My daughter and I have planned out first trip to Paris. We just booked our hotel in the first arrondissenment, and then I read in a few travel books that the Les Halles area is not safe at night. And that there have been violent attacks on the RER at night, etc. This is our first trip there and of course we wanted to be in the heart of things. Does anyone know if this information is accurate or not? Thank you. Margie
It's very safe, I have taken the Metro and walked by myself in Paris at night in that arrondissenment and others, and felt totally safe.
Hogwash. That's either badly outdated information or really old books. Way back in the old days when Les Halles was a giant market, there'd be a brawl among some of the truckers in the wee hours every once in a while, but it was more something to watch for entertainment than something to be worried about. For the last gazillion years it's been as tame and quiet as can be. Assuming that 'rer' means the entire rer/metro system, a few years back there were a few incidents near some of the easternmost rer stations. These were associated with other,greater disturbances and so far beyond where a tourist would go that they were not a factor to the traveling public. The female members of my family use the rer/metro alone at all hours without the least trepidation.
Must disagree here. Most of the 1st arrondissement is fine. When people say "Les Halles" however, they are talking about the area around les Halles shopping mall which is notorious for having dodgy types hanging round after dark when the shops are closed, and should be avoided then. But if you keep out of that specific and small area you'll be fine.
The underground Les Halles shopping mall has a few suburban hoods coming into town and hanging out there. It is where 2 RER lines cross. The whole mall is going to be re-done to try to attract a classier element. That said, we've never hesitated to walk around anywhere above ground in the 1st or in the mall. Thousands of people shop there daily. Furthermore, Les Halles is very animated until late at night. We're pretty up-to-date on what's happening in daily French life and don't know of "violent" attacks in the RER. In any case, you wouldn't be taking the RER way out into the suburbs at night. If anything, you'd take the metro inside Paris. Maybe Kim or Dina who are living there currently are more informed of violent attacks.
"Real Time Advice" vs. "back in the day banter"? I guess 4 trips to Paris in 2012 are ancient history? Many of the people posting are people who visit Paris at least once a year and know the city very well. Ed, Bets, Kim, Dina, and Pat all know their stuff when it comes to Paris. My perspective on what is "safe" might be skewed because I lived in a city somewhat notorious for crime for many years (Oakland holla!) but I haven't been to the center of any major European city, including Paris, that did not feel significantly safer than any major U.S. I've been to, particularly in terms of walking around in the evening. And the stats back that up, if by "safety" we're talking about potential for mugging and violent crime on tourists. I've been to several areas described as "dodgy" by various guidebooks in Paris and Barcelona and thought they were totally fine. But the 1st isn't even considered dodgy in the slightest by most. Loitering youths may get us old folks nervous, but the kids aren't inherently dangerous, their presence doesn't mean it's not safe to be somehwere as we understand the word 'safe'. It sounds like you're going to have a great trip Margie, your guidebook sounds like it's hysterical and inaccurate and it's good thinking to ask real people to verify that info.
My goodness! Thank you all for your great response. This has been a childhood dream for me, and my daughter is making it happen. After what I had originally read, I did not want the trip to be dampened by any problems. You have calmed my nerves and helped me greatly. I cannot thank you enough!
Margie, glad you've been convinced not to change your plans. In April we spent 2 nights in another "dodgy" part of Paris, near Place de Republique. At least the street our little hotel was on was pretty dodgy, and the hotel staff said the door must always be kept locked so that you need the key to get in and out 24 hours a day. And yes, down the street there were homeless people sleeping under scaffolding covered by cardboard boxes, but coming back to the hotel late at night we felt safer than if we were walking in any major US city late at night.
I'm not sure what the last comment was supposed to mean. It was the last 2 days of our month in France, being our 20th trip to France in 25 years and 10 times in Paris, so I didn't feel I needed to stay in Eurodisney or some other sterile place because everyone else does. How do I report this guy to the webmaster?
I've never seen any comments from James in Kentucky, so I assume he's someone new who posts to elicit a response; a "troll", as per Guideline No. 6: "Do not feed the trolls. Do not be a troll. A "troll" is someone who posts messages intended to infuriate you and elicit a response. Trolls "feed" on such responses. Ignoring trolls is the only solution."
So rather than feeding this troll, I think I'll simply stop reading this web site, unless someone can convince me otherwise. I started here early this year in the hope of getting good advice, and while I've found it interesting, about the only real good advice has come from sending P.M.'s to people who seem to know a but about a subject. But I've kept reading because I figured that my 30 years of European travel experience could be of benefit to someone who is just starting out traveling, so I try to provide info when I think I can be of help. I started traveling before Al Gore had invented the Internet and the cellphone was only a glimmer in Steve Job's eye, and there was no place like this to get advice. But I'm no longer willing to spend my time answering questions when people like James are allowed to be insulting on the site. Maybe people like Ed from Pensacola, who also clearly doesn't follow this site to get advice, since it sounds like he's been everywhere and done everything, never gets insulted or has thicker skin than I do. But I have better things to do than read this kind of drivel. I guess I'll have to stick to Tripadvisor and Flyertalk.
Robert, look under James' name and you will see that he has over 2000 and some posts here on this forum. He is not a newcomer. He is in fact a very valued poster with lots of good, inside information since he lived here in Europe until just recently. I have never seen him give information that was incorrect. Ed is another poster whose travel advice I would follow without any kind of hesitation. The man does know what he is talking about.
Robert, I'd hate to see you go! I've been enjoying your posts very much, even of you are a "newbie" like me. I find your input really valuable and hope to pick your brain when I need info!
Margie can you maybe provide a little more information about the exact location of your hotel? I don't want to be discouraging, but if it is near Les Halles, it wouldn't be my first pick for a quiet vacation, let's say that. I wouldn't think it would be unsafe, but LOUD comes to mind as a distinct possibility. But then again the 1st arrondissement is more than Les Halles, so maybe you're elsewhere.
Thank you everyone for you help and response. And I'm sorry that any negativity came from my question. I was hoping to get an honest answer from either someone who lives there currently, or someone who travels there frequently, as it appears I have. We booked our hotel, then after my daughter read quite a few horrible reviews, she cancelled our reservations. Our new hotel is in the 10th arrondissenment. HOTEL L'ANNEXE
4 rue Taylor Does anyone have any information on this area? Thank you again to everyone for their help.
Margie: My sister and I stayed at the Annexe last December and I urge you to find another hotel. It was the worst hotel we have ever stayed at in 25 or more years of 2 star hotels in Paris. The room was so small I had to edge my way sideways between my bed & the wall, a feat impossible for a fat person to have done. The shower was impossibly tiny ... once in you cannot turn around ... again if you are fat forget about even getting into the shower. Three jolly and polite homeless men, totally inoffensive but scarey at first, spent their nights close to the hotel door, so we passed and greeted them every morning, just to give you an idea about the hotel's location. And frankly, we paid far too much considering the total lack of service and with no front desk personnel. For that you have to go to the hotel next door. I remember remarking that if this had been our first trip to Paris I'd have been depressed beyond words.
Or Karen's find: Hotel du Loiret next to the Marais.
Well, Margie, seems like you'll need to keep looking! Norma's no alarmist and you should listen to her. Go back through the pages on To the West, and read the multiple threads on Paris hotels. You'll find plenty to choose from. Just search for the hotel site, keep a running list of your favorites, narrow it down, and book one. Look at reviews first! And to Robert in Portland, James is just, well, caustic. He often causes the more proper ladies to blush and fan themselves while declaring how bad he is. I'm not one of them.
Thanks to those who contacted me directly to mention James' past behavior and suggest I report him. Which I've done. So I won't discontinue reading this forum. It would be worth it if only to get Kim's advice on wine and hear Ed's stories.
Ralph, once again you're confusing the issue. You seem to care more about being right than giving accurate travel info. The original question was 'is this area safe'? Those of us who have been to Paris multiple times - and almost all of us within the year - said "yes" with the caveats that it is busy, filled with loitering kids in the underground mall, but safe? Yes. Margie changed hotels because the hotel they were booked into had bad reviews. As far as everything else, James can be caustic and annoying, and a little troll-y, and Ed and I have some strong disagreements, but both are guys who know their stuff and give generally good advice. Which is really what this forum should be about - not trying to one up people who have pointed out your bad, inaccurate advice in the past.
Margie, When is your trip? My wife and I will be in Paris in 2 weeks and plan to spend 5 nights at Hotel du Loiret. We could let you know. It is RS recommended and our kind of place: small, clean, simple & in good location. Check it out in Tripadvisor.
Sounds like Sarah doesn't read comments very well. Ralph's comment here is quite reasonable and clearly an informed one, and my comments about Ed were that he is someone who knows his stuff. He may occasionally criticize people, but I've never seen any nastiness, and he seems to critique from experience. Whereas my one and only experience with James was very unpleasant, and he didn't even give any indication that he knew what he was talking about. And I'm really sorry that I even need to make this statement, since it's so far off from the original question. I think Margie has done what she thinks best, and won't regret it.
Marge, First of all, I won't comment specifically on the Les Halles area as safe or not since I've no personal experience there. I always stay in the 10th at Gare du Nord since the late '80s and make it point to reserve there, gritty too on certain streets but safe if you know what you're doing. Better Gare du Nord than Gare de l'Est. In Paris (other European cities I am well familiar with as well) are areas that look gritty, dodgy but still I consider them safe, most recently this summer's visit. You develope a feel for the neighborhood whether you're comfortable with it or not. The safety factor may include at what time at night you're going out, (if you're going to be out), such as going down the block or across the street to an internet cafe to use the phone at 22:00.
Well, I'm certainly glad to hear that nobody is going to pick up their ball and go home like they said they were going to do...that really warmed the cockles of my heart. Margie: How do you keep picking these terrible hotels in shi_ _y neighborhoods? Are you aware of tripadvisor? At this point, you might just be better off in Rick's favorite neighborhood with one of his hotel recommendations. At least there you won't have to step over drunks, vomit, and other bodily discharges just to get to your hotel front door, while keeping one eye peeled over your shoulder so you don't get knocked in the head. Use tripadvisor, a guidebook, or some other source that has hotel recommendations and reviews.
I still think people are being a little alarmist about Paris in general. The Rue Cler is not a magical super safe clean neighborhood - in the Trip Reports section someone mentions being robbed at an ATM on Rue Cler. We also again need to distinguish "safety" from "petty theft". Safety is when your life and limb are at stake. Theft sucks, but you're not in danger unless it's a mugging, which is rare. Paris is a big city. People not used to big cities might find it dirty, or take notice of the homeless people. That is an issue but has little to do with SAFETY. Safety has to do with muggings, rapes, murders, gun violence...all things that are not highly present in the parts of Paris tourists will be visiting.
True, but it's also true that there are a lot of seriously naïve people (I didn't realize how many until I started hanging out here) who seem to believe that they are safer walking around at 2 am anywhere in a big European city when they would never even attempt such a thing in any U.S. city. I'm pretty sure I can steer those people to a few neighborhoods not far from tourist areas in virtually every big European city that would not only make them feel anything but safe, but might also cause them to have to change their shorts when they get back to that quaint Parisian hotel. I don't care how seasoned and experienced they say they are, they're still naïve as hell. BTW, naivety is how you end up losing your $300 to four 12 year olds.
No way anyone could put it any better than Sarah just put it. Paris happens to have more visible homeless people than I've seen anywhere else in France, but it's nothing compared to much of the US, including small cities such as mine (population 65,000). I described the somewhat seedy street (at least at night) where my Paris hotel was on, and got criticized (or should I say insulted) for staying there, but I'd heartily recommend it to anyone, at least anyone who isn't afraid of cities). And so apparently would a lot of people on Trip Advisor, since it's gotten great reviews: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g187147-d782463-Reviews-Hotel_du_Nord-Paris_Ile_de_France.html
The key here is not if you like big cities, not necessarily, but rather if big cities bother you when you come across seedy, gritty streets, more so in the area where your accomodations are located. Gare du Nord has a range of hotels from 65 to 220 Euro for singles and admittedly has some seedy streets too, depends on one's relative perception,...so what. Does it matter? As an experienced traveler, (and I've stayed at Clichy too, felt safe but too far out), you have a feel for a place, gritty or not, and if you feel very comfortable with the language, even better, no problems. One thing is certain on staying at Gare du Nord, more so at Gare de l'Est...very few Americans stay there relative to the numbers of other tourist nationalites, despite its obvious advantages in transportation conveniences.
Ed and Michael.... LOL!!! Great posts.
"Gritty" and "seedy" are the new "non-touristy."
Sometimes street cred counters ridiculous overreaction to a little bit of dirt, graffiti, and poor people... Pretty much anywhere any tourist would go in Paris is safe, if we mean to understand "safety" as "will not result in bodily harm" (not necessarily safe to your wallet) The fact that people continue to pick at this is ridiculous.
I'm going to pick some more. And, even though it's not quite October, I'll print my annual list anyways. For background, I live in the Florida backwaters for three months and the Argentine outback for another three. The rest of the time I wander. I've been to most of the countries in the world except North Korea, a couple of the 'Stans, and a lot of Oceania. When Libya opened up again, I was standing at the gate. I was in Cairo a couple of weeks ago when it reflared. I'm sitting in Singapore right now trying to unscrew a connection to Bangkok to find my wife who's coming off of an unescorted/unguided girl-trip through Vietnam. My observation is that 'gritty' and 'atypical' are stupid words. Just because somebody has a different hide color or goes to church on a day other than Sunday doesn't mean you have to be wary of them - - they're just friggin people. Bums and hookers are not a threat, they're just bums and hookers. As for Paris, I don't know how many times I've been there and have no way to figure it out - - hundreds, but nowhere near a thousand.
THE LIST: Number of money belts, neck pouches, city daypacks, packsafe anythings, special wallets, ever owned, thought about, or planned to own: ZERO Number of pockets typically available: FIVE (seven or eight if it's cold) Number of guidebooks in my paw when I'm walking around: ZERO Number of times felt unsafe: ZERO Number of electronic devices carried (other than phone) when walking around: ZERO Number of times pickpocketed: ZERO Number of times strong-armed: ONE (New Orleans, two years ago, unsuccessfully) Number of times special precautions taken at an atm: ZERO Number of seconds passport out of possession (except in Argentina or when planning to get wet/muddy): ZERO Number of times hotel safe used: ZERO Number of bed bug encounters: ZERO Number of trips started with less than a week's forethought: ~25% Number of trips started with less than a day's forethought: ~ 10% Number of nights with hotel reservations: ~ 1% Bellyaches encountered: FEW Times credit card scammed: 3 (all at restaurants, two were in Pensacola) Money lost to above: ZERO Percentage of nights spent in hotels that most people couldn't dream of affording in a lifetime: ~10% Percentage of nights spent in hotels that most people wouldn't even dream of going near: ~75% Percentage of meals that would break most people's bank: ~10% Average cost of breakfast or lunch: <$3 Traveling ain't that hard. Forget the nonsense and it's fun.
Darn it Ed, I was just going to bring up the word "unsavoury". Now what?
Ed, I thought you were going to end your post with "I don't always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer """"""""". Stay thirsty, my friends...."
Jo: Unsavory was my younger days, which brings to mind a dilly of a bar fight in Marseille - - us'ns against the Brits. The French guys hopped in to even up sides but got the worst of it since they split themselves and we couldn't tell who was who - - shirts and skins would have worked better. We'd thought about a rematch the next night, but were just too whuped and sore, so we sat sat on the seawall until the sun came up telling lies. Tom: 'the most boring man in the world' would have been more accurate. And I couldn't attract chics if I stuck hundred peso notes behind my ears.
I'm not sure if you're still checking this thread, but for a first time visitor you can't go wrong in the Latin Quarter, Marais, St. Germain, or Ile St. Louis. The rue Cler area is a good hike from everything but the Eiffel Tower and les Invalides and wouldn't be my cup of tea, but a lot of other people like it, so... I stayed in the 10th arrondissement on my first trip to Paris with my sister, and for us (two young women) it was fine. The area around Canal St. Martin is pretty hip these days. As far as safety goes, I live in Chicago (how's that for street cred?) so I may have a different level of sensitivity. I hope you have a wonderful time with your daughter! It's such a beautiful city.
I was looking for "number of STDs acquired", but you apparently left that part out. :)
Little known fact-Ed uses Aqua Velva to keep the bedbugs and pickpockets away. A man's gotta smell like a man. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eAs7DM6u_Q
Well, since good ole Margie and her daughter have been left in the dust and this has turned into a 'Bust Ed's Chops' thread, I'll just continue to defend my own good self. I gave up aftershave a long time ago when I figured out that being cooped up in a cockpit with a guy or gal covered in stinkwater was about as bad as it gets. Not only that, I can't sing. And for the neophytes: I'm now in Bangkok, having found my wife after hiking around to five hotels on account of her phone's dead - - just like in the old days. And why, might you ask, didn't I just call the hotels and see if she were registered. Answer: we stay in cheap hotels where nobody speaks English and I don't speak Thai. But it was still easy and neither one of us was excited. Breakfast at a night market stiffed us a buck each. Life continues.
We love "Bust Ed's Chops" threads!
Michael. I think you're overstating the nearness of danger in most European cities, at least from my experience For example, I think every large French city has some pretty horrendous areas, as you describe: Marseille, Paris and Lyon come to mind. But in each case the areas that would shock someone from the US are areas that a tourist could never accidentally wander through. In Paris, it would require getting off the totally wrong RER stop; in Marseille it wouldn't even be possible without a car; ditto for Lyon. Whereas in Boston and New York a tourist could drift a few blocks from someplace they might be likely to go (i.e., the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston) and wind up in a pretty frightening place.
Ed, you're a gem.
A good list...reminds me traveling in Europe (incl. CZ) in the 1970s. Agree, somtimes there are advantages to staying at hotels where the staff speaks no English, where the interlocutors have to rely on a 2nd or 3rd language to communicate. I've come across those hotels in Poland (Prague too in '73.)
Ed, you have too much time on your hands. Maybe I'll run into you in a mid-range hotel in France one day.
Margie, A girlfriend and I returned to Chicago from Paris earlier this week. We had rented an apartment in the 1st arrondissement on rue de Saint-Denis. We felt safe walking the streets at night. We are sensitive to city crime and felt completely safe. Guns are banned in the city and you will see police presence. As a Parisian told me during our visit, the French do not play when it comes to crime -- especially if it is against a tourist. You and your daughter will be fine! Enjoy Paris.
Ed is AWESOME. That is all. :-)
I wish I had the time and means to travel as you do Ed. I wish I could convince my wife to wing it and stay in inexpensive hotels, fly coach, take the road less traveled. Reality is I have to save for a trip, set time aside and make it something special. I like to see the tourist sites, the big attractions, do the typical stuff. I'm planning my second trip in two years and heed a lot of your advice but I think I have different travel priorities. I'll stick to taking a few extra precautions since messing up my trip would be a much bigger deal to me than it would be to you. I appreciate all the sage advice you give on this forum and while I dream about doing what you do I think it may be a long way off in my future to emulate your style of travel.
Love it! Generally agree with The Gospel According to Ed. Amen, brother!
Anybody ever actually met Ed?
He may be a troll, but he's our troll. (Written in tongue-in-cheek font.)
Anybody ever actually met Ed? Yup. Him and his buddy. Cool dude.
He does exist! He does exist! I'm on the wait list for the next "Ed's Lovely Ladies Tour".
Me too. Ed promised.
We were just in Paris a week ago and stayed at a lovely, small boutique hotel in the Montparnasse district. Le Fabe Hotel was spotless, the staff was extremely helpful, and the metro station was less than a 5 minute walk. It was very easy to get to the main sites but quiet and a lovely area.
Curious, how does someone determine if someone is a "senior" when no ages are mentioned? I've seen a certain poster refer in a condescending way to "seniors" in the past. At what age does someone become a "senior?" And more importantly, what makes being a senior a 'bad' thing? As for Ed, I trust his advice without reservation. And on the rare occasion he is wrong, he readily admits to it. Unlike some other people who only shrug off their misinformation or get defensive.
I'm an Ed fan and I'm not a senior.
Maybe "senior" is his way of saying mature, as opposed to being immature I guess.
We are probably all insecure; I know I am. Better to give someone the benefit of the doubt, in my humble opinion. As to safety; no one is ever very safe. A neighbor boy was killed riding his bike. My daughter is a public defender; a 14 year-old kid was murdered in the doorway to the building she works in. She still goes to work every day. Only happened once.
Ignore the media.
I always feel confident in Ed's answers, and am pleased when he takes time to answer my many questions. His answers are full of common sense, and clearly acquired experience. But, gee, how does he get to travel so much? Luck guy!
It has been shown over and over again that certain non-seniors who contribute to this board and to this thread, are indeed young fogies with fuddy-duddy ideas. I was once married to one such and so recognize the type. Light-hearted they are not.
It ain't me, babe.
I am a senior, don't know about the maturity and presumably the wisdom. But if one has done the traveling, wisdom does come along with it as well as the experience in knowing what to do and definitely what not to do. As long as Paris has no drive-bys, then in my book it's safe, however relative, barring bodily injury.
I just reread all the posts and no where did I see Ralph call anyone a senior, someone who posted right after him brought up the term and all of a sudden he is being bashed for it. In his first post he gave his opinion which he has every right. If someone doesn't like it just ignore it, but take all the information one receives and make a decision from that, hopefully thats what Margie will do. A couple of weeks ago people were upset about some PM's that someone they felt were rude and uncalled and everyone came to her defence, which is good, yet when Ralph mentioned he is not a fan of Ed (and personally I'm not either) all of a sudden it turns into lets jump Ralph for some perseived insult. Some people may not have liked his review of the area where Margie had initially planned on staying, again he gave his opinion, oftentimes when someone gives a less than glowing review of Paris it is taken as an insult.
Sometimes I think the first arrondissenment is safer than this forum.
I agree with Richard. I think I'll return to the civil atmosphere of flyertalk.com. At least as long as these arthritic senior fingers can manage to tap out the keys to flyertalk. Now I understand what is meant by the following parable: when I was 20, I thought my father knew so little. Then when I hit 40, I was amazed how much my father had learned.
I'm not a senior. :-)
Just returned from Paris. Les Halles in undergoing a complete re-do. I often stay in the 1st, actually my favorite area. I can remember in the past, some kids hanging out by the escalators late at night. I felt a bit unsafe. Now the the mall has been updated and will continue until, I believe 2016. It is going to be fabulous! I felt totally safe, being with
another women. No worries at night in this area. Happy Travels!
I too just returned from my trip to Paris. I felt safe everywhere we went. Even on the Eiffel Tower when they announced that pick pockets were active on the tower. Our hotel was lovely. Clean, safe, all that we needed. Hotel staff was wonderful about everything. We were close to many restaurants and cafes. It was a beautiful experience all the way around. Thank you all for your help!
...... and the only one who got it dead wrong was ???? Hrumph!
Barry about four posts from the bottom of page 2, Ralph uses the term "senior" and then is responded to by others regarding his apparent labelling of certain posters based on their age? Margie, Glad you had a great trip, thanks for coming back and telling us how it went!
I find it funny Ralph that you are on board with the "kinder, gentler help" but have no problem making personal attacks against people repeatedly (you'll note that I tend to disagree strongly with your advice but have not insulted you, personally).
I'm glad you enjoyed your trip Margie.
Glad you had a nice, safe trip, Margie.
Margie, Thank you for letting us know that your experience matched the experiences the majority of us have had.
Margie I forgot where you ended up staying? I know you looked around a bit before settling on a hotel. I'm curious to know!
I consider this topic closed. Further commenting here will result in the deletion of the entire topic. Thank you,