“An uncle once told me how he was part of a tour group in Paris and a fellow male tourist was behind before disappearing from the group altogether! When he was found in a nearby alley, he was completely naked, totally robbed and beaten short of his last breath.”
“I was walking on the street and suddenly these kids started appearing outta nowhere and got really close to me! A stall owner helped shoo them away from me and warned me about their ‘modus operandi’ of distracting a tourist like me before stealing from my pockets.”
These were exactly what friends told me when I told them about my trip to Paris – The ‘dangerous’, ‘unsafe’ city that can possibly scare the bejeesus outta any visitor.
Now let’s see….this is officially my 12th day in this huge city and neither have I been robbed, beaten or stripped naked. In fact, all I got so far were smiles and really nice Parisians. Holy crap…even an old French lady gently told me stay in my seat on the Metro when I wanted to give it up for her. Wait a minute…is something wrong here or am I a Super Crime Repellent?
Paris, just like any urban city, is not perfect but neither is petty crime rampant in it. True…often at touristy places like The Louvre, Basilique du Sacre Coeur, or Tour Eiffel, you will have strange young fellas going up to you with pledge sheets before asking (or shall I say pestering) you for money. With a firm hand up and continued walking will have them leave you in peace.
Sometimes, you will have more strange fellas offering to tie a “friendship” band around your wrist. A willing party here will only result in that person’s hand being immobilised and you can continue the story. Occasionally, another fella would pretend to pick up an ‘expensive’ ring before handing it to you. His hope is that you might be conned into taking the ring and then asking for a few bucks in return.
Honestly, other than these relatively harmless folks that perhaps congregate in less than 10% of the entire city, Paris is SAFE!!!
The architecture and culture of this place is so breath-taking that these shady folks (who might be too poor to feed themselves) don’t even matter anymore. Imagine standing under the majestic Tour Eiffel that simply dwarves everything in its sights and a little guy comes up to you with a pledge sheet. Is he gonna spoil your day? For crying out loud, it’s the Tour Eiffel right in front of you! Who cares about that insignificant dude?! Shoo him off and the tower will embrace you.
I gotta say that, generally, it is stupid people. Yes, really stupid ones who travel as if in their home country, that get pick-pocketed or robbed. Surely, you would have heard of travelers bitching about how dangerous a place is because a wallet or purse got stolen from their back pockets or bags. In the first place, why do you have your big fat wallet sticking out from the back of your pants? If I’m a pick-pocket, of course, I would place a gigantic target board on you. Tssskkk.
Paris really is safe. Pardon the repetition. The metro runs past midnight everyday and once after some partying on a Saturday, I took the metro back to the hotel past 1am. To my surprise, there were still tons of commuters and not a near-complete desolation that I had expected. With maps at every metro station and bus stop, getting lost is almost a sin. Moreover, with free offline Paris map apps for your iPhone, you will enjoy a city that obviously has a reason for being the Number One tourist destination.
Well…that’s all for my first post. Damn was it long. But if you have enjoyed reading it…my next post will be all about the mistaken Parisian identity…oh yeahhhh…