tourist safety
some words of advice

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!


The good stuff is usually stolen in the nicest parts of the town or city

Be aware of your surroundings

Keep valuables hidden

DO NOT leave mobile phones, or anything else valuable, lying on a table

Lesson 1:

If it feels strange, it probably is.

Lesson 2:

Cute kids are often a front for unsavoury adults.

Lesson 3:

Watch and secure your stuff.

Keep smartphones and iPads out of sight until you are in a safe place.

But there is no reason to travel in fear. Just take a few simple precautions:

  • Photocopy your passport, credit cards, plane tickets, driver’s licence, and other important documents – leave one copy at home and keep another one with you, separate from the originals. Be sure you have the emergency telephone number of your bank and credit card providers.
  • A hidden money belt remains the safest way to carry money and valuable documents.
  • If you carry a shoulder bag, don't just have it on one shoulder, adjust the strap length and put the bag over your head, and keep the bag itself to the front of your body, not round your back.
  • Take only what you need on busy sightseeing days: use your hotel safe.
  • Do not carry anything in external – and therefore easily accessible – pockets. That goes for back pockets, too.
  • On trains, keep bags as close as possible: the luggage racks at the ends of the carriage are a target for thieves. If you can, take your luggage to your seat and put it in the overhead rack. They can take all but the biggest cases.
  • Be vigilant at train stations, airports, fast-food outlets, cinemas, outdoor cafés and beaches and on public transport.
  • If you are taking cash from an ATM, have someone with you who can watch your back. And steer clear of any ATMs that are not in open vision: stick to controlled and supervised areas like banks, shopping centres and shops.


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 

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