Unfortunately, pickpocketing has become a bit of a national sport in big European capitals. But, never fear, we’re here to help you avoid being pickpocketed in Paris!
Picture this: it’s your first day in Paris, so of course you have your camera, but also hundreds of euros in cash to purchase a box of macarons on the Champs-Élysées. You get to the gorgeous Ladurée macaron shop and are about to pay when suddenly you realize that you don’t have your wallet or cell phone!
What happened? Have you spent everything and discarded your smartphone for a disconnected vacation? Nope, you’re just a victim of pickpocketing.
Here are some tips for a safe vacation in Paris:
First of all, you have to use common sense and avoid any obvious displays of wealth and naivety. For example, never put a phone or money in your back pocket. Please never leave your purse or bag unattended, and finally do not talk too loud in a foreign language because you could be spotted as a potential victim.
You also need to spot the risky zones in the city. Usually, pickpockets hang out in the same places in the city: the most touristy areas. Be especially vigilant when you walk around the Louvre courtyard and Tuileries Garden, and the little Pont des Arts bridge near the museum. On the Champs Élysées avenue you may be surrounded by police, but still the risk is high. When at the Eiffel Tower while you queue or take a memorable picture of the Iron Lady, always be aware of your surroundings. Finally last but not least, stay alert on the winding Montmartre stairs and in the village on the hill.
Montmartre is actually known as the place where pickpocketing all started some centuries ago, but that is a different story for a different blog!
Here are the golden rules to avoid getting pickpocketed:
1. Avoid groups of teenage girls with petitions
Do not talk to teenage girls trying to get you to sign a petition (to save whales or help orphan seals in Antarctica), teenage girls pretending to be deaf, teenage girls with jackets on their front arms in the metro stations or metro cars and specifically on the touristic line 1… In short, teenagers in general. There is a huge mafia from Eastern Europe who uses minors to do their dirty work (young minors don’t risk anything in France as they cannot be judged or sentenced to jail). A sad but true situation!
2. Keep your eyes on your belongings at all times
When you are in a crowded place, on the terrace or waiting in line, keep your bag and laptop in front of you and not on the floor or on the back of a chair. It may be less comfortable, but it’s always better than spending half a day at police station talking to a policeman who has other fish to fry.
If someone looks odd on the subway (drunk, sleepy, moving around), pay attention to your belongings when doors open and close. Worst case scenario, you will have your money taken, and get a nice smile in return from your thief while they stay on the platform you’ve just left.
3. Don’t leave your belongings out in the open
Never leave your cell phone on the terrace table, because if someone decides to steal it, you will have no time to pay the bill before running after the offender. This could result in you running after the thief, while your angry waiter runs after you!
4. Don’t believe weird stories about missing rings
If someone flags you down to ask you if the ring he just found on the floor is yours, ignore them. This is an age old scam in Paris. They will likely tell you that for some crazy reason that they are not able to wear jewellery themselves. They will then offer to sell you the ring at a really high price. In fact, the ring is worth absolutely nothing! Ignore it and continue on your way, jewels do not grow on the Parisian pavement.
5. Never leave your belongings in your pockets
If you’re visiting Pars in the winter, you will probably be using the metro more than usual. Please keep in mind that if you do put your wallet or phone in your jacket pocket, you should also put your hands there too. This will help to make sure that no other wandering hands get to your belongings.
6. Buy your metro tickets from the machines in the metro station
Please never buy any subway or museum entrance ticket from anyone in the street or near attractions. Most of those tickets are fake, or were purchased using a discount you can’t prove to the security guards.
If this list sounds like a lot to worry about, the easiest way to avoid pickpockets is to ride through the city with us.
So be aware, stay focused, don’t trust anyone, don’t speak to anyone, don’t leave your hotel and even better don’t come at all. We’re joking, of course! If you also think this is an absurd way to visit Paris, just come and enjoy the city! Have fun, but don’t be too naive, and we promise you, it’s all going to be okay.