Paris is the City of Love; it’s the home of the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and the surprisingly awesome catacombs, too. Even the graveyards are famous in Paris: Père Lachaise Cemetery for one.
Not everything is awesome in Paris though. There are a couple of troubling things about visiting the French capital. There’s A LOT of petty theft going on, which is a big issue in Paris and the city also seems to be more prone to protests than others.
So, you may be wondering, “is Paris safe to visit right now?”
That is why we have created this epic guide to staying safe in Paris. We are going to help you travel smartly and avoid the dregs of Paris.
Whether you’re travelling solo, with friends or with your family, you’ll find some useful information in our tips and tricks for your visit in one of the most romantic cities.
From driving around the city to the famous Parisian food, or travelling as a solo female backpacker, we’ve listed up a couple of do’s and don’ts to make your trip to Paris enjoyable, and most importantly, as safe as possible.
So lets get straight to it!
Table of Contents
- How Safe is Paris? (Our take)
- 15 Top Safety Tips for Traveling to Paris
- Is Paris safe to travel alone?
- Is Paris safe for solo female travellers?
- Is Paris safe to travel for families?
- Is it safe to drive in Paris?
- Is the food in Paris safe?
- Is Paris safe to live?
- Helpful Paris Travel Phrases
- Final thoughts on the safety of Paris
How Safe is Paris? (Our take)
Paris pretty much speaks for itself as a destination, right? It’s a world-famous city, after all! And that’s for a good reason: world-renowned museums, good food, beautiful architecture. Millions of tourists are drawn into the city every year, making Paris one of the most popular vacation destinations worldwide.
But it’s not all as romantic as you’d think.
There’s a lot of pickpocketing going on, not to mention criminal gangs and BIG protests. For all it’s grandeur, Paris is still a big city and suffers from big-city problems. It’s gotten to a point where even the government is sending out warnings to keep an eye on your valuable belongings.
However, generally speaking, Paris is still quite safe to visit, at least for tourists. As a well-developed European city, there might be thefts here and there, but the living standard is still very high.
Violent crime is pretty rare and most of it depends on the neighbourhood. If you find yourself in the suburbs, banlieues, for example, you should watch out as there can be pretty sketchy.
Chances are, you won’t be visiting these places and nothing bad will actually happen to you.
Is Paris Safe to Visit? (The facts)
So let’s get into the nitty-gritty. Paris is popular. Ultra-popular.
You may have heard of Paris Syndrome- an actual thing where people hype up an idea of Paris only to have their dreams smashed when they arrive. They realise it’s not this gleaming, beautiful, romantic city upon a hill. Basically, it’s a culture shock.
Regardless, it’s still a chart-topper. 40 million tourists visited the city in 2018, which makes Paris the most popular destination for vacation in Europe.
We’ve said it before: Paris is not perfect. According to a survey, 9% of native Parisians were victims of crimes like vehicle theft, robbery, and assault in 2018. But for tourists, Pickpocketing is the REAL problem.
As in many big cities, there are issues for women as well – for example, groping on the metro can be a problem. In one survey of Parisian female commuters, 100% of the respondents said they had been victims of sexual harassment or assault whilst riding the metro.
But whilst all the crime and issues Paris faces make it seem dodgy as hell, tourists are still generally shielded from the worst.
We’re saying Paris is very safe to visit but expectations will still need to be tempered.
Is it Safe to Visit Paris Right Now?
As of May 2019, the whole yellow vest movement, which is an anti-government demonstration, seems to be dying down. The latest one (March 2019) saw only around 4,000 protesters; according to police, that’s a lot less than previous numbers. Since 2020, protests have still been going on, however, they seem a lot calmer and more organized compared to two years ago.
These protests are noteworthy because they often take place around popular tourist sites – e.g. the Arc du Triumph – and they sometimes turn violent, too. Protesters often clash with police, which can range from screaming insults to throwing bottles. The police have responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons.
Trying to find out when protests are scheduled (usually at the weekend) is a good idea. Also, consider avoiding the Champs Élysées during these days.
All that being said, no tourists have been injured as a result of the protesters. Most parts of the city are calm and the protests in Paris is no reason to cancel your trip.
Terrorism in Paris
Paris was subject to a few high profile attacks by terror organisations in the last few years. The city remains on high alert and has started to increase its safety regulations. However, terrorism can and does strike anywhere in the world and Paris is not particularly risky. The chances of been effected by terrorism are incredibly low.
Do you need Travel Insurance for your trip? Even if you’re only going for a few days, that’s more than enough time to get buggered by wicked men or smote by wrathful angels. Have fun in Paris, but take it from us, overseas medical care and cancelled flights can be seriously expensive – insurance can, therefore, be a life-saver.
Travel mishaps can and do happen and it is well worth thinking about insurance before you leave home.
We have used World Nomads for years now and I have personally made several claims. Why not get a quote from them yourself?
Do be sure to read the terms and conditions to make sure that the policy covers your needs.
Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!
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If you want to shop around a little, then read up on competing companies and what they can offer. There are lots of insurances out there, so don’t feel limited.
So with all the historic sights and things to do in Paris come a whole lot of safety issues. Though a lot of the bad stuff that does happen in Paris won’t be affecting tourists, it still pays to travel smartly.
And so we thought we’d share with you some of our top safety tips for travelling to Paris so you can still have an awesome time in this cool city:
- Watch out for distraction techniques – asking you to sign up to petitions, people working in groups, anything that seems off probably is. That said, pickpockets are often young women.
- And read up about scams – like the ‘gold ring’ trick for example. There are loads out there, so do some research.
- Don’t keep all your things in one place – if you get something stolen with all your stuff in it, you’ll be screwed. Be smart! Consider keeping an emergency stash in a money belt (you can leave it in the hotel room if you like).
- Keep your belongings close to you – don’t let your bag dangle around, or hang it on the back of your chair, anything like that. It will disappear from under your nose.
- Be wary of your luggage – around transit hubs and places like your hotel lobby. Could just disappear.
- Use the hotel safe for your belongings – you never know when things might go missing.
- Steer clear of prostitution – and be careful around red-light districts. Rife with human trafficking and shady characters.
- Be smart with drugs – make sure you know who you’re buying from, if you must partake.
- There are no ‘no-go’ areas in Paris, but… – the northern suburbs, the area around Gare du Nord, and Pigalle, Chatelet and Les Halles can be pretty dodgy at night.
- Pickpockets are a thing – all over the metro and at big tourist sights like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Pompidou Centre, Champs Élysées.
- So try not to look wealthy – it may be a chic city (or seen as one) but try to blend in. Looking like a tourist makes you a target.
- Watch out when you’re getting money out of ATMs – scammers and potential thieves could be lurking behind you.
- Learn yourself some French – hey, French people like talking French. This will really help you.
- It’s illegal to cover your face in public in France – veils, masks, balaclavas, whatever. 150 Euro fine or a year in prison. Tourists are not exempt by the way.
- Steer clear of any political protests – not good, these DO quite often turn violent.
Keeping your money safe in Paris
Anywhere in the world, losing your money is super frustrating. And with all the pickpockets and scammers lurking in Paris, this can actually be a REAL issue that you’re going to want to avoid.
Thing is, these criminals hang around the areas you’ll want to explore. They’re pros – they’ll work in groups, use distraction techniques, all sorts of things, just to get your Euros. But there’s one simple solution: a money belt.
There’s a TON of choice when it comes to money belts, too. Loads of different kinds. Too many it seems. No matter though, we’d really recommend the Active Roots Security Belt.
It’s awesome! Not only is it affordable and pretty sturdy, but it also looks and acts just like a regular belt. No annoying chest straps to wear!
Having (the right) money belt means that you have one less thing to worry about and that’s something we can really get on board with. In a city like Paris, where there IS actually a chance you’ll be targeted by pickpockets, a money belt is going to be invaluable.
So we’d advise wearing one. It’s such a simple solution to a really annoying problem that it’s a no-brainer.
If you need a little more room for your passport and other travel valuables, have a look at a full-size money belt that tucks under your clothes instead.
If neither of those options appeals to your refined fashion sense, don’t compromise! Opt for an infinity scarf with a hidden zipper pocket.
Solo travel is definitely something we’re all about. Getting to challenge yourself, learning new languages, growing as a person, being self-reliant – doing all of these whilst travelling the world is an awesome experience.
Paris is safe to travel alone (though all the stuff we mentioned already applies), we’re sharing a few tips so you can make your solo trip even more secure:
- Paris can be quite lonely by yourself. If you need to be around people, then find yourself somewhere social to stay. There are quite a few cool hostels in Paris. Chatting to travellers from all over the world is a great way to get rid of those solo travel blues.
- Ask the staff at your accommodation for insider info, like food recommendations, where it’s safe to walk around and explore, what things you should see. Local tips are always the best!
- For this reason, you should probably try to learn a little bit of French. Knowing how to order food will help you get all those tasty patisserie sand will allow you to taste the finest that Paris has to offer.
- Stay in areas you want to explore so you don’t have to travel around too much. Most hostels tend to be around the city centre where you can also find lots of great hotspots.
- You may be in a well-developed city, but you should still let people know where you are and what you’re doing. Keep in touch with friends and family back home and tell them what you’re up to.
- Use Google Maps to navigate the city, particularly its massive public transport network. If you don’t want to bother with the metro, Paris is a walkable city as well.
- Be careful around fishy-looking people and trust your gut: overly enthusiastic “petitioners,” people with fake disabilities, anyone trying to gain your sympathy and attention.
- Make sure to keep the number of drinks on a night out rather low, so you can get home safely.
Is Paris safe for solo female travellers?
For solo female travellers, Paris poses a couple of extra problems. That being said, it is not overly dangerous. A lot of women travel to Paris by themselves and have a great time. In fact, many women choose to make it their first-time solo travel destination.
Unfortunately, being a woman in any country can come with complications. Knowing how to protect yourself and stay safe in a new country is definitely a necessity for all solo-female travellers (or travellers in general).
We’ve listed up a couple of tips that can make your trip a bit safer and therefore much more enjoyable:
- Walking around at night, especially when being alone, is never a good idea.
- Be careful on nights out. Looking up your route back home is a good idea, as well as watching the number of drinks you’re having (with that also comes the rule of never taking your eyes off your drink).
- Although you don’t need to cover up in Paris, Parisian women don’t often wear revealing outfits. Doing so will definitely bring more attention to yourself, especially after dark. Just dress casual and you’ll be fine.
- Avoid train stations and areas around train stations at night
- If someone’s flirting with you or making advances, stay neutral and tell them you’re not interested. Any hint of interest might invite even more attention.
- If someone’s being overly aggressive or harassing you in the street, say “NO” – do not smile and move away from them. If it continues, find somewhere safe like a cafe and ask for help.
- Don’t be overly polite with strangers. It’s ok to chat to people, obviously, but they don’t need to know everything about you.
- In general, you should be aware of your surroundings and be vigilant. A no-brainer really.
- Choose the right neighbourhood to stay in and make sure that your accommodation is safe (read the reviews).
- If you’re staying in a hostel, ask for female-only dorms.
Is Paris safe to travel for families?
Paris is very safe for families and fun as well! It’s full of museums and art galleries. You’ll find loads of parks too – great for cooling off in summer.
Do just a little bit of research and you’ll find amazing things to do with children in Paris.
- There’s the Galerie des Enfants – the Natural History Museum.
- The Palais de Tokyo, which is filled with amazing interactive exhibitions.
- Even fun day trips from Paris are easy.
- Let’s not forget Disneyland Resort Paris. It goes without saying that kids will absolutely lose their minds here.
Whilst Paris is safe to travel for families, it isn’t always the cheapest, especially with kids. But you can get a Famille Nombreuse – this is a discount ticket for families of five (that’s 3 children) and covers a ton of different attractions.
And depending on the age of your kids, discounts apply at some places in addition.
In terms of safety, you and your family will be fine in Paris. It can be a little daunting if you’re not used to travelling with your children. But just take it easy. Do things at your own pace and you’ll all have a blast!
Is it safe to drive in Paris?
Driving in Paris is stressful. Drivers can be pretty unpredictable, there’s loads of traffic congestion, you’ll have to deal with huge multi-lane roundabouts (e.g. Place Charles de Gaulle), and much more.
Here are some reasons not to drive in Paris:
- Local drivers can be pretty aggressively. Not a lot of fun.
- If you do fancy driving in Paris, you can’t use your phone. Not even an earpiece.
- You can also get some pretty heavy fines if you’re caught speeding.
- Renting a car can be very expensive. And you need good luck finding a parking spot.
If you do choose to drive, we suggest locking your doors when you’re in slow-moving traffic and make sure that your valuables aren’t on display. Smash and grabs aren’t uncommon.
If you’re on a road trip in France and you want to stay in Paris, we would suggest staying outside the city and catching the train in. Avoid staying in the northern suburbs and do some research on cool places to stay outside Paris. Much less stressful.
At the end of the day, driving in Paris is safe but totally not worth it.
Cycling in Paris
Paris has a massive and constantly expanding bike path network since 1990. There are over 800km of bike lanes, all distributed through the city. Since the normal streets can be quite busy, and the metro is usually quite packed, choosing your bicycle to get around is, in most cases, the fastest option. The best thing: it’ll keep you fit too!
But is riding your bike in Paris safe? If you wear a helmet and stick front- and backlights on your bike, then yes! Riding a bike, in general, is one of the safest ways of transport since you’ve got full control of your speed and where you’re going.
Although you’ve got the bike lanes to yourself, you need to be aware of traffic, especially in the inner city where the bike lane is only marked by white lines on the ground. If you ride your bike further from the centre, the bike path will be separated by little speed bumps that stop anyone from crossing your lane.
There are a few ways to rent a bike. “Bike-sharing” stations are distributed throughout the city, and you can use them by signing up online or through an app. They are the cheapest option but the bikes are pretty basic.
Is Uber safe in Paris?
Uber in Paris is safe and super convenient!
- It’s an easy, cost-effective way to get around and connects you all over the place.
- No worries about hailing a cab or dealing with pushy drivers.
- As an added bonus, the language barrier also won’t be an issue.
- You can track your journeys and even share your location.
Are taxis safe in Paris?
The taxis are safe in Paris but just make sure you don’t get in an unlicensed taxi. These are illegal and sometimes unsafe. You’re more likely to encounter these kinds of taxis at transport hubs, airports and popular places like Gare du Nord.
Spotting an illegal Taxi is pretty easy since licensed taxis have Taxi Parisienne written on the top. If the light’s on, it’s vacant. On the front right of the car, there will also be a plate showing the taxi license number. Check for these and you’re good to go. Just make sure that the taxi has a working meter that you can actually see.
Hailing a Taxi as you see in the movies definitely doesn’t work in Paris. Taxis are unlikely to stop even if you wave at them, as they’re actually not allowed to. However, you can order one online to your pick up location, or head to a taxi rank.
If you’re French is not “parfait” yet, and you’re hesitant to call the taxi company yourself, ask your hostel or accommodation to do it for you! They’ll know exactly what to say and the chances that you’ll be picked up at the right time is high.
Is public transportation in Paris safe?
The public transport in Paris is safe but it can be hit or miss depending on the metro line. Some are easy to use and are very secure, while others are crowded, chaotic, and sometimes crawling with thieves.
- Line 9 that passes through the Trocaderoand Champs Élysées is well known for pickpockets. It’s actually not uncommon to find someone with their hand in your bag.
- Heavily touristed Line 1is the same.
- RER Line B has also been known for assaults. Take care not to be in an empty carriage, or travel late at night.
If you plan on using these or any line for that matter, be sure to maintain awareness of yourself and your belongings.
- Number one rule: Don’t fall asleep on the train. Thieves actively look for sleeping passengers. Your wallet, phone, or whatever, will be gone before you know it.
- You also see strange characters on the Paris metro. They’ll jump on at one station, walk through the carriage, ask for money, play the accordion, anything to get a euro or two. These folks are usually harmless and it’s best just to ignore them.
- Make sure that you listen out for the buzzer indicating the doors are going to shut. And stand away from the doors. It’s a tactic of thieves to grab stuff and jump off the train just as the doors close.
- Try to avoid rush hour.
All that being said, public transport in Paris is still quite useful. It’s pretty efficient and fairly affordable. It may be intimidating to first time visitor, but with a little practice, you’ll catch on quick.
Is the food in Paris safe?
It’s no secret that France is famous for food and Paris, being the capital, is no different. This is literally the home country of the Michelin star system. You’ll find so many gourmet eats in Paris, like foie gras, steak tartare, escargot and – of course – a lot of wine.
But the thing is, not all food in Paris is guaranteed to be good – some places are really shitty and you can still get sick. Granted, the chances of you getting ill are very low, but it still pays to be cognizant.
So here are our top foodie tips for Paris:
- Beautiful looking places aren’t always the best places to eat. Look it up online first to be 100% sure.
- At the same time, high prices do not equal high deliciousness. You shouldn’t have to shell out a lot for good food in Paris.
- Places near tourist spots will definitely be more expensive and, at the same time, less concerned about making fantastic food.
- Be careful with scallops, which is a favourite of ‘gourmet’ dishes. If you’re going to order something like that on a Monday or a Sunday, you should know that the fish markets are closed on these days. It won’t be fresh and it will most likely be old (probably purchased on a Saturday).
- Street food exists in Paris. Choose the stalls with the highest turnovers and the most costumers.
- And for the most basic tip ever, wash your hands before you eat, especially after a long day of exploring the city.
- Travelling with an allergy? Research ahead of time how to explain your allergy. Keep in mind that store owners and restaurant staff might not know all the foods that contain allergens, so it’s helpful to know the names of some of these too. If you’re gluten-free, pick up a handy Gluten-Free Translation Card with descriptions of Celiac disease, cross-contamination risk, and local Paris ingredients in French.
Paris is genuinely a warren of tasty. Because there are so many options, doing a little research will pay off. Hit the foodie blogs and Google Maps – avoid Yelp and TripAdvisor, which are often misleading.
Can you drink the water in Paris?
Yep, it’s perfectly safe to drink the water in Paris. However, some people do find that it doesn’t quite agree with them. The tap water has been filtered and cleared of all sorts of bacterias.
Buying plastic bottles in 2020 is almost considered a crime by now. Investing in a great water bottle is definitely worth it. Most accommodations have water fountains where you can refill for free. Having a bottle with you while exploring the city will also stop you from spending a fortune on 250ml water.
Is Paris safe to live?
Paris is safe to live in and (no surprise) quite desirable. The cheese, wine, baguettes, croissants – who could blame people for moving here for these pleasures!
You’ll need to be aware of a few things while living in Paris, like:
- Whilst some areas have high levels of crime, most violent crime is pretty rare in Paris. Honestly, you’ll have to go to some sketchy areas to actually feel like your safety is at risk. These are outside the city centre.
- Depending on which one of the 20 Arrondissements of Paris you live, you’ll get high-end living or cool areas.
- Northern Arrondissements like the 9th, 17th and 18th are pretty cool areas. There are young people, families, cool places and lots of cafes around.
- But if you’re looking for something a bit edgier, head to eastern Paris. Bastille and Buttes-Chaumont are both working-class areas that have seen a lot of added attention over the years. A lot of charm going on here.
- If you want to live in Paris, there’s no way around learning French. You’ll find it hard to get work at a French company if you don’t speak the language.
- Paris can be pretty expensive so keep an eye on your finances.
How is healthcare in Paris?
The healthcare in Paris is pretty damn good. After all, France is a well developed, Western country with a social system. There’s no problem here.
- In Paris, people often speak English in hospitals but you can’t always rely on that.
- There are two English-speaking hospitals: the American Hospital and the British Hospital.
- In case of emergency, call 112 and an ambulance will come. If you can get yourself to one, head to an A&E. In this instance, you can get treated at a hospital without any concern about the money. Usually, you will pay after the treatment.
- To see a doctor in Paris it costs between 20 and 25 Euros. You can also call a doctor to where you’re staying in Paris, too (around 70 Euros).
- Pharmacies are everywhere in Paris and these are good places to go if you want to ask advice or have a minor complaint. You will need a prescription from a doctor for strong medication, however.
- Most pharmacies are closed on Sunday. The Pharmacie de Garde is open 24 hours a day but should only be used in emergencies.
Helpful Paris Travel Phrases
French is a beautiful language, but not easy to learn. Learning how to say a few basic things in French will be very helpful during your time backpacking France. If you decide to really dive into learning the French language, you will certainly reap the benefits.
A majority of the French population does not speak English. I found that this is becoming less true with young folks, but certainly don’t expect people to speak English to you once you leave the bubble of Paris.
Final thoughts on the safety of Paris
On an everyday level, Paris is safe – safe to visit, safe to live in, and safe for your kids. There’s nothing really unsafe about the French capital. It may be sketchy at times, but what Western city isn’t?
It’s all about knowing what areas you should and shouldn’t be in. The areas with the highest crime rates definitely won’t be being visited by you.
And, yes – there are pickpockets and scammers of all sorts. But not falling for their tricks is the best way to go about keeping your money safe in Paris. Not being oblivious to your surroundings and keeping everything close to you – especially in crowds, tourist areas and on public transport – is the thing to do if you want to keep all of your money for yourself.
Speaking of money – wondering how big your Paris budget should be? We’ve listed up a couple of handy facts when it comes to Paris travel costs. Be sure to check it out!
So go to Paris, be smart, and soak it all up. Just in case, have your travel insurance prepared. You never know when the shit might hit the fan and as a wise man once said: “if you can’t afford insurance, you can’t afford to travel.”
Disclaimer: Safety conditions change all over the world on a daily basis. We do our best to advise but this info may already be out of date. Do your own research. Enjoy your travels! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which means we earn a small commission if you purchase your insurance through this page. This costs you nothing extra and helps us keep the site going.
Need More Inspiration?
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- Backpacking Europe
- Is France Safe?
- Paris Homestays – EPIC Guide
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A self-proclaimed travel-yoga-freak, Mathilde Magnier is French, raised in Brussels, and spent most of her adulthood in Sydney. Prior to working for The Broke Backpacker, Mathilde was working in the tech industry for a few years. She plans to spend most of 2020 balancing wellness and la Vida Loca in Central and South America.
You can connect and follow her journey on Instagram!