Please sign in to post.

Safety in France after the terrorists

We're planning a trip to Paris and northern France in April. We want to say Not Afraid and just go, but we're a bit nervous. What does Rick say?

Posted by
8889 posts

I don't know what Rick says, but events always look exagerated from a distance. I ask you a question, should I perhaps not fly to the USA because of the Boston Marathon bomb or 9/11? Or maybe I should avoid the whole planet Earth?

Posted by
8293 posts

Be "not afraid" and just go. It will be a life long regret if you don't.

Posted by
11613 posts

You can check the State Dept. webpage for travel alerts if you are concerned, but personally I don't worry about it.

Posted by
11450 posts

.." what does Rick say". well he's not there.. but thousands of other tourist are as we speak,, and they say it seems just fine.
Don't think your State Department has any real warnings out either.. other then the usual.

I would take the word of locals, other tourist and the State Department over a travel writers..

But , if you were to ask Rick ( which btw you are not really doing so in posting here.. you can ask his staff to chime in , but you have just posted on a public forum where other travellers answer each others questions mostly) I am pretty sure he would say go for it.. remember.. he's visited the middle east and encourages people to step out of them preconceived perceptions of what is safe or not.

Relax.

Posted by
12040 posts

Terrorists usually target fixed facilities with symbolic value or individuals with regular routines that they can observe and plan off of. Tourists do not fit those definitions.

Go to Paris and enjoy.

Posted by
1821 posts

My wife has the same concerns about our trip in May. I told her we absolutely have to keep our plans as a statement of support, otherwise the terrorists win.

Posted by
12968 posts

Hi,

Which towns specifically in northern France?

Posted by
141 posts

How did you feel after 9/11 and how did that compare with what happened in the days after? Many people were scared, but the country came together and people were far more vigilant. I would guess we were far safer in the time after 9/11 than at many other times. I have not been to France, but I would be surprised if there wasn't a generally higher level of awareness. The terrorists want us to stay home and hide in fear. Exploring the world and making friends deflates their power. You probably have higher risk of encountering violence here in the US than in France. Are you afraid to visit New York City or Washington DC or Columbine or Aurora or Oklahoma City or Killeen or Austin or Fort Hood or Newtown or Virginia Tech? If not, then go to France and enjoy yourself. If so, well, I'm not sure what to tell you except every day is a gamble. You can die in your bed or out enjoying the world. I'm going to France in March. Enjoy your life! It's exactly what the terrorists fear.

Posted by
3485 posts

I didn't pay close enough attention to your post , and Fred's post caught my eye . We are pretty much accustomed to the unreasonable canards about Paris , but Northern France ? Where ?

Posted by
31511 posts

sheila,

Although this is a bit dated, this is perhaps what Rick would say.....

https://www.ricksteves.com/about-rick/islamofascist-terrorism-hides-our-real-threat

https://www.ricksteves.com/press-room/rick-steves-talks-about-safe-travel

Threats of terrorism are likely going to be a fact of life for quite some time, and there will never be any guarantees of absolute safety. You can delay your trip forever wondering when the "best time" will be, or just take a leap of faith like many do here and continue with your trip plans. In all likelihood, you'll have a wonderful time. As some of the others mentioned, you're probably more at risk if travelling domestically.

However, you will have to be vigilant against pickpockets and scammers, as they will be operating in Paris. Wearing a Money Belt or similar would be a good idea.

Posted by
11450 posts

Very good point.. the tours still go to Paris.. so guess RS feels its safe enough..

Posted by
117 posts

Have you bought your tickets? Made your hotel reservations? I will happily take them off your hands if you'd rather not take the risk......

Seriously though, I understand the urge to be cautious. But, as has already been stated above, you'll regret it if you don't do it.

Go and have an awesome time! :)

Posted by
16883 posts

Rick has expressed no new concerns about either independent travelers or tour members visiting Paris, nor have the French guides who visited our office last week. For many years, he's argued that isolated incidents are a poor excuse for avoiding a whole city. During the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland, for instance, he advised against singing Catholic songs in Protestant pubs, and vice versa. You might find these related articles of interest:

http://www.ricksteves.com/about-rick/social-activism-philanthropy/how-to-travel-as-a-political-act/overcome-fear

http://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-listen/read/articles/northern-ireland-thoughts-smiles-or-sinister (2003)

Posted by
650 posts

I live in upstate New York. I drove to NYC 3 days after 9/11 to get as close as possible to the site. Got as far as Canal Street then got detoured but still got into Manhattan and had no problems.
I was on a tour of Israel in February 2005 when the hotel in Amman, Jordan was bombed 50 miles from where I was. Tour went on and 2 days later we were visiting Petra, Jordan.
I really wouldn't worry.
Home Depot in New York can be dangerous.
Enjoy and no worries please.
:)

Posted by
1949 posts

The best way to respond to this situation and protect yourself would be to turn off your television.

Posted by
4698 posts

You know what is ironic? Many Austrians and other Europeans I know think that the US is unsafe because they read all the horrible stories about gun violence over there.

Posted by
1681 posts

Avirosemail you hit the nail on the head.

I think there is one important thing we constantly overlook and that is the influence of the media about the way we get information: The media informs, but you can not interact with it, you can not ask questions, you can not share your worries, you can not smell and feel the place, you can not check anything about the subject they constantly inform you about. So we miss an essential ingredient to get the complete picture and makes you feel more helpless than you already are. Lacking that interaction is to my opinion so highly underestimated.

In the week after the attack I was in Versailles, hopefully the next can be of help I wrote in another thread experiencing the situation:

Well maybe like most you are thinking about what happened last week, but once there, there are so many things that destracts, needs attention, like crossing the busy streets, locking the car or driving safely, enjoying the visit and so on, initial worries move step by step to the background.

And:

Walking through the streets of Versailles as it is part of agglomeration Paris you feel being that tiny part of those millions of people in that big city who are more focussed on their daily life. So very hard to imagine that you will be one of those few unlucky people becoming victim of an attack. On the way back home I was focussed not damaging my car in the traffic jams during rush hour, meaning attention is more absorbed by the turmoil of daily little worries.

I think personal experience can give worries a place so you can deal with it, media can not replace, at least do not expect that.

So if to protect yourself, why not turning off the television.

Posted by
1949 posts

I live on the other side of the San Francisco Bay, so I see a lot of tourists
doing things like hiding their wallet in their socks and shielding themselves as they pass hobos,
and I look around at the streets and the subway and the buses that I
use everyday and wonder to myself, "what do they know that I don't?"
The answer is that they can't help but see this place through the filter
of the TV images they get of it.
Several times a year the news helicopters are buzzing overhead and the
news vans are set up with lights and cameras to cover whatever the
revolutionary riot du jour is, and when I tell my worried out-of-state friends
that I was walking one block (or less) north and didn't notice that anything out of the ordinary
was going on, they think I'm blustering. I'm not.
The troublemakers that hover around the edges of peaceful protests waiting for a chance to smash a window
get magnified into some kind of breaking apocalypse, but I promise you that four shops down the street
people at the cafe have more trouble from the helicopters overhead than any supposed danger at ground level.

Posted by
11450 posts

Emily.. count this as a Canadian who considers most large cities in the States far more scary and dangerous then any large city she has visited in Europe,, including Paris.

I have seen posts from people who are from Detroit, Houston, New York,, asking "is Paris safe" and I think " are they kidding?"

Now for a switcheroo... two years ago in Mexico.. the Riveria Mayan,, near Tulum, large AI resort. We met a couple from Paris. We were telling them how easy it would be for them to jump the collectivo ( local mini buses) and visit Tulum Ruins on their own..
And they were very concerned about if this was "safe", we then said of course it was,, and I told them about how I was on a travel forum where people often worry if Paris and or the metro are "safe".. they were very surprised.. we shared a laugh about that..

Posted by
12968 posts

Yes, St. Quentin...that's one town in northern France I have yet to see in spite of all the traveling in that region.

On comparing: The question is would you rather be caught on foot in downtown Detroit and Houston versus Paris or Vienna after sundown. Maybe the Stadion area in Paris is a bit sketchy where you would need to be more alert than normally.

Posted by
43 posts

We all make our decisions in life based on our own internal "algorithm" so it depends on how "nervous" you get about such things. There is no point going if you are going to be like a cat on a tin roof, but on the other hand if your nerves are fairly OK then yes do travel. We all change the weighting we give to such things depending on how recent it is so you may find by April you will feel better about it than you do today.

Some places are riskier than others and I think France remains in the "acceptable" category.

I live in France, some of my neighbours could qualify as suspect, but I find life hasn't changed at all. Me the Brit I still open the door of our apartment block for the old lady from Morocco who smiles and thanks me in her limited French, just as always, for us on a day to day basis life goes on as before.

Best

Peter

Posted by
1681 posts

Avirosemail - Media as an phenomenon itself is not bad, but not able enough as described above to convey information in all it´s completeness. And some know it and certainly abuse that, like what say about San Francisco Bay, news channels only looking for exitement for making a profit and my impression is they don´t really care about the quality of the news, only if it can be consumed like fastfood.

Peter thanks for your post.

Posted by
13665 posts

Pat, I'm chuckling over your comment about colectivos on the Riviera Maya. They were such an easy and inexpensive way to get around but we couldn't convince some traveling companions - who ended up spending far, far more on cabs.

Sheila, I wouldn't hesitate to take your trip. Security is currently very high in many parts of Europe so rest assured that as many precautions that can be taken are being taken. It may be worth the mention that some of those precautions may be all too evident so don't let those worry you? We were in Paris some years back when they were experiencing some security concerns, and there was a notable presence of armed military personnel around some of the more-visited attractions (the Louvre and Eiffel in particular) and train stations. A few of the attractions/station entrances were abruptly closed for a time as well.

If you should experience the same, don't let it rattle you: it's actually reassuring to know that the authorities are taking the safety of citizens and guests very seriously! We'll be in Europe ourselves this spring and are just so excited to be making big plans!

My friend and I will spend 5 week in France in late April and May, and we will spend 8 days in Paris in late April. I don't have any fear about being in Paris. I am always observant when traveling in big city areas, protecting my money in a travel belt. I cannot wait to return to France and I love Paris!

Posted by
7691 posts

It's fine. Don't let these nutsos keep you from doing what you want to do.