Has anyone experienced any problems with the homeless people around the Lazare train station? I've read that there is a "soup kitchen" right by the station.
Theres also a Starbucks kitty corner to the station, filled with yuppies and Americans,, , seriously its a fine area. my relatives live a few blocks away,, and my kids and I walk around there all the time( when in Paris) ,, yes, there are some homeless, and a few drunks, but goodness they are EVERYWHERE in a big city,, they are not the ones that you really have to watch out for,, its the nice looking lady who slips her hand in your purse or pocket,, or the adorable group of children who glom onto you under the Eiffel Tower, or the pathetic looking tag team of older ladies who approach you on the Champs Elysees and ask if you speak english. the area is fine, but watch your stuff,, there and everywhere else.
There are homeless people all over Paris (and many major cities) but they are not a "problem", they're people in unfortunate circumstances. Homeless people accessing food provided by a charity is really the least of your worries in Paris, not that you should have too many worries to begin with.
Thanks for the reassuance. I had read a few posts on other websites from people that had been hassled by them. We booked a hotel room right across from that train station because 3 of the 5 mornings we are in Paris, we will need to leave on early trains from that station. I got a little nervous when I read those posts.
When I was in Paris last December we stayed at a budget (very budget) hotel in the 10th. Leaving our hotel in the mornings we always encountered the same three middle-aged homeless men who had bedded down for the night in a semi-sheltered spot near the hotel. Sometimes they were still asleep, belongings neatly stacked beside them, sometimes they were awake in which case they would call out "Bonjour, mesdames!" and one of the trio would doff his black fedora. Where they went during the day I have no idea. They posed no threat and I wonder sometimes how they have survived the rest of the winter.
Thanks for the personal story Norma. Did you ever respond to them when they greeted you?
The homeless in France dress much better than the homeless here in the states.
Cathy: Yes, of course we replied to them. It would have been rude not to. Richard: Yes, the man with the fedora amused us because he had a small carry-on wheeled suitcase with pull-out handles in which I suppose he had all his worldly goods and when he bedded down for the night he pulled up the handles and perched his fedora on top. I so wanted to take a photo but of course could not intrude to that extent but I have the memory.
Gosh we have alot of homeless here, I mean alot, ( being that we are one of the few places in Canada where they won't freeze to death in winter sleeping outside) .. and alot of them push shopping carts. I think a rolling suitcase sounds much nicer!
Norma, that was the answer I was hoping for. I just wasn't sure if returning the greeting would be too much of an encouragement for unwelcome behavior. I guess you have to rely on instinct in some of these situations. Not being from a big city, I don't have a feel for being in these situations. On our two previous trips to Paris (and other big European cities: Munich, London, Berlin, Stuttgart, Amsterdam), we didn't encounter any homeless (or not that we recognized as such) so I guess my worry radar got overactive when I read those posts.
Didn't a thread similar to this cause a vicious flame war a few weeks ago?
Tom, I hope that doesn't happen with my question. I didn't intend to get people upset. If you think this question will be a problem, should I delete it? I think that is possible.
we don't have vicious flame wars here.... just the occasional pot shots...
Cathy, don't delete it. Homeless people are a fact of life, in every country of Europe, probably every country in the world, certainly in Oklahoma. You just might not see them. Times are tough. You don't have to give them anything, especially if you think that anything will rapidly turn to drugs or drink - for some, but many homeless have simply fallen through what passes for a safety net with huge gaping holes. Times are tough. There but for the grace of God go I. I try always to greet people and they really appreciate it. Most people attempt to look through them as if they are not even there. That's sad. Times are tough.
This made me smile because we were in and out of that train station several times last summer and didn't even notice that there were homeless people around. We were too busy trying to figure out where we were supposed to go - this way? no, that way?..
Cathy, I agree with Nigel, don't delete this post. It's a good topic and something that travellers might encounter in Europe, so the information will be helpful to others. I've never seen any homeless people around Gare St. Lazare, but I have seen them on Rue Cler, just down the block from the Grand Hotel Leveque. They had a few mattresses for sleeping, and as Norma related, small bags or whatever with all their worldly possessions. They seemed to disappear in the daytime when all the shops and restaurants were open. They never seemed to harass people walking by, and I never had any problems with them at all. Homeless people seem to be a societal problem in many countries and cities, and it's no different here in Vernon. The Salvation Army and other social agencies deal with this on a daily basis. The reasons are varied, in some cases due to "bad luck" economically and in other cases due to mental health issues. I doubt that you'll have any problems with homeless people, but you will have to be careful about pickpockets and "scammers". Happy travels!
Patty, that sounds like us. Thanks for sharing. Nigel and Ken, ok, I will trust your opinions (I see how many posts you each have so I'm sure you understand the dynamics of the helpline) and won't delete the post. On a related note, I am going to get to go to Mr. Steves's talks in Oklahoma City and Conway, AR. I just happened to already being going through AR on the way to visit my mom for Spring Break on a day he is in Conway so I decided to attend. It will be a different subject than his OKC talk.
Well, I didn't see one person that I could tell was homeless around Gare Lazare, and I felt safe there the whole time. And the train station is fabulous. We enjoyed our stay at the Hotel Britannia on rue d'Amsterdam right across from the station. Thanks for all your input prior to our trip.
I love it when an OP returns to his/her post with a follow-up! I'm glad you had a great trip.
How nice of you to send a post trip answer to your own question! I remember scoping out the Sunday am concert/suitcase situation for you.
Yes, Bets, I thank you for scoping that out for me. I am now in the process of adding my trip reports to the "Trip Reports" section. I hope something I write will help others on their future trips.