Generally speaking, France is a safe destination. Welcoming millions of tourists from around the world every year, the country has relatively low violent crime rates and is not generally the subject of major travel warnings or advisories. While it's true that a series of crises in recent years—from terrorist attacks to major strikes and sometimes violent demonstrations—have led many to wonder if it's still safe to travel to France, statistics on violent crime and other risks are reassuring. Keep reading for tips on staying safe during your next trip.
- Due to COVID-19, the EU has banned US travelers from entering, and the US is discouraging all international travel indefinitely.
- Prior to COVID-19, the US had been urging increased caution when traveling to France due to ongoing risks of terrorist attacks and civil unrest (such as demonstrations and strikes).
- Canada advises travelers to observe a high degree of caution when traveling to France "due to an elevated threat of terrorism." However, like the US advisory, it does not counsel against choosing France as a destination.
Is France Dangerous?
According to a 2019 report from US-based body OSAC (Overseas Security Advisory Council), France is generally a safe destination for tourists, students, and other visitors. There is a moderate risk of being the victim of a crime in Paris, and minimal risk in other major French cities such as Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Rennes, Strasbourg, and Toulouse.
The OSAC report notes that pickpocketing and other petty theft are the biggest concerns for tourists, especially in Paris. This is of particular concern in areas where tourists convene in crowds, as well as on the RER B train, which connects central Paris to the Charles de Gaulle Airport. Line 1 of the Paris Metro is also a common site targeted by pickpockets.
Robberies and other physical assaults are rare in Paris, but do sometimes occur. See our safety tips at the end of this article for advice on how to best protect your belongings and ensure your personal security.
Other common risks for tourists in France include inflated taxi fares, which can be prevented by systematically accepting rides only from taxis with visible meters. There are also scams in which perpetrators place a trinket, ring, or other object in targets' palms without permission, then demand payment. Firmly say "no," return the item, and walk away immediately.
For more advice and warnings for travelers in Paris, including information on neighborhoods and areas to potentially avoid after dark, see our guide to Paris safety tips.
Is France Safe for Solo Travelers?
In a word, yes. But some visitors, particularly women, may need to take extra precautions.
- In Paris and other cities, solo travelers (especially women) should take care at night when navigating quiet areas alone. Avoid overly dark, empty streets, and try to keep to the main roads, close to open businesses and other people.
- We generally recommend against embarking on solo hikes or nature walks, unless it's an area full of people (such as a popular beachside trail). Even if you're a confident hiker, accidents can happen. Women should be cautious about taking to trails and outdoor spaces alone, particularly when few others are sharing them.
- Sexual harassment and assault remain a significant problem in France; take the precautions above to protect yourself. If you are a victim of such crimes, try to find help in a well-lit public space, and make sure to file a police report. Ask for help if need be.
- Women should also be aware that date rape drugs are present in France. Be cautious in bars and do not accept drinks from strangers.
Safety Tips for LGBTQ+ Travelers
While France is generally a welcoming and progressive destination for LGBTQ+ visitors, a rise in homophobic and transphobic attacks have sadly been a reality in the country over the past few years, including in Paris.
LGBTQ+ individuals and couples traveling at night or in isolated areas should remain aware of their surroundings and avoid passing through places that are noticeably empty.
If you do experience verbal or physical abuse of any kind, try to find a space (such as a nearby café, bar, restaurant, or pharmacy) and ask for help. File a police report, and consider contacting the LGBTQ+ rights organization SOS Homophobie by calling +33 (0)1 48 06 42 41.
See our article on safety for LGBTQ+ travelers in Paris for more information.
Safety Tips for BIPOC, Jewish, and Muslim Travelers
For BIPOC travelers, France is generally a welcoming and safe destination. Cites such as Paris and Marseille are incredibly diverse places, and overt violence against people of color is relatively rare.
Nevertheless, racism, antisemitism, and Islamophobia remain significant problems in France. Hate crimes and attacks against Jewish and Muslim individuals or groups have risen in recent years. More common are "microaggressions," defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as "a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously or unintentionally expresses a prejudiced attitude toward a member of a marginalized group (such as a racial minority)."
However, tourists have rarely been targets in such attacks. If you do experience any instance of racially or religiously motivated violence or harassment, file a police report, and consider contacting French racism and antisemitism watchdog SOS Racisme: +33 (0)1 40 35 36 55.
Safety Tips for Travelers
Here are some more general tips all travelers should consider following when visiting:
- Register with your embassy or consulate before traveling to France. This will allow you to secure assistance should you have an emergency of some kind.
- Watch your bags at all times and make sure they are closed securely. Never leave your bags unattended, even for short periods. In addition to theft risk, they may be destroyed by security officials if seen as potentially suspicious.
- Carry your handbag or backpack close to your body. Avoid letting it hang loosely off your shoulder, especially in crowded places (public transportation, markets, museums, etc). A common tactic of pickpockets and thieves is to grab bags in easy reach and run. See our specific guidelines on avoiding pickpockets in Paris for more information.
- Be vigilant in and around major train and metro stations and in airports; they tend to attract pickpockets and petty thieves who target unsuspecting tourists.
- Don’t put your passport and money in your pockets or in an easily accessible place in your bag. Consider wearing a money belt if you wish to carry a significant amount of cash with you. If your hotel has a safe, leave your passport and other valuables in it.
- At cash machines, watch out for anyone observing you enter your PIN, and never accept “help” or any other interventions from strangers. Take your debit/credit card and cash and put them away immediately. Don’t hold money in your hand in the streets.
- Owing to current safety regulations in France (known as the “Vigipirate” regulations) your bags will generally be searched at every major department store, museum, and attraction.
- Look for local pharmacies (in France their storefronts have bright green crosses on or in front of them) and take note of where the nearest hospital is. Also copy a list of emergency services and telephone numbers in France and bring it with you at all times.
Council of the European Union. "Council agrees to start lifting travel restrictions for residents of some third world countries." June 30, 2020.
U.S. Department of State. "France Travel Advisory."
Government of Canada. "France." July 3, 2020.
Overseas Security Advisory Council. "France 2019 Crime & Safety Report." March 5, 2019.
Security General for Defence and National Security. "Tackling Terrorism Together." August 2017.