Avoiding Theft and Scams in Paris

Bonjour mes amis! I’ve just returned from Paris, and the city of lights did not disappoint. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into Paris, but I can say I have never felt more cultured and exhausted both mentally and physically. There are so many sites to see and explore and so much to do, it was non stop going from the moment my plane touched down.

As with any large city, you need to be careful and vigilant when it comes to safety. On my first morning in Paris, I experienced a group of about 4-5 kids that ran up to me while I was walking from my hotel to the Musee d’Orsay. They had petitions in their hands and asked me to sign them. At the same time, they asked for money, grabbed my purse and shoved their hands into my pockets. I always wear my purse crossbody, so I was able to grab the purse back and yelled “Non!Arretez” at them and tried to walk away quickly.

They left me alone after that, but nevertheless, it was a traumatizing experience and took me sometime to get over it. I am quite lucky that I never ever keep money in my front pocket of my purse and, as I’ve posted before, do not keep anything in my pockets. Everything goes into the hotel safe, my money belt and into the zippered internal pocket of the purse. The kids did not get anything from me.

When I was at the Eiffel Tower, I noted that there were several other groups of kids aggressively going up to tourists who were pretty distracted by the beautiful tower and not really paying as close of attention to their bags. The first thing you want to be on the looking for are the gypsy kids (and adults in some cases) who will try and distract you with fake petitions. They are going for money and phones and anything else of value in your bag and pockets. They may ask you if you speak English and to sign the petition to start, but it is a scam.

A kindly Australian couple I encountered near the Latin Quarter of the city was shopping at the Shakespeare and Company bookshop and experienced another group of 3 kids and 2 adults run up to them and try to get inside their bag. They were not as fortunate as I and lost a wallet and their phone. Their bags were unzipped and were being held on the shoulder behind them. The best thing to do is to wear your bag crossbody or in front of you at all times.

The next scam comes in the form of a cup game. I witnessed this near the church of Sacre Coeur and Eiffel Tower. There is a vendor who has three cup and places a ball under the cup. The vendor tells the tourists watching them that you can win money my guessing under which cup the ball is after they move it around. The vendor secretly has a partner who is in on the scam and wins and loses money as a fake tourist. It looks easy, but it’s not. The ball may not actually be under any of the cups! They just want you to place a bet so they can trick you out of your money.

If you are near other popular streets like the Champs Elysee you may notice vendors trying to sell you replica Eiffel Towers and other tourists souvenirs. They are pretty harmless, but can be pretty aggressive. Along with these vendors you have a handful that will try to sell you a string bracelet. They will take your wrist and place the bracelet on it and demand money for it. The bracelet can be a little hard to pull off, but are removed by pulling one end of the string attached to it. I would try to pull my arm away if this happened to me and would say “Non” out loud.

The main takeaway from this is to just again be vigilant and know that if something is too good to be true, it probably is. Be away of your surroundings and keep valuable items out of sight. I’m sorry that I haven’t been able to update in about two weeks, but I got back last Friday and honestly it’s been pretty non-stop since then. I had to go back to work on Saturday and I still haven’t unpacked! I do have lots of new content to share though that I am very excited for! Until next time, happy travels!