France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   Safe Travel in Paris & France
There have always been dangers in travel, and also ways to remain safe. Study this page and travel safely!

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Few destinations are without their dangers. In over a half century of international travel, only once have I (Tom) had my pocket successfully picked, and only once have I been robbed at gunpoint.

That's a pretty good record. And both times I was robbed it was because I had ignored my own safety advice to travelers!

A robbery can ruin your wonderful trip! Don't let it! Travel SAFE!

Paris Safety Checklist

Do these seven things to stay safe. More...

Paris Scams & Ripoffs

The Gold Ring Scam, the Taking a Survey scam, the "Do you speak English?" scam—don't fall for them! Read this...

Robbery & Theft

Robbery is the crime of taking, or attempting to take, from you something of value by fear, force, or threat of force.

Theft is taking something of value by stealth, without the owner's knowledge or permission.

You want to avoid both.

How to Protect Yourself

1. Leave most of your valuables in a safe place, such as your hotel's safe or the safe (coffre-fort) in your hotel room. Take only what you'll need at the moment, perhaps a minimum of cash and perhaps one credit card. If you won't need other cards, your passport, jewelry, expensive watch (wear a cheap one on the street!), leave it all in the safe.

2. Carry whatever valuables you have with you underneath your clothes. This is the single most effective thing you can do besides leaving most of your valuables in a safe. A neck or waist pouch is best. A fanny pack is not under your clothes—it can be slashed with a razor blade. Sure, you'll look kinda dorky rummaging for your cash or credit card or smartphone under your clothes when you have to pay for something, but you will still have the money to do so.

Whatever you do, never go out with your wallet in your back pocket!

If you insist on carrying valuables in a pocket, you must keep your hand on them at all times. What will you do if the bus or tram swerves or brakes hard and you have to take your hand from your valuables to grab a handle for support? Pickpockets know when the bus will swerve. That's the moment—only a few seconds!—when the thieves will get your valuables.

3. Identify unsafe situations:

CROWDS!: crowded buses, trams and Metros/subways are the worst. Pickpockets ride them all the time because they know the pickings will be good. Crowded escalators, elevators/lifts, ticket lines, marketplaces, crowds watching street performers, too. In fact, anywhere you're surrounded by a crowd. Sometimes the thieves bring their own crowds, such as gangs of accomplices (even children) trained in the art of distraction and wallet/purse extraction.

LONELY PLACES: Everyone knows(or should know) this: empty streets and squares are where robbers lurk. Even long, empty Métro escalators (moving stairways) can be robbery locations. Avoid them!

DISTRACTION: Thieves may distract your attention by creating a noisy or violent event, or taking advantage of you when your attention is focused on a street performance, or taking a photograph, or watching a video—anytime your attention is elsewhere than on yourself. Maintain a bit of your attention on yourself and your safety at all times!

4. Do not handle cash in public, and never exchange money with someone on the street. Follow safety procedures at ATM cash machines.

5. Do not leave valuables in coat pockets hanging on hooks, chairs, or in a coatroom. Do not place your purse at your feet on the bus or Métro, or in a café, restaurant or show. Thieves can steal from behind. If you can't see or feel it, a thief can steal it!

6. Do not put your mobile phone on a table top where it can be snatched easily, and the thief run away. More...


Learn to see pickpockets at work. The actual thief is usually small, thin and wiry, with capably thin wrists, hands and fingers, but other gang members may be well-dressed adults—normal-looking people—or crowds of active children.

Do you see such people near you? If you're waiting at a bus or tram stop, watch for people walking near you, "accidentally" bumping you (to feel what's in a certain pocket). I sometimes hold back and don't board a bus or train right away to see if suspects board before me. If they wait for me to board, then follow me, I know what they want to do.

If, in a crowded place, someone shouts "Someone stole my wallet!" everyone will automatically put their hand where their valuables are, letting the thieves know exactly where to explore.

Pickpockets usually work in twos and threes, sometimes more. A primary tool is distraction. One member of the team will distract you by triggering your compassion: by dropping something, seeming to trip on something, even calling for help while swimming at the beach. Or one—perhaps a child—will hold something up to show you. The nature and number of distractions is unlimited. You respond, and another team member steals your wallet or purse while you're distracted.

You may think you can protect your valuables by being situationally aware, but consider this: the thieves have thought a lot more about this than you, and they know the territory. You don't.

You think you'll see or feel the thief's hand. You won't!

After the pick, the thief will quickly pass your wallet to another gang member, so even if you can tell who fleeced you, you will find no evidence on him or her. A third member makes discovery of the evidence even more difficult.

Where Pickpockets Work

Any place that's crowded, with people clustering or in close movement with one another: bus, Metro, marketplace, elevator/lift, concert, watching a street performer, etc.


Carry a cross-body purse, with a strap that goes not just on your shoulder, but across your body. The closure should be inward, toward your body. In crowded places, put your hand and arm over your purse and clutch it to your body.

ATM Theft

Do not use an ATM (Automated Teller Machine, Cashpoint, Distributeur des Billets) where you see others loitering. Walk on and find a cash machine in a bank, or one with no one near.

Do not let anyone distract you as you use a cash machine. Cancel the transaction and escape.

ATM robbery happens this way: you approach a machine, input your PIN code, and two people loitering nearby quickly approach, surround you, and steal your cash. If they arrive before you have entered an amount to withdraw, they enter the maximum amount, take the cash and run.

Mobile Phone Theft

More than half of all thefts and robberies on public transport and at stations involve mobile phones!

—Do not leave your mobile phone in any place where someone passing by can easily snatch it and run away.

—Avoid using mobile phones on public transport if possible. Someone can grab it and run away through the crowd, or pass it on to an accomplice who will conceal it.

—Do not carry your mobile phone in a back pocket, or visible in a purse or pocket. Conceal your phone whenever possible.

In certain sections of the city you'll see shops selling hundreds of "used" mobile phones. Where did these come from?

Restaurant Overcharges

Only patronize restaurants and cafés that post menus with prices both inside and outside, and do not order without consulting prices on a menu. You should be presented with an itemized receipt of all items you have ordered, with prices, when you pay.

Unlicensed "Taxis"

When you need a taxi, look for a car with a TAXI sign on the roof, a taximeter inside, and other indications that it is a legitimate, licensed, authorized taxi.

Ignore anyone who asks if you need or want a taxi, and offers to lead you to a car. Find the taxi stand, or a taxi as described above, on your own, or with the guidance of an airport, train station, or other official.

Airport—city-center trips have flat-rate fares publicized by the municipal authorities. The minimum fare for a taxi ride in the city center of Paris is 7.10€. Check taxi fares here.

Paris Safety Checklist

Paris Scams & Ripoffs

When to Go to France

Where to Go in France

Best Guided Tours

Where to Stay in France

Transport in France

All About Paris

Electricity in France

Washing Your Travel Clothes


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Basilique du Sacré-Coeur, Montmartre, Paris, France

Basilique du Sacré-Coeur on Montmartrealways crowded with tourists...and thieves and scammers!

Paris taxis
Take only authorized taxis!

Find Your Paris Hotel:

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