In the midst of the Covid crisis– and following terrorist attacks and occasionally-violent street demonstrations in recent years– many people are wondering whether Paris is still safe to visit. A quick look at Google’s search statistics confirms that the anxious question is one on thousands of travelers’ minds. It’s an understandable one, too. Yet in the absolute, Paris remains a safe destination, and with some precautions in mind all visitors should feel comfortable traveling to the capital.
Read on for the latest information on travel advisories and precautions to take when visiting France, and for my full safety tips for anyone planning a trip to Paris.
I start by covering some of the topics most likely to be on travelers’ minds, followed by more long-term safety issues and concerns. You can use the “Explore This Article” tab below to directly navigate to the information of most immediate interest and use to you.
THE LATEST DATA: Coronavirus Cases & Deaths in France & Current Travel Safety Advice
In France, according to updated data from the French government, there have been 28,957,421 confirmed cases since January 24th, 2020. On May 9th, 2022 there were over 12.9 million active cases of Covid-19 in the country, most driven by the more contagious Omicron variant. The vast majority of these were rated as “mild”.
Recently, daily new cases have been dropping, following a strong peak of infections in January that reached over 500,000 infections a day. On May 8th, France recorded over 29,000 new infections, falling from over 40,000 a week earlier.
As of May 8th, 2022, 146,724 people have died from COVID-19 in France. Most patients were elderly and/or had pre-existing conditions, although in recent months hospitals have seen higher numbers of younger patients.
Daily hospitalizations and deaths have remained relatively low compared to previous waves of outbreak– owing in part to high vaccination levels, an ongoing booster-dose drive in the country, and potentially milder infections from the Omicron variant. Nevertheless, hospitals have been pressured by a surge in patients since late autumn 2021.
After implementing a raft of restrictions in late 2021 in response to the surge in infections, France relaxed many of these restrictions in February, despite record cases of Covid-19 in January. Prime Minister Jean Castex said France was “entering a new stage of the pandemic” and announced that nightclubs, stadiums and other venues would be allowed to re-open, though vaccine passes remain obligatory in most indoor places and settings.
The French “Vaccine Pass”: What You Need to Know
Recently re-elected French President Macron announced a controversial new set of safety measures and restrictions in July 2021, requiring all residents and visitors in France to show “Covid-19 vaccine passes“ (passes vaccinales) before entering many public spaces indoors, including restaurants, bars, museums, shopping centers, sports events, theatres, long-haul train and airline services, and more.
Under the latest rules, anyone over the age of 16 who wish to access the spaces mentioned above will need to show proof of full vaccination (with vaccines approved by France). A negative Covid test or proof of past infection will no longer be accepted for entry into these spaces, representing a tightening of measures.
In addition French citizens and residents are required to show proof of a third, “booster” dose if it has been more than seven months since they received a second vaccination, in order to obtain or renew their vaccine pass.
For tourists, that interval is extended to nine months; so as long as it has been under nine months since you had your second approved vaccine dose, you will not be required to show proof of a booster to obtain a pass.
Individuals who are unable to be vaccinated (for health reasons or otherwise) may still obtain a pass upon proof of medical exemption. Moreover, children between the ages of 12 to 17 are not required to show a “vaccine pass”, but can continue to use the “health pass”, which can be obtained and used upon proof of either vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test taken at least 24 hours in advance. Children under 12 are not required to show a pass of any kind.
See more about the recently announced measures and new restrictions at this page. And if you’re wondering how you can convert your own proof of vaccination to the French digital “vaccine pass”, see this page for detailed guidance on how and where to get the pass. It may seem daunting, but there is plenty of assistance available for obtaining your pass prior to your trip.
Passes are now being issued through participating pharmacies in France; you can find a list of pharmacies in Paris and elsewhere in the country currently offering this service using the detailed map here.
Scroll down to see it and click on the map several times to zoom in to the region of your choice). You’ll have to show your passport and a paper copy of your proof of vaccination from your home country to obtain the pass.
France’s Staged Re-Opening Plan: Where We Are Now
France began re-opening museums, attractions, restaurants, sporting and music events in May 2021 and welcoming international travelers in early June. Also as of June 9th, restaurants and cafes have been allowed to begin serving customers indoors again, albeit with social distancing and other safety measures in place.
However, to enter most public places you must present a Covid-19 “vaccine pass” showing proof of full vaccination, including a booster dose in some cases. See more above to learn how you can procure one before your trip, and where you’ll need to show the pass.
Requirements for International Travelers Entering France (As of March 2022)
In early June 2021, France re-opened its borders to fully-vaccinated travelers from numerous countries, with restrictions for entry defined according to a color-coded system (red, amber, and green). Note that currently, no countries are on the “red” list; most are classified as “orange”.
Fully-vaccinated travelers from countries on the green list (currently the European Union/Economic community, Albania, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Bonaire St. Eustatius and Saba, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bhutan, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Canada, Chad, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Congo, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Curaçao, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, East Timor, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Faroe Islands, Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Greenland, Grenada, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Honduras, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Kosovo, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Maldives, Malawi, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, Northern Macedonia, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Taiwan, Tanzania, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turks and Caicos Islands, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, Virgin Islands, Zambia and Zimbabwe) are allowed to enter France upon proof of full vaccination. Pre-entry Covid-19 testing requirements were lifted for fully vaccinated travelers from “green” countries as of February 12th, 2022.
Unvaccinated travellers from “green” countries need to show proof of a negative PCR or antigen test completed less than 24 or 48 hours before their scheduled flight, depending on the country of origin, or an antigen test showing recovery from a recent infection.
Children under the age of 12 are exempt from all restrictions.
For countries currently classified as “orange” (currently all countries not on the green list, including Canada and Australia), fully-vaccinated passengers may enter France with proof of vaccination. They will no longer (at least for the time being) be required to show a negative PCR or antigen test prior to the flight or train journey.
Partly vaccinated or unvaccinated travelers (including children accompanying adults or traveling alone) from “orange” countries may only enter France if there are there are “pressing grounds for travel”. Provided they meet certain strict criteria, they may enter only after presenting a travel exemption certificate (available in English here; scroll to bottom of page and click on PDF to open) alongside proof of a negative COVID test taken 72 hours prior to arrival (in the case of a PCR test) or 48 hours (in the case of an antigen test).
Unvaccinated or partly vaccinated travelers will need to sign a sworn statement declaring that they have not recently experienced any Covid-19 symptoms nor had any contact with individuals known to be infected with the virus and may also be subject to screening at points of entry (airports and international train stations). If found to be infected, they may be required to self-isolate for up to a week. Children under 12 are exempt from these restrictions.
You can find updated information on current entry requirements and restrictions for France at this page on the France Diplomacy website. Please do consult that site in addition to this page for the most recent guidelines; while we do endeavor to update this page as frequently as possible, the regulations have been changing frequently.
When Can I Visit Paris/France Again? Can Americans and Other Overseas Travelers Go?
As noted in the section above, fully-vaccinated travelers from many countries have been allowed to visit France and other countries in the European Union since early summer 2021 (see details above).
However, many overseas countries continue to warn its citizens against travel abroad for the foreseeable future, including to France.
The US State Department renewed its Level 4 travel advisory for France in December, recommending that American citizens and residents “do not travel” to the country.
Canada and the UK are among other countries to have issued global travel warnings, urging them to avoid all “non-essential” travel. Australia, meanwhile, has issued strict restrictions on travel abroad for its citizens, until further notice.
Some countries around the world are still requiring travelers returning from France to self-isolate/undergo a period of quarantine.
Make sure to check current measures in your home country or next destination before traveling to France. You can find the latest information on country-by-country travel advisories for France at this page.
And if you do decide to travel, it’s essential that you purchase a travel insurance policy for your trip to France, as well as ensuring that your hotel bookings and airfares or train tickets are either flexible or fully refundable. Most carriers and hotels are offering flexible terms of sale during the present time, but always be sure to read the fine print.
What is France Doing to Curb the Disease?
As detailed above, the French government called a new state of emergency in the spring to attempt to battle the current “wave” of Covid infections, imposing curfews across the country and, from April 3rd, imposing a new national lockdown for a month. It gradually began easing or removing those restrictions as cases and deaths fell and more of the population received vaccinations, but in the summer began requiring “Covid-19 health passes” for entry into a variety of indoor spaces and events (see more details above and below).
Vaccine Rollouts and Boosters in France
France began rolling out vaccines to elderly patients in January, but there were initially wide reports of slow uptake and distribution compared to other developed countries, in part due to large percentages of French citizens saying they don’t wish to receive the vaccine.
Some accused French President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Jean Castex of failing to advocate strongly enough for vaccination of all citizens, instead framing it as a matter of personal choice and placing too much emphasis on potential risks, even after Phase III safety trials for approved vaccines were completed.
How Many Vaccines Has France Administered so Far? (updated weekly)
Nevertheless, the government has since significantly ramped up its vaccination program, having approved the Moderna and Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccines in addition to the one produced by Pfizer/BioNTech.
It has administered nearly 54.3 million first vaccine doses as of April 27th, 2022– out of a population of roughly 60 million. Nearly 53.4 million people in France have received two doses and are fully vaccinated–some 79% of the total population.
The government began rolling out “booster” vaccine doses to all adults over 18 in the late autumn, in response to rising cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
What’s Now Open in Paris and the Rest of France? Is “Lockdown” Over?
After months of strict lockdown measures and closures, France has largely eased restrictions, with restaurants, cafes, museums, monuments, cinemas, theatres, and other cultural institutions re-opening May 19th, 2021. In May, outdoor service resumed at restaurants and cafes.
Other restrictions were lifted in June 2021, such as indoor service at restaurants and bars. Nightclubs re-opened in July.
Crowd control measures, mandatory masks, and other safety measures (including the aforementioned “health pass” requirements ) will remain in place until further notice. And despite seeing a sharp spike in cases in late autumn 2021, and the uncertainty around the newly discovered Omicron variant, the government has ruled out imposing another lockdown in the foreseeable future.
The bottom line? Regulations and restrictions might change quickly in the coming weeks and months. Make sure to watch the situation carefully if you plan to travel to France in the coming weeks and months, including from within Europe.
Where Do I Have to Wear a Mask in France? (New Rules for Indoor & Outdoor Settings)
As of February 28th, 2022, indoor mask requirements were lifted in France for all spaces requiring presentation of the “passe vaccinal” (vaccine pass, see more by scrolling to relevant section above). This includes bars, restaurants, cafés, shops and shopping centers, museums, concert venues and other public indoor spaces.
Masks are nevertheless still required in public transportation (Metro, bus, tramway etc) in Paris and elsewhere in France. They are no longer required on long-distance trains such as Eurostar and TGV trains (assuming you have a vaccine pass).
Are Masks Still Required Outdoors in France?
As of February 2nd, 2022, masks are no longer required in outdoor spaces and settings in France. This follows a French court recently suspending a mask requirement for Paris that obliged it to be worn in all outdoor spaces from December 31st, arguing the mandate represented “an excessive, disproportionate and inappropriate infringement … of personal freedom”.
Rules on Masks in Public Transportation
Public transportation services in Paris and elsewhere are currently running normally. Please do note there are some new safety rules for passengers that all are required to follow (including visiitors):
All travelers over the age of 11 using public transportation (Paris metro, RER trains, buses and tramways) are required to wear a mask; you can be fined up to 135 Euros for non-compliance.
During peak times/rush hour (mornings and late afternoons), travelers on the metro will be required to present a statement from their employer to justify using public transportation. Visitors should avoid using public transportation where possible due to these restrictions and regulations/rules that remain vague for non-workers.
Travelers on Eurostar trains are also now required to wear masks, until further notice.
Please note that visitors and tourists receive no special dispensation and you will be subject to the same rules as locals, including the aforementioned fines.
Should I Cancel or Postpone My Planned Trip to France/Paris?
(Note: The below advice more accurately corresponds to travelers who have not yet received a vaccine or are concerned about traveling to a country that is still experiencing strong community transmission of the virus. This advice is a matter of personal opinion, and every traveler will need to weigh their individual risks carefully. )
Unless you’ve been fully vaccinated or plan to visit several months from now after France has brought its case levels to very low levels, you may want to consider delaying your plans. Current testing and “health pass” requirements make it very difficult for partly or unvaccinated travelers to enjoy everyday activities, since you will need to take daily tests to prove your negative status in order to enter public spaces such as bars, restaurants, museums and even long-distance trains.
The recent discovery of the Omicron variant has, moreover, added a great deal of uncertainty to the picture. It’s currently quite difficult to predict what sorts of restrictions might be applied to travelers in the coming weeks and months.
Moreover, international travel is currently strongly discouraged by many major health authorities, and could place your health and those of others at risk.
Elderly people who have not been vaccinated, those who are immunocompromised or have other health complications appear to be much more at risk of serious or critical illness than young and/or healthy individuals. Meanwhile, healthy but unvaccinated individuals may feel legitimate concern about contracting the virus and spreading it to others, including the most vulnerable.
How Dangerous is the Disease?
The fatality rate is notoriously difficult to accurately determine due to wide discrepancies in testing and monitoring around the world. Some have estimated it at between 0.1% and 3% of all cases, but these estimates are subject to change with time. Different variants of the virus have shown differing average hospitalization and death rates.
There is also no consensus on the true fatality rate for COVID-19, because many people with mild illness have not been formally diagnosed and therefore not included in the data. This may mean that the actual fatality rate is much lower than the ones that have been registered.
The virus is much more likely to be life-threatening in elderly, immune-compromised and otherwise unwell individuals. For the vast majority of people, it results in only mild illness or flu-like symptoms that are quickly recovered from.
However, the illness is still not fully understood by health professionals and bodies, and new variants are emerging regularly. For the time being, exercising extreme caution and taking all possible measures to protect your own health and that of others is recommended.
The World Health Organization puts the risk in these terms: “If you are in an area where there is an outbreak of COVID-19 you need to take the risk of infection seriously. Follow the advice issued by national and local health authorities. Although for most people COVID-19 causes only mild illness, it can make some people very ill. More rarely, the disease can be fatal. Older people, and those with pre- existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes) appear to be more vulnerable.”
Why to Buy Travel Insurance & Other Precautions to Take
Purchasing travel insurance for France is essential at this time, protecting you financially and medically even if you have booked a trip for much later in the year. When choosing a policy, it’s important to ensure it includes cancellation protection in the event that you need to postpone or cut short your trip.
Most good travel insurance providers will mention the ability to cancel or interrupt a trip should travel to your destination be deemed unsafe by global health authorities such as the World Health Organization (WHO).
However, do be aware that many travel insurance providers are now excluding cancellations due to coronavirus, arguing that it is a known event. This complicates matters for travelers and makes booking trips riskier from a financial standpoint.
Again, even if you live in a country that has not yet issued a travel advisory against visiting France, that may soon change.
How to Lower Your Risks While Traveling?
All travellers can take sensible precautions to lower their risk of acquiring the virus and spreading it to others. In addition to wearing a face covering when in public, wash hands frequently with soapy water for at least 20 seconds; if soap is unavailable use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol solution.
Do your best to avoid touching your face, especially before thoroughly washing your hands.
Current recommendations from various national and international health authorities state that you should practice “social distancing” as much as possible and stay several feet away from others, when possible.
Keep a good distance from those who are coughing or otherwise appear ill, and avoid shaking hands or giving “bisous” (French-style kisses on the cheeks).
If you do visit France, have visited any places with active Coronavirus cases over the past 14 days and feel ill with fever, cough or shallow breathing, current public health guidelines require that you dial 15 to seek medical advice.
“Gilet Jaune” (Yellow Vest) Protests & French Transport Strikes
Starting in late December 2018, smaller groups of “gilets jaunes” (yellow vest) protestors staged demonstrations in the capital, almost exclusively on Saturdays. Some saw demonstrators throw rocks, burn cars and break store windows. But starting in late May 2019, the protests simmered out, in part due to a much heavier police presence.
Since late 2019, the protests have occurred sporadically and at a much smaller scale. They are not currently a concern for travelers to the capital or elsewhere in France. Even when civil unrest was at its peak in 2018 and 2019, you should know that tourists have not been injured or otherwise endangered by these protests.
Current Safety Advisories for Paris & France
The US State Department currently shows a Level 3 travel warning for France, corresponding to the advice “Reconsider Travel” and citing risks including Covid-19, terrorism and potential civil unrest. See the full advisory here .
To see current safety advisories for your country of origin and specific safety tips from your Embassy or Consulate in France, see this page.
Putting Your Risks Into Perspective
With what seem to be frequent reports of violent incidents in the capital over the past few years, it can indeed feel scary to be a visitor these days. But as I detail at length in my piece on why you shouldn’t fear coming to the city since the terrorist attacks of 2015 and earlier, there have been exaggerated accounts in some media outlets about the dangers tourists face when visiting Paris.
But in a modern world where there are many complex risks to weigh and negotiate all the time, it’s important to put those risks into perspective. It’s not about discounting potential danger. It’s about recognizing that life must go on– and that living in fear shrinks your world and its possibilities.
So before you cancel your trip or decide on another destination out of fear that you may be the victim of a terrorist attack or some other form of violent crime, read through my advice below.
As I’ve said elsewhere, Paris greatly depends on tourism to thrive as a city. It would be catastrophic to its livelihood to see too many people stay away and renounce all the capital has to offer out of a disproportionate sense of fear.
The Reality: Statistically Speaking, Paris Remains Very Safe
While Paris has admittedly taken a significant knockdown in world city safety ratings due to recent terrorist attacks, violent crime is still generally uncommon in the capital. OSAC, the US Bureau of Diplomatic Security, notes that tourists are generally safe in the city, and that street crime such as pickpocketing remains the primary concern.
To break it down a bit: The violent crime rate in France is roughly on par with Canada’s, and is three times lower than rates in the US.
According to French government statistics, even when taking into account deaths from terrorist attacks, the homicide rate in Paris per 1,000 inhabitants between 2015 and 2017 was only 0.019 (0.014 if you exclude the attacks).
You get my drift. Violent crime, and especially the sort that threatens lives, is relatively rare in Paris. Gun violence there is astronomically lower than it is in comparably sized cities in the US.
And while the US State Department website advises that tourists remain aware of their surroundings and exercise caution due to potential terrorist threats, take note: they don’t recommend cancelling your trip or avoiding the city.
My conclusion? Yes, there are some risks that can’t be denied. Most large metropolitan cities, including London and New York, carry similar risks in our globalized world. Should you avoid setting foot in these places altogether?
Everyone has to make choices that they feel comfortable with, but from my perspective, you’d be greatly overestimating the dangers you face by doing so.
Pickpocketing is the Most Common Crime Affecting Tourists
I’ve talked about the unlikelihood of tourists becoming victims of violent crime in Paris. However, this doesn’t mean that you don’t risk being targeted for petty street crimes that can still make your trip a nightmare.
Pickpocketing is by far the biggest threat to visitors, so you should learn how thieves operate and take all the precautions necessary to avoid being targeted.
How to Avoid Pickpockets in Paris?
Pickpockets operate in predictable and often highly organized ways, targeting tourists in crowded and popular areas. Often, they get away with your wallet or purse so quickly that you barely feel a thing. To keep this from happening, take these steps:In any crowded place (busy lines, congested metro cars, open spaces full of tourists snapping photos), take extra care with your belongings.
It’s best to carry a bag or purse that you can wear crisscrossed around your chest, with pockets and valuables hugged to your front and in plain view. If you wear a backpack, don’t leave wallets, cash, passports or other valuable items in the front compartments.
Only bring as much cash as you’ll likely need for the day, and maybe even less. 100 Euros or so is a good limit to aim for. Traveler’s checks can easily be exchanged for Euros at the American Express office on Rue Scribe (Metro: Opera).
If you must carry larger amounts of cash, consider wearing a money belt.
It’s always preferable to leave passports, large amounts of cash and other valuables in a hotel safe, if possible.
Never leave your bags or suitcases unguarded, even for a minute or two. Not only do you run the risk of them being swiped up by thieves between two blinks of an eye: they can also be legally confiscated and destroyed by security forces, under current safety regulations in public spaces.
What About ATM Thefts and Other Scams?
In addition to pickpockets, tourists are often targeted by scammers and thieves in other ways. ATMs/cashpoints are particularly vulnerable spots. Never allow anyone to linger nearby when you take out cash, and guard against prying eyes.
Never let anyone “help” you with a transaction at an ATM, or otherwise interfere with it. Ask the intrusive person to back off, and if they refuse, find another place to take out cash.
Around popular tourist attractions including the Sacre Coeur, the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, merchants operating illegally are known to aggressively “persuade” tourists to buy their wares.
This often involves putting an object or trinket in your hand or inviting you to “try on” a bracelet.
Once you give in, a demand for payment often follows. Avoid this by refusing all advances from such “vendors” and not allowing them to place any items in or on your hand.
Protecting Your Health While in Paris
No one intends to get sick or suffer from an accident while traveling, but preparing for such unfortunate events will give you peace of mind and save you from outlandish medical costs.
Buying trustworthy travel insurance is essential. Many international policies cover up to millions of dollars in medical costs and liabilities, and are reasonably priced (about the cost of a nice meal out for one, or even less, depending on your age and pre-existing conditions). You can compare and purchase trusted travel insurance policies here (via World Nomads).
Emergency Numbers to Keep With You
If you run into a medical or other emergency, call one of the toll-free numbers below from any phone, and contact your embassy. It’s wise to print out these numbers and keep them with you at all times:
- Medical Emergencies & Accidents: 15
- Fire brigade: 18
- Police: 17
- SOS Médecins (on-call doctors): 01 47 07 77 77
- SOS Dentaire (dentists): 01 43 37 51 00
- SOS burns: 01 58 41 41 41
Note that in most cases, calling “15” is the best thing to do in a medical emergency. If you have been the victim of a violent crime or other crime, it will be necessary to both inform the French police and to file a report with your embassy.
If you need a pharmacy in Paris, identify them by their green flashing crosses. Most neighborhoods in the city have at least one pharmacy within a few blocks’ radius. These pharmacies are open late or 24 hours a day, in case you need to seek advice from a pharmacist or purchase medical supplies late at night.
Safety for Pedestrians in Paris
While Paris is generally a very pedestrian-friendly city– the local government has been working to increase the number of car-free zones around the capital in recent years– drivers can be aggressive, posing a danger to walkers.
My advice? Take a defensive approach when crossing streets and busy intersections, checking for cars even when the light is green and/or when you have the right of way.
In areas that appear to be pedestrian-only, watch out for cars and aggressive motorcylists: some areas that are “car-“free” still allow motorcyclists, service vehicles and cyclists.
What About Driving?
I strongly advise against trying to drive in Paris. Parisian drivers can be aggressive and unpredictable (by many standards), and traffic conditions are often congested and unpleasant.
If you have to drive, your international driver’s license and insurance must be up to date. Also make sure you understand the local rules of the road.
And you should avoid, at all costs, driving around nightmarish traffic circles such as the one at the Place de l’Etoile on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées.
If you do opt to take a taxi, whether within the city or to the airport and back, make sure you only use reputable companies. Never accept a ride from a taxi that doesn’t have an official “Taxi Parisien” sign atop its roof and a visible meter inside. You may be overcharged or otherwise scammed, if you do…
Why to Register & Keep in Touch With Your Embassy
It’s always wise to register with your embassy ahead of your trip and to keep their contact details with you at all times.
In the event that your passport is lost or stolen, you experience a medical emergency or a crime, or are in the city at the time of a dangerous event, registering will ensure that you’ll be able to get in touch more quickly with your embassy and to receive help from them. This is a good list of world embassies and their contact details.
Once at your embassy’s site, read through any relevant travel advisories for Paris and France and find out how to register as a citizen traveling abroad before your trip.
Are There Dangerous Places in the Capital to Avoid?
I wish I could argue that Paris is entirely safe in all circumstances, but sadly, there are a few places that you’d probably be best off avoiding at night, especially for women and solo travelers.
Gangs are known to operate in some of these areas, and hate crimes have been reported around them in the past.
Take special caution late at night around the following metro stops and surrounding areas (and perhaps avoid altogether when traveling alone after dark): Chatelet les Halles, Les Halles, Pigalle, Couronnes, Belleville, Place des Fetes, Porte de St Ouen, Porte de Clichy, Gare du Nord, Stalingrad, Jaures, and Crimée. Please note that this is not a definitive list: you should probably be cautious in all areas of the city after nightfall, or when crowds disperse.
Also note that this is NOT a list of so-called “no-go” zones in Paris. From my perspective (and it’s one shared by most locals), these simply don’t exist within the city limits.
All 20 arrondissements in Paris (city districts) are generally safe, as long as you take some precautions in the areas mentioned above, and do so everywhere at night. Remember, “posh” areas can be remarkably empty after dark, so paradoxically you may be more vulnerable in these.
Women, especially when traveling alone or in small groups, should take extra care at night, especially when alone. Avoid places with poor lighting and few people roaming the streets. Safety is in numbers.
Also, be aware that French men sometimes read smiles or extended eye contact as permission to flirt or make sexual advances. With strangers, it’s best to assume a neutral stance that clearly says “I’m not interested”.
If a man makes unwelcome or aggressive advances in the street or in other public places, firmly say “non”, refrain from smiling, and walk away. Call the police if you are followed or the harassment continues, and retreat to a public cafe or other crowded place if necessary.
People of color generally have nothing to fear in Paris, a city with remarkable ethnic diversity. Nevertheless, hate crimes are not unheard of.
If you are a victim of an attack that you feel is racially motivated, report it to the police, your embassy, and if necessary to French watchdog SOS Racisme: + 33 (0)1 40 35 36 55
Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and non-binary visitors are generally safe and welcomed in the capital, which harbors a large and vibrant LGBT community. That said, there has sadly been a spike in reports of homophobic attacks in Paris over the past couple of years, and in the areas I mention above as being potentially less safe after dark, it is advisable to be extra cautious.
Read my guide on homophobia in Paris over at TripSavvy for tips on staying safe, including for LGBT couples. If you are attacked, report it to the police and to your embassy, and state clearly if you believe the attack was a hate crime.
Advice for Jewish and Muslim Travelers
Jewish visitors may have read that Paris has become unsafe for them. It can’t be denied that antisemitic attacks have been on the rise in recent years, with targets including synagogues, places of business and Jewish individuals.
Sadly, from 2018 such attacks are reported to have risen sharply. Visitors should take extra precautions at this time.
These attacks have been met with increased police protection of Jewish schools, places of worship and other sites important to the Jewish community.
While safety concerns are warranted, I want to stress that Paris has one of the largest Jewish communities in the world: one with a deep history that’s very much part of the cultural fabric of the city.
The vibe is generally welcoming and you shouldn’t fear visiting the city. It’s also important to know that there have been no recent reports of attacks against tourists of Jewish faith. Nevertheless, take precautions, particularly in the areas I mention above.
While I regret advising it, it may be best, late at night and in quiet areas, to remove visibly religious symbols and clothing items. Always report it to the police and to your embassy if you are a victim of an antisemitic attack. SOS Racisme can also help.
Muslim visitors may also fear attacks from Islamophobic individuals. Since 2015, there has been, according to numerous organizations, a sharp rise in attacks on Muslim places of worship and individuals.
Tourists of Muslim faith should not fear visiting the capital, however. Again, there is a large community here and most people are welcoming.
As always, though, if you experience harassment or violence make sure to report it to the police, your embassy, and perhaps to SOS Racisme (+ 33 (0)1 40 35 36 55).
While attacks on tourists of Muslim faith are exceedingly rare, it is important for victims to be heard, have their experience accounted for, and to seek the help they need.
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