For first-time and repeat visitors, Paris casts an idyllic glow that promises a quintessentially French experience and the city is generally safe for tourists as long as you stay cognizant of pickpockets and scammers. These petty thieves tend to prey on tourists in crowded parts of the city, in restaurants, and on the metro.
Paris has also been the target of terrorist attacks in the past and the U.S. State Department warns that travelers should "practice increased caution" in the city, as well as other parts of France. It's also worth noting that while Paris and the whole of France are considered to be quite progressive places, there's a chance that BIPOC, Muslim, Jewish, and LGBTQ+ travelers could encounter discrimination or harassment. However, many note that these kinds of offenses are more likely to happen outside of the main touristic areas.
- Due to COVID-19, the European Union (EU) has banned U.S. travelers from entering, and the U.S. is discouraging all international travel indefinitely.
- Before COVID-19, the U.S. had been urging increased caution when traveling to France due to ongoing risks of terrorist attacks and civil unrest (such as demonstrations and strikes).
Is Paris Dangerous?
Paris has seen terrorist attacks in the past, but it is not a daily reality for the city. For the average traveler, pickpocketing is the most prevalent form of crime that targets tourists in the French capital. As a consequence, you should always be vigilant with your personal affairs, especially in crowded areas such as trains, metro stations, and any popular tourist areas. If you find yourself in an unsafe part of the city after dark, such as the suburbs north of Paris, you should refrain from wearing highly-visible jewelry or clothing that may identify you as a member of a religion or political movement.
Is Paris Safe for Solo Travelers?
Paris is a great city for solo travelers and it's very safe when walking around during the day. However, solo travelers, especially women, should stay vigilant when walking around at night and stick to well-lit areas. Especially when traveling alone, avoid areas around metro Les Halles, Pigalle, Gare du Nord, Stalingrad, and Jaures late at night or when the streets appear empty. While generally safe, these areas have at times been known to harbor gang activity or to be the site of hate crimes. If it is very late at night, you would be wise to take a taxi instead of the metro. Women should avoid smiling at or making prolonged eye contact with men they do not know: in France, this is could be interpreted as an invitation to make advances.
Safety Tips for LGBTQ+ Travelers
Paris is an extremely liberal city and LGBTQ+ travelers generally have no issues while walking around the city center and exploring the LGBTQ+ nightlife scene, but that doesn't necessarily mean that homophobia doesn't exist in the city and there have been a few troubling incidents of violence in the past. Paris is the city of love but unfortunately, judgment-free public displays of affection are still a privilege that heterosexual couples take for granted. Although LGBTQ+ couples can generally feel safe expressing themselves in gay-friendly neighborhoods like the Marais and even at major tourist attractions, there is always a slight risk of encountering homophobia from a passerby.
Safety Tips for BIPOC, Jewish, and Muslim Travelers
Paris may have a reputation for being a progressive and diverse city and is generally a safe and accepting city. However, BIPOC, Jewish, and Muslim travelers should be aware of any recent incidents that might indicate a rise of intolerance in Paris. Paris is a diverse city made up of immigrant communities from all over the world, approximately 30 percent of which come from African countries. For BIPOC travelers, visiting Paris is generally pretty safe, although there was a rise in racism against Asians after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Paris has one of Europe's largest and most vibrant Jewish histories and communities, and Jewish travelers should feel safe in a city that in many quarters and instances celebrates Jewish culture. Although in 2018 the French Interior Ministry reported a 28 percent increase in antisemitic attacks on Jewish places of worship and business in Paris, no attacks on tourists of the Jewish faith have been reported.
France has one of the largest Muslim communities in Europe and while reports show that Islamophobia is on the rise in France, Paris tends to be more accepting than the rest of the country. Generally, travelers say that Paris is Muslim-friendly but it's worth remembering that the subject of religious head and face coverings is still a heated topic in France. Since 2010, it is illegal in France to wear a burqa, and Muslim women are sometimes harassed in Paris for wearing a hijab.
Safety Tips for Travelers
- Never leave your bags or valuables unattended in the metro, bus, or other public areas. Not only do you risk theft by doing so, but unattended bags may be considered a security threat and can be immediately destroyed by security officials.
- Money belts are excellent ways to protect yourself. Also, avoid having more than $100 in cash with you at a time. If your hotel room includes a safe, consider using it to store valuables or cash.
- Pedestrians should be especially careful while crossing streets and busy intersections. Drivers can be very aggressive in Paris and traffic laws are frequently broken. Even when the light is green, take extra caution while crossing the street. Also watch out for cars in certain areas that seem pedestrian-only (and perhaps are, in theory).
- When traveling by taxi, make sure to verify the minimum price of the taxi ride before getting in the taxi. It is not uncommon for Paris taxi drivers to overcharge unsuspecting tourists, so be sure to watch the meter, and ask questions if you must. Also, giving the driver a suggested route ahead of time with the aid of a map is a good idea.
U.S. Department of State. "France Travel Advisory."
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."
Tripadvisor. "Paris: Safety on the Metro (RATP and RER)." Retrieved on December 22, 2020.
Sud Quest. "Qui sont les nouveaux immigrés qui vivent en France ?" February 12, 2014.
BBC News. "Coronavirus: French Asians hit back at racism with "I'm not a virus." January 29, 2020.
The JC. "Antisemitic attacks surge in Paris." February 9, 2018.
Pew Research Center. "Europe's Growing Muslim Population." November 29, 2017.
Mr. & Mrs. Halal. "The Most Handy Paris Travel Guide For Muslim Travelers." July 30, 2018.
CBS. "France will still ban Islamic face coverings even after masking." May 12, 2020.