10 Tips on Paris Safety & Pickpockets

metro paris subway safe travel

If you’re planning on visiting?Paris?one of the last thing on your mind is probably your personal safety or the protection of your valuables, right? After all everything seems so glam and peachy from the instagram photos of Laduree macarons to close up views of the Eiffel Tower. But looking beyond the chic and cliched could save you a whole lot of ?travel stress. In order to prepare for Paris, you have to know how to stay safe while traveling?here.

Far from the romanticism of the city you may have seen here online, instagram and in movies -?Paris?is similar to many big city with a high tourist population; pickpocket heaven. ?I know what you’re thinking “that will never happen to me!” , “I’m a smart traveller”…yada yada


You see yes?Paris?is beautiful and charming and the food is delicious and the fashion is to die for but what you probably don’t know is that from the moment you step out of CDG airport you’ll be a target for?pickpockets.

I’ve seen it all too often.

Yes I have many first hand accounts and put together with my recent viewing of a french documentary on the issues that’s affecting our tourism industry here, I wanted to say;?bring your heart to paris but don’t leave your brain at home.

Eiffel Tower workers Strike

Just recently there were strikes this month?by employees of the Eiffel Tower; their safety threatened by the continuing increase of pickpockets flooding in gangs to the Tower. All this led to the shutting down of the monument.

So now is as good a time as ever to say ?you can’t be too careful.

Pickpockets in action at Barbes Metro

For example, yesterday I went on the metro with my son. A man who appeared to have been on a business trip (judging from his suit, carry-on luggage and laptop-style backpack) went ahead of us through the turnstile. He seemed mostly concerned about putting his metro ticket in and maneuvering his carry-on through, all in just one go.

Another gentleman came behind him very casually wearing a jeans and a t- shirt and a little “man bag”, to his side – in one hand he had a small plastic shopping bag – with the name of a local retail store here. He cut in front of my son and pretending to want to pass through with the business man (some people do this to not pay their own way), all while he used his free hand to open the business mans backpack and took what seemed like his wallet out or some other valuable.

We went through right after. I noticed the pickpocketer also waited with the business man to take the elevator up to the 2 train from the ground level – perhaps to find another opportunity to go back in the bag for more.

I said nothing because these men are professional?pickpockets?that work in groups of 3 or 4 and out of fear of being harassed myself, kept walking head down with my son. Feeling awful for the poor guy!

This happened at the Barbes metro stop – this is not the first time I’ve seen?pickpockets?at work here. They mostly wait on the train qaui for unsuspecting passengers to get off with wallets and phones in back pockets?or with bags not tightly held and there is always so many people that they easily push up on their victims and get what they want in matter of seconds.

Crowded Metro

You have to get around – and you may not be very familiar with the Paris subway system. But if I can I personally try to avoid the Barbes, La Chapelle, Gare du Nord, Gare du l’Est metros – often too crowded and packed with criminals from age 6 to 86! ?(However, in the documentary?Charles de Gaulle Etoile gets the most victims (guess because so many get off to see the Arc de Triomphe)?

Believe me when I say that there are many kids pickpocketing – the cops are aware of it but they can’t prosecute these kids and they’re usually working as a part of a gang run by some older folks anyways? so they keep them locked up for a few hours and then they have to let them go. And they often live as repeat offenders for years – most are gypsy Romanians – with no proof of? birthdate and get away with saying they are 16 years old for years.

Most Likely Targets

Apparently Japanese and Indians are high targets because they typically travel with the most cash.

Anyways I could go on and on about what I saw in the documentary and such ?- but the most important are things to remember are below.

living in paris

Paris?pickpocket?survival tips.

  1. ?Never put anything valuable in your back?pockets?- seriously!?
  2. Keep your bags and backpacks in front of you at all times
  3. Never have your cellphone or camera out in the metro?
  4. Never?walk around drunk by yourself – females?actually never walk around drunk even in a group of girls?
  5. If the escalator stops and someone asks to help you with your suitcase decline or? watch to make sure someone else isn’t going in your handbag on the other side.?
  6. If possible try to avoid getting out or transferring at the very touristy metros or just be aware that?pickpockets?are on the prowl where it’s most crowded or most touristic.?
  7. ?If someone comes up to you and try to sell you something or ask you to sign any form of petition, decline politely and walk away in the opposite direction.
  8. At Sacre Ceur decline the guys who want to make a string bracelet for you “at a good price” they’ll end up asking for a lot of money and may even become aggressive if you want to offer just a few euros
  9. Never never never leave your bags unattended – like not even if you feel the roof is leaking on you!
  10. Travel daily with as little cash as possible on you.?

Hope you’ve enjoyed my super paranoid list and tips on how to stay safe while traveling?in Paris?

Are you on your way here? Want to have coffee? email me for our next coffee meet-up myparisianlife(at)gmail.com …xoxo

Also, back in 2013 David wrote a great article on Paris Safety ?Tips here??it’s still going with many people telling their travel stories in the comments section. Also seems like Barcelona is the number on pickpocket heaven. So look out there too, if you’re planning on stopping over.

paris travel tips to know 2015


  • Reply June 23, 2015


    I’ve been living in Paris for a year now, and never ever leave my phone in any of my pockets. That was until Sunday (during the busy Fete de la Musique) – it was placed in my front pocket, and whilst on a metro I realised that this man next to me had his hand in my pocket trying to take my phone!! Luckily I could feel this happening and then made a scene of it – so then everyone on the train knew what he was!

    You can never be too sure nor comfortable. Great tips – always stay vigilant!

  • Reply June 24, 2015

    Packing my Suitcase

    Very very useful tips!
    After living in Paris myself for a few months and visiting every now and then, I agree with everything you said and all your tips.

    It is essential not to accept help from someone. I was a victim of a guy at the Chatelet-Les-Halles station 1 year ago when I was trying to buy a ticket for 3 people to go to Disneyland. A man of age came and offered to pay our tickets with his credit card in exchange for money (he claimed he needed cash). Everything was veeery fast and he pretended to pay for the tickets and gave us some old and cheap ones instead of the ones we needed to reach Disneyland. Unfortunately I only realized it too late 🙁

    I love paris, but this problem with the pickpocketing is simply very annoying! I hope this go away someday!

    • Reply June 25, 2015


      Hi Allane! Yes, we hope this helps many travelers coming to paris.

  • Reply November 11, 2015


    Good post but you said nothing when you saw a pickpocket at work? Come on! You and the victim make 2 grown men against 1. Yes I know, they occasionally work in teams, but you couldn’t say anything at all? That’s a pretty poor show if you ask me. I am disappointed to read this, I really am. I find it very sad that in cities people would rather say nothing than take a very small risk at becoming involved.

    I guess it takes courage to speak up, and clearly you lack that.

    • Reply November 16, 2015


      Hi Simon, It must be such a privilege to sit behind a computer screen and call somebody a coward.
      First of all I am not a man – so its not ” 2 grown men against 1. ”
      Second they work in teams like my article previously mentioned.
      Third of all, this is a metro stop I take regularly with my son and will not risk being “marked”. I have in MANY other cases discreetly told people to be careful, and just the fact that I wrote this article is making so many more people aware and keeping people safe while traveling here in Paris. So even though I could not help this particular individual I’d like to think that my article has helped thousands.

      • Reply November 16, 2015


        Yanique. I think it is indeed a privilege to sit behind a computer screen and do anything isn’t it. But yes, I agree that my initial comment came across badly, and I am sorry about that.

        I like your blog and I am happy that you’ve helped thousands of people who didn’t know pickpockets use the metro.

        Your blog is indeed helpful to people, including me, a new arrival in this city of people from far away place like you and I. My point came across badly, but as an American I am sure you have heard the “if you see something, say something” line. I guess that had you have written that you have said something on numerous previous occasions then the casual reader would feel a little better about the fact that you said nothing in that situation. The fact is while cities like Paris are great to live in, there is a sadness that so many of us often choose to not get involved.

        I’m not interest in some protracted flame war anymore than you are. Again, I apologize as the initial comment from me was, I can’t avoid it, rather rude. I guess I am just passionate about community and a believer that all of us who live in cities are involved by default, and choosing to not be just makes these great places we live in a little less great than they otherwise might be.

        Your blog is great, your tips are really fantastic, I will retreat now to my privileged position behind the screen here and not bother you again. I am a real person, and normally I am actually quite a nice person, so if I see you in some cafe somewhere I’ll buy you a coffee then beat a retreat before you, quite rightly, beat me! 🙂

  • Reply December 7, 2016

    Shelley ritchie

    I am in the beginning stages of planning a France trip .We are spending 5-6 days in Paris in early October. I really enjoy reading your blog and all of the tips . I’m am a little bit nervous about the pickpockets.but I’m so excited to visit !! So thanks for all the great reads .

    • Reply December 7, 2016


      You will have a great time! 🙂 It’s just nice to be prepared – even for the unpleasant stuff, just in case …send me a message when you are here!

  • Reply May 11, 2018


    Hi Yanique, let’s have coffee in July. 🙂 I sent u an email.

  • Reply July 30, 2018

    Ami Robinson

    I’m taking my 6yr old son with my friend and her son, and I’m very nervous ? bout all the pickpockets. Not sure two woman and young kids would be a target.

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