Smooth Talking in Paris


It’s a sunny summer day and you decide to spend your day in one Paris’s parks. If you spend anytime in a Paris park, or around the fountains at Trocadero, for example, you might have some interesting conversations – and then again – you might end up getting ripped off. Don’t feel like you’ve been singled out – even Parisians get ripped off by smooth talkers. They are out on sunny days.

In my case, the smooth talker that I chatted with, amazingly knew the same person I’d met in Normandy while on vacation – “yeah, yeah, I know that bartender, Didier. We used to work together – he’s in Paris now. I’ll take you to the cafe where he works.” So, we went to find Didier at the cafe – but Didier wasn’t there. So, instead we sat down and had an expresso and the smooth talker talked quickly in a very soft voice, so softly of course that I had to lean very close over the table to hear every word. Meanwhile, my handbag was tucked under the table.

Sometime during that conversation, the handbag disappeared. Of course, it didn’t make a huge difference. The only thing in the handbag was a Metro ticket that would only be good for the rest of the month. I must have been the poorest American student in town. So this smooth talking robber didn’t fare so well. The funny thing is that the handbag was delivered to the local police precinct in the 16eme arrondissement on Blvd. Victor Hugo.

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I received a phone call from the police department and walked over to pick up my handbag. The policeman handed me back the handbag with my student ID card still intact.

The moral of this story is: If somebody tells you he knows Didier, he probably is lying.

Places to keep an eye on your belongings:
All train stations, Metro stations (especially the connecting corridors and the #1 line)
Generally speaking Paris is pretty good when it comes to general safety. You should feel relaxed about walking around and using public transport, just try not to appear too naive.