If you are planning a trip to Paris for the first time, you might be wondering, ‘Is Paris Safe to Visit?’
Generally speaking, it is safe to travel to Paris – as safe as a big European capital can be, that is. But there are some things you should know about safety in Paris.
Paris is home to around 2.2 million residents and sees an estimated 33 million tourists visit annually. Thus, you can see why a little bit of caution might be required when exploring the city.
As Paris locals who love exploring this exciting city, we are here to provide you with our take on the city’s safety, including hard data and Paris safety tips.
Main Risks and Dangers in Paris
Sure enough, it’s important to use some precautions when exploring the French Capital. Keeping your wits about you and being aware of where the main risks and dangers in Paris are will help you have a smoother trip to the ‘City of Light.’
Paris’ public transport (metro, tram, and buses) is an invaluable and affordable way to move around the city. However, it’s best to always be alert when using public transport in Paris.
The main thing to look out for are pickpockets – which are particularly active in crowded places and around the tourist attraction metro stops. This is where thieves are most likely to wander. If you are concerned about the metro in Paris, we have more safety tips in this post.
One thing you need to be aware of is unlicensed taxi drivers who will try to approach you for a ride. They can be spotted at the airport too, usually inside the terminal – whereas official taxis only wait around in the taxi lane, outside. Never use an unofficial taxi in Paris – they often scam tourists!
Taxis in Paris are usually luxurious black cars with the white sign “TAXI PARISIEN” getting green when free and red when busy on their roof. Taxis work by the meter – so you don’t have to worry about negotiating the fee. Some may try to trick you into paying more by taking a longer route, but if you have Google Maps on your smartphone you can easily monitor your itinerary.
Pickpockets in Paris
According to the US Bureau of Diplomatic Security, pickpocketing remains the primary concern in Paris. While they may be labeled as “petty crimes”, we all know how upsetting and frustrating it would be to have your wallet, camera, or any personal belongings stolen, particularly when on holiday.
Crowded places such as the Eiffel Tower, the Champs-Elysées, Notre Dame, and Metro stations are some of the pickpocketing hotspots.
Pickpockets in Paris will usually target wallets, cameras, and phones as the resale value are good. Thus, it’s important to keep these items in a safe place, and out of sight. Having an anti-theft travel bag is also a good idea.
In Paris, many pickpockets are actually women as they are perceived to be less of a threat, so be aware!
Scams in Paris
Unfortunately, there are quite a few scams you’ll need to look out for in Paris. We don’t say this to deter you from visiting, just to keep you on your guard.
One of the most popular Paris scams is the ‘charity petition scam.’ This scam usually involves a group of young women (sometimes men) with clipboards asking for charitable donations. Don’t let your kind hearts be fooled, it is best to not even engage with these petition scenarios, particularly because they can also be pickpocketing you if you stop for long enough.
You should also be careful at ATMs, where groups of children or youths have been known to swarm the ATM and snatch people’s cash.
The ‘shell game‘ is also popular in Paris, especially near the Eiffel Tower.
Another of the most popular scams in Paris is the ‘string bracelet scam.’ This usually happens around Sacré-Cœur. Men will come to you with a friendship bracelet and put it on your wrist, they will instantly demand a minimum of €5, whether you want the bracelet or not! It is always best to firmly walk away in these situations.
At train or metro stations you may find people being super helpful in carrying your bags all the way onboard the train, only to ask to be paid at the end; or someone who will try to help you get tickets from the automated machines only to trick you on the change.
Is Paris Safe at Night?
Paris at night is no more dangerous than any other touristic city. But of course, you have to be on your guard in the street and on public transport, especially at night, in the same way as in all big cities.
Use your common sense: avoid the areas listed below and lonely, poorly-lit streets in general, don’t flash your valuables, and you will be fine.
Is Paris Safe for Solo Female Travellers?
Generally speaking, Paris is safe for solo female travelers and an incredibly pleasant place to visit as a solo traveler. Take the usual precautions that you may adopt in other large European cities.
When going out for the evening, it never hurts to let someone know where you will be as an extra safety measure.
Is Paris Safe from Terrorism?
Unfortunately, as is the case with the increase in terror attacks globally, Paris has experienced its fair share of terror events in recent years.
Because of this, you can’t say that Paris is safe from terrorism. However, it shouldn’t be something that deters you from going to this wonderful European city. If we talk about statistics, then the chances of being caught in a terror attack are far lower than being injured or killed in an everyday accident.
How to Stay Safe in Paris
Know the French Safety Numbers
Here are the emergency service numbers for Paris/France:
- 112 European Emergency Number (any country in the EU)
- 17 Emergency Police
- 15 SAMU (French Emergency Medical Assistance)
- 18 Fire Brigade
- 114 Emergency Number for the Deaf
Keep Copies of Your Documents
In France, it’s important to be able to prove your identity with a valid ID card. This could be required anywhere in the city and at any point on your trip. This means that you cannot wander around Paris with copies of your ID card or passport while the originals are in the hotel’s safe.
However, it is also always good practice to keep copies of your documents: if your original documents are stolen, it will be easier for your to prove your identity.
Avoid Certain Areas
Contrary to what foreign media try to make potential tourists believe, there are no dangerous neighborhoods in Paris, only areas to avoid, especially at night.
The list of areas to avoid in Paris is short and includes the Barbès district, Porte de la Chapelle, and Porte de Clignancourt in Paris 18; Pigalle and Boulevard de Clichy between Paris 18 and Paris 9; Place Stalingrad in Paris 19, and the Bois de Boulogne and the Bois de Vincennes at night.
All the central Arrondissements are safe areas to stay in Paris, as well as the other places recommended in this list of best Arrondissements to stay in Paris.
Pick Your Accommodation Wisely
First off, try choosing accommodation close to the places you wish to visit. This will reduce potential transportation safety issues, particularly late at night.
No matter whether you are staying in a luxury hotel or a hostel, always make sure the rooms are secure. If you are in a hostel, make sure the room has lockers to keep your valuables safe. It’s also always good to bring your own lock with you.
Don’t Flash Your Valuables
Be careful about showing off your valuables, especially on public transportation or in crowded areas. If you have a camera, put it INSIDE your bag.
Refrain from using your smartphone in the metro.
Using an anti-theft travel backpack is always a good idea. Some pickpockets like to act on the escalators when nobody moves. They are behind you, close to you, but one step lower than you. We always put our backpacks in front of us when we are on the escalators (or even better, we use the stairs!).
Don’t Take Drinks From Strangers
Spiking drinks is often a tactic used in busy tourist areas. Most of the time, spiking is used to steal something from the victim, but more sinister intentions can also come to fruition. Never accept a drink from a stranger, and never leave your drink unattended.
Don’t Drink too Much and Avoid Drugs
Whilst in any major city, drinking and enjoying a night on the town should be done with caution, especially if you are traveling alone. We all know that our inhibitions can leave us when drinking so it’s best to be careful. Travel with a group of friends and maybe arrange for one member to not drink that night.
And there you have it, all about tourist scams in Paris and our best tips to help you stay safe in Paris. Happy travels!