France is generally a safe country in which to travel, and its crime rates are no worse than most European cities. But one of the biggest crime categories is theft. And unfortunately it is a crime that affects tourists.
Property crime is a major problem, too, but it is unlikely that you will be physically assaulted while walking down the street. Always check your government’s travel advisory warnings.
The problems you are most likely to encounter are thefts (which can be aggressive), mainly pick-pocketing/bag snatching, especially in dense crowds and public places.
A common ploy is for one person (and that includes children!!!) to distract you while another steals your wallet, camera, mobile phone or handbag.
Tired tourists on the train from the airport are a frequent target for thieves. Big cities have high crime levels. And in Paris, museums are targeted by organised gangs of children who are trained pickpockets....the Artful Dodger lives on!
But there is no reason to travel in fear. Just take a few simple precautions:
TRAVELLING BY CAR
Car thefts and break-ins to parked cars are a frequent problem. Gangs cruise tranquil tourist areas for unattended vehicles. Foreign or out-of-town plates and rental stickers are a dead giveaway and will be targeted.
Never leave anything valuable (or otherwise) inside your car. Hiding your bags in the trunk is risky; in hatchbacks it is an open invitation to theft. If you are in transit and stop for lunch, be sure to park in an open area, and do your best to conceal anything in the car.
Aggressive theft from cars stopped at red lights or in queues is occasionally a problem, especially in the south (specifically in and around Marseille and sometimes Nice) at intersections and motorway exits. Thieves are usually on motorcycle. If you can lock the doors of your car in such a way that they cannot be opened from the outside (most modern cars have this facility), do so.
M'aidez! - Help me!
In France, it is a criminal offence NOT to attempt to help someone who has been a victim of crime, at least by summoning assistance. But do not put yourself at risk.
For the Police dial