Please sign in to post.

is it safe to visit Paris?

Husband and I have tickets for May 2017 to visit Paris but are still in the 24 hour cancellation period. I am reading stories about attacks, violent robberies, cops with guns everywhere, and general "terrible" accounts. I am anxious and now paranoid and wonder if this is a good decision or if we should pick a different destination. And to add I'm an anxious flyer who needs to take medication for the anxiety. This is so difficult, please advise!

Posted by
2246 posts

There have been many discussions of this topic, I suggest reading through a thread or two and then if you have specific concerns, post back. For background it would be useful to have an idea of where you live, where in Paris your lodging is, how many days and what your interests are when you get there. From my rock, the world has changed a bit, but I'd get on a plane today and go to Paris for as long as possible...if I could.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/france/recent-migrant-influx-into-paris-and-safety

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you for the link, I've been reading and the general consensus seems to be to always go but was wondering if anything has changed since last year, ex has there been an increase in violent crime, has something changed since then that should be considered like what airport to fly in at? We've never been, will be staying about 20 mins walking to the Louvre, will stick to the general touristy areas and attractions and would be careful. I guess...I'm just so anxious about it, I'd be safer not going I know that, but then I wouldn't go. So just wanted to hear from people that went more recently or live there. (sorry about the run-on thoughts).

Posted by
21724 posts

If you are that paranoid I doubt if anyone here can say anything that would help. Logic and facts will not dissolve irrational fear. BUT - I will try.

First, where are you reading the stories? Because I am not reading anything.

Violent robbies? We were almost next door to Kim K if that is your reference. Don't bring 10m in jewelry

Cops with guns everywhere. Yep!!! That is what is keeping you safe. We noticed more when we were in Paris last Fall than prior years especially around some tourists sites and train stations. Saw some beggars almost.

General "terrible" accounts? Have no idea what you are referencing. Give an example.

As I said earlier we were in France for month last Sep including a week in Paris. Would go back tomorrow with no problem or second thought.

I 'd be safer not going I know that ---- Are you sure about that? Last month we were in Ft Lauderdale the week after the shooting. So it can happen anywhere. No point in being a nervous wreck so stay home if it is that uncomfortable for you.

Posted by
308 posts

I just returned from spending a week in Paris for my 15 year wedding anniversary. We had an amazing time! We felt completely safe the entire time.

I should note that there is a lot of security everywhere, especially at the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame. There was a protest that turned violent in the suburbs on February 12th, but we didn't know about it until we turned on CNN at the hotel on the evening. It certainly didn't affect our trip at all. If I were you I would go.

Just so you know, we stayed in the 7th arrondissement.

Posted by
3621 posts

Quite frankly, I feel safer in European cities than I do in most American cities. Yes, there could be a terrorist attack, but what are the chances of that happening while you are there? And they do happen in the U.S. But what are the chances of your being in Ft. Lauderdale when that happened? The number of violent robberies, compared to those that happen in the U.S. is almost non existent. Yes, there are police with weapons everywhere. And that is a good thing. Personally, I'd not hesitate one minute to go to Paris.

Posted by
8293 posts

Mikeca ..... "attacks, robberies, cops with guns everywhere ... ". Sounds like any North American city to me. You will be missing a life-changing experience if you decide. not to go. Be brave, you won't regret it.

Posted by
1422 posts

The risks of traveling to Paris or anywhere else in Europe are objectively lower than going to most comparable places in the U.S. But not everyone handles a given level of risk the same way. If you are this anxious then you should not go.

Posted by
12923 posts

I am reading stories about attacks, violent robberies, cops with guns everywhere, and general "terrible" accounts.

I heard the same about Paris, however I don't think Texas is that bad. Maybe that was Houston.

Posted by
3933 posts

I'm going at the end of April and have no qualms at all - I'll also be visiting Brussels and it doesn't have the best reputation either at times...maybe I have a tiny voice in the back of my mind, but I'm not going to let it stop me from visiting - the odds are so so tiny - I'm more likely to die on my way to the airport than in a terrorist attack.

It was a little unnerving the first time we visited Paris and Rome and other big cities to see the police/army (sorry - not sure the correct term) in the train stns and around monuments with - what looked to me - like huge guns...but you soon overlook it and maybe feel a bit more comforted knowing they are there.

That being said, you should be aware of your surroundings - not to the point of paranoia...also, try and be aware if there are any marches or protests going on any day you are there and just avoid those areas. I wouldn't want to find myself in the middle of a protest. If there are big crowds and you feel uncomfortable, just go away from the crowds.

Posted by
12923 posts

Oh! I see you meant Paris in France.

It's not as bad as you describe.

Some attacks have occurred, but they've been very rare and sporadic, certainly not as frequent as shootouts in America.

Most of the trouble is caused by those Belgian migrants. Belgium doesn't always send to France their best people. But Marine Le Pen will be building a wall, and Luxembourg is paying for it.

Have a good time in Paris. You'll have almost as fun as reading our comments.

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you everyone, it's comforting to hear that so many you are still planning on visiting just knowing like that one person on the forum is still going is weirdly comforting.

And the humor helps! Haha! Houston I know for sure is bad because family is from there haha, but the TexMex is delicious so it's def worth going haha!

As an American I tend to think oh we're safe because we're in America but then maybe I don't trust other intelligence agencies or police I can't converse with which adds to the irrational panic.

My husband is excited to go so I am following his lead and taking it slow, slow and focus on positive.

Posted by
8405 posts

We're going, as are a few million other tourists.
Several people have asked where you read such accounts, and I'm asking again, too.

Posted by
1780 posts

Would it help you to know that out of the first 19 tours that RS is conducting this season, 13 already have a waiting list? That's a company that predicates their business on repeat customers, so they don't want to loose any. And, that's a lot of people who feel confident about going there. We're heading there in August.

I hope you are able to go and have a wonderful time.

Posted by
31471 posts

mikeca,

Where are you reading these reports about "attacks, violent robberies, cops with guns everywhere, and general "terrible" accounts"? How recent are they?

There are never any guarantees when travelling anywhere in the world, including western Europe. All cities have crime in varying degrees and severity, and I'm sure your home area is no different. You will encounter not only armed police but also soldiers with the distinctive FAMAS automatic assault rifles (especially around the Eiffel Tower), and hopefully their presence will prevent any "attacks or violent robberies". I'm never too concerned about armed soldiers as I've encountered that in other places in Europe, and their presence discourages incidents.

You will have to contend with petty crimes such as pickpocketing and similar scams, so it would be prudent to wear Money Belts and use those for "deep storage" of cash and credit cards. Keep some daily expense cash in an accessible location and don't access the Money Belt where others can see. Some of the scams you may encounter are the "Friendship Bracelet scam" the "Gold Ring scam" or the "Petition scam". Here's one example.... http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-3007440/Footage-reveals-one-common-scams-tourists-fall-Paris.html

Posted by
2246 posts

The next thing to concern yourself with is a few words of French and general etiquette, almost guaranteed to improve your experience! There are many threads on this too, just a heads up...bonjour before anything else...

Posted by
1760 posts

Hi Mike, it's OK for you to be a bit anxious about traveling to Europe but please don't let your anxiety prevent you from visiting a world-class city like Paris.

I spent 25 days in Europe in September 2016; 8 of those days in Paris. There is a police presence and you will notice them, that's sort of the point. Avoid large gatherings and go about your business. I love Paris and I think it's a shame that these terrorist acts are keeping people from visiting. Honestly, I am always aware of what's going on and now I'm even more vigilant. In any event, I will not stop traveling to Europe.

If you plan to take a cell phone or I-pad or other device with you, it might be a good idea to register your trip with the State Department. They will send e-mails to alert you of any problems, places to avoid, etc. Here's the site - https://step.state.gov/step/

I hope you have a great trip!

Posted by
12895 posts

Hi,

Maybe my travel observations are no longer relevant since I am basing them on what I saw, observed/experienced last June, mostly in Germany and Austria. No doubt things have changed if you know what to look for in contrast to what it was prior. In Germany I know what to look for, etc.

"...reading stories....general terrible accounts." I want to read the same stories. These also sound like a very apt description of Chicago. Whether Paris is safe or not, such a relative term, I'll be arriving there by mid-May, as well as tons of other international tourists with or without Americans along.

Posted by
1878 posts

I really would not worry about it. I was in Rome a few months ago and they have military or police in lots of places with machine guns. It did not make me feel more or less safe, but I did not let their presence bother me either. Not to take threat of terrorism lightly at all, but strictly by the numbers the worst terrorist attack would likely kill a few hundred or few thousand in a city of millions. You could hypothesize that in Paris terrorists might target areas that tourists frequent, but the opposite could also easily be the case. Relax and enjoy the fact that it might be a little less crowded than usual. Statistically the most dangerous part of your trip is probably the shuttle ride to the airport.

Posted by
2466 posts

Take along a little extra medication in case you need it.
There have been reports of violence - but this is in the far-away suburbs, where you most certainly will not go.
If there is a protest march, for example, it is completely contained by the no-nonsense police. If you see crowds marching down the streets, it is quite easy to avoid them.
Have your valuables safe at all times - on the Metro, bus or especially whenever you are in a crowd, such as a museum.
You'll be fine.

Posted by
11288 posts

" far-away suburbs, where you most certainly will not go."

This is a very important point. In some places in the world, including some US cities, the "dangerous" areas are near places tourists go; or, if you get lost, you can easily find yourself in a dangerous area by mistake.

This is not the case in Paris. The places you will be going as a tourist are not near dangerous areas or on the way to them.

Posted by
565 posts

As others have said, there is little reason to panic. Military is everywhere and you ar far more likely to be hit by a cyclist while crossing the street.

Your anxiety, however, is extremely concerning. I do not think you will enjoy yourself on any trip, especially an overseas one, until you get a handle on it. Please do not self-medicate, and take care of yourself.

Posted by
776 posts

The sporadic articles about "misbehavior" in the Paris area have appeared in such dubious news sources as Express.co.uk, and Breitbart News. These protests are related to the alleged attack on a youth by the police and are protests against police brutality.
They do not involve terrorism, violent robberies or other "terrible" accounts. The link below will give you some idea of the local response to these articles. Spring is on the way, bringing with it the Student's Spring Protest Season.. . a yearly event. You will not be affected at all. Serious protests usually locate at Nation or Republique and are easily avoided.

http://www.thelocal.fr/20170222/french-mocking-of-alt-rights-paris-no-go-zones-would-be-funny-if-it-wasnt-so-serious

Posted by
8 posts

Thank you everyone for your comments.
I'm guilty of saying it's one of those fake news sites and twitter, I googled is Paris safe and those are the only "news" sites coming up and ...then I wonder if I'm missing something in the actual news. They mention tourism is significantly down and I wonder maybe those people know something I don't. I'll probably get travel insurance and register w State and try to think positively.

Posted by
11832 posts

I doubt you will actually see any of this.

When I was in Paris in September/October there was a car parked by Notre Dame early in the morning loaded with gas canisters that failed to explode. Apparently they arrested one or two people on a train out of Paris. If I hadn't seen it in the news, I wouldn't have even known it was happening.

I was in Acupulco a number of years back enjoying a day on the beach. Later, I read there had been a big shoot out between police and a drug cartel in the suburbs that day. I didn't see or hear any of it.

Maybe the closest I've come was in Madrid, there was a large group of protesters coming down the street, just over a block away. I ducked down a side street and cleared the area because I had read about some protests turning violent. This particular protest didn't turn violent but, if it had, I would have been well clear of it anyway.

Posted by
487 posts

If you are worried about "police I can't converse with" that is probably unlikely as well. Europeans are much better about speaking English than Americans are about speaking other foreign languages. Most of the people you encounter should be able to speak at least a little English, but many will be pretty fluent, especially in public facing roles. It is always best to greet with a few words in French first as a sign of respect, rather than starting in English.

Posted by
2320 posts

Is anywhere truly safe, anymore? I had just booked my trip to Paris for last year in May when the terrorists attacked the Bataclan and other places on 11/13/15. I never considered cancelling my trip, but I did go with a teeny bit of extra anxiety that was immediately dispelled once I set foot in that most magical of cities. Heightened security measures and obvious heavily armed police and military presence just made me feel more safe.

Posted by
436 posts

If you have anxiety disorder I expect it will kick in for any travel to a new place, especially when you commit to the trip by purchasing the airfare. Learning to deal with it is awesome and gathering valid information is a great step. Ignore those who say stay home, because you will still have anxiety in your life anyway. Take extra medication along just in case and notice how well you really cope and it gets easier.

My daughter and I were in Paris just before Christmas and it is wonderful. Safer than NYC!! Be sure to watch the Eiffel sparkle at night!! We walked at night and never felt unsafe.

Enjoy the trip!

Posted by
351 posts

I can think of at least one important reason to go: Bread.
And cheese.
And wine.

Oops I guess that's 3 reasons. Oh! Also art.

I'll echo what others have said. It's OK to feel anxious about the trip but try not to let your anxiety keep you from going.

Can you drink wine with your anxiety medication? If so, let a glass of wine from time to time help you relax! Also cheese. And bread.

Posted by
2466 posts

Tourism is on the rise in Paris, most visitors will be coming by the thousands from China, Japan, India...
Prépare for big crowds everywhere this year.

Posted by
2466 posts

Tourism is on the rise in Paris, most visitors will be coming by the thousands from China, Japan, India...
Prépare for big crowds everywhere this year.

Posted by
8294 posts

I've been in Paris for two weeks now and could not feel safer. I feel much, much safer here than San Francisco and the SF Bay Area.

Posted by
2017 posts

So where would you go instead?

And where do you live now that's so much safer? Certainly not in the US.

But honestly if you feel this way it's probably not going to be a good trip.

For me, I would rather go to Europe. The pickpocket is highly unlikely to have a gun and just shoot for the fun of it!

Posted by
12895 posts

Just as I thought based on observations from last year's trip end of May/June in Prague, Vienna, and Germany, and that did not even include Paris and France. If Americans are not going over to Paris, their numbers will be replaced by those from the Far East, likewise with Budapest which I visited last as a day trip in 2015. True, it was prior to the migrant crisis.

Posted by
1839 posts

We were in Paris in 2005 and saw military around with big rifles. It felt scary to me since we never see that in the states. When we went back in 2014 I was more familiar with it and it didn't bother me at all. I think if I went now I'd feel very comfortable to know I was being protected. So, you will see men/women around in uniform carrying rifles, and that is normal! Kind of like graffiti in Rome, just normal, not bad, but a bit uncomfortable with it when it isn't what you are use to.

So, just prepare yourself. Then enjoy Paris! It is amazing!!!

Posted by
21724 posts

....They mention tourism is significantly down and I wonder maybe those people know something I don't.......

IF it is down, then it because people buy into irrational fears. And many do so you are not alone. Remember you greatest risk for bodily injury in your trip will be your drive to and from your airport. After that it will be using taxis and other public transit.

So what will you do??

Posted by
13512 posts

I'm guilty of saying it's one of those fake news sites and twitter...

Well, then. Therein lies your problem. Good heavens, if I paid attention to the nonsense on fake news I'd be too terrified to leave the house. Only then I might trip on the stairs or slip in the shower, break my scrawny neck, and never get to see Paris again.

Back awaaaaay from fake news sites. Go read a lovely book about Paris. Watch "Gigi" and sing along.

We were last there in 2009 and armed military security was everywhere so it doesn't matter, really, how recent a trip may have been. During our week, the Eiffel was evacuated twice, we were hustled en masse off a street by a heavy-vehicle convoy, and Gard du Nord was locked down for a bit because of an unattended package. We had a completely wonderful time, and all that security was reassuring versus frightening. It's your comfort and your decision but I think you'd be seriously missing out if you stayed home.

Wine? We broke the bank on champagne one balmy evening and were not a bit sorry. 🥂 hic

Posted by
7607 posts

It's true that tourism numbers were down in Ile-de-France (the Paris metropolitan area) by some 1.6 million people in 2016 as compared to 2015, according to a report issued this week. The biggest drops were seen among Japanese and Chinese tourists.

However, it's also true that analysts in the sector have observed an uptick since last November.

You'll note if you read even the most basic French that 60% of hotel industry personnel saw an increase in activity in Jan. 2017 compared to Jan. 2016.

Here's the Paris region's tourism body's report on the issue.

http://pro.visitparisregion.com/chiffres-tourisme-paris-ile-de-france/frequentation-touristique-paris/Bilans/Bilan-de-l-annee-touristique-2016-a-Paris-Ile-de-France-fevrier-2017

Posted by
1056 posts

Here is a quote that I like:
"A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for."
I hope that you will not remain in the harbor. There is such a beautiful world to see and Paris is one of the highlights.

Posted by
8 posts

again, thank you everyone. I am positive and as I am planning, I am becoming excited for the trip. I love the ship example, beautiful. (I did have a mini anxiety out of nowhere but ...deep breath and meditation).

So...we will be spending 9 full days in Paris (not counting the travel days) and so far have our hip hotel/s (millennial style haha) and plan on doing day trips to Versailles, Giverny, and a vineyard potentially Reims. We want some nature and will probably walk from Vernon to Giverny, and would love to stroll through vineyards but haven't gotten there with planning. Paris!

Posted by
1056 posts

Mike,

If you want a relaxing day in Versailles, I recommend that you rent a bike in the gardens and go for a ride. We did that and it was a great way to unwind after fighting the crowds inside the palace.

Posted by
117 posts

Hi OP, we put our 18 year old daughter on a plane last September and she spent 3 adventurous months roaming all over the city without any problems -- which would be the norm, not the exception.

As her Dad, I did have a few anxious thoughts. But overall we were overjoyed she could have the experience. And to ratchet up the intensity (for some folks I guess), she is two thirds of the way through a second three months traveling through Southeast Asia. We refuse to let fear get the best of us.

Maybe that helps.....

Posted by
8294 posts

mike, I'm glad to hear you're not letting fear dictate and you're now excited to go. My son and I just got back from over 2 wks in Paris and it was beyond wonderful. My son (27) who's travelled a lot and spent a month in Thailand/Cambodia in November, says Paris is his favorite place on the planet. It's mine too.
We went to Reims while we were there and did not like it at all. If you want charm, beautiful scenery, amazing vineyards and wineries, I highly recommend Beaune in Burgundy. Great area to ride bikes too.
And I agree with Yosemite, the most fun and enjoyable way to experience Versailles is to rent bikes by the Grand Canal.
Your day trip to Giverny will be amazing.
Also highly recommend a day trip to Veaux-le-Vicomte... a wonderful chateau near Paris.

Posted by
31471 posts

"and plan on doing day trips to Versailles"

May will probably be somewhat busy at Versailles, and I'd suggest not going on a Tuesday as the Louvre is closed that day so traffic at Versailles increases. I believe Versailles is closed Mondays. The weekends will probably also be busy. If you'll be seeing the palace using a Paris Museum Pass, note that it doesn't cover the gardens if the fountains are in operation. That's no big deal as it's only a small additional charge. Be prepared to wait in a queue for entrance to the Palace, even with a Museum Pass.

I'd recommend packing along a copy of the RS Pocket Paris or full size Paris guidebooks as they'll be helpful as a reference source for sightseeing.

If you'll be travelling with an iPod, iPhone or other electronic gadget, you might try downloading the free Rick Steves Audio guides for various sights, including Versailles. That will save the rental cost of an Audio guide in the palace (the queue can be long). Nothing like having an expert explain the history that's in front of your eyes, as you wander through the sights.

Posted by
384 posts

OP,

Beware! Always hold your hand over your chest. I forgot to do this and Paris stole my heart!

-- Mike Beebe

Posted by
86 posts

For the last 7 years my wife and I have passed through and / or stayed in Paris twice a year during that time. While security has become a bit more visible we still feel more safe in France than in the U.S.A. This echos what 95% of the posts are saying and I must add my 2 cents worth to reiterate that point. We have become very proficient at using the metro to get around and have some lovely memories of subway entertainers, and one pick-pocket who didn't succeed. You should just take a deep breath and go...... if not you'll regret it for the rest of your life, IMHO.

Posted by
524 posts

mikeca778; what city do you live in? I hear of many "bad" stories in Houston, TX. We were in Germany and Austria in September 2015 during the "refugee crisis" no problems. in fact when exited the train in Vienna, we were right in the middle of my of the refugees who were traveling to Munich. We were in Paris in March 2015 after the Charlie Hebdo attack. No problems, did notice that security was a little higher at the Holocaust Museum and at few specific venues. Go and enjoy yourself.

Posted by
43 posts

if you are referring to some of the links that have been floating around on Facebook, you have to remember - if it isn't coming from an actual news site, there is probably some type of agenda involved (liberal or conservative - they both have agendas, and having people who are willing to be "less than honest" to rile up the populace). I have been asked no less than 20 times in the last 4 weeks about "are you sure you should go back to Paris? Look at this! xxxxx

Well, I'm fortunate that I have friends that live in Paris, and I was able to ask them directly about the "news" about riots in the streets, Islamic jihadists causing mayhem and "no one is reporting it...." All, without exception, said that they have no idea where these posts are coming from because this isn't happening in the region right now. All stated that there was a protest about 3 weeks ago in a northern Paris suburb that protested against an incident of police brutality (the victim was visited by Pres Hollande in the hospital). The protest got a little heated, but there were definitely no tanks rolling in the streets, and no Allah Akbar moments.

So, my best advice - GO TO PARIS!!!!!!!!!! If you are curious about actual news events going on in Paris, check out France 24, which is an online, English speaking news source based in Paris. If anything happens, it's reported on that network (they have a facebook page, along with a web page).

Posted by
12895 posts

Hi,

I totally agree with the above comments, look at France 24, very comprehensive treatment of the news in France. On deciding to go or not, I would say too...go to Paris. My trip plans include being in Paris by May 2017. No one has asked me why I'm going back to Paris.

Posted by
117 posts

Yep, going back for a week at the end of the month. Staying in the Belleville area of Paris and will try to get to as much as we can.

Fear sucks!

Posted by
21724 posts

A better question -- Is it safe to go through the Ft. Lauderdale airport?

Posted by
8631 posts

If Chicago was in a foreign country, I suspect the State Dept would have a warning for it. 760+ murders in 2016

I hope you are enjoying your trip in France

Posted by
8 posts

we head out on tuesday and will land on wednesay...excited, welcome good karma :)!

thank you all for the advice!

Posted by
8405 posts

Yeah mikeca. You'll love it. So glad you asked here because you were seeing made-up stories made to influence the election.

Posted by
1821 posts

I'm in Paris right now and have been more concerned with the weather than safety.

Posted by
8 posts

Richard...agreed so much, I've been monitoring the weather and literally the 10 days we stay there are ONLY shown as rain and low 60s ....this is my karma for worrying about other things. Man such a bummer :( I was hoping for Paris in the sunshine not wet for two weeks nonstop Paris. Gah...now off to hoping the weather magically changes.

Posted by
12895 posts

I'll be in Paris this coming week, doesn't look as if it will be ideal weather....On verra.

Posted by
1821 posts

It's had rain in the forecast almost every day of our trip for the last three weeks. In reality it rains a bit here and there and hasn't been bad at all. Usually a passing rain and I have a small umbrella. Ducking under an awning or into a cafe until it passes is actually enjoyable. We've walked out of museums and stores to see wet ground and been surprised it rained. Don't stress.

Posted by
8 posts

Glad to hear it! I've checked some local meteo sites and it does say some days 30% chance other days more or less. I hope in those days of a passing cloud ...there's also a lil bit of sunshine haha. Thanks all, anxious for the flight but ready to see the Eiffel Tower in person for the first time!

Posted by
2466 posts

It doesn't rain all day...you'll have a little light rain, maybe. Or maybe a brief thunderstorm - but nothing you can''t handle. Most of the time there will be a lot of sun.

Posted by
1821 posts

And it's humid. When the sun is out I get hot fast. So it's been hot and cold and I am always taking off or putting on my jacket. Locals and tourists are still wearing puffy coats.

Posted by
9718 posts

Exactly what Richard said!! I was out for a quick walk after breakfast and was exactly right in a shirt-sleeve tee but all the locals are bundled up in puffy coats!

Posted by
8294 posts

Mikeca778, You're going to love Paris and I'll bet, like most people, you won't want to leave!
Please let us know how it went when you get back. Enjoy and have a great trip!