Staying Safe In Paris
It is true that some of the big cities in Europe certainly don't feel as
safe as Singapore. I think many times we take the safety and security we
have in Singapore for granted, so when we go overseas we get a little
shocked at what we see.
But having said that, and of course assuming you take the normal common
sense precautions that every tourist should take, the large cities are
by and large very safe places. Think about it; if the locals were being
robbed every day, they would have moved out long ago. I myself have
stayed in Europe for four years and travelled around quite a bit. In
fact, most of the houses don't have grills; so go figure.
Yes, petty theft is quite common especially in touristy areas where
there are lots of clueless tourists; but I've never once had any
incident. Maybe I look like I am very poor. Haha. But seriously, the
neck pouch hung around my neck and tucked inside my shirt helps a lot;
the moment they see you don't have a wallet in any pocket, they just go
for some other easy tourist target. And yes, they are professionals.
I've heard the story of a guy in a tour group who had his wallet
pickpocketed twice. While I sympathize with anyone who loses his
valuables for the first time, losing it in the same way for the
second time in the same trip is just plain stupid.
Here are the things I have learned from talking with the locals and from
other seasoned travellers:
- Neck pouches tucked into your shirt are the best investment. No
waist pouches, wallets in buttoned or zipped pockets, no wallets in the
front pocket, and certainly no wallets in the back pocket. That's saying
help yourself to my wallet.
- The only thing in your pockets should be coins, tissue paper, and
other valueless items. Handphones in pockets are ok only if your pants
are quite tight; else again it says pickpocket me.
- Don't talk to anyone, don't entertain anyone, don't make eye
contact, and walk away. Don't be the foolish nice guy. Someone is lost
and you follow him down a deserted side road? Get ready to make a police
report. Think kids are harmless? Think again; kids work in gangs and
they are good with their small hands and nimble fingers. Big black guy
comes up to you and says "Hello friend, interested in a friendship
band?" Better keep walking. Stop and he ties it around your wrist and he
will demand EUR 50 from you; his friends will come over to "persuade"
you to buy it. Some chinese person asks you "ni hui jiang hua yu mah"
and you stop? Don't. It's always about money, one way or the other.
- If someone offers to help carry your heavy luggage, what do you say?
Yes? If you think he can't run fast enough with your heavy luggage,
think again. They seldom work alone. Someone smudged ice cream on your
pants, and you are frantically cleaning it off? I think you've just lost
- Valuable items in your backpack should not be easily stolen. Your
camera, handphone, etc. should be at the bottom of your backpack, hidden
by other items like sweaters, etc. You should be able to feel if someone
is digging into your backpack.
- Backpacks should (ironically) not be carried on your back. Carry
them in front, or hold them down on the side like you would hold a
- Don't let any "kind soul" offer to take your picture for you. Say
bye to your camera. Instead, look for people who look like tourists and
ask them instead.
- When taking the metro and arriving at a station for the first time,
don't exit the train and stop to look at the various exits. That says
"tourist" all over. Come out and just start walking in (what you think
is) the right direction. If wrong, then just immediately turn around and
continue walking. Don't stand around looking blur or worse still;
pointing here and there arguing which way to go.
- Common places to take care: in the metro (especially just before the
train doors close), at the Macdonalds queue (while you are intensely
looking at the menu, someone is helping himself to your handphone), at
crowded and touristy spots, at hotel reception counters. I think you get
In conclusion, there is no need to be paranoid (it's not Baghdad or
anything), but having some common sense, being streetwise, and being
alert will ensure a smooth and trouble free holiday. We've enjoyed Paris
each time we were there and we never had any incident (people did
approach us but we always just walked away); there is nothing like the
buzz and excitement of a large city.
Back to Paris for around SGD 2,000
Last updated: Monday 9 November 2009, 22:10:18 hrs