Regardless of what you have heard before now, Paris remains very safe. There is hardly a number of neighborhoods to point at in Paris and say “this one is unsafe”.
Like in every big city in the world, you can find the better and the worst of people in Paris. So yeah, the residential neighborhoods can be seen as unsafe because there are usually fewer people there at night. But that does not mean that they are overly unsafe.
The US Bureau of Diplomatic Security (OSAC) reiterates that tourists are overly safe in the city. So if you are planning a trip to Paris, go ahead with your plan, just play a little smart and commit these points to your heart- so your tour could be more memorable and joyous.
These are the Most Common Tourist Scams In Paris
Firstly, it would be a bold claim to say pickpocketing is a phenomenon that is peculiar to Paris. Big cities that attract tourists ultimately attract petty people like these. However, there are some simple practices to reduce the chances that it happens to you as a tourist.
First of all, you should understand the methods that petty thieves use, and they are so experienced that you are not even going to notice that your items are stolen. These unscrupulous persons mostly target lost and unsuspecting visitors, who are oblivious of the country’s rituals.
Be casual and do not make eye contact with suspiciously looking strangers. These thieves are quite smart, they are experts in reading body language and know when one is lost or new to a place. Expect them to approach and attempt to deceive you. But do not fall for their politeness as you might end up believing them if you allow the space.
So the key is to stay calm and be confident and try not to be fearful. It is rather uncommon for people to be physically assaulted, the thieves do not usually hurt the victim, and anyone who is a victim is advised not to resist or chase the thief. Instead, visitors are to head straight to the nearest police station and ask for help.
Not to terrify you or anything, but if you are a first-timer tourist and looking to withdraw money from an ATM, you will need to be extra cautious, especially if you notice a cluster of young people loitering around.
A lot of young people try to mislead people at ATMs, especially by making loud noises or randomly talking to tourists. You will need to watch your back.
Be confident by your look and be a tad rude to them. With that, you send signals that you cannot be messed with. Desist from chats with people at the ATMs. Otherwise, you might regret your actions. In addition, do not go alone if you are visiting the city for the first time.
Bracelet scams are soo common in Paris, but with knowledge of the state of things, you will be well prepared to deal with this frequent scam in Paris. So what happens there is that a random person approaches and forcefully places a friendship bracelet on your hand. They then demand cash for it. You need to stay on your guard, especially in crowded areas; these people have a knack of preying on the unaware.
Fake Taxi (Overcharging)
Upon arrival in the city, you will be getting a lot of offers from people, offering you a ride to the city center at cheaper rates. Bear in mind that ride-hailing services like Uber and cabs are quite pricey in Paris.
Therefore, you should not hop into any car without inquiry. These frauds offer you cheaper rates, but on arrival, ask you for double money, and you might not know what is up with the wiles.
Try to ask every driver for their names and license. Do a quick research before hopping into any taxi because you may end up being charged a lot. The trick here is that you need to watch out for taxi signs; if there are no signs, say an emphatic NO. You should definitely not enter a battered or damaged car and stay clear of cars that do not have meters. If the drivers attempt to be overfriendly, that might be a clue that they are fraudulent.
Gold Ring Scam
It is a notorious scam in the city when you are strolling the city, you might hear the tinkle of a metal ring with gold color, hitting the ground. You might also be confused, but when you turn around, a lady, who is fraudulent, is going to ask you about the ring, and you might say that it is not yours.
But the lady persistently encourages people to take the ring, telling unsuspecting tourists that it is for lucky charm. She might also say their partner would like it. And the moment you accept to take the ring, she asks for cash and says that you have just bought the said ring. Now she will insist that you pay her for it.
Fake Charity Groups
First of all, you will meet these unfortunate groups beneath the Eiffel tower because most tourists hang out there. They are undoubtedly scam artists. If a person asks for cash right at the spot, leave there. That is not how legitimate groups secure funds for their charity.
Legitimate fund collectors for charities inquire about contact details and get further information. They do not place people on the spot and discomfit them in the open.
These fraudulent collectors usually pretend to be gathering charity funds for the differently-abled people, lending credence to their authenticity. They are known to operate where tourists mostly visit.
Of course, the best thing that you can do is to make sure you will not put yourself in a position that leaves you vulnerable to thieves and scammers. The next portion of this article will do just that.
How To Avoid Scams and Thieves In Paris
Try not to keep anything valuable in your pocket or bag. Yes, carry about only a little cash, avoid keeping cards, checkbooks, and any expensive jewelry. Do not make the mistake of keeping your passport in the bag or wallets while strolling around the city. It could be tragic if you do otherwise. The places you are most likely to get robbed are crowded places like at the popular monuments and market places.
Research has it that these thieves and pickpockets usually operate close to tourist attractions like museums, monuments, restaurants, hotels, beaches, trains, train stations, airports, subways, and target vehicles. They are often adolescents that have non-local license plates.
They could move about in groups of boys and girls belonging to any racial group. Again, it is important that you make copies of your passport, visa, and credit card numbers. Place these vital documents in your main bags and luggage. If the originals go missing, you will not be stranded by any means.
Areas Around The Nightclubs In Champs-Elysees
After the dark, tourists tend to enjoy the nightlife, and establishments surely appeal to anyone looking for a hot night at the nightclub. The nightclubs around the champs-Elysees are the most luxurious and popular in Europe, so most of the tourists visit there.
But it could even turn your night into a bad one. The Avenue des Champs-Elysées is incredible but tends to be crowded at any time of the day. I would recommend you to choose a less busy area, like the rue de Rivoli or the Marais.
Try Not to Dress Like a Tourist
The more you behave like a local, the less Parisian scammers will recognize you. Avoid wearing the “traditional or typical American” traveler clothes of a t-shirt, shorts, and sneakers. Do not wear a backpack and, of course, do not meander around carrying a selfie stick.
Scammers are always in search of tourists, and most tourists are recognized by their dressing. Therefore it is better to dress like a local and behave like one as much as you can.
Stick to Public Transport
If you will be spending more than two days in the French capital, I would recommend that you board public transports because taxis and Uber are expensive and costly. So it is better to invest in public transport- they are safer too. There are lots of short terms passes to move about in public transport. Besides, they help tourists to see the city in a unique way.
Do not Speak English Really Loudly
The easiest way to make yourself a prey for scammers or pickpockets is by meandering around in a city along with your group speaking English blatantly.
When you go anywhere in Paris, you should never be hassled. If you are around people, friends, and family who talk loudly in public, you should be extremely aware of how loud they are and how much attention they are drawing by speaking English. Scammers recognize tourists by their language and style.
Be Careful Around Protests
Parisians are politically conscious and socially woke. They hardly allow perceived unfavorable changes to go unchallenged. So you have to stay in the know and avoid areas where protests are held.
The situations might turn out differently, like the looting of shops et al. There are lots of scammers in these areas who want to take advantage of situations like this. So a tourist needs to be aware of this for their safety.
Travel With Groups
It is indeed smart to explore a place with tour groups if you can. These groups are primed to help you arrange your plans throughout your stay in the City of Lights. These experts know all there is to know about Paris, so you do not feel lost when in the city.
Also, it is their job to let you in on the ways of scammers and patterns that suggest foul play. So I definitely recommend traveling with these groups.
Maybe Paris or anywhere in France has always been your dream vacation destination, and you worry that you might not be able to communicate effectively. A tour group, led by a guide that speaks French and English language fluently, can be a great way to see your dream materialize.
Be Aware While Sitting at Cafes
Relaxing in a café, especially when you are sitting just at the café’s exterior or in any public relaxation spot, a person will approach you with a big paper map to seek directions to someplace. The idea is to confuse and trick you. After your conversation with them, there is a likelihood that all the valuables you had around you are stolen.
This is a frequent trick to steal gadgets from unsuspecting people. It is advisable to sit inside the café, and I would suggest that you avoid visiting cafes that look cheaper on the outside or unpopular ones. The thieves are known to operate in spaces where there are few or no security personnel.
It is difficult to avoid unpalatable experiences while you are at a station in the French capital. It is a spot where many people approach unsuspecting tourists. On metro stations, people pretend to be what they are not and ask tourists for their personal information. They might even appear with badges making it difficult to expose them.
They might press that you purchase a bogus ticket hoping that you pay. But do not buy anything from them even though they might seem legit.
Avoid Visiting The Moulin Rouge
The Moulin Rouge is among the raunchy areas with lots of sex shops in Paris. Even though the place is usually bubbling and crowded with tourists, there are fewer chances of any crimes to happen to tourists.
So I definitely suggest that you stay away from there. It is maybe not as active as other places. You can visit stores at the grocery store just across the street in the basement, and there are many well-dressed locals there.
Most Common Tourist Scams And How To Avoid Them – Summary
Paris is fun and exciting, but little incidents might want to sour your great experience. As long as you are alert and careful, you would most likely have a hitch-free holiday in Paris.