After writing about this “rumor” going around that the people of Paris were unfriendly, I realized that there are so many more misconceptions about Paris… myths that have no basis in the reality of the city. I call them “mythstatements,” and I’m going to take them on one-by-one.Today, I shall debunk the mythstatement that Paris is a scary, unsafe place.
See how easy that was?
Seriously though, Paris is, by and large, a fairly safe city. You don’t hear a lot about violent crimes inside the city’s 20 arrondissements mainly because there aren’t many. As a single, semi-young female, I’ve never had a moment where I felt threatened in Paris, even at night. Even in the Métro.
That said, please keep in mind that Paris is a city, and certain (common sense) rules apply in cities. The most common crime in Paris is the pickpocket. Pickpockets LOVE tourists. They love them so much, they’d buy them flowers if they could. And the reason pickpockets LOVE tourists so much is that tourists tend to bring everything in their house with them on their trips, except for their brains.
I call this phenomenon “touristitis.” It’s when tourists get so caught up in their surroundings that they forget about everything else. Wallets peak out of back pockets. Purses dangle from the backs of chairs in outdoor cafés. Purses are left unzippered while their owners pay them no heed.
In these scenarios, there’s clearly a lack of common sense and you may as well just hand your wallet, passport and cellphone to the friendly neighborhood pickpocket.
Here’s another scenario:
You’re in the Métro, looking at the map or trying to figure out how to get a ticket from the machine, when a lovely French person (usually a man) strikes up a conversation or offers assistance. He’ll point out things on the map, or show you his hand-held map. And while he’s busy distracting you, his accomplice is taking things from your unattended bags/back pockets/jacket pockets.
This is not to say that you shouldn’t ask for (or accept) help in the Métro (or the airport/train station/other public tourist spot). It’s just a warning that, if you do, pay attention to your belongings.
But chances are, you’ll never encounter a street thug, get carjacked or face the scary end of a weapon… and you can’t say that about most U.S. cities.
See how easy that was?