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France, covid and metro

We just returned yesterday. We had the passe Sanitaire and it worked well even in Belgium. All museums wanted to see but many cafes never asked. We got our negative covid test at a pharmacy close to Musee d'orsay. 25 each, ten minutes and the pharmacist was good. It was different, more homeless, many places we planned on eating at closed. I think hours have been cut back. You would see ten Uber bikes parked outside a cafe for pick-ups. We have been 6 times, ride the bus and metro. The St Michel metro stop we went to get tickets and could see three guys trying to get through the turnstiles without paying. They then went back up escalator but as we went through they squeezed through and went to platform. I told my husband they were up to no good. We got on first car as they were down the platform. As we got in they pushed the door open and surrounded my husband. He is 66, just had back surgery. They grabbed his hands and literally patted him down. I hit at them and screamed you thieving mfs. No one batted an eye. That made me just as angry. I was hitting at them to pull husband away and they held. He said he was trying not to fall. Three big 20ish looking men. They jumped off at next stop. You could hear a pin drop. My strategy has always been wear my purse inside my coat and my coat has inside pockets. I had the money. They got nothing off him. It was scary and you will never see me on the metro again. Our cab driver the next morning told us they are gangs and drug related. No one said anything as they are afraid. It really shook me up after. I was mad. Just please be careful. My Paris friend said to please warn people. She won't ride anymore.

Posted by
14263 posts

Pat, I'm so sorry you had a terrible experience on the Metro.

I rode the Metro a lot on my Sept/Oct trip and did not encounter anything different than what I've normally encountered before Covid. The Metro was crowded, especially Line 1, and even during the day it felt like rush hour. I do try to be pickpocket proof as you did and that is my best defense. I find people very quiet on the Metro anyway and particularly now, no one was talking. I did not ride Line 4 so did not go thru St-Michel station.

I will be comfortable riding the Metro again but I am sorry you will have to change your way of seeing Paris.

Posted by
7080 posts

I was reading this on line 4 at Saint Michel station... strange coincidence. Sorry for this scary experience! Hope it doesn't put you off my hometown altogether.

Posted by
9436 posts

What Pam said, and I’m also sorry this happened to you. We too will ride the métro again, stuff can happen anywhere. Especially here in the US. We were just in Paris from 10/14-10/31 and rode the métro many times daily without any issues, as I have for many decades. We did not see homeless people or any cafés or restaurants closed.

Posted by
4002 posts

What a scary experience Pat, I’m happy you got away unscathed. We are in our 60’s and don’t ride underground metros in any city any longer. We will ride a bus or tram. We are past having local experiences and just want safe and quick passage nowadays. Even here in NY we avoid the subway. We take the bus or drive.

Posted by
50 posts

Pat how was Belgium? We will be there on November 29-30 taking the train from Paris. i know covid cases are rising but were most things still open as long as you have the health pass? We will be in Brussels.

Posted by
42 posts

We went to Ypres for the last post ceremony on Armistice say. Something I had always wanted to do since visiting there years ago. This visit we stayed in the 4th and yes we saw many sleeping in the rough. Not a bad area, a lovely apartment. there and in Brussels camped outside the Marriott Grand place. We are retired military and have traveled often to Paris and rode the metro daily. Just a warning to be careful. Kerouac, you are a younger male than my husband probably.

Posted by
8234 posts

We went to Paris in late September and returned the second week of November -- and because we always stay now on the edges of Paris, we spent lots of time on the metro -- probably averaged 3 or 4 trips a day. Without issues.

About 15 years ago three men surrounded my husband on the steps of the Anthony RER station and similarly didn't get anything since I had the money and cards in a money belt under my clothes. It was scary; a local screamed at them and they left. This is really unusual; pickpockets usually work by stealth; muggings are rare. We didn't let one icky experience keep us from enjoying Paris or using the great metro. We have been on the metro at all hours including the very last one of the evening this fall riding from Montmartre to Batignolles -- we never felt unsafe. Have you stopped driving on American roads because dozens of people have been shot by road ragers?

Sorry you had this awful experience; nowhere in the world is perfectly safe; at least the odds a criminal in Paris is carrying a gun is close to zero. He got mugged and yet not injured. Glad it turned out well.

Posted by
7463 posts

Thank you for sharing your experience, Pat. You’re obviously experienced travelers. I hope your husband’s back is not experiencing any latent injury from this incident.

I travel with my husband but also solo. If anything “doesn’t seem right”, especially if I’m traveling solo, I immediately leave that situation. It’s only happened a few times, but I always trust my intuition even if I can’t explain it. I see you attempted to keep distance by boarding a different subway car.

Posted by
3245 posts

That must have been terrifying for you, Pat.
I'm so sorry.
Your immediate anger stood you in good stead, giving you the adrenaline to fight them off.
I hope you are recovering from the shock.