Paris:  Health & Safety

Paris is considered as a quite safe city. You can wander in almost every district with a very low risk of mugging. However, some areas are safer than others.

If you want all this information summarized, there's an iPhone/iPad app called  BeSafe! that is quite useful for knowing which neighborhoods are more dangerous than others, by assessing danger levels based on the location and the time of day. 

The center and  most touristy area of Paris (Le Marais, the Latin quarter, the Louvre area….) is very safe, as it’s a vibrant area either at day or night.

Les Halles can be a bit scary at night though, as it’s known to be a spot for drug dealers, but, it’s now permanently controlled by the police so it’s becoming safer. Beware of large teenagers groups during the weekends, they are often gangs from the suburbs who came in Paris to bring havoc.

The western part of the city (17th, 8th and 16th arrondissements) is quite wealthy, but mostly residential, so it can get pretty empty when the night comes and become a bit scary. Not that they are dangerous districts, but if anything happens, you could feel quite lonely, mostly at night.

The Champs-Elysées are very lively and not too risky, at least during the day. Most of the offices are located there so you will mainly meet businessmen at their lunch break. But you should still be careful on this large avenue, above all at night, because it’s so crowded that it is the perfect place for pickpockets.Also because most of the parisians night clubs are in this area so you can find drunk people or gang of young people who just want to fight. So you can have a safe walk on the Champs Elysées but not after midnight.

Montmarte is a safe neighborhood, and if you go down the hill to Pigalle, which is the Red Light district, you will not need to worry too much, as it’s very lively and touristy, even late at night but don't stay too long on the main boulevard because there are drugs dealers and drunk people as well (even more if you are a female)

The North of Paris is not the safest. Around both Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est, you should always keep an eye on your wallet. If you want to explore La goutte d’Or, which is a quite poor district, you should go there only during the day-time and don’t hang out there too long, otherwise you may be offered some illegal substances.

Belleville and Menilmontant, both African and North-African areas, have become safer places these last 5 years. They are popular among young “bourgeois-bohèmes” (also know as “bobos”) who have settled here to escaped the high rents of other funky areas like Bastille.

Eastern Paris is also all right.

Bastille is so vibrant with its many cafés and bars that you may encounter drunk people at night with extravagant behaviours, but nothing really bad could happen to you here.

On the other side of the Seine, the 13th arrondissment, a part of it being the Chinese district, is not dangerous either, just like the Montparnasse area and the South of Paris.

In Paris, a walk along the beautiful banks of the Seine is a must. However, it is safer, even in the daytime, to walk up on the pavement, rather than go down the quays and walk right along the bank. Even though it looks pretty, there are some undesirable characters down there, and if you do get into difficulties, its much harder to get away compared to if you are up on the roadside. If you do go down the quayside: 1 Have a good look around and be aware of who is down there before you descend the steps or ramp; 2 Always look to see where the next exit up is; 3: Don't go alone; and 4: NEVER walk through the tunnels under the bridges, even if they look short and you can see through the other side. Sadly, some homeless people live there and may become aggressive if you walk through "their" space.

Of course there are a few basic recommendations in order to be really safe in the city:

    Be especially on guard near the major tourist sites and in the subway : watch your bags, don't put money or passport on your pockets and they will ask you to sign their petition, don't do it otherwise they will ask for money (or rob you at the same time): just ignore them and keep walking or say "non merci" in order to pretend to be french
  • When you take money from a cash dispenser, be very careful that no one is watching you enter your access code, take your card and cash quickly and put them right away in your wallet.  Don’t ever hold banknotes in your hand in the streets.
  •  Watch out if you carry a back bag, mainly in the metro and flee markets (pickpockets can access them easily in crowded places);
  • Don’t carry your hand bag too far from your body, for example in your hand (pickpockets would steal it too easily);
  • Watch motorbikes on walk ways and pedestrian areas (pickpockets can operate on a moto).
  • Beware of scammers!! If anyone asks you to tie a string on their finger, or any other funny things, DO NOT oblige! These people are generally not dangerous but once they finish with your "free" bracelet they will charge you an outrageous price for it and will hold onto your arm until you cough up the money. Just be aware and watch your things too. A trick that a young woman tried on tourists at the Place de la Concorde was to pick up a ring on the ground in front of them and try to give it to them for luck. Possibly she then accuses the tourist of stealing it once you put it on.
  • There are also many people who hang out under the Eiffel Tower who will try every trick in the book to get money from you. These people are not allowed to be here and it is not uncommon for them to vanish completely when a patrol of Police walk past and return a few moments later. However, they do have cool merchandise and YOU will not get in trouble for buying it from them. The only word of advice here is if you decide to buy from one of these people, beware of fake merchandise (don't buy any clothing or handbags) and make sure that you barter them down to a a price YOU want to pay. They know they have competition and they will usually take almost any amount you are willing to give them no matter what they said as the original price.
  • Don’t use the lifts (elevators) in Gare du Nord station, when going to and from the airport. Even if you are not alone. They can be a haven for pickpockets. You may see young men in hoodies with hands free mobile phones and white plastic carry bags, no luggage, sometimes with young women. So, if you'd really rather not struggle with your luggage on the escalators, do watch your bags and be aware of the people getting on and off the lifts before you get out.