Safety Issues in Paris

When and where should you be wary in Paris? The merry month of May in Paris also holds some bad memories along with the good.

Way back in May of 1993, in the days when we were still carrying far too much luggage, we received some unasked for help in lightening the load.
In short, all of our luggage -with the exception of books and flight tickets- were quickly and expertly unloaded from our rental car which had been parked on a sunny Sunday afternoon in a neighborhood called Malakoff on the outskirts of Paris.
When we went to the local police station to report the theft, the first question the policeman asked us:
Would you have left all your luggage (with some of it in plain view) in your car in Miami?
Which brings me to the point that people on vacation tend to do some pretty stupid things.
Lazy and stupid being the summit. Quite simply, we had too much baggage and were too lazy to drag the bags immediately inside to our friend’s apartment.
As city’s go, Paris is a reasonably safe city if you act responsibly. Although there are pickpockets, they tend to be less agressive (and much less visible) than in some other European cities. (Florence and Rome, for example).
I wasn’t even aware of pickpockets until friends came to visit. Here, the pickpockets appear to take some time to target their ‘prey’ and the two spots where my friend was targeted were: 1) one of the long connecting corridors in the Metro
2) in front of the sphinx in the Egyptian department at the Louvre.
In both circumstances, she reacted quickly, hung on to her purse and didn’t lose a thing.
I’ve rarely felt uncomfortable taking the Metro at night, but if you are a woman traveling alone, you naturally should be aware of your surroundings particularly if your stop is far from activity and the city center.
Those who live in Paris know that often the suburbs and outlying areas of Paris tend to be higher crime areas. Back in the seventies, much of the low income housing was built outside of the city proper. If you are taking the RER lines of public transport to outlying suburbs, be sure to question whoever you’re visiting about the safety issues of the neighborhood. Each neighborhood has its own character, from the extremely toney suburbs of Neuilly and St. Cloud to the working class high-rises of Sarcelles.
More serious issues like bombings came to the forefront in the 1980s. In 1985 bombs ripped through some Paris Metro/RER lines included Rue de Rennes and St. Michel RER in the heart of the student district. The French government responded by making visas necessary for all visitors, including tourists during a period of a few years.
Even before the 1980s, bombs exploded in several well-known restaurants (Fouquets on the Champs Elysees for example) and Le Grand Vefour at Palais Royal. In response the French security waged a ‘quiet war’ doing some of the logical things you would expect like removing trash cans (you’ll see trasparent plastic bags rather than metal cans around Paris). Bomb sniffing dogs are used at railroad stations. These are some of the things you might note as a tourist. Whatever other measures that were taken over the years have been done so without a big media blitz.