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Nervous

my husband and I have been planning a trip to Paris and Normandy for about two years. I'm wondering if anybody has experienced any issues with refugees in these areas since attacks have happened there already. I hate to be paranoid, but we're thinking there might be a better time to travel there. Help, anyone?

Posted by
5267 posts

I would not be the least bit concerned. You'll be at least as safe in Paris as in any large US city, most likely safer. And even more so in Normandy.

The terrorist attacks a year ago in Paris were mostly the work of people who had been living in Europe for a long time, not refugees who have come to Europe recently. If you're truly worried about your safety from such attacks, perhaps it would be best to stay home and leave Europe to the rest of us. But I doubt if there will be a better time to go there, from a safety standpoint or an economic standpoint.

Posted by
8889 posts

since attacks have happened there already

What attacks? You have been reading fiction. There have, AFAIK, been no attacks by refugees, in France.

Posted by
5770 posts

I hate to be paranoid

Then stop being paranoid. Your concerns are very irrational and not based on anything remotely akin to reality.

Posted by
2931 posts

Dawn, you are mixing up refugees/migrants and jihadists. The terrorist acts that occurred in Paris and Normandy happened and terrorism can happen anywhere and were the work mainly of people born and raised in Europe. Refugees are fleeing from harm/unrest/violence in their countries. In the current world, terrorism can strike anywhere. Just about the only country that I think that you could visit without worry in that regard is North Korea. A vacation marred by worry about your safety whether that worry is called for or not is not fun. If your concern about France is going to ruin your trip, I think that you should go elsewhere. You would not be the only one -- just recently I read an article that attributes an upswing in tourism in Italy to people going there because of worry about France. I am heading to France next week, by the way.

Posted by
4698 posts

Refugees are fleeing violence, not starting it. For Pete's sake!!

Posted by
1203 posts

Dawn You came here seeking reassurance and are mocked criticized and treated rudely. Sorry. In my opinion this should be a place where you should be able to ask this kind of question. The news gives us a very unbalanced view of the world. The truth is it is no more dangerous to be in Normandy than it is here at home. Whenever an incident happens there will be people who will change their plans, but it really is not needed. Go and enjoy it. I am traveling to Israel in May...I expect to have a great trip in spite of the problems in the Middle East. If you need further questions answered please feel free to private message me. I traveled in Normandy in 2012 and 2014. My last trip was this year in Prague, Slovenia, Croatia, the Dolomites and Munich. I felt as safe as I do walking in my neighborhood. Happy travels !! (You will love Normandy)

Posted by
35 posts

My sister and I traveled to Paris in May and are returning in April. Our only concerns were the rain and getting lost. I love planning a trip and I imagine you have had a ball doing your research. Go and enjoy. Paris is a dream. FYI...my sister is 79 and I am 66. It was her first trip to Europe and I happily took the lead.

Posted by
21870 posts

We spent Sept in southern France ending with a week in Paris. Didn't see a single refugee anywhere, no one shot at us, heard no bombs, but I was more concerned (but not a very high level) about potential pickpockets. But again didn't see any of them either. A couple of street beggars but fewer than what you find on the 16th St Mall. It was pretty uneventful. So what are you actually anticipating???

Posted by
31524 posts

Dawn,

There are never any guarantees, whether staying at home or travelling in Europe. Europe is generally safer than many places in the U.S. and most people don't have any problems. I frequently walk about alone in the cities well into the evenings and have yet to experience any problems. There are always lots of people in the streets, cafes, etc.

If you stay in the more popular areas of Paris, you likely won't see any refugees but you will probably see homeless people and scammers (be sure to wear a money belt). I normally stay in the 7th close to the Eiffel Tower, but there are other good choices too. Normandy has smaller cities and more rural areas, so I doubt you'll have any problems there either. Where were you planning to stay in Normandy?

You may find it helpful to attend the monthly meeting of the Denver travel group and discuss this in person with some of the helpful folks there. Here's a link.....

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/travel-meetings/denver-travel-group-meeting-nov-19

Posted by
2466 posts

Relax Part 1:
You will not be going anywhere near any refugees - all the things you'll want to see and do will be far, far away from where the refugees are living.

Relax Part 2:
There will be homeless people on the sidewalk. They won't hurt you at all.

Relax Part 3:
The very nice armed soldiers who patrol the tourist sites and virtually all neighborhoods will take very good care of you.

Relax Part 4:
You will have your backpacks, purses, tote bags etc examined when you go to museums and the usual tourist attractions. It's better to leave as much stuff back at the hotel as you can.

Alarm Part 1:
You should be very concerned about pickpockets and secure your valuables. This is no laughing matter.

Alarm Part 2:
Avoid groups of boys or girls with clipboards. Just go around them.

Alarm Part 3:
Avoid buying trinkets from people who hang around tourist sites. This is illegal.

Posted by
2466 posts

As for Normandie -
If you're thinking about the "Calais Jungle", all that has been bulldozed.
There is nobody there anymore, they've all been moved to official refugee centers.
Anyway, if you go to Calais, you won't be anywhere near where the refugee camp was.

If you're driving, there won't be anyone trying to jump into your car. The highways are well-policed.
If you're taking the train or a tour bus, you won't have anything to worry about.

Posted by
2466 posts

Woinparis - No, nothing too much out of the ordinary has happened.
European geography isn't taught much anymore in the US, and if anyone reads certain travel forums and watches US news, this will really confuse the issue.
A lot of people tend to think of "the Normandy Beaches" with no geographical reference point - unless they knew someone who fought there.

Posted by
8887 posts

I returned home last night after spending a week in Paris. I didn't see a single person that I perceived to be a refugee. I did see homelessness people, just as you will see homeless people in any American city. They are harmless. There was a large law enforcement presence. Every museum and most large stores had security measures in place. I felt very safe, as I always have in Europe.

Posted by
112 posts

Dawn ... Last year my wife and I toured France on our own for one month; driving 2,200 km and using the excellent train system. In the course of this, we spent several days in Bayeux (Normandy Beaches) and finished the trip with a rental apartment in Paris (we've been there before). I meet more rude people in the USA than I do in France, but learn some basics on French manners before you go (pays huge dividends). Pick pockets and scammers in Paris? Yes, but easily avoided and recognized if you follow the RS tips. In my opinion Normandy requires more than a quick in and out. I'll probably never tire of exploring Paris. So, I say, don't short your time there as well, Our first trip to Paris had us staying in the Rue Clar area recommended by RS. This is a very good starter position within lovely walking distance to the tower and Metro connections. As a fellow resident of the Denver metro area, as suggested, give the local RS group a visit. I'll bet you'll be assured of the positives. I do encourage you to take your trip.

Posted by
335 posts

Dawn, I've been here in Paris for almost 3 months (sadly I have to go home soon) and have had NO problems whatsoever. Yes there are security checks in stores and museums, yes there are squads of armed soldiers in the neighborhoods, and yes there are homeless. Please come visit my favorite city!

Posted by
8293 posts

"I hate to be paranoid."

Summon up all your courage, all your common sense, and DON'T BE PARANOID. You will have wasted two years of planning and yearning if you don't go to France. Go. Your pleasure will know no bounds.

Posted by
776 posts

I'm reading Daniel Defoe's book, Adventures of a Cavalier (1720) and am at the part where, in Paris, he's grouped and mugged by a bunch of thugs. The more things change the more they stay the same.

Immigrant camps in N Paris have been part of the scene for a couple of years. A little compassion for these people is in order. They have fled horrors that we in our first world would not begin to understand. Considering their states of desperation, their effects on the Paris crime rates are very low. Some perspective is in order. Paris has a pop. of about 2 and a half million. There are about 8,000 refugees in various locations. (Perhaps up to 4,000 were cleared from the most recent Stalingrad enclave) I know the news you're getting about this situation is at the very least 'skewed" to the negative.

You can see that they are not a large presence although in the Stalingrad area they were readily observable and a problem only in the sense that their living conditions were inhumane. Lack of toilet facilities, washing facilities etc. In fact the Red Cross came to take many away as chicken pox was spreading rapidly.

In all the times I've visited the Stalingrad area to shop, watch the boats go through the lock, enjoy the canal cafes while sitting in the sun, take architectural walks along Av. de Flandre, where the immigrants are located I've never had a problem. In fact, I've been amazed at the number of French people from various charities, church groups etc who have been involved with improving the quality of life for this severely distressed group.

No need for you to feel paranoid. Enjoy your Paris trip and try instead try to sympathize with these poor folk who are in Paris for an entirely different reason and, unlike you, ventured all they had, property, lives, family, to get here.

Posted by
21870 posts

I know we have kind of beat up on Dawn for the question. The difficulty is risk assessment. We are all fairly poor at it. The biggest single risk for bodily injury for anyone in the US is driving your car. The biggest risk you will take on your European vacation is the drive to and from the airport, taxi rides in Europe, and buses. (Trains and planes are safer). And walking. Far greater risk than being bombed, shot, or run over by a terrorist. However, since the above is common and terrorists are not it is far easier to focus on one or two terrorists event than on a routine taxi ride. Being paranoid, by definition, is irrational so logic and facts rarely change a paranoid opinion. So, despite all of our comments, only they can decide what is the comfortable, acceptable course of action for them. Good luck, Dawn.

Posted by
13026 posts

Hi,

No need to be nervous and especially paranoid. If this helps, I spent 5 weeks over there end of May/June of this year, mainly in the country where a million migrants have arrived....Germany. I saw a few, they can be spotted out, if you know what to look for in Austria and Germany. Bottom line...nothing out of the ordinary if one did not follow the news and if one had been totally ignorant of the news.

Posted by
308 posts

Travel can be a little scary because you are outside of your comfort zone. It's okay to be nervous and to plan for negative things to happen. That's why I always wear a money belt in Europe and carry a copy of my passport in my bag. But please try not to let the news media stop you from going to western Europe based on the refugee situation. I spent three weeks in Europe this year and the refugee crisis had zero affect on me.

Dawn, I hope you go to France and have a wonderful time!

Posted by
11450 posts

Dawn started another thread on this subject , and got all the same answers before .
She does not return to threads .

She does not seem to be seeking answers but only to find someone to reassure her that her fears are with weight .

They are not , she is choosing to be paranoid .

It may be best if she stays home .

Posted by
12040 posts

You are 13 times more likely to die in a traffic accident in the US than of a violent act in the most violent European country per capita (Albania)... If you are really paranoid, you shouldn't ride in a private vehicle.

Posted by
13026 posts

@ Dawn...Keep in mind that North Americans are not the only tourists in Europe. If you're planning this trip to take place in the summer (certain advantages to that, just as certain disadvantages, ie a trade-off on what you are willing to cope with or not) you see there are tons of other international tourists as well. Since they're over there, why should you be overly concerned on the safety issue. I'm more careful but then I know what I'm doing.

Posted by
1846 posts

I'm sorry you were beat up by asking the question. Any question should be ok to ask on this forum without fear of judgement.

I too get nervous/paranoid! When the last terrorist attack happens I write off Europe, then time passes and I start to feel safe again and can't wait to go back. Then, another attack and I get nervous again. When you imagine getting shot at while sitting in a cafe or a bomb goes off while in an airport, it can make you feel uneasy! After 911 I planned to stay away from Disneyland and all big attractions here in the states. I think the bottom line is that you can't ever be completely safe and just have to go and trust you will be ok. I guess I calm myself down by asking myself, "what are the chances" of something happening, here or abroad.

Posted by
44 posts

Dawn, Please don't let anxiety/paranoia get in the way of your dream. Bad stuff can happen anywhere in the world or right in your own home. I have traveled alone in Paris and even at night on quiet streets never felt unsafe. You must overcome your fears and just go! You won't be sorry.

Posted by
472 posts

That's a very good point. When I first read about that, my first reaction was not actually about another possible event, but how adept some security forces have become at catching them in advance of anything happening.

Posted by
11 posts

There is no risk in visiting the Paris and Normandy. Last couple of months, security has tightened. So, France country is fully secured.

Posted by
31 posts

Dawn - little disgusting in my opinion that others have cast you out for legitimate fears. You came here for guidance not to be mocked. Education is key. As with anywhere, in any country - exercise your normal safety precautions. Don't let some of these posts provide a false sense of security - If you legitimately feel something isnt right or you see something that worries you by anyone... be proactive and remove yourself from the situation.

With that being said - The main sights in Paris / Normandy aren't in "bad" neighborhoods, so any sort of violence or crime won't be an issue.

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.

Perfect time to go to Paris/Normandy, costs will be wayyyy down. Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
6882 posts

The French authorities just foiled a planned terrorist attack over the weekend.

There are foiled attacks everywhere in the world (US, France, Germany, etc.) and you will not hear about most of them. The intel community does not report every time they're prevented something from happening - if they did, everyone would be in a constant state of panic. You could choose to worry, of course, but one report of a foiled attack does not give you a full picture of anything. Most of the time, there are no reports and people go on with their lives - they don't even think about it. But now the constant reporting has created anxiety without doing anything to educate people on actual threat probabilities.

Posted by
4637 posts

If you want to be safer go to Europe. Statistics don't lie. Many more people are shot in this country than killed by terrorists in Europe. Besides you can be killed by terrorists in this country, too.

Posted by
31 posts

"If you want to be safer go to Europe. Statistics don't lie. Many more people are shot in this country than killed by terrorists in Europe. Besides you can be killed by terrorists in this country, too."

Again, this sort of general information isnt helpful especially when it isnt factually accurate. Many more people are shot in this country in certain CITIES. Its not everywhere, its not mostly everywhere, its in particularly troubled cities, such as Chicago. Yes, you can be killed by terrorists in the states - but we have not seen the level of terrorist attacks after 9/11 that Europe has in large part to our homeland security/intelligence which is much more robust than in European countries.

The original question was in regard to "issues" with refugees and attacks in those areas.

Posted by
13759 posts

Steven, you are probably correct. It just doesn't apply to me. It would be inaccurate to say that I live in the US and it would also be inaccurate to say I vacation in Europe; or at the very least the statements would be misleading.

I live, work, socialize, etc.; in as close to a crime free environment as exists in the world. What little violent crime that does exist in my environment is almost never random in nature.

When I travel I go to locations and events where the risks are statistically greater; or where the circumstances that attract risk are enhanced (crowds, Jewish sites, inner cities, overtly threatened activities, etc.) and where a significant number of the victims are unknown to the assailants; random.

Posted by
323 posts

We just got back from a month in Paris and a month traveling to other cities in France. Don't believe all you see or hear on the news. We never felt the least bit afraid of anyone there. The only time you are aware of the problems they have had is when you see the army guys walking around with guns, usually in the big cities. We experienced that kind of army and police presence in Italy in 2007, but it never kept us from going back four times since then.

Posted by
13026 posts

"...army guys... with guns, usually in the big cities." Very true. A good friend of mine lives in Roanne, which I have been to a couple of times years ago, located NW of Lyon, roughly. He tells me no army patrols there as you would encounter in train stations, tourist sites, etc. in Paris.