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Aggressive man on Steps to Sacre Coeur

Solo male traveler here. I was walking up the steps and man approached me saying “don’t worry it’s tradition”

I knew it was a scam and said no. He continues and he actually grabs my hand(probably to put a string or something on, then I’d be forced to pay to remove it) and I have to physically pull my entire arm and hand away and say no again.

Probably targeted since I was traveling alone.

Posted by
5187 posts

I'm sure this encounter was disturbing. You did the right thing with the firm "no" and pulling away.

Posted by
7196 posts

Yep that's been going on for a long time around Sacre Coeur and other major tourists sites around the world

Posted by
224 posts

Thanks for the heads up for those of us who may not have heard of this particular situation.

Posted by
1222 posts

Unfortunately, I found in Paris some street vendors to be very aggressive-especially near the Eiffel Tower. I've never had to physically shove people away but there I had to and I bet it's a bit of a shock to Americans.

Unpleasant experience but it seems it's still happening. Paris is still lovely though.

Posted by
8406 posts

Yes, always on the center steps going up. Because p they come down the steps, they will always have the taller, physical advantage.
I’m glad you brought this up because people should go up the side or side street. Or take the funicular.

I’ve seen them accosting tourists with children and parents pushing strollers. Sometimes several men will appear.

Posted by
1000 posts

The most disturbing encounter we have had internationally was at Sacre Cour. Same situation on side entrance, large man with a group got very close to us. My husband is a tall, burly guy. They don't care, they know you're off guard and they have the advantage.

Posted by
7 posts

Are police around? I'd probably clock em' and then end up being the one in trouble.

Posted by
623 posts

Heather--I had to shove a shop owner away from me once in Lisbon. My husband and one of our kids were walking in front of me, and I had our other child. This man was standing in his doorway and groped me! I surprised myself when I full on shoved him back into his store. When our daughter was in college and living in Paris for her study abroad, a man tried to grab her at Sacre Coeur. Thank goodness she had traveled a lot with us all over Europe including France a number of times and she knew that this area had some issues. She was pretty savvy, and was able to get away. She was with friends too when it happened.

Posted by
12897 posts

I had the same thing happen to me at Sacre Coeur and I was alone. That helps.

This was about ten years ago. It was close, I was for a second caught off guard but close means it did not happen. I avoided putting my hand or finger through the string, muttered some unintelligible words/sounds and he left frustrated. Still, as I stood there and realised , it was close.

Posted by
325 posts

I feel fortunate that we went up and down a set of side stairs yesterday. Thank you for alerting others about this. It's unfortunate that it has been allowed to go on for decades.

Posted by
1820 posts

Someone in another thread here recently suggested having a small whistle on a lanyard to blow in case of emergency.
I think it was for a young daughter traveling alone.
Might not be a bad idea for others.

Posted by
1607 posts

S J, thanks for the whistle reminder. Good idea for a senior traveler, first time as solo, who can’t scream loudly. Another thing to add to my Amazon order… I bought a pretty beaded lanyard for my CDC card last year (it sounds like I don’t need to carry that constantly anymore) so a whistle can look like a necklace.

Posted by
78 posts

Tip from a female traveler raised in a big city: At places like this, don't "stroll." Walk quickly, don't stop to look at guidebook, etc. and try not to make eye contact. If approached within arms length, say "Go away!" very loudly while you keep walking. We all have habits of politeness ingrained in us, but these habits don't work well for us when dealing with scammers.

Posted by
1893 posts

Rather than a whistle, show some Gerard-Depardieu-as-Cyrano panache and grunt a forceful "Assez!"

I tried this on some aggressive hawkers on the sidewalk near the Eiffel Tower and not only did it work, it also got an admiring smile from all around.

This is also a chance to mention that you should review the Jean-Paul Rappeneau version of Cyrano with Depardieu to get the foul taste of the recent misfire by Dinklage out of your mouth.

Posted by
12897 posts

A fantastic movie with Gerald. "...grunt a forceful, "Assez" Bravo ! Not to be overlooked either is his forceful list of "Non, merci"

Posted by
8406 posts

/Ah-say/ in case anyone wants the pronunciation.