Paris Pickpockets: insider info on how to avoid the problem and fully enjoy Paris.

A recent flourish of articles and reports has been published in the wake of the one-day closing of the Louvre for pickpocket-related reasons.

paris-pickpockets-louvre

These articles have been feeding off each other, growing and blending together like some kind of yukky fear-mongering mayonnaise, resulting in an impression to the reader that is out of all proportion with reality.

Having lived in central Paris for 20 years, I would like to bring some balance and perspective.

Pickpocketing is nothing new and has been documented since ancient Greece.

Paris is no exception.

That said, pickpocketing does thankfully remain a very rare occurrence (and never mind the recent articles that paint a picture of endless hoards of sinister individuals ready to prey on YOU), even in the Metro where most pickpocketing occurs.

paris-pickpockets

Case in point: our A La Carte Paris team of 10 people of French, English and American nationalities. As you might readily imagine, in our business of managing 65 apartments in the best locations (i.e. those that attract the most tourists!), our team gets around a lot on a daily basis. And we all use the metro.

So you might imagine that with all this moving around of 10 people, day in day out, for over 10 years, in the most touristic locations and using only the metro, we might have seen it all (and been to hell and back).

In fact, in over 10 years of such activity and without resorting to any special pouches or belt-bags, not one of us has been pickpocketed.

I, for one, cannot even remember having witnessed any such trouble, never mind fallen prey (despite living for 10 years at the top of the Champs Elysées!).

Maybe my team and I just don’t fit the target profile of the map-and-camera-wielding, short-and-sandel-wearing tourist.

Perhaps.

The assumption would be that tourists carry the biggest bounty and indeed, some tourists who make no effort to blend in at all do stand out as easily identifiable targets.

If so, then don’t be one of them (I don’t think you are anyway… 😉

That being said, if you want to be certain to avoid problems, rules of basic care apply (like in any big city). The best defense is simply not having valuables readily available. Thieves go after what is easily accessible, so make sure your valuables aren’t (handbag open, thick wallet in back pocket, smartphone on café table, etc.).

As a precaution, when out and about, leave everything you don’t need for the day in your apartment or hotel room. Carry only a bit of cash and one card in a deep front pocket or an inside zipped pocket or the inside zipper section of a handbag. A belt-loop wallet is reassuring too. Only take your passport for crossing international boundaries. For the rest, carry a color photocopy.

My best advice of all, however, is to continue enjoying Paris to the full and to NOT BUY INTO THE FEAR-MONGERING!

“But I’ve been reading so much in the press about the problem of pickpockets in Paris! I think I’d really rather go to another city!” you might object.

Hang on a second.

As you no doubt know, Paris is by a very large margin the most visited capital in Europe. So on a purely statistical basis, one would expect pickpocketing (which is measured by number of complaints) to be most prevalent in Paris. It would only be normal.

In fact, this is not the case. Not by a long shot.

According to a 2010 Trip Advisor study, Paris is only the 5th most pickpocketed european destination, after Barcelona, Rome, Prague and Madrid.

“But I’ve been reading the forums, which are rife with stories of pickpocketing! I get the impression it happens to everyone!”

There is a name for this understandable reaction.

It’s called the Availability Error and here is how it works:

There is a natural and fundamental bias in the reports of pickpocketing, which arises simply because being pickpocketed is news-worthy (and forum-post worthy) while NOT being pickpocketed is not. You will never find a forum post by someone expressing their delight at NOT being targeted by pickpockets, simply because NOT being targeted is the default and expected situation. It is therefore not news.

Yet when we anxiously read the graphic description posted by a poor victim, it completely captures our attention. Fear strengthens memory (this irrational bias is – or at least was, when we lived among the lions in the African savannah – a very useful survival adaptation) and as a result we grossly overestimate the odds of dreadful but infrequent events. The drama of improbable events makes them appear far more frequent than they are.

This human error of rationality is what is know in psychology as the “Availability Error” because our assessment of likelihood can be grossly biased by information that is highly reported and available to us (like the news articles and forum posts pickpocketing victims) compared to information that is less available to us (like the number of people who leave Paris without having had any such issue).

The resulting “probability neglect” helps to explain excessive reactions (such as wanting to cancel travel to Paris) to low-probability risks of very bad outcomes.

The conclusion would seem to be this:

By all means stay alert to your surroundings and don’t be careless with your belongings. But most importantly, don’t let overblown press reports (by journalists who have a vested interest in writing something that grabs you…) and forum posts (voiced by the few victims, while the many non-victims remain largely silent) hamper your travel plans or compromise your enjoyment of Paris.

Il faut vivre!

Alex Wagner
Founder & CEO

PS: For the sake of a balanced debate, I would welcome your comments on my post and on the issue of pickpocketing in Paris.

PPS: UPDATE: In the wake of a great many comments about the “ring trick”, I thought I would explain. I too have had the gold ring trick attempted on me once, on the Champs Elysées. This is NOT pickpocketing however, but rather a ruse that makes use of the strong social principle of reciprocation and that aims to VOLUNTARILY extract a bit of cash from the passer-by.

ringtrick

Here is how it works: the person pretends to find a ‘gold’ ring (in fact a worthless trinket) on the sidewalk right in front of you and offers it to you, saying that they don’t need it and that they’d be glad for you to have it. Once you accept it, they kindly ask you for some money.

This is a variation on a tactic used some years ago by Hare Krishnas. The Kishna disciple would give unwary travelers a flower, saying that it was a gift. Then when the gift was accepted, the disciple would ask for a donation.

With a pretty flower in hand, it was hard to then refuse a smiling request for a small donation. That is reciprocation in action.

So if a (generally scruffy) person finds a ring on your path and offers it to you as a gift, don’t even acknowledge them (if you do, they can become annoyingly insistent). Just wave them off with the back of your hand and keep walking.

150 Comments Add yours

  1. Ros Dale says:

    Thanks for adding some sanity, Alex. I have lived and worked and holidayed in Paris over the last 32 years and never had or saw a problem with pickpocketing and I have spent a fair bit of time in down-market areas too. On one trip recently, I was amused at how creative the ‘beggars’ are getting with some heart rendering messages to appeal to foreigners or the dropping of a (worthless) ring and claiming it to be mine, appealing to my senses of greed and generosity simultaneously!! Paris is always inspiring and amusing and that is why I keep coming back.
    Thanks again and there will always be the very paranoid traveler, no matter what stats you give them-they are the ones that should hire a DVD and sit at home, poor darlings!!

    Ros

    1. Jacqui says:

      My husband and were in Paris 2012 and had an absolutely amazing time. We had heard of the pickpocketing and scams and although we did see some ‘scammers’ for signatures and also plenty of beggars, we used the metro (brilliant) and walked around Paris at all hours of the day and evening with no issues. I do agree with Alex’s comment though about being aware and prepared. We kept minimum cash on us during the days out, my husband carried a discrete style camera bag (he had a lot of gear) and kept it in front of his body and closed and we had no issues. I would absolutely love to go back to Paris and would encouragement anyone who goes to just be aware (as you should be in ANY city) as people with crime on their minds will be on the lookout for easy targets who are not paying attention to anything! I have seen girls with handbags slung over their shoulders with bag open and purse on top not paying any form of attention to what is around them and this is just not sensible wherever you may be! Go and enjoy Paris, it is incredible. Jacqui

  2. Carol Parden says:

    I think your sensible explanation of how not to be pickpocketed in Paris is absolutely correct. In fact it makes sense no matter where you may be visiting in France. You need to be aware of your surroundings, while having a good time.

  3. Ann Witkower says:

    Question: have you seen the young people who accosted us with surveys? This was on the bridge between Ile de la Cite and Ile Saint Louis. They were maddeningly persistent, and I became concerned that they were jostling me to enable them to grab my purse. Is that true?

    1. I would be weary of people asking to sign a petition, especially if overly persistent… I would just brush them off and be unresponsive.

      1. That reminded me of being presented a petition by a persistent young woman in the same area last year; something to do with deafness. She melted away when my wife started signing!
        David Reid

      2. Mark Kennedy says:

        In NYC we give them the dead eye stare….as in “You’re shittin’ me pal, you want me to do what?” this trick, and the krishna’s have all gone away. We still have the west African merchants selling garbage as real watches etc. but only the shorts and sandals crowd responds.
        Last time I got pestered was in Lisbon by a phony cripple. “F*ck Off” was my response, she stood up, gave me the finger and walked away. Know thy enemy!

    2. We snubbed them and they left us alone. A minute later a horse-mounted police came by and they all scattered. Hold your belongings close to you, don’t be engaged in any way with strangers and ENJOY PARIS (the BEST city in the world!)!

    3. Anonymous says:

      For Alex.
      Weary: tired, fatigued
      Wary: cautious, on guard

    4. Robin says:

      I experienced the petitions in the square near the Pompidou centre. When you stop to sign another comes up behind you to check your pockets. I was waiting for someone so spent an hour watching them operate. They vanish fast when police arrive then they’re back in 5 mins

      1. Anonymous says:

        As of July 2014 this is still going on. I was accosted by a very insistent girl in the square at the Pompidou Centre and managed to brush her off. Someone else I know had their front mounted bum bag opened by sticky little fingers with the same scam until his friends spotted what was going on. There were about 7 of them that day, they appeared to be East Europeans/Romanians/Gypsies. I don’t think the French police care too much about these activities, I can’t believe they couldn’t put a stop to these activities with a few plain-clothed officers.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thank you very much for sharing this Alex! when I travelled to Rome a few years back people place an un-realistic fear of being pick-pocketed in us-to the extent of leaving my wedding bands at home! I did not do that sensing it rediculous–I feel the same about my upcoming trip to France. We are however cautious and sensible “tourists’

    Lynne and Tom G–Boston MA

  5. Lesli Cohan says:

    Alex:

    Merci for your article and putting some perspective around the closing of the Louvre. While it is unfortunate that this happened, anyone living or traveling to a large city needs to be personally aware and be careful. That being said, I have been to France 5 times and other than one rare encounter with a gypsy, I have never had any issues, nor have any of my travel friends. Why? Because we are aware and careful. We do not wear things like baseball caps or carry cameras around our necks that scream “tourist”. We move easily through the Metro, and understand how to negotiate it, and when possible, speak French to shop owners and at cafes. I have always found people to be helpful and kind. So, as you said, understand that you are in a large city and just take care.

    Paris is a wonderful and beautiful city, and I love it. I know I will be coming back soon.
    Thanks for your lovely articles!

    1. Yvonne says:

      All the above is agreed with. The gold ring scam was attempted outside Galleries Lafayette, and an approach on the Left Bank, but both were unsuccessful. Paris is not the only city in the world with this problem, and would visit anytime.

  6. Mary Fitzpatrick says:

    Live in Dallas, TX & have been to Paris many times, a blue eyed blonde travelling by myself. Never any kind of hiccups. I am on foot from early morning till late at night, all over the city. Never met a stranger in Paris. No one is rude; everone is helpful. Nothing but friendlies. The key for first timers is to not think of Paris as a vacation destination. Anticipate being a “repeat offender” as Paris is not a place to visit, but rather to absorb, which requires an apartment stay each time of no less than seven nights!

  7. Anonymous says:

    No problem with pickpocketing in Paris, just the people dropping the “gold” ring several times a day, and trying to return it for a reward. It get very old. On the other hand, In Rome a day doesn’t go by without a pickpocket attempt.

    1. Yes, I had the “gold ring” trick attempted on my on the Champs Elysées. This is not pickpocketing however, but rather a ruse that makes use of the very strong social principle of reciprocation (the person pretends to find a gold ring (in fact a cheap trincket) on the sidewalk right in front of you and offers it to you, saying that they don’t need it and that they’d be glad for you to have it. They then kindly asks you in return for some money. This is a variation on a tactic used by Jehovah’s witnesses Hare Krishnas before then asking you for a small donation.

      1. Sherry says:

        We call this “being ringed” and it’s been going on for years…I’ve watched as the rings been handed to an unsuspecting tourist who is then accosted for money. I’ve watched people try to hand the ring back, only to be rebuffed and the demands for money then get louder and more vehement. The perpetrators have actually cursed at us as we watched the incident play out…they are very aware of everything going on around them, and while they are sometimes alone, very often there is an accomplice or two hanging around to chime in. The newer game seems to be the petition signing thing…I’m not sure how this works, because I don’t engage with these people, and just avoid eye contact and walk by briskly…if they try to talk to me I ignore it and keep going. That’s actually the best advice I would give…don’t talk to these people at all, just go about your business. They will move on because finding a sucker is what they’re after, and wasting time is not. I actually did see two policeman on bicycles shoo two girls with petitions away from the Eiffel tower last year…it was good to see that the cops are taking an interest, as I always wondered why the police aren’t doing something to get rid of these people. I don’t think cities in the US would be as tolerant.

      2. Anonymous says:

        Excuse me, I am one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and we never ever ask for a donation! Not even at our KIngdom Halls.

      3. I beg your pardon, I must have mixed up two different cults. I stand corrected ; sorry about that.

      4. Diana says:

        Alex, I think you are mistaken, Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t offer flowers and ask for donations, and they aren’t pickpockets! They are Christians who are interested in the welfare of others, they are not beggars and they don’t ask for money, and your comment is ill-informed and offensive.

      5. Lilly says:

        you talk about the ring trick (never saw it on our travels through Paris), and the petitions; vaguely recall something like that but just kept walking, didn’t see any flower people….but No one has mentioned the French Africans on the steps of the Sacre Coeur. I should have be quicker I saw it coming; this friendly young guy starts chatting then grabbed my hand and starts weaving cotton threads around my finger that eventually makes a wristlet which he tired round my wrist, and of course askes for money, all the while I am say not interested, sadly for him my husband was carrying the money and he had wondered off so we had to catch up to him and he was a little pissed that this guy had got the better of me The guy insisted on 10Euro I gave him 5 and parted company. The police arrived soon afterwards and those guys scattered to the wind, obviously they shouldn’t have been there. I should have known better, but it wasn’t an unpleasant experience, as we chattered about his birth place and why he had come to France. I wore that wristlet for 18months as a reminder of Paris and the fantastic time we had there and a reminder not to talk to strange men on the steps of du Sacre Coeur again!!!. While we are talking about the Louvre I think that it is over rated. while there is some amazing art work there, its pricey to go there and there’s never a moment of peace to enjoy the place, Highly rate the smaller galleries, spend your time there that’s where the memories are made. I will never forget my time in the de L’Orangie with Monet’s water lilies..priceless. we will be back to Paris for more.:)

  8. KKD says:

    Excellent article.
    I have been to Paris 40 times since 1996, and have never encountered pick-pocketing.
    It’s all about common sense. Be smart and don’t look like a tourist. Thieves read body language.
    Walk like you know where you are going. Take a small map book and use it discreetly.
    I use the Metro daily, but when I enter, I always have my hand on my bag and camera.
    Keep your hand on your valuables when you are in a crowded tourist site, and be wary of anyone who bumps into you.
    Keep your handbag/camera in your lap and looped around your wrist when you are in a cafe.
    This is the same advice I would give to someone who was going to NYC.

  9. pat newhart says:

    I’ve been to Paris 3 times and been pickpocketed twice. And, I lead groups and help international travelers know how to protect themselves! I think the police should crack down harder on pickpockets, they are very prevalent in Paris. At least the illegal vendors at the Eiffle tower and the trocodero are giving you something for your money. One even gave me another glass tower as one slipped out of my hand and broke. He wouldn’t take extra for it. Yet, the police are vicious to them. I am also sick of the ‘ring’ thing, and don’t forget the little ‘sad tale’ cards, oh, and the poor victim tourist who needs money to get back home. I tell her to go to her embassy! I love Paris, it is a historical city that belongs to us all, but indeed, something more needs to be done with the pickpockets!!! They are so slick. It is true there are ways to be careful, however, sometimes that doesn’t even help. I don’t feel sorry for the tourist who keeps an open tote, isn’t careful of belongings, etc. I’ve been to Barcelona and Madrid and feel safer from pickpockets in those cities.
    Let’s face it…..Paris can do better regarding this problem……I can’t stay away though.

  10. Bill Rowe says:

    Alex: I appreciate your experience – however, when we were in Paris last September we were approached several times in tourist areas by groups of young women with a supposed survey or petitions of some type. In one instance a young man working with them would have grabbed my phone if he could have. You may not have been targeted but I would bet he did not go home empty-handed.

  11. Elizabetta De Julia Gaudreau says:

    Good read, you haven’t said anything that any seasoned traveler already knows or should know. My husband and I have been to Paris and throughout France three times and plan on another trip in the future. Even if it is your first trip abroad people should just use common sense which you need to do even in your own hometown.

  12. IM says:

    The RER B trains bringing in new arrivals from the airports are notorious for pickpockets and distraction scams. Unfortunately a renter of mine, who himself is a seasoned traveler and owns rental properties in other countries, was distracted by someone dropping coins onto the floor just before the train pulled into the Gare du Nord station and had one of his bags, containing his passport and other valuables, snatched away. As he was staying in Paris just for a few days, his entire vacation was ruined by his having to go to the American consulate, banks, the whole time.

  13. JEM says:

    One should never overreact. I had two pickpocket incidents while living in Paris: one successful, one not. I had a colleague who also fell victim. For the most part, Paris-based pickpockets are highly skilled at their trade (and yes, beware the bump!). Both thefts were unfortunate and costly. In my case, I place some blame on my structured handbag, which I believe made it too easy to reach in without me feeling a thing. It ditched it in favor of something soft and loose. Since then I’ve returned to Paris many times and would never let the threat of a pickpocket stop me from visiting.

  14. Anonymous says:

    My husband & I spent 3 weeks in Paris last year & unfortunately my husbands wallet was pickpocketed. We also encountered the gypsy ring ruse. Neither of these events would deter us from visiting this wonderful city in the future.

  15. Brenda says:

    My family and I lived in France at one time and have returned to visit many times—never a pickpocket! Your article is well stated about trying to blend in and not stand out as a tourist. I have had the gold ring trick two times on a recent visit. I do love Paris and France and thank you for sharing some very good insights.

  16. David A. Reedy says:

    I first visited Paris in 1952 and I have been back many times sine then. My wife and I have spent a month in Paris (May or September) every year for the last 18 years. Although we have encountered the “ringers” many times we have never experienced being pick-pocketed. We often take 7 to 10 trips on the metro or on buses every day. The saddest day of the year is always the day after we leave Paris, resulting from the anticipation of the next visit. We know Paris better than we know DC, near where we live in suburban Virginia. My wife is an accomplished chef and we particularly enjoy the many open air markets. We also love A La Carte.

  17. Palisi Joseph says:

    Too late Alex :). We have recently returned from Paris, and other parts of France. Being a multi visit veteran of Rome I think I can say that Paris is a “pussy cat” in comparison. Aside from being approached by a couple with the “sign here” clipboard in Tuileries Gardens, the five day visit to Paris was uneventful in that respect.
    We were warned about the pickpockets at the hotel but I agree if you are alert to the possibility of being approached, and take prudent measures to protect what you are carrying, your moving about will be uneventful. Low profile is the key which many tourists seem to be blissfully ignorant of.
    Although Italian speaking (and looking!) my wife and I were hit on in Rome three times during one visit, all in the same day! Seems the “travelers kids” cannot be locked up so business is good.
    As an aside, one needs more than five days to see Paris and all its attractions.

  18. Christine Oliver says:

    I did experience an attempted purse snatching in Paris last year but after years of commuting in Chicago, San Francisco and London I’ve learned to carry my purse bandoleer style in front of me. And I keep really valuable items I have to carry in a money belt. Paris is just like any other big city. You need to use a little common sense.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I’ve visited Paris numerous times and have always been wary of pickpockets and taken precautions. Only once, going up in the Effiel tower elevator did I reach into my back pocket to find another hand there! Quel surprise! I was unable to spot the perp though. I still LOVE this city

    1. Yeah, I got that in a night club once. She was charming. 😉

  20. Arlene K. Polan says:

    I have visited Paris and other villages in and around France 10-12 times since 1996 walking by alone at all times of day and night and have never been pick pocketed. I once had a survey thrust at me and refused to sign in Sept. 2010. I have always felt safe and comfortable. I love the food, the sights and, often just sit with a glass of wine and people watch. I have stayed as long as 3 weeks in 2 star hotels and once rented an apartment for two weeks in the Marais. I look forward to my next trip to the City of Light and fabulous bread, food and chocolate. Arlene

  21. Kim in Australia says:

    Alex – always good to read your newsletters, but a little disillusioned with all the fuss being made about the pick pockets or any other unpleasant experiences. Unfortunately I doubt any of us live in the perfect city / country, but if one lets these issues dominate our experience, whether you are a victim or not, you might as well never travel to experience or see the sights of the world, instead, just stay locked in the security of your own home.

    I’ve travelled extensively over the whole world over many years, and smiled to myself when I first read your hints on blending into the city you were visiting, to help secure your safety and not stand out. Those points are what I had practised all my years of travel, and touch wood, I’ve never had a problem to date.

    Sure we may be a tourists visiting cities / countries of the world, but to really get the true experience you need to ‘live the city / country’ and become one with it, and not stand out from it – so BLEND!

    if it happens to you – get over it, learn from it, but remain positive, and remember all the good things that you experienced, as I am sure they would outway the one bad experiences.
    In our daily lives we all have good and bad days/ experiences, but if we dwelled too long on the negatives of our lives, we’d end up cutting our wrists!!

    Get out there – travel, meet the world and enjoy yourselves!!

    Highly recommend your apartments, and looking forward to see where else we can stay with you
    in France. Could do with you starting up in London, and with you knowing London so well, surely it wouldn’t be too hard!

    1. Anonymous says:

      I live on the Gold Coast in Queensland I would love to talk to someone from Australia who has stayed at the apartments provided by Alex Cheryl Spicer

      1. Hi Cheryl,
        A bit off-topic, but I’m sure someone will contact you and in the meantime here are some testimonials to get you started:
        http://www.alacarte-paris-apartments.com/paris-apartment-references-testimonials.html
        Many are from Australians like you.
        Regards,
        Alex

      2. Janet Ward says:

        Hi
        have no fear about staying with A la Carte Paris. The apartments are as described, clean, charming and in very convenient locations. Coming home at the end of the day to your own apartment is wonderful. We are heading over to Paris again in August and staying in the Marais which we are very much looking forward to. We live in Melbourne. Hope this helps
        Regards,
        Janet Ward

      3. Janet Ward says:

        Oops, sorry that should be addressed to Cheryl, not Alex 🙂

  22. Brenda Bearden says:

    Just returned from Paris after being on Lourdes. In Central Paris at all the sites and on the Metro constantly. Our first time! The only people we were “attacked” by was a large Chinese tourist group at the Louve. Wonderful time experienced wherever we walked or rode the metro.

  23. Carolina says:

    I have only been to Paris once, thirty years ago, for three weeks so my story is a little dated.
    I never had a problem with pickpocketing when I was walking around with people who were dressed in a low-key manner. Some of my friends were from Sweden, Australia and one from Chicago. However, one day I walked to the Louvre with a young man from California wearing several flashy gold chains, a large gold watch and several large rings–it’s hard to believe we were staying in the same budget hotel 🙂 Anyway, about 7 or 8 very dirty children started running towards us and they just swarmed all over him. I swung my bike messenger bag at them and shouted at them…but they weren’t really interested in me. He spent the rest of the day at the bank trying to get some money, a new credit card, atm card…then a new passport, camera, eyeglasses. Low key dressing is really the only safe way to go if you’re going to spend a lot of time walking and riding public transportation.

  24. Len says:

    Beware of anecdotal evidence and be cautious everywhere. Even as an apparent tourist, I survived a month in Rome, riding crowded buses daily, without an incident. However, in Paris, last year, I was pickocketed twice (although the second incident was probably encouraged by my carelessly using a decoy, virtually empty wallet, to get out my single bus ticket). The more serious event occurred previously in St. Denis, while I attempted to board a subway following behind my wife. Despite being aware of the “clean your jacket rouse”, my fear of separation from my wife led me to instinctively release my grip on my wallet to fend off the “good Samaritan”.

    My only observation was that it was difficult to report the incident due to closed metro police stations and a not- my- jurisdiction runaround; as friendly as it was..

  25. Anonymous says:

    We have been to Paris three times in the last 5 years and each time with our son, who was 7 his first trip. So, not only were we tourist our first time, but parents keeping up with our child. I have to say, we were never pickpocketed. Even though we carried a large camera and a back packet, we always kept an eye on our surroundings and only stopped when we could put our backs against a wall. We also found that should you need to “dig in your bag or look at a map”, go to Starbucks, there is one almost on every corner! I love Paris and thanks Alex for helping us with that love.

  26. Eric Engelbrecht says:

    Unfortunately Paris has been the one city in our travels that made us very aware of the threat. From the time we took the Metro in from the airport to the dropped ring to the petitions to gangs of girls forming half circles around us we found that aspect of Paris quite annoying. But that was only in and around the “big” attractions only.

    In Le Marais and other areas we had little trouble or issues.

    What we failed to understand was the lack of interaction by the Police. The ring trick was done in front of a Gendarme who only reacted after I did the ring trick back and the girl started to swear loudly at me. The attitude of the policeman was that I should not have provocted her????

    We will go back to Paris becuase it is such a wonderful place and we are aware of not wearing loud jewelley or large wallets or even handbags. Much easier to walk around with cash and card in front pocket and camera under armpit.

    But the police and city officials do need to be more proactive,

  27. Darles says:

    I’ve been to Paris several times and have seen several pickpockets go after other folks – some rather brazenly too.
    One of the slickest tricks was a kid going for the pocket of an unsuspecting metro rider as he was standing in the doorway facing opposite the open door. This kid timed it – right before the door closed he jumped on the metro, reached into the pocket and took off. The guy turned around to a closing door. He banged his fist on the door window – to no avail.
    One time we saw the police grab a kid in the act – and drug him to a bunch of trash cans – those kinds in the metro with the green plastic bags. Apparently, after they get something, they will sometimes drop the wallet in the trash bags to pick up later. The policeman had the kid pull all the stuff out of the trash bag. All hurried onlookers smiled appreciatively.
    It hasn’t happened to me – I try to be aware and carry little with me. It’s certainly not going to stop my Paris visits!

  28. fgtex says:

    Good article – thanks for the perspective. We have only been to Paris once ( 7 days over Christmas in 2010 ) and during that time endured extremely crowded conditions at all the major attractions and while riding the Metro which we used exclusively when not walking. We were mindful and precautious of our surrounding but experienced nor witnessed any problems with pickpockets whatsoever. I even carried a vey obvious “decoy” wallet in my back pocket, in plain view stuffed with euro sized papers and old hotel keycards from the US and never got bumped. ( maybe the pickpockets are wise to this ? ) Contrast that to our visit to Italy in 2007 where my wife and 5 others in our rail car were targeted and pickpocketed by one very slick and well dressed young lady who
    boarded ahead of us then proceeded to pluck things from boarding passengers while pretending to be getting off the train. My wife had just visited an ATM machine ( big mistake ! ) in the train station and I’m quite certain was targeted there.

    1. Ah, a “decoy” wallet stuffed with junk… love it!

  29. Odemaris Pares says:

    You don’t mention the situation around Notre Dame. There girls and boys asked for your firm for religious programs. Then when you are signing the petition they empty your pockets.

  30. raclis says:

    In the fall of 2011 my daughter, her hsuband and I were swarmed on the Metro by a group of 7 or 8 Bosnians, who are well known to the police. The undercover police were there and literally saved us. We went with them to file charges, a couple of Metro stations away. The 3 who they managed to round up were recognized when we got to the police station. They were booked and we were told they would be out the next day. A couple of days later we saw them again and they saw us.

    These people have no papers. There is no where to deport them to. After this incident we never had anything with us that showed we had anything worth stealing. I have been traveling to Paris for over 50 years and this is the first time for anything like this happening.

    We are going again in Oct. and will be continually aware and we’ll enjoy ourselves as we always do.

  31. tryinghard says:

    Alex,
    What a great article. My sister and brother in law went to Paris last spring and were almost pick pocketed three times. My husband and I went last October and not only were we not pick pocketed or even vaguely approached to be pick pocketed, we weren’t even approached by the charlatans on the street trying to “give” us a ring they had just found. The difference was my sister and brother in law look American. They dress American (yes white tennis shoes and all, they don’t care what people think, the shoes are comfortable, UGH) and while not being total boors the French could see their American Tourist Aura a mile away. My husband and I on the other hand act and dressed quite the opposite. Because I am well aware of the french language and mostly the french culture, Parisians thought my husband had married a French woman. This they found totally charming so we got extra great attention. Also we walk with purpose not agog like we are in Disneyland. To the Americans who want to stay home because they are afraid of being pick pocketed, I say good, stay home. We don’t need any more American rubes representing the rest of us knowledgeable travelers and giving all American travelers a bad name. The points you made just make sense regardless what large city one is traveling to, be it American, European, Asian etc.

  32. Carlos Rodriguez says:

    Having travelled to Paris four times (once a summer in Paris!), I can say pick pockets were and are a problem. But this is no different than any other city (except those in Japan). While being robbed is no fun, the likelihood of a physical assault or robbery by knife or by gun are really LOW (really LOW). Sadly, you’re more likely to encounter that in the US and in my city San Francisco.

    Of six traveling professors that summer, my party of four were the only ones not successfully robbed, although we were targeted often (my father-in-law mostly because of his age). If you have elderly or slower travelers with you – be sure younger (and male) companions flank them front and back. Create a sandwich. My partner and I learned quickly that leading the way left his parents (my in-laws) vulnerable. So we guarded from both directions: a little like secret service or bodyguards in attitude. It was easy to protect his parents as we just close our circle tighter in crowded situations.

    Things to avoiding being robbed is 1) to avoid standing still on the street (talking with petition gatherers or beggars, or trinket vendors, watching street performers, being lost in awe of tourist sights, or looking for directions – plot out all destinations), 2) best not to speak to anyone on the street (especially high traffic areas), 3) carrying more than you need (some cash, one credit card is all you need), 4) being careless at tourist sites – children and women are more likely to pickpocket you than adult men because your defenses are down, 5) carrying backpacks on your back or purses at your side (front pockets are best) – store bags are also easy targets, 6) keep your companions constantly in your sight – pretend to be taking pictures of them – pickpockets don’t like to captured on photos/videos, and 7) don’t hand money or cards to others in public: I’m amazed how often people will display cash or their wallets in view full of large crowds.

  33. Nathalie says:

    I was extremely aware of the possibility of being pick pocketed in Paris ( a tongue twister!) last October during Fashion Week. But I was determined to wear my most fashionable expensive stuff including a gold metallic Chanel bag. Maybe that helped me “blend in”? I am also quite tall and unusual looking with white blonde hair. Nevertheless I clung on to my purse carefully in large crowds or for that matter wherever I went and I stayed away from anyone who appeared to be tailing me – accidentally or otherwise. If I had caught a hand fishing for anything I would have walloped the offender no matter what they looked like. I rather enjoyed my revenge against a “ringer” who insisted I keep the gold ring even though I protested. When she came back and asked for money for the charity she was working with back in Bosnia I exclaimed that I, too, had family in that part of the world. Serbian family! That shut her up. The ring went back and every time I came upon the ruse being perpetrated against other innocents I would loudly proclaim, “They’re scamming you!” I even relished the choice bon mots thrown my way after that. My husband would pull me away since I am not afraid of screaming back. In any case large crowds in any part of the world are magnets for thieves. I am just thankful that I have been lucky so far.

  34. Vicki Hujsak says:

    We have been to Paris several times. Our experience has been that if you are alert you can actually pick out people who seem to be targeting victims to pickpocket. Be aware, be aware and dress like a local. The only time we had a problem was on the metro. A pair attempted to get my husband’s wallet as he stepped onto the metro. I saw what was happening and as one of them slipped his hand into my husband’s pocket I grabbed his wrist and literally attacked him by kicking him until he let go. The other guy was on the ground holding my husband’s ankles. After the first guy ran away I then began to kick the other guy until he got up and ran away too. After that we decided to only use taxis. Not expensive and more fun anyway.

    1. Mary Fitzpatrick says:

      The buses are also a great way to get around Paris. They are clean, inexpensive, have good on and off arrangements, and usually each bus line has a strategie. For instance bus 52 will take you from the 5th pretty much along the museum route, including private museums. Also they are much less prone to unsavory groups congregating than the Metro. Me? I mostly walk!

  35. Barb says:

    We’ve been to Paris several times in the last 12 years and only once had a potential pick-pocket problem. My husband was carrying a backpack and I was right behind him starting through the metro ticket style when a small kid pushed between us. I had one hand on the backpack and was ready to grab the kid by the back of his shirt and lift him out of the way when his “keeper” grabbed him and yelled to us “pickpocket, pickpocket” and talked to the kid in a language I hadn’t heard before.
    I usually wear pants and carry id, money, and a check card in buttoned, zipped pockets. My water bottle, maps, and a sweater go in a bag with two straps that I can wear as a backback or over the shoulder. When I enter the metro or in crowds, I move the bag to the front of me, as most of the college kids see do. I never carry a purse and my husband doesn’t carry a wallet.
    We only had the ring trick tried once – I shook my head no, said no thanks in French and kept walking. I love Paris and hope to get back soon.

  36. Jim Paulhus says:

    My wife and I just completed a weeks vacation In Paris. In my opinion, the nicest Enuopean city I hace visited. (London/Rome/Amsterdam/Athens/Dublin). Howver, my wife did twart a pick pocket attempt at the Citi metro stop as we were baoeding the train. Yes, we followed all the ‘rules’ and because we did, my wife did nit lose any valuables.
    This one instance did not change our opinion of Paris one bit. Possibly becasue we live in New York City.

  37. Rick Strang says:

    Maybe eight or ten years ago, we needed more cream at the apartment late one evening. So I went around the corner to the quick shop to pick some up. The young man did not give me correct change. I insisted he make the correction. After a minute of back and forth, a rather large man came from the back and simply said “that IS the correct change.” I looked at it as some expensive Parisian cream.

    The only other bother in Paris was last year, again in the evening. We were almost at our Metro stop so we went to the door to exit the train. As the doors opened, a woman charged at me, trying to board. She was pushing a baby stroller and stopped just short of crashing me. The people behind me did not understand why I was not moving out of the car. The baby stroller came at me full tilt this time and did crash my leg. Ouch! Later I figured that must have been a failed mugging as there was no baby in sight.

    The City of Light is still the best though. (I am bringing shin pads next time)

  38. Ken says:

    Alex,

    I enjoyed your article and agree with you that the problem with pickpockets has existed for a long time and is perhaps being blown out of proportion lately to sell papers or attract website readers (ie: the old journalist principle of “if it bleeds, it leads”). However, there’s probably some cause for heightened concern given the reported change of tactics and increasing violence used by gangs of pickpockets in Paris. The fact that these new tactics caused the staff at the Louvre to walk off the job to protest being physically attacked seems significant.

    I’ve travelled in many major cities in Europe, including London, Paris, Rome, Naples, Florence, Milan, Prague, Brussels, Munich, Berlin and others, and thankfully haven’t been victimized by pickpockets so far (including on the infamous No. 64 Bus or Metro in Rome). I have been approached by scammers though on MANY occasions with the gold ring, friendship bracelet, sign a petition or “a pigeon crapped on your back” scams. I’ve also been approached many times by Panhandlers asking for a “donation”. I tend to use what I called a “systematic progressive” approach in dealing with them. I’ll start with a polite “no, I’m not interested” and if they persist I progress in stages to a more firm and threatening demeanor.

    I recently watched an award winning program on CBC called “Gypsy Child Thieves”. I believe it was produced for the BBC originally. It provided an interesting glimpse into the people involved in that type of activity (many of whom are victims), and the people who are profiting from this.

  39. Robert says:

    My wife and I were in Paris for a week in April. We were oblivious to any pickpocketing. We certainly weren’t hit. We’d heard of many problems in Rome. We were there for two weeks in January, and we saw no signs of pickpockets. I thought perhaps it was because everyone was wearing an overcoat and with no pockets accessible the pickpockets were taking the season off.

  40. Barbara blanton says:

    We have been in and out of Paris for years, the last time, 10 days in October. Have never been pick pocketed although I may be higher up the chain of risk since I am in my seventies. However, I either use a cross body bag with little or nothing in it and my credit card/cash in an upper body pocket or no bag with my phone stuffed in another pocket.

    I am usually in smart but rubber soled shoes for traction and the ability to navigate without tripping and run a little if I need to. I have seen the groups who pick pocket many times so I also do my best to stay out of their midst.

  41. Toni Myers says:

    We’ve been to Paris 5 or 6 times in the past 10 years and experienced all the attempts. Exiting the Eurostar one night last year, unable to find a taxi, we took the metro. A swarm of kids offering help relieved my spouse of his back pocket wallet and we did not realize the loss until back at our hotel. It
    is easy to let your guard down when you are tired and crowded. We did report it at the Police Station nearest us, on the slim chance that something was recovered. NEVER use back pockets, though I like the ruse described above.

  42. Carol says:

    Alex, while on holiday in Paris last July, my husband was the subject of an attempted.pick pocket while on the metro, we were also accosted by survey girls and the ringers…..we were aware of possible scammers before leaving our own country, so were prepared – it did not deter us from embracing Paris and France in general. We spent over a month absorbing the gorgeous countryside, people and food….ah, memories!!!

  43. derek roe says:

    There have always been gangs of children at the entrance to the Louvre. They run round you to distract you while one trys to run in and grab whatever they can. I’ve seen this in the Louvre entrance over a period from 1960s till now. The police never seem to be around nor any other ‘protectors’ so I’m in complete sympathy with the staff at the Louvre. As a tourist (most times) I just swing whatever I have handy at these ‘gypsies’ to make them back off, & have my wife keep a hold of her purse till we get inside.

  44. Frances Boudreaux says:

    We were in Paris for several days last fall and were approached by several “ringers” near the Musee d’Orsay. I just said “non ,merci” , turned my head away, and kept walking at a brisk pace more suitable for New York than Paris but it worked for me. The next day, we were taking the Metro to go to Notre Dame Cathedral around 4 PM. I walked onto the train car ahead of my husband. Suddenly, I heard him cursing loudly. As he was stepping onto the car, he felt a hand going for his FRONT pocket, Luckily, he is very strong and has quick reflexes. He grabbed the pickpocket’s wrist and pulled his hand out before the pickpocket could get his wallet. I was bewildered by his out of character, sudden loud swearing and then he told me about the pickpocket attempt. Everyone in the car began to nod sympathetically and murmur about the no good pickpockets. My husband traveled all over the world on business and my work also gave me the opportunity to travel so we are experienced in the art of blending in in the large international capitals. We aim to look polished enough to be welcome in any shop or restaurant – nice pants or dark jeans,a collared shirt or sweater, a navy or black jacket or khaki raincoat, and comfortable dark leather shoes – and not so obviously affluent or touristy that we would attract attention on the street. I leave my good jewelry at home and just bring a few pieces of tailored costume jewelry on the trip. In the cities, I use my smaller camera and carry it in my purse and not out in the open around my neck. I believe the Louvre closed down because the thieves had started stealing from the Louvre employees and were no longer just picking the pockets of tourists. The French employees refused to work under such conditions and the museum had to be shut down for a day.

  45. PatsyE says:

    Very good article, Alex. Reading the comments here is gratifying, as most of them seem to reflect people who realize what is going on and are smart enough to take steps. Those who can’t figure out that looking like a tourist is a good way to get hit by a pick-pocket need to get a clue. I have been to Paris 12 times in addition to living there for the Fall semester at the Sorbonne several years ago. I find the nicest compliment I can receive is approval of my French, or a comment on my looking “European.”

  46. Shar says:

    We have travelled to Paris on 5 occasions now and are going back again this year. Pickpockets have attempted to take our wallets on 2 of these occasions but both attempts were foiled. The first time my husband had his hands full with 2 suitcases boarding the train to the airport at Gare du Nord and he felt the hand going into his pocket he proceed to drop the cases and slam the pickpocket into the carriage, I grabbed the wallet and my husband threw the guy onto the platform. the second time 3 young gypsy girls were working the metro and one of them pushed onto the train between myself and my husband not realizing we were travelling together and I felt her hand digging into my handbag, I jammed her hand against my body so she couldn’t get my money and my husband who saw what was happening grabbed her and pushed her away. We were lucky obviously others haven’t been but this will never stop us travelling to Paris or anywhere else.

  47. Vilma Cabrera says:

    Thanks Alex this is a great article. I live in Perth Australia for the last 27 years and whilst things over here are quite and it is a great place to live, when traveling abroad one needs to be aware of things like this.
    I’m originally from Rio so I’m very aware of pickpocketing problems in big cities. It is important to bend in and not look too much like a tourist with cameras hanging around necks and so on and do be careful with your surroundings.
    But some of the tricks just amazed me and I find so easily to fall for them like signing a petition for example. And the gold ring? Wow!
    Thanks for putting this article up.

    My husband and I will be visiting Paris in July, this is our first trip to my dream city. What us you recommend us about going out at night time? What is the safe option with regards to get around at night?
    We are staying close to the Louvre near Rue Montorgueil.

  48. Bob Alexander says:

    We visited Paris for the first time in September of 2010 (and are returning next year!) We had no issues with either pickpockets or “ringers” maybe because we were very careful not to dress so as to attract attention. We both wore cross-body bags, also. We did encounter an American couple on the train to Versailles that had been pickpocketed in the train station just as they were boarding. Same old story, approached by a ‘family,’ jostled, then relieved of his wallet which contained, unbelievably, several credit cards and $700 and 400 Euros! Both were wearing expensive clothing and jewelry. It was hard to give them a lot of sympathy as they were the ‘poster children’ for thieves.

  49. JulesMac says:

    My pal and I (2×50’s Aussie women) were targeted in Italy by a bunch of gypsies, a ‘mother and kids’, while boarding a train. Fortunately we’d been getting some Italian lessons from her teenage nephew who thought it was tremendously amusing to teach us how to swear. So when Jill felt hands feeling her chest & waist (later when we’d calmed down we worked out they were trying to find a hidden money belt or package) she shrieked out loudly telling them to ‘go forth and multiply’ and slapped them away. They ran off at once. We both speak a little Italian and French, however no way to we look like natives – so much for my husbands’ last advice as we got on the plane – it was “don’t look like tourists” !! however we always are aware of our surroundings, are careful where we go, are sensible about using ATM’s, all the good advice others have given. The same advice you’d follow in Sydney, London, or any other crowded city. It’s sensible to be aware and alert, without getting paranoid!

  50. Carol Clark says:

    I go to Paris April and November every year…have had the ring trick tried twice. Nothing else. I Travel aone–am in my 80’s–wear comfortable BLACK shoes and a French scarf around my neck….walk fast. Love Paris!

  51. Richard Savies says:

    Just to add strength to this message, over the last 20 years I’ve visited Paris 11 times, for visits between 5 days and 3 weeks, each time as a tourist. My first trips I stayed in hostels near the Peripherique but as I’ve grown older and been blessed with increased disposable income I’ve stayed closer to the centre, with the last five stays in 7e.

    Days have always been spent wandering through the streets, in residential and touristic areas, catching the metro back and forth, queuing for the latest show, and jostling with crowds at one of the many must-do attractions.

    So as a fully qualified tourist in Paris, one would expect some visibility of pickpockets.

    But no. I’ve seen the usual ruffians, down-and-outs and others that one should steer clear of, but even the big targets such as Versailles and the RER from Disney and I’ve been spared being picked.

    I have been pick pocketed in Barcelona and in Amsterdam, which hints that I’m not paranoid about these things (I can be as careless as the next). But Paris continues to be my favorite destination (after my home of Sydney of course!).

    Cheers
    Richard
    Sydney Australia

  52. Diana Dennison says:

    Alex, a suggestion for women: carry your handbag ‘en bandouliere’ ie with the strap running diagonally across your body and the bag towards the front. This make it safer in a crowded Metro in seedy stations such as Barbes-Roucheouart. I was robbed there by pickpockets acting as a team who held me back as I tried to enter the carriage while others pushed from behind meanwhile unzipping my bag and removing the wallet. I was aware of it within seconds as the train left and I patted my bag and found the zip undone. The thieves had obviously not entered the carriage at all. This is the exception that proves the rule: Paris is very safe and I never feel threatened. Last year I spent a couple of weeks in Montmartre towards Pigalle, a colourful area but friendly. In winter you can put your coat on over your handbag.

  53. Holly says:

    We just returned from our trip to Paris last week. We had a wonderful time and had no problems at all. We felt very comfortable staying there with our two kids, ages 6 & 8. We also loved our Marais Symphony apartment. It was a perfect trip that I can’t stop thinking about!

  54. Libby says:

    I have visited Paris several times over 30 years. On my last visit I was approached near the Rue de Rivoli by a well dressed man and woman asking directions to the Louvre. There was something about their approach that made me suspicious but standing away from them I gave directions, offered them a map to keep, then walked on and waited to watch what they would do. They walked in the direction I mentioned but after a couple of minutes went back to where they had approached me!
    I think standing back from people who approach you is generally a good idea.
    In any big city there are people who will try and take advantage of you. I love visiting Paris and taking sensible precautions mean you can enjoy your visit and blend in rather than stick out like a sore thumb.
    Paris is a city to delight in.

  55. Cass Sunstein? says:

    Am I the only one who picked up on the Cass Sunstein quote? Complete turn off for me. Of all the people in the world to quote why would you pick Cass Sunstein? Who is your target audience? But back to the pickpocket business. My family and I travel to Paris once or twice every year and rarely take the Metro because of the prevalence of pickpockets. When the Metro is crowded and no seats are available, the only option is to stand. It is close to impossible to steer clear of the pickpockets when they’ve decided to target you. Several will crowd around you pretending to be fellow passengers and constantly bump into you hoping to distract in one direction while those in the other direction try to steal items. Everyone on the Metro is aware of what is happening, but because it isn’t happening to them, look the other way. My husband and I have even exited the train earlier than necessary to get away from the “gang” and wound our way around to a different entrance only to have the same “gang” jump on the train right behind us as soon as we got back on. On this one occasion we were harassed to the point that we gave up on the Metro for the rest of that particular trip. The police are very aware that this is a big problem, but probably like in most big cities, it’s not a high priority issue. We’ve given up on the Metro during the summer months and ride the bus instead. We love Paris, but pickpocketing is a big problem.

    1. Actually, two people have now written regarding Cass Sunstein!

      While researching my article, I stumbled upon the quote from Sunstein in a text about the overemphasis of negative outcomes that are statistically unlikely. I found it well phrased and used it, attributing it to its author.

      The fact is that I don’t know who Cass Sunstein is, never mind holding him in any special regard or subscribing to whatever his views on other unrelated topics might be.

      Not wishing to offend, I have removed his quote from my article.

  56. dkarjalainen says:

    Merci all for your advise and insight( heading to Paris this summer and will keep my eyes and ear open)

  57. Jim Homanich says:

    Alex, I agree with everything your article says. I have been to Paris six times over a period of more than 25 years including my last stay which was for more than two months and I will go again as soon as I can, as often as I can and for as long as I can. There may be some pickpockets and petty theives but Paris is infinitely safer than any large city in the US. I have walked alone at every hour of day in night in many different neighborhoods and never been accosted. I used the metro and buses every day and visited every major monument. I agree with all of your advice. Too many Americans and other foreigners look like easy victims. I would add one other bit of advice. If you are taking the Metro and the train is packed, just wait for the next one. It may be less crowded and the trains are very frequent, especially on the really busy lines like the No. 1. You are a tourist on vacation. You are not going to be late for work. It’s worth waiting another three or four minutes for increased, safety, comfort and peace of mind. If possible avoid rush hours altogether especially in the morning.

  58. Elise says:

    I really have enjoyed the article and all of the comments. I was ringed(and insisted that the ringer keep it, not knowing exactly what was going on, but feeling generous!).I appreciate knowing about the petition scam, which I hadn’t known about.I consider it a victory of blending when people ask ME for directions. Aside from wearing non-touristy clothes, it is good to look like you know where you’re going.”Paris par Arrondissement” is a discreet map book, about 3″ X 4″, which I love to use.

  59. Hi Alex – I would like to describe two experiences. One in Paris and on in Marseille. The first in Paris was the almost loss of my phone. I was sitting at a table in a cafe in the covered outside section with my phone on the table using it for addresses to write postcards. I had been warned about leaving phones on cafe tables – but didnt feel vulnerable in this spot. I was approached by a ‘petition/apparently deaf (because we are all well aware they are not) gypsy to sign. She put the petition on the table – I got cross and picked it up and flung it away – only to see her hand under it going for my phone she had covered. Fortunately I saw her soon enough and smacked her hand away and shouted at her and she ran off with her cronies. Its the one only only experience so far in Paris that made me be very wary. The phone has got a lot of info in it! The other experience in Marseille was sitting in the car trying to find our way with a map. A man in helmet opened the door – to assist with directions we thought – reached across and took my bag. A loss of $8000 hearing aids (not much use to them) and my camera – with 6 weeks photos :-(. fortunately not the passports and not my wallet – which I had taken out of it to pay a road toll! But the loss of the camera hurt the most (Oh and the hearing aids because our insurance wouldnt cover them……

    But I agree – if you are careful and wary – especially of the gypsies – you will be OK. I never carry my passport unless I must.

    Cheers Penny

  60. Kelley says:

    I visited Paris last summer and had a wonderful time. We traveled on the Metro many times but were wary and careful. I wear my cross-body messenger bag (with one credit card and a few Euros) under a lightweight coat no matter the weather. I am also very alert to the people around me. As I ignore petition peddlers in the U.S. so I ignored those in Paris. What I do want to warn people about are the rip-off artists at the taxi stands outside the North train station. The taxi line was long, we were exhausted and so we approached a limo driver to ask how much for a trip to the Rue de Vaugirard. He quoted us something like 100 Euros which we quickly realized was insane. We got back in line, got a fabulous taxi driver and our trip came to 8 Euros. Watch out for transportation con artists as much as pickpockets!!!

  61. Trisha Matthes says:

    Last year spent 6 weeks in travelling in France, Italy, Spain. Visited all the high risk cities mentioned, Paris, Rome, Barcelona. I never had any problems, spent alot of time walking in the high tourist areas and used trains in Paris and Barcelona. I loved every minute of the trip, although Paris is my fav, am waiting to win tattslotto so I can live in Paris. I’m positive I was Parisian in another life.
    Cheers Trisha

  62. Anonymous says:

    John Lumb Toronto Canada

    Thank you Alex for your sensible comments re pickpockets in Paris. Over the years, after travelling to many major cities around the world, including Paris, for both business and pleasure, I don’t believe Paris to be any different than any other major metropolis in regard to “minor” crime. Similar to most things, a little common sense goes a long way – although I must admit that common sense seems to be sadly lacking in many aspects of life these days. Keep up the good work!

  63. miguel says:

    Was not pickpocketed, but approached 3 times regarding a ring supposedly found in the floor. You should give some advice to your renters regarding this common tactic

  64. Barbara Beach says:

    Barbara Beach,
    We go to Paris at least once or twice a year. We’ve never had a problem of any kind. The people are wonderful and friendly. When we’re not in Paris we wish we were. We think we might try someplace else, but, we never do. Barbara

  65. barry says:

    I have been to france and paris over 60 times in the past 25 years on holiday. I have been pickpocketed once, in Cannes, (being young many years ago I accosted the criminal and guess what my eyeglass case [!] suddenly appeared on the table in front of me at a flea market) the only other time was when three youths tried to box me in on the subway at CHATELET on one line 1, let me tell you, i bounced one off the subway doors and the others almost fell down from the push (once more many years ago when I was younger and stupid–do not do this it was a mistake.)
    So what does that all mean, don’t be a fool like me, don’t confront anyone, just do as Alex said, keep your stuff safe back in the hotel or the apartment and carry everything very deep in your pockets, be careful in crowded places like the metro, or shopping streets or street markets, and most of all. if you have pants on , put a package of travel kleenex on top of what you have in your pocket. it is a great barrier to possible trouble. Also, don’t give to beggers on the street, the French social system is designed to help everyone. don’t make yourself a target.

    barry

  66. Spice2 says:

    “Husband for Rent”.
    ‘Sounds like the Parisian police may need his help. He is lke the detective in the Pink Panther – everything happens to him – but nothing really bad. They could put him in Paris and follow him around and catch every scam!. We were in Paris about two years ago and he was targetted again and again. Thankfully, no pick pocketting – but he would not carry valuables. Definatley not a passport – who would and why? We also walked or took taxis, so perhaps less vulerable.
    ‘Love all the comments – “don’t dress like a tourist” – but I would add – “dress like you do at home”. Maybe we are odd, but we do not go to work or to do shopping in shorts, tennis shoes or with a backpack. What is the backpack for? Paris is A CITY. Water is for sale and there is not much chance that you will sleep on the street or go hungry!.
    Unfortunately (or maybe fortunatelty), my well dressed husband (and architect) can still “scream” tourist. He stops and looks at every building, talks to anyone and takes pictures of everything.
    Our teenage son and I rescued him from many scams – but, we had fun. The ring thing was so obvious – we laughed.and played along. I said, are you serious? “You have lost your wedding ring again? Are you having an affair in Paris?”.
    At the Eiffel Tower and elsewhere, there were many petitions to sign. They ask for your address and phone number. That is when i put the “stops” to that, I advised my husband to put fake information – would it be a scam to contact people in one’s country to know that you were not home? ‘Set up a robbery? That seems far fetched, but I did not know.
    We did give money to a few. There was a young man at the Tower that put a Friendship Bracelot on our son in a few minutes. He was so fast. The bracelot was beautiful. Our son did not take it off for months after getting home. We spoke with him and asked questions about his life. He did not ask for more. We were educated by this exchange,
    There was also a well dressed woman that was sitting on a brand name suitcase outside of a Cafe. She said that she was kicked out of her home and her husband would not give her anything.
    How does one know? As well, who are we to judge?
    We may have made mistakes. But, we believe that in travelling, why would anyone want to not get to know people, ask questions and help, if possible.
    Why travell?

    Barb

    1. You seem to have an excellent balance of commonsense and open-mindedness.

  67. Anonymous says:

    when is the best time for an australian couple to visit Paris we live on the sunny gold coast Queensland

    1. Why would the best time for an Australian couple differ from the best time for any other person?
      The answer is not straightfoward: the best weather is high season (spring, early summer, early fall) but then again Paris in winter is amazing and many clients deliberately seek out the low seasons (February, November) because the big attractions are crowd-free and there is no waiting in line, which is VERY nice indeed.

      1. RichardU says:

        People in the southern hemisphere contemplating a northern holiday have to consider whether three winters in a row is a good idea.

        Having said that, those in the Sunshine Coast only pretend to have winter; they have so much sunshine they don’t see the need to save it despite the confusion it causes at the border.

      2. Ah, ok fair enough.

      3. Anonymous says:

        I was there in October last year (autumn – you will need warm clothes – the weather is just like our winter) and enjoyed it immensely (I live in Brisbane). This year I am doing Christmas and New Year in Paris (simply can’t wait) when hopefully we may have a little snow. (very warm clothes required).
        .

      4. Anonymous says:

        I live in Brisbane (Queensland) and any time is a good time to visit Paris. I did Paris in autumn last year and it was very pleasant (just like our Queensland winter). This year I am doing Paris in winter – Christmas and New year (can’t wait). But then I just love Paris at any time of the year. It’s an individual thing and if you don’t like cold weather go in the summer. If the weather is of no consequence just go.

    2. Fred says:

      I live in Sydney and spent a week in Paris in late September 2012. The temperatures were cool. 11-18 typically. More like Sydney in mid winter. A jacket/coat was definitely required for the evenings. A couple of rainy half days but mostly nice and sunny which was very pleasant. I loved it.
      I tried to time my visit to avoid the heat and crowds of summer and also the very short days (and very cold temperatures) of winter at the northern latitudes. I guess that what ever time you chose to go you would just dress appropriately for the season and the expected temperatures.

  68. Laura w. says:

    Paris is an absolutely unbelivable city, do not let the bad press deter you from visiting this city, but be smart, do your research and LISTÈN to the advice given to you! I recently spent 2 weeks in Paris and had an absoluty flawless 2 weeks. Sure I was approached at least 20 times about signing a petition or loosing my gold ring, but any time someone approaches you look at them and tell them to “get away from me” as I did and they will leave you alone, common courtesy do not apply to someone that you know wants to steal from you!!! Get it! We rented an apartment in the 1st district which was great as there is only a guardian so I felt comfortable about leaving my passport and money in the room. This is they way I will travel in the future. Renting an apartment gives you a great location at a great price, you know what they say about location, location, location. It’s true! We were across the street from the louvre, only had to take the metro twice.
    Taxi’s aren’t that expensive so don’t be afraid to use the taxi service. Remember this is your trip of a lifetime. Do your research buy a museum pass actually read what the museum pass says!
    I never spent 2 minutes in a line at the louvre or the d’orsay because I bought the pass. I found the French to be very kind and accomidating, your attitude determines how you will be treated! I was very sick the last week I was there but the pharmacist were very helpfully and willing to help me. Remember to do your research have smile on your face to those who deserve a smile be stern with those who deserve it. Engage with other people from other countries that is the fun about traveling no it won’t be like home but embrace the people . Take a wrong turn and don’t stress about it you never know in Paris what amazing thing is around the corner. I had a fabulous time, no I do not speak French, Learn 2 words Bonjour , merci. You’ll be alright and remember to smile,you get back in life what you give out. Even at the flea market I had a snap on my purse that had broke and several vendors pointed this out to me as they were concerned and taking care of me. Remember that 90% of the people in this world are great people and would help you as long as you’re attitude is in the right place It ‘s very sad that we only hear about the shitty 10%.
    The best book I read before my trip was the Rick Steve’s Paris this is a must read and everything will work out great! Enjoy the most fabulous city in the world! I am going back next year, now I feel at home there.
    Laura

  69. Anonymous says:

    Great article and comments. Thanks Alex.
    I’ve travelled extensively (Mostly for work) for over 20 years. There have been multiple visits to Paris and I’ve also spent several holidays with my wife in Paris (in Alex’s apartments!). I’ve never been successfully pick-pocketed but have seen the petitions and gold rings on a number of occasions. I simply ignore them (including no eye contact) and keep walking. I think Alex’s advice is very appropriate.
    However the purpose of this note is to tell you about a pick pocket MO that I saw in Barcelona a couple of years ago. It was 11PM and a group of middle aged men were walking past a bar/nightclub in front of me. They looked like a typical “conference group” who had just enjoyed dinner. 3 young women standing and talking and laughing outside the bar suddenly stepped over to the men, laughed and hugged them. The guys look shocked but didn’t fight them off! It was all over in 20 seconds and the “girls” ran off laughing.
    Almost immediately one of the men started shouting that his wallet was gone and a few seconds later a second one discovered the same thing. I suspect it was a very expensive hug.
    PS For the person who asked re the apartments – They are great!

  70. Mary Fitzpatrick says:

    To the participant who recommended going to the sun coast Australians to consider going to Paris off season…Nov-March, I concur it is a quiet time to be there. Take layers of clothing. I have been there in Feb when I needed a high standing mink collar all the way to my toes and I have been there in Feb when I just needed a light boiled wool jacket and in the afternoons that was a bit much! Off season the shop proprientors and the restaurants are very glad for your business. I find that off season (air fares are also usually less $$$) we end with complimentary glasses of
    wine, or coffees, or even entrees because we tend to over tip for France (being Americans we tip
    like we tip at home where wait staff only makes $2.50 an hour, whereas in France, they are salaried and make much more)…but we don’t care that we are doing what is not required…we would be spending the same at home, so why not reward a Parisien as well !

  71. Nimsay says:

    A woman used the ring trick on me in September 2012 on a side street near the Galleries Lafayette. I didn’t even clue in at first. She walked up to me and handed me a man’s 18K gold wedding band that she said she found and that I was “so beautiful, she wanted me to have it”. I was shocked and tried to give it back to her but she insisted that I keep it. I didn’t want it – what would I do with the wedding band of an unknown man? She was insistent that I keep it and I didn’t want to be rude so I thanked her and started to walk away. After I took a couple of steps she hit me up for cash. That’s when I realized that I was about to be scammed. I pressed the ring back into her hands, gave her a really big smile and said “thank you so much, but I think you deserve the ring much more than I do and I really want you to keep it!” She protestested but I wouldn’t take no for an answer. She kept the ring and I kept my cash. I laughed to myself as I walked away: I live in downtown in a big city so I’m suspicious most of the time when strangers approach me – usually, I don’t even give them a chance to ask me anything – I’ll just say sorry, I don’t have anything and keep moving. Even so, I almost got fished in! I guess I let my guard down because I was away from home. It also taught me that I really wasn’t as street savvy as I thought! Anyway, I loved Paris and am looking forward to returning.

  72. Sue says:

    Thanks Alex, I love your posts. My husband and I and our two children are travelling to Paris for the first time in September. I’m very nervous about it. I travelled the world alone in my 20’s but with so much confidence, but now feel so anxious with my children with me. I KNOW we will stand out like sore thumbs and I’m completely hopeless at being rude to people. But I know I’m going to have to be strong on holiday. I CAN’T WAIT to show my children the world and especially Paris! Sue

  73. RichardU says:

    Alex,

    Where there is smoke, there is fire. I have lived in Sydney most of my nearly 7 decades. I have also lived in London and travelled in Europe. In 2011 I was in Paris, Munich and Berlin. I have NEVER experienced pickpockets. EXCEPT in Paris AND at the Louvre for good measure. It only took a seven day exposure. Perhaps your staff are hyper-vigilant, being more aware of the prevalence of the problem. Glossing over the problem does your potential customers no service.

    Paris seems to be complacent about being a major tourist destination but it is way down the list on things tourists DON’T like. Such as pickpockets, scamming gypsies and beggars in the Metro exploiting their children. While at the end of the earth, Sydney is also a popular tourist destination but, in large measure, we are spared these curses and it rarely, if ever, comes up in conversation. I am sure the authorities here would act swiftly when it came to exploitation of children and teaching them how to beg if there was the slightest sign it was happening here.

    1. Mary Fitzpatrick says:

      RichardU..Paris is also way up on the list of things tourists DO like…architecture, art, the friendliest of shop vendors, a foodie destination/journey, visual history. Having said that, I have always thought it to be an “adult” venue, not necessarily a place for children to appreciate Before renting an apartment in Paris, methinks one needs to be well read historically and have been at least exposed to a few art and history of art classes and classes in architecture. Few children are seasoned enough for that type of preparation. Hard for them to enjoy sitting leisurely on the street at a cafe or bistro watching the world go by. Seeing two huge Degas murals in a landmark church may not flip their triggers. Languishing over a two hour breakfast and a bottle of wine, while looking out of their apartment windows on a five story walk up, feasting their eyes on St. Severin, Notre Dame, Sacre Couer is probably not a child’s preferred action mode. I have been to Paris 5 times and NEVER had ANY of the experiences I have been reading about…I am blond haired, blue eyed and travel by myself. Don’t think Alex’s article glosses over anything; The UK and Europe have a long and “rich” history of violence! Having said that, I live in Dallas, Texas in the USA and the gun violence in this country is embarrassing. If it is safety you want for your children take them to the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, Bequia, Barbados, Vieques, Martinique, St. Croix!

      1. RichardU says:

        I wasn’t talking about children as tourists but children as residents of Paris being exploited by their parents during their begging activities in the Metro.

        As to guns in America, don’t get me started. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pOiOhxujsE

    2. Anonymous says:

      RichardU

      Like you I have travelled around Europe and the UK – so far I have been lucky regarding beggars, pick pockets and the like. I am from Sydney now residing in Queensland – and no we don’t have a pick pocket problem here in Australia, We do have street beggars and supermarket purse stealers. We also have a lot of street bashings and robberies – far more serious than pick pockets.

      1. RichardU says:

        Anonymous,

        But at least the “street bashings and robberies” get reported on the evening news, a measure of how rare they are. The apparently doped children being exploited in the metro passageways are hard to miss.

  74. Don says:

    I had my wallet taken a few weeks ago, on the Metro. I had used it to pay for tickets and probably had it lifted getting on the crowded car. And I was with someone who felt badly that she had not observed and intervened.

  75. Ellen says:

    Paris is generally a very safe city, unless you are unlucky enough to run into that smug blue-eyed, blonde haired woman who posts a dozen times a day to tell you that she has blue eyes and blond hair, or if you have that insufferable sister-in-law who wants you to pretend she is actually French when you are in Paris, and superior to you too. Nothing the French police can do to protect you from that lot.

  76. Ellen says:

    And by the way, if “children” don’t “flip their triggers” over those “huge Degas murals” in the “landmark church” (where exactly, you don’t seem to recall), it may have been because they were Delacroix, not Degas.
    There are so many wonders of Paris to be seen, and many that can only be best appreciated by children. Let’s share them with each other, as Alex shares generously with us. No need to be snobby, ok?

  77. Anonymous says:

    When with my 2 adult daughters we made a stupid mistake after looking at the artists at Montmartre we sat and had a a beer and my daughter was talked into a man doing a portrait.
    She paid for it but it was so bad she dropped it in the bin on our way out. We noticed he went straight to another bar and bought cigarettes/beer. So cheap is not good! Lesson learned.
    Marion

  78. Trina Lazalde says:

    Alex I traveled solo to Paris this past December. I read your articles about blending in and followed all your suggestions.
    Needless to say I encountered no problems and I believe I blended in so well, I was asked for directions!
    I did much walking and I was comfortable using the bus system.

    Thank you for your articles.

    Trina

  79. Christine Laforestrie says:

    My husband and I just got back from Paris and remember hearing announcements while in the Lourve about being aware of pick pockets. My husband kept reminding me to keep my handbag zipped closed and under my shoulder which I did. We were also approached to sign a petititon which I declined. Otherwise the trip was great except for the lousy weather. Since we have relatives in Paris, we enjoy not only visiting the sites but also with loved ones.

  80. Shirley Withheld says:

    Excellent article! Hope it gets much attention. I’ve not been to Paris in several decades, but it is no different than any other large city that attracts tourisRd.

    Blend in and let common sense prevail.

    Hope to return to Paris in the near future.

  81. Shirley Withheld says:

    Again, excellent article. And, the metro, if I remember correctly, is the fastest way to get around Paris.

  82. Terry Australia says:

    It is remarkable that many people accept that we must simply live with the threat of pickpockets, scammers etc.in one of the biggest tourist destinations in the world. Am I the only one to see this as unacceptable in a country that relies so heavily on the tourist dollar? New York cleaned up its act and it is time Paris did the same………it is a matter of getting the authorities to accept that it is a problem and acting.

    And for those who believe that the issue has been exaggerated……..

    – the Louvre closed because of the numbers of pickpockets
    – the workers on the new lift at the Eiffel Tower are being targeted by pickpockets
    – there are public announcements in The Musee D’Orsay at least twice daily warning patrons to be wary.

    I am sure there are many other examples of the evidence that Paris has a major problem. Paris is a great destination …..but I will consider going elsewhere in future if I need to use up so much of my time defending my property every time I move around the city.

  83. David A. Reedy says:

    I’ve been visiting Paris for more than 60 years, for a month each of the past 18 years. I’ve gotten to know some of the “ringers” but never been pick-pocketed. Of course, my wallet is NEVER exposed. It’s always in a zippered pocket and my wife never carries a purse. She does carry ID and money around her neck and tucked inside. Only one person was ever rude to us and she was rude to everyone. N.B. I do not speak more than the absolute minimum French. i.e. bonjour Madam, Merci, etc. The best Metro in the world and a wonderful bus system. WE LOVE PARIS!!! We don’t visit Paris, we reside there. The markets are marvelous.

  84. Anonymous says:

    I spend 4 weeks in Paris last summer. In that time, we saw two very young pickpockets being grilled by the police, and my wife drove off a gang of teenage female pickpockets on the Metro. Paris IS the exception. There are pickpockets in every major city — but in Paris, it’s much, much worse than in other cities.

    1. On what basis do you think pickpocketing is worse than in other cities? Personal experience?
      Because that’s not what studies on the subject say…

      1. Mary Fitzpatrick says:

        Alex, your original article certainly has stirred up a flurry. Keep the information coming anyway. I am a bit stunned by so many Paris-negative reply stories. I am an American woman who knows to leave my bling bling, my flashy clothing, my boisterous nature at home, to blend in places I visit. Have NEVER ever had a problem with pickpockets, scams, or theft in Paris.

  85. Hemmig says:

    Alex, I love your newsletters! I hate to admit that in the past 5 years, we or guests of ours have had 6 successful encounters with pickpockets. Each time, we learn a new lesson! My favorite ring story: I was walking alone along the shops across from the Louvre when a man approached me and asked if I had dropped a ring. I was familiar with the scam and took the ring, told him yes, it was mine, and walked away. He followed me for a block insisting it was not mine and I kept insisting it was. Finally, he pulled out a pouch that held at least 20 rings! I acted surprised and loudly started looking for a gendarme! He backed off, but continued to follow me for a few minutes. Probably not the smartest thing I have done, but what a rush!!
    The “gold” ring is in my jewelry box, but unfortunately, it is now a very ugly brownish green!

  86. Andrew says:

    Dead argument from the beginning. As a tourist, yes, sometimes you do want to look like a tourist as in be able to carry around a nice DSLR camera to snap great pictures of you with great landmarks in the background. You can do this in Tokyo, NY, LA, Sydney and in London and you can put it down to your bad luck if somebody every pickpocketed you. But you can’t do it in Paris, Rome or Barcelona. If you carry a nice camera or have you wallet in your backpocket and eventually find it stolen, then you put it down to you are forced to put it down to your own stupidity.

    That’s the difference and that’s why this is a problem that need to be sorted. In Paris if every tourist blended in, the pickpoketers don’t suddenly disappear into thin air. You just become less of a target whilst the thieves find new ways. In Sydney or LA or Tokyo, whether a tourist blends in or doesn’t, nobody gives a tosh, they can still have an awesome time and snap great memories with your DSLR.

    It seems to me that people are saying here, accept the fact that

    1. Andrew says:

      …there is a culture of pickpocketing.

      1. Hugues Flins says:

        Hi Andrew, I’m french, I live in Paris suburbs and I must say two things :
        1/ Yes, it’s true, pickpocketing in Paris is much, much worse than in any big town like New York, London or Berlin. But, it is a quite new phenomenon (since five or six years).
        2/ 99% of the pickpockets in Paris are not french. There are coming from Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia, and they are Roms (dark hair, quite small, tanned skin, sorry to describe them, but I have to…). They are very young (from 12 to 16, mostly), and they are coming to France because there are no laws to condemn them : they are too young to go to jail, and they don’t have identity cards. So, the police arrest them when they commit a robery, then release them two hours later, and they can steal again and again. And our government doesn’t really do anyting
        Yesterday, two Roms (two men, maybe 18 years old) tried to steal my credit card when I was buying tickets for the metro in the Paris station of Gare du Nord. I was coming back from Copenhagen with a lot of bags, and I was alone. Two weeks earlier, I saw, in the suburbs near the Trocadero station, a “team” of eigth young girls (12 to 15) trying to steal tourists : they come in the wagon when it’s crowded, some are pushing you when the others are trying to steal you.
        So, if you’re coming in Paris, don’t put your wallet in a bagpack, or if you do, put it in front of you ; be very careful in the metro, especially in the wagon when you’re standing close to the doors ; don’t sign any petition ; in the cafes, don’t put your iPhone or your wallet on the table, even if you’re inside the cafe. If you’re buying tickets in a machine for the metro, don’t do it alone : while you’re doing it, ask a friend, your wife or your husband to watch around in your back, and if someone is trying to speak to you, don’t answer and keep your hand on your credit card. Do the same with the cash machine. The best is to go inside the bank, when there are cash machines too, to prevent robery.
        And most of all, again, be careful of those groups of young eastern european people.

  87. Arctic says:

    I am wondering why quite a few comments imply being pickpocketed in Paris and other European cities is victim’s own fault/problem/or stupidity(of not taking good care of their wallet).

    people go there for vacation because they thought they are good places to spend time and money on, no one wants to be the victim of pickpocketing, The big problem is why the government / local authority don’t do their due diligence to stop such bold crime especially targeting the vulnerable tourists, it makes one think it might be the government conspiracy to let them steal foreigners so that it doesn’t have to pay much welfare to those thieves(sorry for my extreme word). Those whose identity document such as passport or green card got stolen suffer the most as they have to spend a significant time/effort/money to deal with Embassy/visa center for the temp document in order to be able to return home.

    I have been looking like a tourist whenever I visit Asia and north America and taking numerous pictures for other tourists either upon request or voluntarily and encountered no issue at all, but got my wallet stolen in 30 minutes after I entered the Palace of Versailles and 30 hours of arriving Paris, likely by a group of young women(4 of them) who asked me to take photo for them. I would never imagine they were the ones who pickpocketed my wallet until the security and police told me they were most likely. It almost ruined our 2-week vacation completely but luckily we enjoyed the rest days outside Paris in Tours and Normandy area.

    not sure how long it will take for the world to name Paris the “city of pickpocketing” if no serious and effective measures are taken to deal with that crime.

    1. raclis says:

      We are returning to Paris for a week this fall. In 2011 we were nearly victims on the Metro, but undercover police saved our belongings and we went to a station to press charges The police at the station recognized the 3 they brought in. There were 7 to begin with. We were told these people (from Bosnia) have no papers. There is no where to deport them to. They were out again on the street within 24 hours and we saw them again a couple of days later and they saw us. They looked like gypsies.

      From then on we never had anything with us that they could get to. A small amount of euros and a credit card in side my jacket and in a small flat purse around my neck was the way I went from then on and will do so again. It is important to not be a target.

      1. Anonymous says:

        the problem is someone will be their target if not you or me(unfortunately it’s me this time). why not to get rid of them so no one will be targeted?

    2. Richard Ure says:

      Spot on, Arctic. These people seem to operate in full view, yet no steps are taken to make it hard for them. Paris might have great attractions but one does not want to have to enjoy them with such a defensive attitude. As you say, there are plenty of other places where this isn’t necessary. The complacency if disappointing.

  88. Mary Fitzpatrick says:

    To Hughs Flinn: I am sure Alex appreciates the content of your comment. Good information. Sensible. Grounded. Informative. Good reflection of how the economic situations in some of the former Soviet block countries is bleeding out to other parts of Europe. Not negative or “hysterical” like so many of the responders to Alex’s well-intended article. As they say in the UK, Hughs, “good on you”. I have never had a problem when in Paris, but then I am alert. I either travel alone or with a pal and always rent an apartment, in a different arrondisement every time. And I stay away from the Metro; the buses are so clean and are great for sight seeing on the way to and from a destination…plus it is much harder to become a target when the targeters cannot easily hit and run (like on the confine of a bus!). People, give it up. Paris is a delight. Go. Enjoy. Just be “smart” about it.

  89. Ellen says:

    Ok, time to retire this thread. Even Ms. Fitzpatrick is making sense!

  90. Cristina Ross says:

    A useful report thank you. We have been coming to Paris every September for 6 years, 5 of these with a la carte. Up til now we have not suffered pickpocketing, but this year, just yesterday, there was an ATTEMPT. Thought it would be useful for clients, seasoned or not, to hear the details. It was at a quiet metro station. We were walking down the stairs to the platform. My husband was holding the rail and we realised in retrospect that his trouser pocket was gaping open showing the wallet. Generally he keeps his hand in his pocket most of the time. An Eastern European man was following him closely down the stairs. My husband felt how close this person was getting, so turned round and shouted Hey what are you doing? The man and the girl with him ran away down the platform and thru a passageway. Thankfully without our wallet. So beware.
    Have experienced the ring thing in Paris and in Nice.
    Still love Paris.

    1. Ellen says:

      Exactly! STILL LOVE PARIS! Be careful, but don’t let anxiety ruin your trip.
      The ring scam is so pathetic, it’s funny. I was approached with this nonsense on the pedestrian bridge from the Tuileries to the Left Bank. I just said, “S’il vous plait Monsieur, je suis touriste, mais je ne suis pas bête.”
      BTW Christina, which of the A La Carte apartments did you most enjoy?

  91. portdouglasyoga says:

    Paris is a non violent, beautiful and safe city however many local Parisiens told me how much it has changed particularly in the last 5 years. I just returned from Arc de Triomphe having witnessed a robbery! Line 1 on the metro is a smorgasbord of travellers fresh from the airport. This particular man had his wallet in his back pocket which the 2 girls reached with every step up the stairs so he wouldn’t notice. I ran up and told him just in time. Swore at the girls who denied all responsibility and were both back in the metro not five minutes later waiting for their next victim! I always kept a money belt so never worried about my own safety. Its not different in any big city and police are everywhere but they are just so blatant its incredible. If your cautious they wont bother you. Pickpockets are looking for easy targets so don’t be one! Also lookout for clipboards scams, people crying claiming to have been robbed when they will actually rob you. I saw all this around the Arc de Triomphe all within 30 minutes….seriously!

  92. portdouglasyoga says:

    If your 6’5″ blonde, blue eyed like me or Asian then trying to not look like a tourist is pointless!
    Rule 1 is to keep things tight to the body with a money belt or sling. I had both and could therefore enjoy Paris without concern. Its pretty fab!

    1. Paris is in fact quite cosmopolitan and people of all sorts of origin live in Paris. That does not make them look like tourists…

  93. portdouglasyoga says:

    Just returned from Arc de Triomphe having witnessed a robbery! Line 1 on the metro is a smorgasbord of travellers fresh from the airport. This particular man had his wallet in his back pocket which the 2 girls reached with every step up the stairs so he wouldn’t notice. I ran up and told him just in time. Swore at the girls who denied all responsibility and were both back in the metro not five minutes later waiting for their next victim! I always kept a money belt so never worried about my own safety. Its not different in any big city and police are everywhere but they are just so blatant its incredible. If your cautious they wont bother you. Pickpockets are looking for easy targets so don’t be one! Also lookout for clipboards scams, people crying claiming to have been robbed when they will actually rob you. I saw all this around the Arc de Triomphe all within 30 minutes….seriously!

    1. Richard Ure says:

      The activities of these pickpockets and scammers is hardly a secret as they practice their trade in full sight of those who know what to look for. Meanwhile law officers of the city or the state are often to be found patrolling with their machine guns and making not the slightest effort to persuade these lowlifes to move on even if it is suggested they do so. To me this is a display of studied contempt for visitors to their city; guests in their country. The classic Gallic shrug.

  94. Just returned from a wonderful weekend in Paris. However I was pickpocketed near the Arc de Triomphe yesterday – lost over 200 euros, my metro card, my debit card which were in my wallet, my wallet being the last gift my deceased mum ever gave me. It rattled me a lot. I’ve not been put off Paris. One horrible person is not going to spoil the city for me. I’ll just be a lot more careful the next time I go anywhere as a tourist.

  95. Cynthia says:

    We read all the articles before we came to Paris. I don’t carry a purse. My husband doesn’t carry a wallet, dresses in long (European dark) jeans to blend in and carries his cash and ID in his front pocket. We’ve both traveled extensively and pooh-poohed all the warnings about Paris pickpockets. Well, the very first day on the metro (today), when we changed stations at Montparnasse, a group of two or three kids accompanied us on the train (along with about ten other people through the same door). The 11 year old girl and what looked like her ten year old brother got between my husband and me blocking the door looking confused as the door closed, effectively boxing my husband in a corner. He felt a bump, but was concerned about the children. He felt a second bump after the doors closed and the boy stumbled. My husband being an experienced traveler did not help him up, but sat down next to me (away from the door) and realized his cash was gone just as the door was opening at the next stop. The accomplice girl immediately exited (probably because the boy had already passed the money to her), but the boy hung around, looking confused – both at us and up at the sign and out the door (presumably to see if his accomplice got away). We knew at this point that he had our cash. We are well aware of the stories about the virtual slavery these kids live in and so let them go. Moral of the story: People who are pickpocketed are not all unaware rubes. (In fact, I caught an adult pick pocket in the act in Barcelona in 2002 – I did NOT let him go!) Moral no. 2: Do not ignore the stories about Paris like I did. Having seen these children in action, I believe they are part of a gang. My husband’s money was at the bottom of very deep front pockets and he was convinced he would feel it if anyone got in there, but this kid had very light fingers – he made his quota for the day off of us. We love Paris and are here for the remainder of the month, but at this point, we don’t think the time worn advice about “being aware” and “front pockets” is sufficient. There is organized crime on the Metro. These children may be victims as much as we are, but we are riding Velibs from here on out!.

  96. Ken says:

    I keep reading people saying to blend in, and to dress like a local. But none of them explained what that means. I understand wearing regular casual shoes instead of white sneakers and avoiding khaki cargo shorts is good, but what about shirt and pants? Is a non-logo polo shirt Ok or should I look for a button down long sleeve shirt? If you’re wearing slacks or Chinos it’s very easy to steal a wallet out of a front pocket, and probably just as easy for the back pocket. We’ll be visiting Paris this July so I don’t know how hot it will be. In the US I wear shorts spring and fall, so I don’t know if I’ll be hot in pants during the summer in Paris.

  97. RichardU says:

    Did closing the Louvre for a day make any impact on the problem? It would at least make the paying customers, the tourists, a bit happier if there were more proactive, legally enforceable ”warning off” activities especially around the more popular tourist honey pots already patrolled by bored, machine gun toting guards.

    While it is mainly the tourists who get hit, we are led to believe the canny locals survive comparatively unscathed. Perhaps if it affected them more, more effort might be put in to dealing with the problem for the benefit of everyone.

    1. fitzmary says:

      Richard U…”I applaud your logic.”~Oscar Wilde. Let’s apply that logic to gun violence and mass shootings that affect alot of citizens here in the good ole USA.There has been no legislation (or otherwise) to deal with the problem for the benefit of “locals”. Just saying. In Dallas, TX one is more likely to be shot than scammed or pick pocketed! For the rest of you, get over your anxiety and criticisms of Paris. Go. Enjoy the ride.

  98. John says:

    In two weeks in Paris, I dressed dressing conservatively, minimised camera and map use etc, and several times, people stopped me to ask directions, so I was pleased, at first, at my seeming ability to fit in. However, despite these precautions, I was targeted by a scammer with a gold ring, several groups of petition bearing girls and, late at night on the Metro, was followed off the train by a fellow who managed to get my smartphone out of my pocket while we were both climbing the stairs. Luckily, I managed to grab it back. Foolishly, I had consulted my phone on the train and absentmindedly, popped it back in to my outside coat pocket, when the pickpocket clearly spotted me. It was creepy, but also, a valuable lesson.

    The ring scammer and the petition girls were rather persistent until I raised my voice and loudly said “J’ai dit non!” They scampered off quickly after that.

    Despite these incidents, Paris is a magical place and I’m looking forward to going back later this year. Scammers are just part of life in any big city nowadays and, I was told by a local person, they are now turning their attention to Parisians as well as tourists.

  99. fitzmary says:

    Seriously Anonymous? Still beating the scam/pickpocket/beggar Paris drum? Come to Dallas, TX; we have plenty AND we have guns…in plain sight. I invite you to the USA where the odds are very good that you can be involved in a gunfight at the OK corral…on steroids. Start in Texas, then Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado…hop up to Detroit or Chicago or east to Sandy Hook and then down to New Jersey, South Carolina, and Florida. In Paris, you may get material things stolen, but they don’t steal your life. I think Ernest Hemingway said it best….”Paris is the best perspective distraction I have ever had the good fortune to experience.”

    1. Ken says:

      And you’re still beating the gun violence drum. Let’s try to stay on topic here.

  100. Nancy Hemmig says:

    I am a seasoned visitor to Paris and was aware of the ring thing. When the guy picked up the ring and asked if it were mine, I grabbed it and thanked him profusely for finding it. I then proceeded to walk on. He followed me and was eventually insistent that it wasn’t my ring. He opened up a small pouch and showed me about 20 rings! It was quite fun, although a little tense. I finally lost him around the Pompidou Center and still have the ring in my jewelry box! It has turned a very ugly shade of green/black!

  101. Bing.Com says:

    Truly when someone doesn’t be aware of then its
    up to other visitors that they will help, so here it occurs.

  102. At last! Some sense about pickpocketing. I have just returned from my fourth trip to Paris and have never been pickpocketed. But then, I don’t wear socks and joggers or sandals, a terry toweling hat and a backpack with my wallet and passport in a back pocket. I dress like a Parisian and swipe my Navigo pass inside my cross-body purse. I plan where I’m going beforehand so that I don’t have to stand on a street corner examining a map. In other words, I avoid looking like a tourist wearing a neon sign saying, “Pickpocket me”. I have been approached with the ring scam and replied with a defiant “Non!”. I’ve also been approached with the petition scam at l’Arc de Triomphe and retorted similarly. Only once, did I think my thigh was brushed on a crowded train, but that might have just been a perve. Of course, the more hysteria that is whipped up about pickpocketing the more careful people will be (or perhaps not) and the incidence might decrease. It’s called the moral panic phenomenon. Thanks Alex!

  103. Anonymous says:

    大家好我来自中国

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