Last Updated on February 21, 2024
Many travelers want to know whether Paris is still safe to visit– and their concerns are understandable. Following isolated terrorist attacks and occasionally-violent street demonstrations in recent years, as well as a global pandemic, worries about the safety of the French capital have become more common.
But the truth is that Paris generally 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.
Current Safety Advisories for Paris & France
The US State Department currently shows a yellow, Level 2 travel warning for France, corresponding to the advice “Exercise increased caution” and citing risks including terrorism and potential civil unrest. See the full advisory here .
Traveling from another country? To see current safety advisories for your country of origin and specific safety tips from your Embassy or Consulate in France, see this page.
Statistically Speaking, Paris Remains Very Safe
The Economist-sponsored “Safe Cities” report for 2021 ranked Paris as the 23rd-safest major city in the world out of 60– making it almost exactly middling. And while the city has admittedly taken a significant knockdown in global city safety ratings due to recent terrorist attacks and other factors, 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. These notes are particularly striking and paint a clearer picture of the sorts of crimes visitors need to be most on guard against:
According to the Violent Crime Risk Index (ViCRI), a resource for urban-level violence risk data and ratings, Paris ranks as a class 2 city on an 11-point index scale measuring homicide, aggravated assault, robbery, and rape risks. Street crime, however, is a concern, most notably in areas frequented by tourists. Consular officials throughout France report that U.S. travelers are frequently victims of pickpockets, swarm and grabs, or scams.(OSAC, France Country Security Report, available here)
To break it down a bit, Paris ranks a “2” on a scale reaching up to “11” when it comes to violent crime. Moreover, violent crimes rates in France are roughly on par with Canada’s, and are three times lower than 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 in Paris
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 unattended, 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.
General Safety Concerns: 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 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.
That said, staying informed about potential risks is an important part of feeling empowered as a traveler. Below are a few notes on recent incidents and safety concerns for tourists in the capital, with guidance on whether they warrant postponing or canceling your trip.
December Terrorist Attack Outside the Eiffel Tower
On December 3rd, 2023, an assailant armed with a knife and a hammer attacked and killed a German-Filipino tourist on the Quai de la Grenelle near the Eiffel Tower. Two other people, a British national and a French national, were injured in the attack.
According to Reuters, French President Emmanuel Macron characterised the events as a terrorist attack, after the 26-year-old suspect, a French national, was found to have released a video shortly before the attack pledging allegiance to the Islamic state. He is currently in custody, as are three other people connected to the suspect.
French authorities have not yet concluded whether the suspect was acting alone or not, though he was known to security services for potential social ties to known terrorists, according to the Associated Press. He had also been monitored for psychological problems.
Europe more broadly remains on high alert for what is says is an elevated risk of both coordinated and “lone wolf”-style terrorist attacks from Islamist militants, amid severe conflict in the Middle East.
Paris has also been significantly increasing its security measures in the run-up to the Paris Summer Olympics in 2024.
To our knowledge, no embassies have modified their safety advisories for France in response to the attack.
Covid-19 Cases & Deaths in France & Current Travel Safety Regulations
In France, according to updated data from the French government, there have been over 40.1 million confirmed cases since January 2020.
As of January 15th, 2024, over 167,642 people have died from COVID-19 in France. Most patients were elderly and/or had pre-existing conditions.
Im recent months, daily hospitalizations and deaths have remained quite low compared to the acute phases of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021– owing in part to high vaccination levels, an ongoing booster-dose drive in the country, and potentially milder infections from the Omicron and subsequent variants.
On August 1st, 2022, France lifted most Covid-related restrictions on travel and travelers. There are no longer any paperwork or formalities to complete to arrive in mainland or overseas France, and no Covid-19 certificates or proof of vaccination are required at this time, irrespective of country or area of origin.
However, should a dangerous variant become of major concern, France reserves the right to reinstate health measures such as vaccine certificates or passes for travelers from at-risk countries.
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 aim to update this page as frequently as possible, the regulations have been changing frequently.
While it may indeed seem as if the pandemic is essentially over in France, regulations and restrictions might change quickly in the event of a new variant of concern or hospitals becoming overwhelmed in response to a spike in cases.
Make sure to watch the situation carefully if you plan to travel to France in the coming weeks and months, including from within Europe.
“Gilet Jaune” (Yellow Vest) Protests & French Transport Strikes
Starting in late December 2018, smaller groups of “gilets jaunes” (yellow vest) protestors staged demonstrations in Paris, 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, it’s important to remember that tourists have not been injured or otherwise endangered by these protests.
Protecting Your Health 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.
Many international travel insurance policies cover up to millions of dollars in medical costs and liabilities, and can offer peace of mind. You can compare and purchase travel insurance policies here (via World Nomads).
[World Nomads provides travel insurance for travelers in over 100 countries. As an affiliate, we
receive a fee when you get a quote from World Nomads using the link above. We do not represent
World Nomads. This is information only and not a recommendation to buy travel insurance.]
Emergency Numbers to Keep With You in France
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.
This can especially be useful to know if you’re traveling with a young baby or toddler, since young ones sometimes require quick treatment, and pharmacists are often able to provide expert advice or recommend and sell over-the-counter medications that you can’t buy directly off the shelves.
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 in Paris?
I generally advise against trying to drive in central 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 unless you’re used to European traffic circles, you should avoid, at all costs, driving around busy 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 to Avoid in Paris?
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.
Unfortunately, I also advise against traveling to the Northern suburbs of Paris after nightfall. Violent crimes and hate crimes are more frequent in these areas, as is gang activity.
It pains me to advise this as I don’t wish to stigmatize any communities or places, but from a standpoint of tourist safety, these areas are probably best avoided at night.
Advice For Women, LGBTQ+ and Minority Travelers
While Paris is generally a tolerant and diverse place that is welcoming to people of all colors, creeds, sexual orientations and gender expressions, there are occasional cases of harassment or even assault.
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. And in 2023, they have unfortunately skyrocketed in France, against the backdrop of the Israel-Gaza conflict that broke out in October. As a result, it pains me to say that 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 (nor am I aware of any to have occured in recent history). Nevertheless, it’s probably a good idea to take some precautions, particularly in the areas I mention above.
While I regret advising it, it may be best, late at night and in the aforementioned 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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Courtney Traub is the Founder and Editor of Paris Unlocked. She’s a longtime Paris resident who now divides her time (as well as she can manage) between the French capital and Norwich, UK. Co-author of the 2012 Michelin Green Guide to Northern France & the Paris Region, she has written and reported stories for media outlets including Radio France Internationale, Reed Business Information, WWD, and The Associated Press. She has also been interviewed as an expert on Paris and France by the BBC, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Le Figaro, Matador Network and other publications. In addition to pursuing an insatiable interest in French culture, history, food and art, Courtney is a scholar of literature and cultural history whose essays and reviews have appeared in various forums.