Travel Guide: France
France Travel Guide: Safety Tips in France. Travel Safety Tips.
France is one of the richest and most industrialized countries in the world, so traveling to France is quite safe. France has a low violent crime rate, although as the tourist capital of the world, it is common to have a number of pickpockets and petty thieves roaming popular destinations preying on unsuspecting tourists. Paris is a hotspot for petty thievery, especially of bags, wallets, purses and even luggage.
Travelers must observe travel safety tips when traveling to France to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey. Nothing can dampen a trip more than to be victimized by a pickpocket or to have your unattended bags and luggage stolen at the train station. Travelers must beware of civilians who seem to be overly helpful of tourists, as they may be con men and thieves trying to distract you so your things can be stolen. Some thieves work in pairs, where one person will distract you by bumping into you, trying to sell you something or trying to assist you, while his partner will steal your things when you aren’t looking. It’s better to avoid making eye contact with other people and avoid drawing attention to yourself. Dress appropriately and avoid wearing flashy and expensive jewelry. Keep an eye and a hold on all your belongings at all times.
Thieves and pickpockets have been known to steal belongings of people enjoying a meal at a restaurant, waiting at the bus stop, taxi or train station. It is not uncommon to have your luggage stolen while on the train, especially when you are asleep. If you are taking an overnight train, be sure to have your luggage with you at all times, even when you are in a private compartment. Use cable ties aside from padlocks to secure your luggage and its contents.
One good France travel safety tip to keep in mind is to use a money belt when going shopping or touring. This cuts down the chances of having your purse, money and other valuables stolen. Limit the amount of cash you carry for the day and opt to pay with traveler’s checks, which can easily be replaced, or by credit card.
Be especially vigilant when using the ATM machines. Some syndicates have manipulated bank ATMS to get the ATM card and not release it. Unknown to the traveler, your PIN number may already be recorded with a special device. If you run out of cash, it’s simply better to pay with credit cards. In some cases, you could run into a thief after you withdraw your money.
Hotels are generally safe but your belongings may not always be secure even if you have a locked room. France travel safety tips include keeping your passport, cash and other important documents and valuables in the room safe or with the hotel safe at the concierge. If you are going around Paris or other cities, carry photocopies of your travel documents rather than bringing along the original documents with you. This way, in case you lose your purse, you will still have your original copies safely back at the hotel.
When staying in a hotel, lock your room and bolt it from the inside. Some travelers take the added precaution of jamming the doorknob with a chair or heavy luggage to prevent thieves from entering the room. This is especially true when staying in smaller hostels and in hotels located in more unsavory parts of town. When you leave for the day, close the windows of your hotel room, as some thieves may enter through the windows and fire escapes.
Before you leave the hotel, it’s a good idea to talk to the concierge and discuss the best routes to where you want to go. This way, you won’t get easily lost. Bring the calling card of your hotel with you so you can show it to the cab driver. Familiarize yourself with the neighborhood you are staying in. If you look lost, pickpockets and other criminals may take advantage of you and what you mistake for French hospitality may actually be a criminal activity in the works.
When you walk the streets of Paris or other major French cities, keep your eyes on the ground. While the sights may be amazing, you don’t want to accidentally step on some dog poop. The French do like to bring their pets with them so the streets may be littered with dog droppings that you can easily step on if you’re not careful.
At night, it’s better to take a taxi than to take a stroll, especially if you are by yourself. Some areas are known to be havens of gangs, pickpockets and prostitutes.
Leaving your belongings in a parked vehicle doesn’t ensure their safety either. Thieves have been known to break into cars and jack open the trunks of vehicles. Beware of motorcycle drivers and riders as you are walking since they have been known to snatch purses and bags of unknowing pedestrians.
If you are victimized by crime, call 15 for the police or contact the hotel concierge right away. If you need to have your travel documents replaced, go to your country’s embassy immediately.
When traveling to France, bring with you any necessary prescription medication with the corresponding written prescription from your doctor. You must also have the appropriate travel health insurance when you go to France. Many medical insurers do not extend coverage outside of the United States. Be sure to secure and keep all receipts and pay by credit card for medical services rendered while in France, so these can be readily reimbursed when you get home. If you know you are susceptible to digestive ailments, take with you some anti-acids. French food can be quite heavy and rich at times.
When touring, it’s best to bring your own bottle of water. Sparkling water, sodas and other beverages are expensive in France. A bottle can set you back as much as 5 euros. You can purchase a bottle of water at a local grocery store and keep it in your purse to stay hydrated as you tour.
If you plan to drive in France, be sure to have an international driver’s license. You must also be aware that French drivers are more aggressive on the road. Pedestrians don’t always have the right of way, so take extra precautions. Pedestrian accidents account for about 13 percent of vehicular accidents resulting in deaths in France, so proceed with caution but be decisive. It’s more advisable to simply use the public transportation system and avoid driving in Paris altogether, which can be quite an intimidating experience for a traveler.
For those who wish to tour France by bike or go around the cities by pedaling, remember that helmets aren’t mandatory although largely advised. Bring or buy your own helmet for your own safety.
These are just some useful and practical France travel safety tips you should keep in mind. France is a beautiful and exciting country to visit, with a number of interesting sights and points of interest for all travelers. If you exercise caution, are vigilant and use common sense, you can save yourself a lot of problems and keep yourself safe from crime. This way, you can enjoy your trip to France without incident.
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