Is France Safe? Travel Safety Tips You Need to Know

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France is a mostly safe place for travelers. However, theft, pickpockets and scam artists are common. Here are our tips to travel safely.


People on the streets of Paris Photo © Getty Images/Media Production

In the 2020 Global Peace Index, France ranked 66 out of 163 countries. In Europe overall, France ranks poorly, at 31 out of 36 European destinations.

Violent crime involving travelers is very rare. However, theft is one of the highest crime categories to be aware of. A steady stream of unassuming travelers makes for an easy bunch of targets.

Find out which places you should be more cautious, plus a few tips to keep yourself and your belongings safe while traveling in France.

Pickpockets of Paris

Anywhere that attracts tourists, will attract thieves. In Paris, thieves are everywhere.

Be careful around Madeleine, Champs Elysees and Arc de Triomphe, Sacre Coeur church at the artists' area of Montemarte, L'Opera, Les Halles and the George Pompidou Center, the Porte de Clingnancourt flea market, and of course –anywhere near the Eiffel Tower. Including inside the crowded lifts that take you to the top.

If you are dining at a street side cafe or restaurant, make sure your bag and valuables are secure. Don't hang your bag over the back of your seat or leave your bag/wallet on a table. It's a quick snatch and grab for any passing opportunistic thief.

Pickpockets on the French Metro & RER

The Metro and RER stations are always busy. Always keep a firm hold of your bag and wallet, day or night.

Pickpockets are highly organised and skilled. What may feel like someone brushing past you or bumping in a crowd, could be a nifty pickpocket after your valuables.

Part of a pickpocket or thief's method is to grab for your bag or wallet, and jump on/off the train just as the doors are closing.

These train stations have reported considerable pickpocket activity: Chatelet, Les Halles, Barbes Rochechouart, Gare du Nord, Auber-Opera-Harve Caumartin, Charles de Gaulle-Etoile, Concorde, Strasbourg-Saint Denis, Republique, Montparnasse, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Bastille, Care de l'Est, Nation and Gare de Lyon.

Is Paris safe?

While traveling around Paris and visiting the parks during daytime, travelers will feel very safe. Nighttime, however, is a different story. The beautiful manicured gardens of the Bois de Boulogne, and the Bois de Vincennes, can be more dangerous when the sun sets.

At night, the parks are frequented by drug dealers and sex workers. It's much wiser to stick to well-lit thoroughfares when enjoying the city in the evening.

Even shopping in Paris's department stores can pose a risk – and not just to your credit card limit. There have been reported bag snatches and theft in stores such as Printemps (closest metro stop is Havre - Caumartin), and the magnificent Galleries Lafayette (metro Chauss'e d'Antin La Fayette). People who leave their wallets or credit cards on cashier counters during transactions have turned to find them gone. Never let your belongings out of sight.

Crime on the French Mediterranean

While Paris is the haven for pickpockets, crime becomes more common in the south. Particularly the Cote D'Azur cities of Marseille and Nice.

The Mediterranean area has long been considered one of the most corrupt, crime-ridden areas of Europe – therefore you should be cautious while visiting. Most crimes are not going to affect travelers, as this involves drugs, prostitution, money laundering and robbery in the area. Local gangs compete with each other for the biggest slice of the market, especially in Marseille. Gun crime is common, but rarely a threat to visitors.

Organised crime gangs have a distinct hierarchy, and most start at the bottom rung of opportunistic, petty crime and work their way up.

Thefts from vehicles, whether stopped in traffic or unattended, is also rife in southern France, especially between the cities of Perpignan (near the Spanish border) and Menton (near Monaco).

Local councils and governments have taken notice of crime, and increased policing to provide better protection for residents and visitors.

Crime in regional France

Property crime in France amounts to half of all crime, and it is most prevalent in Paris and the Mediterranean coastal cities of Marseille and Nice. Muggings do occur, especially in the Ile de France region that encompasses Paris and the outer suburbs.

In the regional southern parts of France pensioners have been targeted. Even truffle farmers have been robbed at gunpoint by opportunistic thieves, for their harvest that restaurants in Paris pay a small fortune for.

As a traveler, the specific areas where you should exercise caution are at automated service stations, and rest areas on motorways. It is advised not to sleep in these rest areas, nor in makeshift or unauthorized campgrounds on the outskirts of major cities.

Be more vigilant of your safety and belongings at the military cemeteries around Normandy. Tourists from around the world visit these World War I and II historic sites that attract local thieves.

Like all major international cities, credit card skimming is on the rise. In high volume tourist areas and automated service stations be mindful or protecting your PIN. If possible use ATMs in more controlled and supervised areas like banks, shops and shopping centers.

Civil unrest in France

France is notorious for its planned protests and strikes that grind the city to a halt. Stay away from any demonstrations or political rallies as they have the potential to turn violent.

Travel warnings include staying away from the outlying neighborhoods of major French cities as there have been violent clashes between youths and police (Gendarmes) in the past.

In Corsica, a Mediterranean island that is a region of France – the National Front for the Liberation of Corsica (FLNC) has been conducting a sporadic bombing campaign for several years.

While the primary targets have been French government buildings, the terrorist group has been known to target tourist areas, such as holiday complexes. Other groups that have become increasingly violent on the area are Cuncolta Naziunalist and the Mouvement pour l'Autod'termination (MPA).

Airport taxi theft in France

Thieves do target taxis carrying tourists or wealthy locals from Charles de Gaulle international Airport into the city.

The traffic to and from the airport is often completely jammed along the A1 highway, and thieves wait until the taxi is stationary, and break the windows to get to the passengers' bags.

Keep your luggage in the boot of the cab, or take the very safe Air France shuttle bus from the airport.

M'aidez or else: France's good samaritan law

In France, it is a criminal offence not to attempt to help someone who has been a victim of crime. At the bare minimum, you could summon assistance by calling for help.

The emergency number to call in France is 112.

August shutdown

Most French take the month of August off for their summer holidays. It can be a nightmare time to travel the country as a foreigner as major tourist areas, especially the south of France and the coast, are jam-packed.

Accommodation is booked, prices are high and the traffic is unspeakable. Plus it does leave many smaller stores in the cities closed. Such as the boucherie (butchery), boulangerie (bakery), fromagerie (cheese merchant), boutique wine sellers, and phamercie (chemist). This can make buying food supplies for the day a pain.

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  • French contributor said

    Come on Phil don't make the picture so black!!
    France is like any other tourist area... you can be robbed in London New york Lisbone Madrid Rome Berlin Shanghai... and anywhere else in the world.
    As you seems to be a frequent traveller I'm surprised that you highlight France as a dangerous place.
    Big towns need that you take the same precautions everywhere!!
    In the contrary if you visit natural areas like montains hiking places which are completely free you will meet real people without any risk.
    Go ahead and try to meet the real France of solidarity friendship and human rights!


  • Natalie said

    Having travelled in cities all though the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Greece, Croatia - Paris and Nice make my top three "unsafe feeling" cities ever. Number one being a city in Turkey. With that being said there is a difference between being actually unsafe (at risk of danger) and feeling unsafe (being constantly harassed my men in the street trying to strike up a conversation or, as in Paris, having a stranger touch my butt). While I wouldn't let safety concerns dictate my travel experience - it is refreshing to see a website unafarid to say "France could do slightly better," especially for the solo female traveller. It is still a beautiful place with amazing locals. However, constant vigilance!


  • Etienne said

    This article reflects pretty much reality. Tourists must be very cautious in Paris (especially the ones from Asia) which is becoming more and more dangerous. I'm sorry it may sound harsh to read but yes it is the truth. I'm a frenchman and been living in France for 48 years.. I was even born here, and insecurity has never been at such a critical level since a few years. I would strongly advise people to absolutely avoid metro and RER past 22h, especially the north lines (13... etc..) which can be really dangerous.
    "Country of the human rights".. blah blah... blah blah.. solidarity, friendship... nice words for tourists..
    Reality is different! ..Communautarism is pleaguing the french society since a few years, and justice is not repressive enough. Most of the pickpockets come from eastern europe (Romania, Bulgaria etc...) and are minors. As such, once caught by the police, they can only be released a few hours later as there is nothing that can be done to stop them juridically speaking.
    France could really do way more than "better"... I wished we could just do "much" better to attract tourists again. I quit Paris a few years ago to settle down in Toulouse and for nothing on earth I would come back living in Paris again. Much too unsafe to my taste.
    Go rather visit Barcelona, it's a much much safer place and the locals are really nice. Sure you don't get to see Tour Eiffel and Le Louvre... but at least you'll keep your belongings safe... when it's not your health!


  • VIVIAN said

    Gee!, now I'm having 2nd choice of moving to southern France after I retire from my United States federal civilian job. I am a black light-skinned Army Veteran female and have received my home language kit to learn French, and anticipates living alone(my 2 grown kids lives in Japan/Ireland) .

    I am now disappointed to have read such unpleasant notions of France---its not the country but the types of peoples and it seems these folks were not born there but migrated there---why can't the system root these bad peoples and send them back to where they came .


  • VIVIAN said

    Gee!, now I'm having 2nd choice of moving to southern France after I retire from my United States federal civilian job. I am a black light-skinned Army Veteran female and have received my home language kit to learn French, and anticipates living alone(my 2 grown kids lives in Japan/Ireland) .

    I am now disappointed to have read such unpleasant notions of France---its not the country but the types of peoples and it seems these folks were not born there but migrated there---why can't the system root these bad peoples and send them back to where they came .


  • abdul qadir said

    I came in pairs last month,when i was stand in one bus stop a man came to me and asked me any address after a while i felt he picked my pocket i run to him fast but a car was waiting for him and a man also in that car and he sit in the car and went immediately,i lodged a complain in the nearest police station they could be watch by CCTV camera but they didn't do it.i lost my passport and my money,now how i get my things.please advice me.


  • Gygis said

    I am French and very familiar with several countries including mine around the world (Americas, Europe and Asia) between which I travel constantly. I can therefore confirm that unlike some locals (who are used to this unbearable situation) seem to say, France has become a very unhealthy, dangerous place to be. It is not something I like to admit but plain reality. Be very careful. If you are after a safe place to visit, then it's clearly not the best time to go to France, really. I myself feel very wary when I am there, despite feeling safer in London, New York or even Rio a few years back. Beware like you're in an impoverished place. You are.


  • Dale Murdock said

    Wherever you go, keep your ears and eyes open. Keep your things close and prioritise things in importance from very hidden and next to your body, like passports, ID and other credentials and move out to the outside pockets of bags where disposable things are.
    Use your ears and eyes. Listen around you even when talking to a friend, this will tell you a lot about your environment. If you hear whispering ahead, turn around. If you hear yelling and screaming, find the source and rationally choose a route out. It will become second nature like looking both ways before you cross the street.
    Don't go down alleys or tunnels you don't know. If you are new in a town, take a day to visit a few coffee shops and ask people around you that you think are nice what places may be risky, what metro stops may be bad and at what time. I know how fast a place can transform in a few hours from a nice empty place to a area full of people you don't really want to meet.
    Dress up here, dress down in another place depending on where you visit. If you are just visiting sites wear clothes that mimic the ones you see around you. In Spain and France they usually wear street shoes and clothes that are much dressier than North Americans do and so should you, you will not stand out as different. Light pants in the summer, good walking shoes in leather and a button up shirt will disguise you as a local if you move the right way, like you belong, glancing up to look around until you arrive where you really want to visit. If you want to look around, stop with your partner and talk and look around while you talk. Learn to move like a salmon through the crowds of people, you will be amazed how you are left alone if you walk and dress like a local and keep your eyes open and steely. I think the criminals view the tourists in the city like a lion watching a herd of buffalos, which one is different, which one is easy, weak, encumbered and unable to get away.
    I have been all over Europe and Asia, over 20 cities in the U.S. and it can be scary too. I have been robbed, met crazy people armed with different weapons, been in high speed chases with thugs but as I have been in France for over twenty years, they all happened here. Last month I was accosted in the street in Istanbul by two heavy set young men speaking Turkish and loudly demanding something. I just said no abruptly and moved on, they were agressive looking and I was afraid of confrontation. I heard them saying, "no, no?" loudly and angrily. Later down the street it occurred to me that they may have been late for the metro and just wanted the time, lol.


  • Jacques Jones said

    I was pickpocketed twice using the Metro. First day in Paris, walking down the stairs at Nation I felt a hand in my front pocket coming from behind and I caught the Gypsy woman by her wrist. She was practiced enough to protest in English saying she hadn't done anything.

    Second time, squeezing onto the Metro at Anvers from a front zippered pants pocket I lost my wallet with cash and a credit card. I didn't feel a thing. African guys had packed the door area for their 'picking'. The card had multiple attempts for cash withdrawal inside of 20 minutes. I had let my guard down after riding the Metro for ten days.

    If the train is packed, especially the door, wait for the next train that will be by shortly.
    Carry only what you can afford to lose, consider it a 'city tax'. Aside from the 'tax', the Metro is a fabulous way to get around!


  • Sara Florent said

    Sadly I am watching my beautiful home city of Paris over run by illegals and hoodlums. It is getting worse and worse. Do you want me to be PC? Or honest? I avoid the Metro--opt for the bus system---you actually get to see more of the beauty and luminosity of Paris and the bonus is discovery and you can hop off if you see something interesting besides the usual tourist sites. You are on holiday so what is the rush for Metro? Same thing, the RER from CDG may seem faster but only if you know how to read the sign so you do not stop in every dinkky suburb and pickpockets are too many too. Try the Balabus during spring and summer as alternative to expensive red tourist buses. Try not to look like a tourist which is hard I know but that stick holding your phone for selfies is a dead giveaway. Minimize your bling even if you are a Kardasian! Belt bags may not be chic but they are safe or cross chest--backpacks are saying rob me! DO NOT OPEN YOUR WALLET OR HANDBAG OUTSIDE ON THE STREET! And if you buy from the luxury boutiques, ask the salesperson to have package delivered to your hotel or apartment---a discreet courier arrives with plain brown wrapper over your box!!

    But this consciousness is pretty much the same for any major city in the world!! Sadly it is the influx of illegals who have turned our streets into confrontations and rubbish bins---don't give to beggars or the cute little kids who are all little thieves in gangs. And SCREAM!! SCREAM AS LOUDLY AS YOU CAN if accosted--even locals do but we have advantage in swearing in French!


  • John Ryan said

    I haven't traveled much, and after reading this, I think I'll keep it that way. WTF is this world coming too.


  • Grace said

    I'll be visiting Paris 10 days from now and all my excitements now becomes worries. I am from Philippines where pickpocketing is also rampant, I guess I will manage.My worry is that I look Asian and smaller in height. They might target me if they see me. Fingers crossed????. Thanks for the tips, I'd only bring small cash and might put it in different places just in case.


  • Clint Christenson said

    I am sorry but as an American, in New York even after dark, you can shop and walk the streets without fear of assault or theft, unlike Paris. I am a young man almost 2 meters tall and even I feel pressured in Paris to look down, make no eye contact, until I've arrived at my destination. In America we do frown on giving to beggars. If you have a problem with this, go to Paris. So many beggars will try to stop you on the street, and if you stop to give one of them money you had better be ready to give to all of them. They have no regard for societal norms, they have nothing to lose, they will steal from you or hurt you to steal from you. Stay away from Paris go elsewhere in Europe for a better experience.


  • Miss Patience H said

    KEEP CALM AND GO TO PARIS. I just got back from Paris. Plenty of beggars but zero hassles. I'm a 65 year old American lady and traveled with my friend, similar age. We dressed stylishly (trying to look "Parisian" ) and had a glorious time. We rode the buses, visited museums and cafes and shops, and walked 12 miles in two days --- and nobody hassled us at all. Our young hotel clerk was kindness itself. I carried a small cross-body bag but did not carry much cash and of course left my passport in the hotel safe. Hope to go back to Paris soon. But I appreciate the cautions here.


  • Miss Patience H said

    KEEP CALM AND GO TO PARIS. I just got back from Paris. Plenty of beggars but zero hassles. I'm a 65 year old American lady and traveled with my friend, similar age. We dressed stylishly (trying to look "Parisian" ) and had a glorious time. We rode the buses, visited museums and cafes and shops, and walked 12 miles in two days --- and nobody hassled us at all. Our young hotel clerk was kindness itself. I carried a small cross-body bag but did not carry much cash and of course left my passport in the hotel safe. Hope to go back to Paris soon. But I appreciate the cautions here.


  • Ravi Kundra said

    Was Robbed of my wallet at Denfert Rochereau Paris Metro station on 12.12.2017.Metro Police was alerted but they did nothing...Just useless police...Paris is a city of thieves & pick pockets..French Government totally helpless...The country is totally lawless & dangerous...Never Visit..They just don't care for the tourists... Pathetic...


  • Ian Miller said

    Just returned form France. Partner stranded their after young woman forced her way on to the train at Charles De Guelle Airport as we were disbarking and trying to collect our bags. Once on platform, noticed the woman had opened partners handbag and removed travel documents, including her passport. We were unable to stop the train. Staff on platform not willing to help. Took nearly an hour to locate police. Staff at Emerates counter and one young lady from an information stall provided much support. Once police were located, they were of no use and directed us to go to Paris and lay a complaint/statement.

    Partner still in Paris trying to get emergency travel documents (passport) so she can return to New Zealand.


  • MarcoSolo said

    Sorry to read all of this, especially the native French describing their own city/country in those terms. I was thinking about returning this summer to see the France of my exchange student year, maybe start a camino in France, but no thanks. I have been in some dangerous places, Beirut during the civil war, Pakistan, Sudan, Yemen, Belize, Guatemala, etc., and at this late date I have no desire to give fate another easy shot at me.


  • Mai said

    We were robbed in Paris on our first day! I’ve seen a lot of YouTube Videos about pickpocketers targeting tourists prior to our visit but wouldn’t really imagine this would happen to us, and on the very first day, starting from the airport on an RER train. It happened on a Saturday around 18:35 pm. We just hopped on the train and as we were carrying big luggages we positioned ourselves near the door. There were two young ladies asking us if the train is going to Gare du Nord. They’re so persistent even we say nothing. Some passengers also entered and we’ve got a little bit squeezed (could be accomplices). Then after a few seconds,we realize that my husband small bag is opened and his wallet isn’t there. I remember the Youtube videos I’ve watched about pickpocketers in Paris and their modus operandi on the train so I shouted “I’ve seen you on YouTube, I’ll call the police! Give us the wallet!” Then, the two ladies pretended they didn’t know what I was talking about. I shouted louder and one of them dropped the wallet on the floor. They still pretended they didn’t do it although they’re caught in the act. Sadly, the other passengers on the train didn’t care at all. I told everyone to be careful about the two ladies but they didnt have any reaction at all. That’s so weird! The ladies moved to the next car as I started to take photos of them and been telling them I’ll take them to the police station. They ran and got off when the train stoped at the next station. Been to almost 20 countries in more crowded cities in Asia, Latin America and Europe but had never experience anything like this.Paris is totally SCARY as it got us the feeling that everyone would steal from you. You can’t walk in the street without being paranoid. People here saying the city is lawless and disorganized are definitely correct. Lots of litter on the street and everywhere smells like cigarette. Any corner, every minute someone smokes!


  • Monique said

    I just returned from Paris, we were robbed one hour after we landed doing our connection in Gare Du N , three biggest guys tried to steal my husband bag while the other pull his wallet . My husband caught one guy and they star fighting, he grab the thieve bag , the individual fell and ran away. I was screaming and everyone in the plataform and inside the metro line M5 did nothing . We live in NYC area for 30 years. This will never happens , people in the train will help or do something. Only one italian man took his time to help us.
    Station was deserted from authority, no police presence , not even the metro attendant wanted to help us.
    Finally we found the police and filed the report , while waiting .a Danish couple got robbed exactly the same way 1 hour after us in the same metro and while we we leaving a group of 4 philipinos lost everything.
    We were lucky in a sort of way because we split everything and i was holding the passports and credit cards. This way we continue our trip but we took taxi to our destination.
    The station is ran by illegal immigrants looking for the next victim. There is not enough cops. Etc. Do yourself a favor and grab a taxi from the airport.
    Get a antitheft cross body, or waist pocket.
    Beside this ,the city is beautiful a little dirty some neighborhoods is like you were in some other part of the world.
    The architecture is georgeous, food very good , the attractions are very nice.
    Just be very careful and keep and eye on everything.
    we encountered very nice and helpful people.
    I visited Barcelona and Roma i felt safer.
    I wish the french authorities clean the city and take care of the gangs from romania and africa taking the streets and metro stations. of this historical city, but after reading this blog and people responses seems to be getting worse.


  • Artemis said

    it's a sad indictment of the world we live in today....the haves and the have-nots have been a part of every society that ever lived. today, immigrants (and I do not condone their behaviour one bit) are often desperate and many have little to start with, so the temptation to take what they can becomes a way of life. Drugs have a lot to do with a high crime rate, petty drug dealers often use more than they sell and need to find income to replace what they've taken from the dealers up the chain and so sets up a nasty spiral of desperate crime.. As a seasoned traveller I never wear jewellery of value, wear my passport under my shirt, my mobile cheap and my clothing average. I would never carry an expensive camera, as I've read on a comment earlier, my best advice would be to only travel with what I can afford to loose. In France it is actually illegal to ignore someone who needs help, so be alert for 'staged' muggings and dramas and keep your radar in sharp focus regarding those around you, while you're helping someone they could be helping themselves.... to your stuff!! . It's not just France either, this applies to all countries I've travelled to.


  • Daniel Lindini said

    I was born & raised in France, but Eventually moved to the US when I was a teenager. I’ve lived in three continents & many different states. I know of no country where crime isn’t an issue to a certain degree, but to paint France so negatively is absurd. I could careless if ur French or not. Most of my family still live there & their main concern is not crime, but high taxation. If plan on traveling to France, do so. Don’t allow pessimists to spoil your plans.


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