautiful clothes in such a city of fashion, but for safety, it's wiser to do so when you are traveling as a solo female. For Asian travelers, watch out when you are visiting the red light district in Northern Paris. I've heard guys get robbed during the day!!!....let alone at night. Stay alert.
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.
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!!
Le Sacre Coeur, the highest point in Paris - a beautiful place and a fabulous view.
Most people (the sensible ones) get a taxi up and walk back down.
It's the walking back down bit that I want you to be careful of.
There are small gangs/groups that are now hanging around the bottom of the main steps hassling people as they walk down.
So its a watch your wallet and hold on to your bags time please.
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 ..
Just a piece of advice is to be carefull in the Northern neighbourghood such as Montmartre surroundings (18eme), Gare du Nord area or the 19eme and 20eme districts (North and East) because it's frequented by pickpockets.
If your hotel is closed to the Metro I think it should not be a problem, but if it's a bit far away I should suggest you to take a taxi during the night.
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.
the most important thing to do in paris is to make sure you know what is happening around you at all times. notice who is in front ,beside and behind you, if you watch the french this is what they do. for women the best way to handle the men is to act as if they don't exist, this is what the french ladies do and it works! stay as far away as you can from the gypsies that are all over paris but mostly in tourist spots. they make a living out of stealing from tourists, so dont believe anything they say or do. always look like you belong in the city when walking around because then you will be less likely to have anyrhing happen if you dont look like a tourist. never walk into the underground tunnels to cross main roads alone. always watch out for large groups of teenage boys because they do like to carry knives
This along with my other warning about traffic can not be stressed enough.
If you are crossing a street that has traffic going in both directions, observe the lights very carefully. They may not be green in both directions. Check to see if there is a sign that says "Pietons ATTENTION Feaux Decalés" or "ATTENTIONS Traversée en 2 Temps". This means that the lights are staggered. I made this mistake only once and, fortunately, I lived to be able to write this.
So many times I see tourists crossing when the light closest to them is red for them, but the light across the street is green. They are obviously only looking at the green light in the distance and fail to see that they do not have the right of way and they could very easily step in front of a car.
The rule your mother taught you when you were a child "look both ways before crossing" definitely should be used while in Paris.
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.
If someone grabs you dont wait for some knight in shining armour to save you 'cause he ain't comin!
Scream, punch, scratch, kick 'em where you know it hurts, burn them with your lighter, slash them with your keys, deoderant spray in the eyes is a good one, do what you can to survive! Don't be a victim!
This tip was given to me by my hotel desk personal, and was also mentioned by several others. I choose to take the warning. If you are staying in the outer area (such as a hotel near the airport), and stay in town after dark on a weekend, take a cab back.
If traveling with a group, the train would be O.K. However a person traveling alone and especially a woman you could run into a problem.
I did stay after dark to see the tower lights. The cab fare was 45 euros to my airport hotel. The perfect way to end a nice day, I was safe and sound, and got see the city night lights from a different angle.
We were in Paris for two weeks, staying in the Latin Quarter. At about 2 pm on a beautiful, busy weekend day, we watched a man get in a huge fight with a woman to try to steal her ATM card at the bank on the corner of the Saint German des Pres metro stop. I had stopped and just walked over from the Church and we were just meandering around. I noticed that this really tall man was staring over this short woman's shoulder as she was putting her ATM in for withdrawal. Later, I found out that they take the numbers down. At any rate, he then tried to snatch it from her and they got in a struggle. What's strange to me is that there were probably two hundred people on the street and no one stopped at first.
So I screamed "Arretez!" loudly. Not the best idea because the man approached me. He looked confused because I'm just a little gal!!! But this got the crowd's attention. He was obviously a drug addict. His pupils were pinpoints. He disappeared quickly into the metro stop and the woman went into the bank. The crowd quickly dissolved so I went down a side street and into a store, a little nervous. When I got back to my hotel, I asked if I should call the police, but they said no, it wasn't uncommon.
After that, I decided to go inside of the bank for my transactions.
This is typical, I suppose, of many big cities, although it's worth knowing that it does happen, as I've seen it firsthand.
Otherwise, Paris couldn't have been more idyllic.