Paris is a relatively safe city to visit, like any big city in the world, taking precautions and being aware will make for a safe visit to Paris says travel writer Caroline Molinari.
Have you already heard about a story regarding tourist getting ripped off by some waiter?
Did anybody tell you about the problematic bracelets in Montmartre?
Do you know how to buy subway tickets safely?
If you answered yes to the two first questions and no, to the last one, then this article, my dear Traveller, is for you.
Knowledge is Power
This weekend I was browsing through websites and what caught my eye was the overwhelming number of people asking for tips regarding scams in Paris. A lot of them were worried that something would happen during their holidays in the capital and wanted to prevent it. Some say that knowledge is power, so let’s empower you!
What I have found while writing this article is that scammers have infinite imagination and will always find nasty and clever tricks to steal money – these tips apply to every city in the world not just Paris.
Let’s start by the most common problem you’ll be likely to encounter : the pickpockets. Alone or in a group, they will try to steal whatever valuables you have. Be careful of people who are trying to get close up to you. At that moment another person will try to catch your attention with a paper or something else while his little friend will pick your pockets! Another variant of this old trick is the “stain routine”. It consists in staining a tourist’s shirt, then the person will apologise profusely asking if he can clean up his mess – at this moment his accomplice will search your pockets and your bag. Never carry a lot of cash with you. Try to avoid having your wallet in the back pocket of your jeans and always hold your purse or bag in front of you. If you’re in a café, don’t leave it next to you on the ground unattended – it makes it very easy for a person sitting at the next table to steal it.
At the ATM
Another favourite place of our beloved pickpockets is the ATM. This scam, usually perpetrated by a small group consists in trying to catch your attention after you’ve entered your PIN code by bothering you. At the same moment, another person will type the amount of money they want to steal and yet another person will get the money, leaving you helpless. To avoid this, always have a good look around you before using the ATM; go with a friend; try to avoid places you don’t know where there aren’t a lot of people.
The golden ring
The It-scam these months is the fake golden ring. To accomplish this routine, you need a man and a fake ring… Imagine that you’re walking in the street, a man just passes by, bends and picks up a beautiful golden ring, which was lying there on the ground! Unfortunately for him, it’s a woman’s ring. The man, in his generosity, decides to offer it to you in exchange of a little bit of money. To avoid this, you just have to ignore the ring and to keep walking.
The Bonneteau game
I’ve never seen this game where I live but apparently you’ll find some people playing it in the touristic places. What is it about? It’s very simple. Somebody with 3 cups/glasses and a little ball. The goal? Finding the ball. A variant exists with three cards, you have to find the the Ace of Diamonds. It is a simple illusion trick, there’s actually no Ace of Diamonds in the cards. Usually, there will be already some people playing with the person. Don’t try to join the game, because these persons are accomplices. You will only find yourself losing money. If you don’t want to get ripped off, it’s very easy – Just don’t play. Be careful with your belongings, if your attention gets caught, it means that there’s a possibility somebody will try to pick your pockets.
You’re walking in a street, when suddenly, somebody will call you from his parked car. He’s holding a map of Paris, looking lost, he seems he wants to ask you for directions. He will ask you if you speak italian, he will tell you all about his life. Apparently he needs to go back to Italy after a fashion show he attended somewhere in Paris and he doesn’t want to bring back the samples, by plane, so that he won’t pay the customs taxes. He will tell you about his “luxury” bags which are worth 1500 euros. He’s such a nice man that he will agree to sell them for some cash…whatever you have.
Simply ignore him. Remember what your Mom used to say : “never talk to strangers”.
All photographs by talented Paris photographer Marc Nouss
By Caroline Molinari whose passions are travelling and France, her country of birth. Caroline runs the website www.tripfactory.net