- Bakeries and restaurants propose what is known as a “formule”, a preset menu, which normally includes a plate, a drink, and a dessert for a good price. Sometimes this is more economic than choosing each item separately and you’ll be able to try many French delicacies.
- At restaurants, ask for tap water; yes, if you’d like to cut back a little on drinks, you can ask for a bottle of tap water or “carafe d’eau”, as tap water is free in France and potable.
- You can also eat at a park. You can buy a sandwich or a salad at a bakery and go eat it at a park or green zone authorized for this purpose. It is quite nice! However, be mindful of your personal belongings.
- There are many “tourist trap” restaurants that offer traditional French cuisine and good prices, however the quality is not the best. Keep an eye out for which area they are located in and who’s dining there.
Like in any big city, pick-pockets and thieves in Paris are very much present. Take care of your personal belongings, but do feel at ease to use your phone or use an atm when needed.
Up next, we’ll explain the biggest difficulties tourists face.
Safety issues in Paris can be grouped into two categories: robberies and Terror attacks.
Paris is a relatively safe city, especially compared to certain cities in Latin America, for example. Not to say that nothing ever happens, however many situations can be avoided.
The main forms of theft are pick-pockets and cons/rouses. Pick-pockets are EVERYWHERE and you don’t notice them, they are very good at what they do, although some are audacious. They are on busses, in the subway, and sometimes even inside museums and palaces, so keep your eyes peeled and do not leave your bags open or unattended, keep your phone put away in a safe place, and if you decide to carry it in a pocket make sure there is a zipper or button on it, never leave your personal belongings anywhere even when taking pictures.
The best way to avoid any theft scenario is to simply not give the thief the opportunity.
You should also avoid carrying around large amounts of cash, Asian tourists tend to be common targets because they travel around with large sums of cash on them. Even if you don’t have much cash on you, be discrete and keep your card pin to yourself.
The other type are rouses: there are always people that try to take advantage or certain situations in witty ways. Here are a few examples you may encounter:
- Boys and girls asking people to sign a form to “support disabled people”. These young people act as if they don’t understand anything, while you sign (and give them personal details) they will ask you to donate some money and, at that same time, the rest of their group are trying to steal from you without you taking notice. They work in networks. So simply do not accept anything, don’t sign anything and, politely but firmly, say NO and continue on your way.
- Street Con artists: You may notice large groups of people pretending to be tourists, gambling large sums of money to incite others to participate. Do not be fooled by this scam. Even if you see large bills being passed around and think there are others actively participating, do not engage in this activity! These are professional groups that play until they catch someone and bring them into the game, at this time they will disappear taking the money and disperse for a while before regrouping to catch someone new.
- Metro ticket scams: Sometimes you’ll run into people that will try and “help” you purchase a Paris Visite ticket (valid for several days), you pay, and they purchase is it for you however, when the time comes for them to give you the ticket, they’ll behanding you a single-ride ticket or an invalid ticket, while they walk away with the ticket valid for several days, which can be worth anywhere between 16-32€ or more and will be able to re-sell to someone else as it has just been purchased and is unused. To avoid this, remember what we mentioned in the Moving Around Paris section, the ticket vending machines of the RATP in Paris can be used in several different languages, including English, are easy to use and, if they are not working, you should always head over to the counter where an official employee of the RATP (dark green uniform and with their credentials on them) will be able to address your doubts and help you.
Parisians lives were severely affected by the terror attacks the city has suffered since 2015. Unfortunately, these are unpredictable events (at least for a traveler) and that can happen in any city in the world.
The safety of the city was considerably reinforced and measures were taken through an alert known as the “Vigipirate Plan” which seeks to prevent, surveil and protect citizens. This makes certain control points much stricter on certain objects carried around, security control points have much longer lines and you will see a heavy police and military presence in certain areas.
The recommendations we can suggest in this scenario are the same given by the Police department: if you witness any suspicious activity or anything that may put yours, and others, safety at risk please do not hesitate to reach out to the proper authorities.
However, avoiding certain large events may seem logical given the circumstances. The recommendations we can suggest in this scenario are the same given by the Police department: if you witness any suspicious activity or anything that may put yours, and others, safety at risk please do not hesitate to reach out to the proper authorities.
Lastly, follow your instincts. If you feel something is off or does not seem normal, leave. It may simply be a drunk making a scene, but it is best to avoid problematic situations, remember that you are visiting and avoiding complications when possible is your best option.
- Make sure your credit or debit card is enabled for use in Europe, in some cases you’ll need to call your bank before your trip to inform them where you’ll be as they may block your card for security reasons if they detect activity in a foreign country. Don’t forget to ask what the exchange rate and cost of your transactions abroad will be.
- Do not forget to bring an adapter for plugs, as plugs in Europe are not the same as those used in the United States. Head over to Before the Trip
- ATTENTION: careful with the maximum voltage of your electronic devices, the Americas use 110v to120v in power while most of Europe, Asia and Africa are between 220v and 240v. Be careful with the devices you bring and check to see if you’ll need a converter or not, to avoid any accidents or scares.