I'm not one to get panicked by warnings of pickpockets, or even random incidents of violence, BUT before I make my plans to go to France, (west coast and Paris) , I need to know from recent travelers if anyone has been affected by the influx of refugees in your travels?
The countries having the most refugees in Europe: Germany, Austria, Sweden, Greece, Italy. France is not among them but they were having terrorist attacks recently. For most parts travelers are not affected by the influx of refugees.
I have friends and relatives living in Paris and surrounding areas. They report they have not been affected by the refugees at all.
My ex sister in laws lives in germany( she is born and bred german, not an expat) and she says she has had no issues, her town collected clothes and supplies for some families of refugees that have settled there)
My 19 yr old will be in paris in may( her and friend leaving in april for a long backpacking trip all over europe, including germany and greece) ,,,i am not concerned, we will join her there, we are not concerned. I am more concerned about her being absent minded and losing her passport.
Some transport options have been affected in some places , but you are only going to Paris so its a non isuue for you, if you want something to worry about, worry about the strikes they have sometimes, so annoying!
Refugees are most unlikely to be a problem for you , if fact you will likley not see any at all.
Ps there is a refugee camp that there have been some issues with( not danger to tourists) in Calais, but i bet you are doing stuff like D day beaches etc so no where near you.
if you want something to worry about, worry about the strikes they
have sometimes, so annoying!
Amen, Pat. Those are much more likely to throw a wrench in the plan than poor refugees.
We were in Greece this fall. We saw some refugees in Athens, at a distance. According to our tour director, they were waiting to be bussed to another location in Europe, they looked very peaceful. We did have anything to worry about.
I think "their" worries dwarf ANY worries that we as tourists might encounter. After all, they're worrying about staying alive while the rest of us worry about getting the biggest bang for our souvenir money. Quite a contrast, don't you think?
thank you tim.. I have to hold back sometimes myself.
I think a person should be able to ask a legitimate question on this forum without fear of reprimand or social justice comments being directed to them in a superior tone.(actually it is pretty hard to read tone on a board so the superior element probably wasn't intended, it just seemed to come across that way)
I think the obvious concern may be that there were several incidents of sexual harassment in public gatherings recently in Germany. It was not an unreasonable question to ask. I think that the probability of crime for the average tourist has not changed significantly with the influx of refugees. The truth of the matter is that there is no where on earth that is crime free and that the same reasonable precautions that you take in your own home city will do you well wherever you travel. It is important to be aware of your surroundings but the actual risk has not increased.
I can't imagine if that event in Cologne had taken place in Chicago or Miami, Detroit, those male culprits would have been decked. Keep in mind it was also New year's Eve. We'll see what in February when Karneval starts.
Regardless of the refugees and their predicament, there will certainly be loads of tourist impervious to them focusing on which souvenirs to buy..
My German sister in law seems to understand this was an isolated incident , a bunch of drunken louts, not indicative of all refugees. I have a feeling some people are not seeing it that way.
And i hope that most American tourists understand that what happened in ANOTHER country then the one they are actually visiting likely has little bearing on their visit, this post was about PARIS , not Germany...but of course that will now always be brought up no matter where one is going as refugees are obviously a bunch of rabid rapists.
I agree with Pat that refugees are not a bunch of rabid rapists, at least their majority. But we have to realize that their culture is totally different from ours especially with the relation to women. What is abhorrent to us could be considered normal to them. They have a long way to go to be fully accepted by western society.
Fred don't forget, my daughter will be there. After hearing a prominent German Muslim cleric and the mayor place the blame on the women and after reading the statistics on the upswing of assaults against women across Western Europe I am not real comfortable with the idea.
Interestingly. The Guardian is reporting that the 13 year old girl who claimed she was assaulted and raped by "middle-east and African men" in Berlin, has now admitted she lied. Nothing at all happened to her, she was just having problems with her family and so went "missing" for a while. So all the protest marches with people carrying racist signs, etc. were for a silly young girl who told a wicked lie.
Here is the link to the article Norma mentioned above.
Regarding the statistics showing an upswing in attacks against women, I'm not saying there hasn't been an increase ( I actually have no idea) but i will say ALWAYS take crime figures and crime reporting figure with a sack of salt.
An increase in reporting doesn't necessarily mean an increase in crime, in can be that more people are reporting because it has a particularly high media profile. A change can also be due to the police changing how they count things, or don't count things. Police priorities are always changing and I would bet half my house on this type of crime being near the top of German police priorities at the moment! Rightly or wrongly law enforcement is driven by performance figures. The level of priority and/or profile will have an impact on how police record crime. I would bet the other half of my house that previously this type of attack would have been recorded as a much less serious crime, if it was recorded at all.
Norma, I am sure that false accusation of rape happens more often than we think. We only don't hear about it. I remember similar case years ago. Fifteen years old black girl claimed she was raped by several white guys. Reverend Al Sharpton made sure that the story was made very public. Ultimately they found out that the story did not happen. There were no attackers, no rape. She made up everything.
Glad this incident in Berlin was a false accusation, though putting things like that to rest is harder than stirring up the populace.
So speaking of which, what baffles me is how hundreds of men got word to assemble in certain places on New Year's Eve in more than one city. That women were surrounded and touched, two claiming to be raped has not been found false. So what websites were leading these men in their own languages, letting them think the assembled women were free for the taking, casting a shadow over all the immigrants and refugees, opening the door to the temptest in Berlin.
That said, there is now a continent-wide education campaign going on.
Bets, it's called social media, nothing particularly suspicious
I don't know how this particular communication was carried out and I don't think there is actually that much evidence that it was that premeditated but it is very easy to have a message spread like wild fire through a group using tools like WhatsApp, Vibr or if you are "old hat" BBM. It's free fast and easy and you could probably get a message to a large but random group of strangers in only a few minutes.
It's a similar situation to the regular stories of kids putting details of house parties online and being swamped by rowdy strangers.
To address the OP's question of "I need to know from recent travelers if anyone has been affected by the influx of refugees in your travels?"
I've traveled to Brussels, Lyon/Grenoble and Munich in the last 6 months and there has been zero effect on my travel from the influx of refugees. The only small changes I've seen have been increases in security presence in France but this was due to the terror incidents and not the influx of refugees. The increased security presence also did not affect my travel.
I would recommend you broaden your media net to include European outlets like the BBC, France 24 and German DW television. Many cable systems hide these stations in the high upper regions, some PBS stations show them on their prime or D2 channels, and you can often stream them too. Since this is an actual ongoing issue for them, they will offer more complete and frequent coverage.
I have actually been sitting in Europe the past few days where the only news I get is BBC, DW and CNN. Can't remember which had the report, but if as you say the report wasn't accurate why did as you say, she get critisized. Also I am happy that the rape report was an exaggeration (thought there were two?), and this was just a case of playful mass fondling. Much better.
You will forgive me if I continue to worry about my daughter ... at least until all the migrants have taken the cultural awareness class that attempt to teach them western customs with regards to women.
@ James...I am not going to forgive you for your concern as a father...lol You are totally justified given the NYE event and the mentality the culprits operate! Still they would have been decked in Chicago, Miami, Brooklyn, etc had such a thing been attempted. Just make sure your girl goes out as a three, also, be prepared to ditch a place if the "sixth sense" tells you so....period. I was on a train once (2001) where these Arab guys, (if you want to be ethnic about it) ie, punk wanna be types got on this Caen to Paris line, came and stayed in my coach, with very anti-social behaviour, bothered or attempted bother numerous passengers, mostly young people but still I was hassled, one sat next to me, ....played dumb and stupid, by saying "pas français" often enough to convince them. I didn't know very much French then. This is the only incident I had like that when riding trains anywhere in Europe.
And Fred (funny name, that), the same thing could have happened on any of New York's subways. Or Boston or Chicago or LA. You always need to keep your wits about you when you're out in public, everywhere.
@phred...point well taken. Yes, the same could have happened in the greater Paris region when one takes the RER. The French have told as much. In the late 1990s I saw some of those stations other than those going from CDG to Gare du Nord, looked grim, gritty, lots of tagging. That was day time. But in 2001 where I encountered these punk wanna types was on a train, not a subway, luckily it's relatively short route from Caen to Paris. No matter, compared to what I see in SF and Oakland, these guys were still Kindergarten regardless of the bravado.
I guess I have been lucky. In over 30 years of travel to Europe on a fairly regular basis, and for phred, twice that time in the US, I have only had one minor concern involving an eastern European soldier and a rather nasty looking gun, but that was several decades ago. I deal with a lot of tourists and in 10 years i have only heard a few minor stories involving picpockets and more recently some minor issues involving the migrant issue.
Oh, I forgot, a couple of years ago i had a Gypsy girl attempt to open my back pack, while I was wearing it, on the sidewalk in front of the arc de triomphe. Same trip I watched, along with the uncaring French police, as a gang of Gypsy girls proceeded to lighten the loads of a number of tourists under the Eiffel Tower.
Hey folks. I met with an actual refugee yesterday who has migrated from the Middle East. Nice guy trying to get situated here. I ain't scared, are you?
Emily, you know I like you; but what are the options? Scared vs what? I know a couple of great Roma not to be confused with the Gypsy encounter above. I also know some great folks from Baltimore (about the highest murder rate in the US). There were a lot of decent migrants in Budapest last year and there were at least two who went to Paris to participate in the killings. Am I afraid? Sometimes, about some things in some ways. Sometimes I am more afraid for people I love than I am for myself. So I wish they wouldn't do things that I have no hesitation to do. I am participating in an event in August that based on past events could turn really nasty. Am I afraid? Dang right. Am I going? Yup. I had to do things about 30 years ago that scared the begeebers out of me. Most of those that weren't afraid aren't around any longer. People who have a little fear tend to live longer.
There are other considerations than safety. If a city or country is coping with a big influx of refugees, that may not be a good time to visit. If the railway system is disrupted or the borders are being subjected to additional controls, your careful schedule may go out the window.
I certainly understand that these pale compared with having your house destroyed and making a desperate sea voyage. Even so, there might be better places to visit while such events are taking place.
I'm inferring that it's not really the refugees you are expressing concern about. France is a diverse country and has large numbers of citizens who are from ex French colonies around the world, including Muslim countries such as Algeria, Morroco, Tunisia, and, yes, Syria. They also have legal immigrants from those countries and others. Refugees make up a tiny percentage of the people. The recent attacks in that country (last winter and this past fall) were perpetrated by actual French citizens.
We found during our trip in summer 2015 that in the South of France there is a noticeably higher percentage of ethnic North Africans in the population. Many appear to be idle or unemployed based on numbers seen lounging about throughout the day. In a few places they would sort of stare at us (clearly an American family) with what I perceived to be some hostility. Toulouse, Marseille, Arles, etc were places of note where this happened.
We had no such issues in other regions, however. But those regions were not nearly as ethnically diverse either.
All that said, we had no trouble and did manage to eat some interesting north African cuisine and buy some trinkets from NA merchants who treated us with respect even with our feeble attempts at bargaining.
I hope you enjoy your trip but please be informed that racial and religious tensions have existed and still do in France and that there are many persons of different faiths in that country who are there legally.
@ turbo....Very accurate observations, almost similar to my experience in 1999 in Lyon in the main city square (water fountain, big dept stores, broad open space), got stared with perceived hostility, which took me aback. I played dumb by pretending not to notice since I was surprised at such a reaction from the same ethnic group you encountered. No similar reaction anywhere else. It's obvious when being stared at what the reason is...just being curious or a hostile stare. Now, if stared at with perceived hostility, ie, same as in Lyon, I would shoot back with my own glance.
I turned on DW news this morning to learn 2 suspects were arrested for planning a terrorist attacks in Germany. Apparently both entered as refugees. One was arrested not far from Cologne I believe (???). Also apparently he has been traveling around the region pretty freely; including Belgium. Then I see a news story about the efforts to teach the migrants about Carnival in Cologne. the gentleman in full carnival dress speaks to a room full of migrants and says "for five days we dance, we drink and we flirt...." Then they interview two migrants who were taking the class. The first young lady was impeccably dressed, makeup perfect, hair styled and, well, to me she looked Asian. The second could have gone to prep school in Boston; clean cut, educated and articulate. Both said they understood all about the event and were looking forward to participating in a German cultural event. If this is an example of the typical migrant, what's all the fuss about? To make sure there is no repeat of NYE the girls at Carnival are being told if a man is inappropriate they should push the man away. It is raining at carnival and the participation is way down this year so its easier for the record size police force to observe and control. It all sounds wonderful.
I am being left with the impression that some people are of the opinion that before the recent migrant influx no women were ever groped, hassled or in anyway sexually assaulted in Cologne at New Years Eve public gatherings or at Carnivale, or indeed anywhere in Germany.
Norma, women and sometimes even men are now and then assaulted. It's very rare but it happens (thank God, not to me, yet). The difference in Cologne was that it was on such a large scale and that most migrants probably not even realized (thanks to absolutely different culture, customs, etc.) they were doing something illegal. Nevertheless it could have been expected with taking over one million asylum seekers in one year out of this amount 80% (as I read) being young men.
So in a country with a population of 85 million, groping, hassling and sexual assaults on women in Germany were rare before the migrants arrived? Can this be substantiated or is that just your feeling?
Ilja, why would you assume that these men would have morals different than German men? So wrong of you.
You are very sly, James.
Ilja, when this kind of behaviour happened in Egypt during the 2011 protests there, Muslims all over the place were outraged and saw it as something very unusual and unacceptable. (And it was seen as mainly a political act designed to intimidate and abuse women opposed to the then secular government.)
You bet, James.
Norma, I don't have access to statistics but based on what I read and hear from relatives and friends in Germany nobody remembers such a massive assault on women which happened on New Year's Eve in Cologne. That I think is a noticeable difference. Despite that I think that most tourists are not in a greater danger being outside in Germany than they would be if they stayed in US.
The observations and analysis given by Philip re Cario, Ilja, and James are accurate and correct. I remember seeing that event in Egypt on the news. True that Cologne event is an outrage regardless of the nationality of the culprits. That they were of Middle East origin, if that it is established fact, you can bet that the Cologne event is doing zip to enhance their PR or making them as a group (guilty or innocent) endearing to Germans already calling the wisdom of allowing so many to enter by year's end into doubt. I'm hoping such an incident won't affect tourism. It may affect the attendance at Karneval, which to Germans is like Mardi Gras. It's almost unheard of esp among Rhinelanders not to attend/participate in Karneval. I've never been to Karneval but would I go now in this heightened atmosphere, maybe...50-50 chance, depending.
If the railway system is disrupted or the borders are being subjected
to additional controls, your careful schedule may go out the window.
Pish. Strikers, and not refugees, are already doing a fine job there. :O)
More the reason to dispense with tight itineraries!
Which rail is on strike?
Lets hope we don't get a repeat of last Fall with the train schedules in disarray due to the migrant issues. I had a number of people get stuck, stranded and misdirected causing quite a bit of hardship, lost time and cost. Wouldn't wish that on anyone.
None of them today, that I know of.
But I didn't mean just rail but air and local transport systems (metro/bus/taxi) and public workers (like museum staff) as well.
Ah, here's a little one:
The Uber protests/blockades have been running for awhile now.