paris protests

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When I decided to move to Paris a couple years ago, my mom’s reaction was far from thrilled. Staying safe in Paris was her biggest concern.

France has seen its share of tragedy lately, with a movement currently roaring through Paris. On the surface, it’s understandable why some may be worried about travelling to the French capital.

Even the Government of Canada advises to ‘exercise a high degree of caution’ while in the country.

Paris though, is like any other big city. And when it comes to staying safe in Paris, the same rules apply.

What does that mean? I’ll break it all down below.

parisian streets

Is Paris Dangerous?

Despite recent major headlines, Paris is a safe city for both tourists and residents.

Violent crime is rare, and I’ve never felt threatened walking through the streets – even during the wee hours.

Paris is as dangerous as any other major city with millions of people. If you can get by in New York City, Los Angeles, or Toronto, you’ll be fine in Paris.

Whether you’re used to big cities or not, there are some things to remember to help ensure you stay safe in Paris.

Is Paris Safe for Women?

Some friends have shown their concern for my safety as a woman when I was living in France and I couldn’t understand why.

As a woman, who have met other women living in Paris, I’ve concluded that Paris is safe for women.

I’ve actually feel much safer walking around at night in Paris than I do in Toronto, and I’ve never encountered a dangerous situation.

The women I know who have visited, lived, or who are living in Paris all agree.

That being said, big city rules still apply.

streets in paris

What areas to avoid in Paris?

As mentioned, Paris is a safe city. There aren’t many places I wouldn’t recommend wandering through.

That said, there are a few places that can seem sketchy, especially at night.

While I’ve never experienced hostility around metro stations at night, many visitors and locals recommend taking precaution around metros Gare du Nord and Chatelet-Les-Halles.

Take some precaution around Quartier Pigalle. As brightly lit as it is, the sex shops, adult clubs, and party vibe in the area can bring along some sketchy company.

The Goutte d’Or area of the 18th, the 19th, Saint-Ouen and Saint-Denis can also come off as sketchy due to the high number of immigrants in these areas.

That being said, Goutte d’Or is great for open-air market shopping and cheap ethnic food.

Common Crimes in Paris

Even though crime in Paris is relatively low, there are some things to watch for when living or visiting.

There are common crimes that happen in Paris that happen in other touristy cities. The best way to avoid them is to know about them.

stay safe in paris

Pickpockets

Paris is known for pickpockets. You’ll see signs and hear warnings on the metro in several languages.

While I haven’t encountered pickpockets myself, they are most common in touristic areas and on public transportation.

Scams

Scammers take advantage of the high level of visitors to Paris. Like pickpockets, scammers tend to stick to tourist areas.

There are a number of scams in Paris that prey on tourists. They range from souvenir selling to petitions but they always end up asking for compensation.

The best way to avoid this is to avoid them. But if you do interact with a scammer the best thing to do is to just say no, and carry on.

The Paris Yellow Vests Movement

Yellow vests have been seen all over the media lately. Images of riots and broken structures in France may lead people to ask if it’s still safe to visit Paris.

Short answer, yes.

The Yellow Vests Movement is a political movement that erupted last year in response to France’s current economic and political conditions.

Since the protests began in November of 2018, there have been weekly protests in Paris, and other locations in France.

paris protests

Staying Safe in Paris During Protests

Yellow Vests protests have been taking place in specific areas of the city. Those not involved in the protests usually stay away and are kept safe.

From my observations, protests usually take place in the 7th arrondissement near the Eiffel Tower, in the 1st arrondissement, on Champ-Élysées, and near the Arc de Triomphe.

It’s best to do your research and to avoid the areas where protests are taking place.

If you do find yourself in a protest area, police do their best to keep tourists far away from the action.

Simply, be aware.

How to Stay Safe in Paris

Remember, staying safe in Paris is all about practicing big city rules. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Keep an Eye on Your Belongings

This goes for most big cities. But since Paris is known for pickpocketing, this comes as no surprise.

Don’t leave your phone in your back pocket, your wallet in sight, and be sure not to flash money while you’re out and about.

paris at night

I always make sure to keep my important belongings really tucked away in touristy and crowded areas.

I don’t like having my backpack on my front, so I’ll usually leave it on my back with a water bottle or sweater, but tuck my wallet elsewhere.

If I’m walking around with a purse, I’ll usually keep a hand over the clasp in crowded areas.

Know Where You’re Going

This is especially true at night. You don’t want to end up in a dark alley, or sketchy path accidentally.

While wandering is great, don’t wander too far off the beaten path if you’re not familiar with the area.

It’s handy to always keep map apps like Google Maps or City Mapper on hand to keep you on track.

Take Special Care on Metros

The metros in Paris are busy. Some lines (I’m thinking of the 13) are busy all throughout the day.

The busyness and distraction of getting to your destinations make subway stations a prime source for pickpocketers.

Remember to always keep your bag and belongings close to your person when going through metro stations and riding the metro.

You’ll be reminded anyway.

paris alley

Be Cautious Near ATMs

Like most big cities, ATMs are common locations for scams and robberies.

Try to head inside a building to take out money if you can. If that’s unavailable try and find ATMs in more populated areas.

When retrieving money, be quick and stealthy as to not alert any criminals or make yourself a target.

And of course, please remember to take all your money out of the ATM.

Avoid Scams

The best way to avoid scams is simply by ignoring them. There’s no way scammers can take advantage of you if you’re not engaging with them.

If you live in a big city, you might be used to ignoring the hecticness around you on a daily basis. This may be new for people from outside of big cities.

If you do get caught up in a scam, you can simply say “no” or “no thank-you” (in any language) and walk away.

You are in no way obligated to give them any of your money. If things escalate, you can make a scene, or threaten to call the police.

walking in paris

Blend In

Criminals will most likely gravitate to those that look out of place or seem more helpless than others.

If you blend in with Parisians, you won’t have to worry about sticking out and being a target. Try to avoid the stereotypical lost tourist look or outfits.

Blending into a big city doesn’t mean you have to move at lightening speed. Paris is all about the joie de vivre so take it in at your own pace.

Take Extra Precaution in Tourist Area

A lot of the situations listed above are more likely to occur in touristic neighbourhoods.

When visiting sites like the Louvre, Eiffel Tower or Sacré-Cœur, keep your belongings close, and a close eye on your bag(s).

To Wrap This Up

Paris is a safe city to travel to. However, it is a big city.

Take precaution and use the tips outlined above to ensure your trip is a safe one.

Happy travels!

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Read my complete guide on Paris here.

On a budget? These tips will help in Paris.

Need a cheap place to stay in Paris? Try these hotels or an Airbnb.

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