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I hate even asking... terrorist alerts...

Typically these things don't deter me, but I'm Paris bound soon with 2 other friends (we're all moms of small children) and the very specific targeting that has been put out by several sources (and on the State Department site) about terrorist claims toward Christmas markets, etc in Paris has me a little nervous. Should I be? Should we go somewhere else, either by flight or via train once in Paris? The police just thwarted a plan in Strasbourg (we're scheduled to go there, too) but said that Paris is under "Maximum" highness terrorist alert & that their terrorist alert has never been this high.

I don't know what to think.

Posted by
31 posts

The state department is just doing their due diligence. It is all based on the intel they receive from chatter between these terrorist organizations/suspect individuals.

I posted this elsewhere so if its similar thats why - . As with anywhere, in any country - exercise your normal safety precautions. If you legitimately feel something isnt right or you see something that worries you by anyone... be proactive and remove yourself from the situation. If you see a large crowd of individuals acting rowdy in anyway, remove yourself from the situation.

With that being said - you wont have any issues.

Your chances of being a victim of any terrorist attack are 1 in 10-20 million, or something silly like that. You have a far greater chance of being struck by lightning.

ENJOY your trip, just be mindful of your surroundings and if something feels/seems off, walk away. You will be fine, do not worry.

Posted by
17883 posts

You will get mostly "go" advice on this and most forums. It will be based totally on personal bias and some irrelevant attempts to make comparisons with their perception of your personal risks in the US. My, also biased, take is that is that it's more about you being able to be comfortable and have a good time with out worrying AND your personal feeling of responsibility for your children. If you can't really, really enjoy it go some place else.

Personally, if my kids were still small I would go some place else for Christmas Markets. That doesn't make me right or wrong, just how I place my kids in my decision making. There are so many other places in the world, and Paris isn't going any place till I can get back there. Paris is, by the way, one of my favorite places in the world, but I also think it's best in the Fall and other places are more enjoyable in the winter.

Posted by
3207 posts

I agree with James in this case. I would also say try to pinpoint what your gut says vs fear...for consideration. When my daughter was small I made different decisions when my safety was involved than once she reached college age, and even freer decisions now that she is an established adult. You might decide to go somewhere else or just be constantly aware of alternatives in Paris where ever you are; i.e., exit plans. However, if you are going to be nervous the entire time (because raising kids is a huge responsibility and we want to be around to do it) go somewhere else. Don't let anyone tell you you're being foolish for feeling this way. It is how you feel and it is valid. I'm sure the three of you will have fun whether you stay in Paris or go somewhere else. When our emotions are involved, probability theories don't always help. ;) Wray

Posted by
3689 posts

Adonaho, I am in Paris right now and it feels the same as ever. Right now the US is on Elevated Terror Alert meaning that there is a "significant risk of terrorist attacks." The French security services have said that the threat level is at its highest and that security forces are thwarting attacks everyday. That is the world we live in. I can't tell you if you should or should not be nervous or if you should or should not go. That requires a level of counter terrorism expertise that I do not have. I don't want to sound pessimistic but really all European countries have the same high alert right now so I don't know what getting on a train or plan from Paris would do to alleviate your worries. A vacation in which you are constantly worried about a terrorist attack is not a vacation. If you can't get comfortable with the risk, which is low in the scheme of things but feels high on an emotional level, you should really consider staying home and I am saying that in a totally non-snarky way.

Posted by
1159 posts

It is as they say, a personal decision. I was recently in Paris when two incidents occurred. One at Notre Dame and one at Gare du Nord, only a matter of a couple of hours after I was there. Point being, both incidents were thwarted and at no time did I feel scared or threatened. It's a part of our lives now. These things can happen anywhere, anytime. It's what makes the news that scares us. I agree that if you just cant relax, do something else. One of my best friends is at the Christmas Markets right now as we speak. He believes they are on top of it, and not going to live life scared. I do understand, as a mother, your concern. My kids were with me when I was in Paris. But, I felt safe, secure, and would go today if it were possible. I also had a friend that was a first time visitor to Europe with me. She was a bit nervous at first, but only because of what she had heard on the news from previous incidents. She learned to relax and had a ball. I didn't use the Metro at all that trip, but where I stayed was close to a lot of sights, and I took cabs. It was a personal preference and easier for me. You didn't say how long you would be there, so it's hard to suggest other places to visit. There are lots of day trips from Paris, and Strasbourg was an easy train ride (great on the new high speed - short and sweet) as well as Colmar which is charming and great for an over nighter. If it were me, I would not change my plans. But that's me. I agree you have to make a decision that best fits your concerns. Just be diligent and enjoy everything this beautiful city has to offer if you decide to go. IF you don't think you can relax in Paris, you can always find other places to go within a short distance away.

Posted by
4637 posts

Fear is subjective. It is natural for people to be more afraid in unfamiliar surroundings even if objectively they are safer than your familiar surroundings. James is right; don't go somewhere where you won't enjoy your vacation because of fear.

Posted by
31 posts

Agreed Robert.. not really sure how that language helps the original poster make an more informed decision.

Posted by
2466 posts

Paris - in fact, all of France - has been under the highest security alert for the past year, and the President has extended the alert for an undetermined period of time.
If you're worried about coming to Paris in the near future, you might have a long wait on your hands.

There are armed soldiers patrolling virtually every neighborhood in Paris. Especially the touristy areas like the Champs-Elysees and the major monuments, the grand department stores, schools, churches, synagogues and VIP residences. There are soldiers in the Metro stations and even in the Metro wagons and on Buses. Your bag will go through Security checks at major monuments, museums and department stores.
It's a fact of life, not scary, most people are comforted by this security presence and go about their business.

The US government always issues warnings, often worded very sternly. Don't panic and don't try to read too much into it.
These are the main ideas to take away from these warnings:
1) Everyone should carry his or her own passport in a neck pouch. If something were to happen - or if you become separated - it's difficult to identify someone without a passport. The youngsters can carry a color copy and have adults hold the real copies in a secure pouch or moneybelt. The name and address of the hotel you're staying in should be included in each pouch, as well.

2) Protect your valuables. Put them away securely when not using them.
3) Avoid crowds of people who are obviously demonstrating. It's easy to cross the street or walk a little farther to avoid them. There aren't many of these events during the year.
4) Report any "suspicious object" to the nearest authority. Obey the police, don't argue.
5) Sit inside restaurants and cafes if it makes you feel more secure. But you'll miss all the fun of people-watching.
6) Keep abreast of the local news in English - http://www.france24.com/en/
7) Check in with your airline a couple of days before departure for any updates.

Posted by
31 posts

Chexbres makes a great point.

"There are armed soldiers patrolling virtually every neighborhood in Paris. Especially the touristy areas like the Champs-Elysees and the major monuments, the grand department stores, schools, churches, synagogues and VIP residences. There are soldiers in the Metro stations and even in the Metro wagons and on Buses."

This is NO different than NYC on an average day. The NYPD is on every corner, train stations, airports, etc etc. We also have military in our major airports.

Keep that in mind...

Posted by
17883 posts

The main issue is never be afraid or ashamed or intimidated into not discussing the issue; then find a happy place in you and in your travels....

Posted by
2466 posts

I forgot to mention trains and planes...
I would recommend flying instead of taking trains, which anyone can board without security clearance.
If you're really worried about security, you'll be too worried to concentrate on the scenery.

Posted by
7283 posts

James is not wrong at all. But I wonder if your dedication to your children is consistent? Do you check whether there is a gun in a home where they have a play date? Do you order your teenaged driver not to carry more than one peer-group passenger? Do you have an internet filter on your home connection? Do you know how many domestic violence and drug arrests occured in your sweet town last year? Do you call the parents before your teens go to a party?

I'm not teling you how to bring up your children. I'm just asking whether inchoate fear of the unknown might be distracting you from even larger, domestic, dangers?

Posted by
1825 posts

I feel if I were to alter my Paris trip then the terrorists have won. Then again, I don't have small children at home.

Posted by
375 posts

Your concerns are legitimate. You are being a responsible parent considering whether to revise your plans. Weigh the risks and your comfort level. Whatever you decide is best for you and your family.

Posted by
31 posts

Thank you all for your thoughtful responses! I genuinely appreciate your insight & input. I believe we will carry on as planned; maybe nixing Strasbourg last minute if we feel uneasy. I have a feeling though once we get there and start drinking vin chaud we'll be just fine.

Also for Tim - My four kids are all under the age of 9; and to clarify, they are not going on this trip - however their mothers are and I feel like it's my responsibility to do the due diligence of making sure I'm coming back home to them the best I can (because the thought of my blessed husband dressing them in mix-matched clothes if I'm no longer around is just chilling. ;) ) That being said, my kids don't do play dates at homes that I'm not well acquainted with & I'm sure once they are teens I will continue to be a pain in the ass mom then, too. :)

Posted by
1018 posts

Last November 2015, I was on a river boat cruise for the Chistmas markets (Germany, Austria, Prague & Hungary) right after some of the attacks. I totally felt safe and no issues.
Last April 2016, I was in Belgium and Holland right after the their bombing, again felt totally safe and no issues.

You just have to determine your level comfort of going and of your family. Good luck in deciding.

Save travels.

Posted by
8 posts

Staying home is no guarantee nothing bad can happen - there's just the illusion of the familiar and safe. When I lived on the west side of Tucson, I shopped every week at the Safeway where Gabby Giffords was shot and so many were murdered on a Saturday morning. Yet far more people in my city die in traffic accidents every year. We're going to Paris in the spring. I suspect there will probably be as many plainclothes police doing security at the major tourist sites as police in uniform. I will stay alert and enjoy myself.

Posted by
30 posts

Just got back from Paris in September. I worried a little about the trip but once you are there you will hardly think of it. Enjoy the trip distances and the press create worry. Being there and assessing yourself in a strange way is very comforting.

Posted by
32201 posts

Based on the current threat situation, I wouldn't hesitate to visit Paris and Strasbourg at the present time. Paris has been at the maximum alert level for awhile, but AFAIK there are no specific threats identified. In addition to the attack disrupted last week, according to the French government, "at least 17 other attacks have been foiled since the start of the year in France, and seven more in 2015" .

If the situation changes, you could certainly adjust your plans accordingly, but so far I don't see any reason not to go.

Posted by
565 posts

I'm no alarmist. Two babies under 3. I was in Paris last year during the attacks. Went for many yearly trips. I'm personally moving my usual destinations around. Budapest is high on the radar. I Know I'll be skewered for this but PM me and I'll tell you what we experienced.

Posted by
2466 posts

Just in case anyone has been wondering about this -
There was an extensive plan specifically targeting Strasbourg and Paris - Christmas markets, places of worship and major monuments included - for December 1.
But police captured 7 people last week, one of the people involved gave up all the information, and the planned attack has been thwarted. The police were able to accomplish this by eavesdropping on smartphones and computers.

I was out shopping at Galeries Lafayette and Printemps last night, and there is even more security than I've seen before. I felt perfectly safe - even from pickpockets.
And I'll still be out there shopping on December 1.

It's important to keep all this in perspective and realize that the police are doing their job.

Posted by
14507 posts

"...the police are doing their job." Bravo! Yes, don't mess with les français.