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worried about trip to paris

Hi All,
I am very terrified about my trip to Paris - I am travelling solo and I have been reading about pick pocketing, people approaching with petition etc. Is it really as bad as I read?
I will be careful with my belongings but it is taking away fun if I have to worried about it all the time while I am there.
Regards,
Mark

Posted by
20316 posts

Keep big money, credit cards, passport in a moneybelt or neck wallet inside your shirt. Ignore such obvious scamsters by pretending you've seen it all before and keep moving on confidently.

Having said that, I've never been pic-pocketed or even seen petition girls, but I was so happy when I finally encountered the Ring Scam a few times a couple of years ago. I've heard so much about it. A hearty laugh lets 'em know you didn't just fall off the turnip truck, or as they used to say in Worcester, MA, "I didn't just get off the Hubbardston bus!"

Don't let worry dampen your enjoyment.

Posted by
14580 posts

Hi,

What you say about the pick pockets and petition scams in no way deters me from going, ie, to let these amateurs psyche you out from visiting Paris is unheard of. Skip this stuff you read. Why would all these other international tourists go? I was in Paris in May, returned two months later in early July, solo too.

Not this time in Paris but I've been approached by the string scam, the petition scam, the gold ring scam, etc on recent past trips. You make up your mind not to fall for it. That's all. True, you can be caught off guard at that very moment. Play stupid, it may be weird or unconventional but it works to get the scammer way from you, which is what you want anyway. It's the last type of reaction expected by the scammer. My friend told me to be belligerent when confronted by a scammer. It won't work, but he's a lot more credible in pulling that off.

Posted by
77 posts

Hi
I'm in Paris now with my mother it's only the 2 of us girls. We have never had a problem, a firm no with a head shake always does the trick

You will be fine

Posted by
11507 posts

Being terrified is a bit much.. millions of folks live there, millions of people travel and visit there, many of them also solo , and children there take the metros and buses to school , its not a cesspool of crime.

I have visited solo.. and while one does have to be careful, its not difficult. The pickpockets arent wrestling you to the ground and mugging you.. they are looking for easy marks.. a wallet in a pocket, a lady being careless with her purse.

Keep the bulk of your money and cards and passport either in your hotel safe, or wear them in a moneybelt , UNDER your clothes. Carry enough ready cash for the day in your wallet in an inside pocket in your jacket or a pocket in front that closes... do not go into your money belt in public, if you need more money go into a washroom to retrieve it.

you will likely be absolutely fine.. millions of tourists are NOT pickpocketed remember,, only some and odds are in your favor if you are careful .

Posted by
9770 posts

I've lived here 11 years, and I'm a small woman and I've never been pickpocketed once. When people approach me with the petitions I just give them a disgusted look and say no - and they move on.

Don't let them rob you of the chance to see one of the world's great cities.

Posted by
5360 posts

Terrified? Let me suggest that if you're terrified then don't go as you'll spend all your time as a paranoid, scared wreck.

There is nothing to worry about in Paris or France or Europe in general. In fact I feel safer wherever I've been in Europe than I have in any of the major American cities that I've travelled to.

Posted by
7567 posts

Using a money belt will ease any concern about pickpockets (except for the small amount of "expendable" cash you might have out of the money belt, in a pocket, for immediate access. I've been fortunate and not had even that ever pickpockets, and most people are honest and aren't trying to scam you or anyone else.

This might very well never happen on your whole trip, but if something doesn't feel right, and you need to get away from someone, name like you need to hit the bathroom, pronto, and ask them, as you walk away, ou est le toilet ? ( eww-ay-luh-twahlet? ) -- where's the toilet? Even a crook wouldn't stand between a guy with the runs and the john!

Posted by
2466 posts

Put your valuables underneath your clothes - at this time of year, it will be easy to wear a sweater or coat.

A neck pouch is good, I'm not crazy about moneybelts, because people notice the bulge around the middle.
Put everything else - passport, extra cash and credit/debit cards, house keys - in the hotel safe and keep it there. Carry a copy of your passport in the neck pouch for ID.

Use the inside lobbies of banks to access cash at ATMs. Keep your hand over the code you use, put your money away quickly.

If you are worried about your smartphone, get a lanyard to keep it around your neck.
Don't carry it around in your hand - you'll lose it or have it stolen.

Then go about your business and enjoy Paris.

Posted by
4684 posts

There are only really three places in Paris where aggressive scammers are a problem - the Eiffel Tower, the steps up to Sacre-Coeur, and to a lesser extent the Gare du Nord. Anywhere else you're much less likely to be harassed.

Posted by
3941 posts

We did see one petition girl harassing people in the Tuileries gardens - we just gave her a wide berth - she looked all of 16 yrs old. (and - as newbie travelers, we fell for that petition scam in Venice...ugh - just got a few euro from us tho). As others say, be aware (as much as possible) of your surroundings and don't go flashing cash around...pay attention to your iThing (if you are taking any) and don't set your bag or camera down on a table without securing it.

I use a cross body bag, and when eating, it is either still across my body or firmly sitting in my lap, especially if at an outdoor eating area. If you are going to set it on another chair or on the ground, loop the strap around the chair leg. (Indoors I don't worry so much - most likely not going to have a theft at an inside table.)

I knew about the friendship bracelet scam at Sacre Coeur, so kept my arms firmly crossed. :)

Last trip we were on the metro and it was quite crowded and standing by a guy with a backpack on...the top zipper was open some, so the guy behind him tapped him on the shoulder and pointed it out - backpack guy didn't seem worried that anything got stolen...

You are ahead of the game, because at least you know what some of the scams are. We actually met some fellow Canadians who fell for the gold ring scam. But pat yourself on the back for knowing in advance some things to look out for - I think you are well schooled. Have a browse thru the tourist scams section on the forum and maybe you'll learn some you missed. I think you'll have a blast - Paris is amazing.

Posted by
7992 posts

Not as bad as you read. Just get the travel insurance if you have not, know where the American Embassy in case you lose your passport. And don't stay out late when no one is on the street.

Posted by
14159 posts

I did get pickpocketed in April in Paris. They just got my pouch with OTC meds etc. Here is a thread I started at that time. You just need to take sensible precautions.

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/general-europe/oops-sort-of-pick-pocketed-on-paris-metro-yesterday

I want to stress that I felt no one near me. If I had taken the small precautions I had in place it would not have happened. They did not get my day money or cards.

Petition girls are easier. No eye contact. Hold up a hand in a stop ✋ motion. Ignore and walk on.

I'm headed back to Paris soon. I travel solo. You'll probably feel better once you get there and see the limited threat.

I'm guessing you are male, so don't carry a wallet in a front or back pocket. Don't think you'll feel a hand in your pocket.

Posted by
2466 posts

Don't loop the strap of your purse around the chair leg.
People lose more stuff that way - how many times do you look under your seat?
Keep it in your lap.

Posted by
8169 posts

Perhaps if you are terrified to travel, you should not travel. Avoiding pickpocketing is simple. Don't be a walking buffet. If you have nothing in pockets that can be taken, you can't lose anything.

Posted by
5 posts

Our family of four (parents and two teenage girls) just returned from Paris, Amboise, and St Malo two weeks ago. It was great!! I found all the areas to be very safe. Never had any problems and felt more safe there than I do in Seattle or many cities in the US. Traveling internationally, it would be a big pain to have a passport or wallet stolen (much more so than at home), so do take precautions just to be safe. I kept passports tucked inside my shirt or hidden in luggage back at the hotel. Still, my daughters regularly have phones sticking out of their jeans pockets and didn't have a problem. Near the Eiffel Tower and Louvre there were people trying to hawk souvenirs and sunglasses. One person approached asking us to sign something, but was easily shooed away.

Posted by
737 posts

I feel much safer in Paris than I do in my Midwestern metropolitan city. It's easy to thwart pickpockets.....it's just a minor preparation on your part. I am more afraid of the constant threat of insane gunfire in my town. Pickpockets aren't trying to take your life.

Posted by
3941 posts

I'm just parroting what Mr Steves himself tells you in the section about outsmarting and avoiding pickpockets and thieves..."Secure your bag. Thieves want to quickly and unobtrusively separate you from your valuables, so even a minor obstacle can be an effective deterrent. If you’re sitting down to eat or rest, loop a strap of your daypack around your arm, leg, or chair leg." For the record, I wouldn't set my bag under my chair.

Actually, here is a link for you if you haven't seen this info...
https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/theft-scams/outsmarting-pickpockets

(My apologies if someone already posted this).

Posted by
1340 posts

Maybe because I have lived, worked, and played in Paris, I don't have these fears that many Americans have about travelling abroad. Practice good judgement. You don't go to Chicago or New York and leave your purse on the floor or at your table while you go buy coffee. If someone comes up to you and needs something, play the dumb tourist card. It's not only Paris where people can be duped.

Some people try to play "Not American." Generally you can be spotted around the world. You are what you are. And if you're traveling with other people, chances are you're speaking English. But do try to blend it by not speaking loudly (when my friends come visit me in France, many of them notice that they're the only ones talking loudly and it becomes a learning moment) .

I've been in two or three small French towns at the train station and have been approached by people with the sob story that they lost their wallet and needed to get to a larger city and would appreciate it if someone gave them the money to buy a train ticket.

It's a first-world country. And it's also the most amazing city in the world. Practice proper judgement and enjoy the hell out of your trip. Have a plan, be smart, and enjoy the splendors of Paris. It'll be a trip you never forget. Have a millefeuille for me.

Posted by
16894 posts

Fore-warned is fore-armed. Once you've secured the majority of your valuables, you can worry a lot less. It's not worth worrying about the little bit you might have handy in a more accessible pocket.

Posted by
8 posts

I just left Paris. I never felt threatened. Just common sense keep your purse close like at home. Be guarded and aware of your surroundings. I have a cross over bag I keep in front. There are plenty of police around. Granted I was not out past 10pm and decided to not go into extremely crowded areas because I do not like crowds. Keep money belt.

Posted by
41 posts

I say, don't go. Send me your tickets and I will endure the pickpockets for you. Of course, I will tell you about it when I return.

Posted by
4171 posts

I have tried a variety of hidden valuables options over the years. I have 3 styles of money belt and one neck wallet. The money belts work, but I don't like the strap and pouch type of design. I'm too curvy for the neck wallet. There's no place for it to lie flat.

For my month long solo trip to Italy this summer I used the Eazymate Fashion Running Belt - Travel Money Belt with Zipper Pockets Fit All Smartphones and Passport. I have never felt so secure and so comfortable wearing a money belt. This style of money belt will be my choice for all future trips. And I definitely wear it as deep storage under my clothes, not like the way it's shown in the listing.

Eazymate is not the only manufacturer of similar belts. There are others with slightly different designs. So long as it has zipper compartments and room for passport, cash and cards, any similar belt will work. This style lies very flat all around and you pull it up like underwear, so only you know it's there.

I mention this because having the truly important stuff safely under my clothes greatly increases my solo travel comfort level.

Posted by
23 posts

georgeb944 - there is no need to be snarky. not everyone has your kind of fondness for pick pocketers.

Posted by
8293 posts

twainerm: snark is in the eye of the beholder sometimes. George wasn't being snarky, he was making a joke. If you protect yourself in all the usual ways against the pickpockets and ignore the "petition girls", all will be well. Paris is not a war zone. Try not to be "terrified" as you go to the wonderful city of Paris.

Posted by
14580 posts

If you go there "very terrified," how will you be when you leave...immune, indifferent, or more terrified?

Posted by
219 posts

No need to be terrified at all! My daughter spent a semester In Paris, no problems. We've been 4 times and haven't ever felt unsafe. We got taken once by the 'ring' scam at Sacre Couer. Not a huge deal, dickered with them and lost $10- lesson learned and we have souvenirs as a reminder :-) The petition scammers are easy to avoid, just ignore them. Be aware while on crowded metros. Again we've never had a problem.

Posted by
11507 posts

Twaindrem , George made a joke ! Try to laugh at life more and be terrified less .

Posted by
14580 posts

When I was in Paris in June of 2007, I was standing at Gare du Nord, the luggage having checked in at the hotel at Nord, and simply doing people watching. I saw this petition girl approach three guys standing around an espresso table, talking and having an espresso. Watching this scene I thought this is going to be interesting, see how the locals deal with this. Obviously, these 3 guys were not tourists, didn't look like tourists by any stretch. I thought this girl must be new at the petition scam since she chose to approach these guys. The three were Africans, one talking French, the two intensely listening. The girl approaches them, but before she says anything to get attention, one motions his hand, as if to shoo away a fly. (That's how they do it) Obviously, with these three and the abrupt hand motion, she didn't even get the time of day.

After that this scammer approaches this American girl, college age, solo, standing near by with all luggage. Instead of also shooing her away and ignoring her, this American girl gives her the attention she wants. Don't tell me she's going to fall for this by handing over money. It took a while, finally the American girl gave a negative response.

Posted by
2349 posts

Mark- Think of it like this. When you're about to cross the street, and you have the green light and the right of way, you still look both ways. You still keep your eye on that car that may not stop. You protect yourself because that's easier than dealing with the aftermath of getting hit by a car.

It's the same way with protecting yourself against pickpockets and theft. You're in the right, and thieves shouldn't steal from you. But you're the one that would be hurt by it. Divide and protect your assets by any of the excellent ways above, and then you'll be OK.

My husband wears a black t-shirt with a chest pocket, and then a sweater or long sleeve shirt over it. He uses a neck money belt under the t-shirt, and also puts €20-40 in his chest pocket, under the sweater. It's easily accessible. He keeps nothing of value in his pants pockets.

You'll be fine. Don't be worried. Just be sensible.

Posted by
134 posts

Don't worry, enjoy yourself. I was in Paris in 2015 alone for 2 weeks, I had no problems. I did encounter the petition scam, and the bracelet scam. I just kept it moving. There is no need to interact with strangers on the street trying to sell you something. Plan you trip and have fun. Please don't let negative comments steal your joy.

Posted by
362 posts

Mark -

Bad things happen all over the world, even here in the USA.

Keep your wallet in your front pocket. Do not carry all your cash/credit cards in that one wallet. Stay aware of your surroundings, the same way you'd stay aware if you were in Chicago, NYC, Miami or San Francisco.

Have a great time in Paris! :-)

Posted by
42 posts

No, it is not as bad as all that. You're at least as likely to get robbed in London as Paris. I've visited Paris 4 times in last 3 years, solo and carrying cameras, walking all over, taking trains and the metro. No one has attempted anything.

The Parisian police do have a anti-pickpocket squad watching the lines at the Eiffel Tower so perhaps be doubly careful there.

I have an idea that sometimes the pickpockets target the crowds around the drum/rap/dance circles that pop up on the Champs Elysees.

As others pointed out, the people with clipboards seem to be part of something so I hurry past them leaving lots of separation.

There are so many tourists that even if you tried to get robbed the robbers couldn't find you.

Let me warn you about the roasted walnuts. They smell good. They cost 5 euros. You get one warm tasty one on top and a dozen cold, stale ones underneath.

Posted by
4684 posts

I'm in Paris right now and two notes.

There seems to be much less aggressive begging at Gare du Nord now - looks like SNCF finally decided it was giving them a bad name and got private security.

Saw a guy at the north end of the Pont Neuf doing a completely new variant on the cups and balls, using three matchboxes and a tightly crumpled 50 euro note! Don't know if that takes more or less dexterity.

Posted by
14580 posts

Thanks for the update on Nord. When I stayed there for three nights back in July, I didn't notice more pan handling than usual near my hotel. Of course, the Gare du Nord area in early July was very crowded with tourists and locals.

Posted by
2764 posts

I am a single female. Using common sense I have gone to Paris almost annually for rhe past 10 years without a problem. (I think I was cursed when I burst out laughing at the "ooh Laa Laa" gold ring act. If my "actor" was typical I have no idea how anyone can fall for that)

Posted by
2393 posts

We just spent 5 days in Paris in August. NEVER did I feel unsafe even when we were out at midnight. I carry a purse - the same purse I carry at home. It has my credit cards, money, passports, railpasses, etc...

We have been traveling for a little over a month now in France, The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, & Poland and have not felt unsafe or even slightly threatened anywhere.

My purse is very heavy leather and has short straps so it sits snug under my arm on my shoulder - there is no way fingers are getting into it - you can see photos of it in my blog - link in profile. I have traveled with just a purse for many years now as neither of us liked the money belt and electronic information replaced the need to carry books. Purses with long straps that hang lower than your elbow are still targets for pickpockets - you will read even those cross body bags have been successfully picked - my arm would have to be moved to get into mine - not an easy target.

Relax, be aware of your surroundings, and have a great time!