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Travel Etiquette & Avoiding Scams in Paris

OK, P'Nicher, picture it... you're strolling around Paris and having the time of your life when... you guessed it, you've been scammed (or targeted). There is a lot of fear around this topic. While Paris is actually very safe for a booming metropolis, there are some things you can do to lower your fear and to be aware and diligent for your own safety and comfort. Let's take a look to get informed...


Pickpocketing. The first item we will talk about is pickpocketing as it is the most prevalent, and spoken of, scam in Paris.

Wallets, iPhones, etc. are easily lifted and hard to notice when taken. Pickpocketing is not new in Paris, but it is up to the traveler to be diligent and to watch their items. Keep your wallet and iPhone tightly secured and stowed away (in a zipped pocket or bag) on the métro.


This applies for crowded areas of interest too - think the Eiffel Tower, Sacré Coeur, and the Champs-Élysées. As a note, pickpocketers typically travel in packs or groups. They are mostly likely not violent and not looking for attention.

Carry as little cash and/or valuables as possible. Check out the travel etiquette we've described before to avoid making yourself a clear target for scam artists.


If you've been pickpocketed, give yourself some grace, it happens to the best of us.

The first thing to do is to return to your accommodation as quickly as possible to turn off any debit/credit cards and/or phone apps with personal data that can be compromised if possible. If your passport was lifted, contact your embassy to report and replace it.

Do not let these tales discourage you. Paris is a truly wonderful city to visit. You just need to be wise and aware of your surroundings. Some other commonplace scams to look out for...


The Petition. You are approached by someone or a small group asking for your signature on a petition for some very worthy sounding cause. Or, they ask for a small cash donation for their cause. Or both.

A firm "Non" and move on decidedly. This is a very common scam in Paris.

The Gold Ring. You hear (or don't hear) some metal hitting the ground. A kind looking person stops you and said "you dropped this." You say no. They say "it's nice, anyway, you should take it." You reach, they demand money or payment.

Don't take it or touch it. Walk away with a firm "Non." This is a scam.

The Friendship Bracelet. This one is a biggie near the Eiffel Tower and Sacré Coeur. A kind looking person will approach you and extend their hand. You think they are going in for a handshake.

The next thing you know, they are tying a thread around your finger and quickly embroidering a "friendship bracelet."

Now, they are tying this bracelet on your wrist and demanding payment. Naturally, try not to extend your hand to a stranger.

If you do find yourself in this common scam, quickly retrieve your finger and hand as quickly as possible with a head shake, a hearty "Non," and move on as quickly as possible.

The Rose. Ah Paris, the city of love! Someone approaches you and hands you a rose and you think "this city is for me!"

Nope. This is a common scam. The moment you take that rose into your hands, the scammer will demand payment. Even if you pass back the bloom, they may refuse and continue to say you owe them money.

As unromantic as it sounds, if someone is coming towards you with a rose, look away, move away, and do not accept it. It's a scam.

And remember, the scammer is not looking for a loud scene. Your firm refusal should quickly send them on their way so they can avoid attention - and the authorities.

The Friendly Metro Helper. Well, you didn't find love in your last spot, so it's time to head home. You're feeling a little turned around, or need tickets when, suddenly, a friendly Parisian steps up to offer you some guidance. Nope - Scam. You're likely being targeted by a pickpocketer. Unless you have expressly asked for help, a simple "Non," and a firm stride in your step will avert this scam.

The ATM Issue. You've found your way back home and think it's time to get some money out for the next day. Well, there have been issues of robberies at these popular cash points.

Avoid this scam by being aware of your surroundings. Look also for groups of people or children sitting idly near machines. If you see them, move on and get your cash at another spot and moment.


Panhandling / Public Begging. This one is tough. Homelessness and poverty are real and present issues and P'Niche is not blind or close hearted to this fact.

However, some (not all) of those you see begging on the streets are scamming.

It is hard to say who is who, but there are some signs to be aware of.


A common way to get scammed is the person who is sitting and has a cup in front of them. Often, as you walk by, they quickly move the cup in front of your path, causing you to accidentally kick it, and the money within it, flying.

Now, you are scrambling to gather and to put back the money, and feel so guilty, that you reach into your bag and give more. It's a common scam.


Now, P'Niche is certainly not telling you what to do with your money. If your heart pulls you to donate, by all means do so, with the care and dignity you offer one in need.

We do not take those struggling and needing help lightly. If you want to make sure your funds are well received, do consider donating to a registered charity.

The Street Vendor. You are enjoying the Eiffel Tower and are approached by someone selling Eiffel Tower trinkets (or similar). They may seem friendly, and perhaps even offer you the chance to hold the item for closer inspection, then bam. They demand payment and may even follow you about to pester you. Avoid this scam by shopping for your souvenirs at a proper storefront.


Three Shell Game. You've moved on from the Eiffel Tower and are enjoying Paris when you see the Three Shell Game. Now, you know enough to avoid play, but even staying to watch allows you to be targeted by pickpockets while distracted. Avoid this scam by steering clear.

Fake Police. In this scam, a falsely dressed officer will approach you and ask to see your wallet to check for counterfeit currency or to see your passport. Real police officers will not do this on the street. Scammers want your money, credit cards, or passport. If approached, say you left your wallet and ID at the hotel in the safe. Side note - carry very little cash and do leave your passport in the safe!

Now, you are thinking, My goodness, Paris seems so dangerous?! No. Paris is quite a safe city.

P'Niche has laid out all the scams she can think of to make you aware of your surroundings and situations. You can learn to avoid the bad, and in turn, enjoy more of the good of Paris. And, there is so much Parisian goodness to enjoy!

Remember some key points for fitting in:

· Dress the part. Here are some capsule wardrobe ideas to help.

· Speak softly. You can see this and more in P'Niche's travel etiquette post.

· Be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas of interest and the métro. Here's our métro guide.

· Carry around as little cash as possible.

· When you trip plan, take photos of your IDs and credit cards in case of theft.

· Be clear and firm with your "Non." Once stated, move away quickly. If they ask again or follow you, a louder "NON!" will move them away - remember, they don't want a fuss, a scene, or attention.

· Have purpose in your step. You've got fun Parisian things to see and do!

What do you think P'Nichers, and have you been scammed? Remember, there's no judgement here in the Parisian Niche - we all learn from each other, so we're happy to hear from you in the comments below et à bientôt!


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2 comentários

09 de jul. de 2022

Great article. Two more thoughts for a bit of extra safety while traveling: 1). Take an Apple Watch with cellular connection (just be sure to coordinate with your cellular company to make sure it will work in Paris or wherever you are traveling). It will cost a few extra dollars a day for service but if your phone ever disappears you can call from your wrist in an emergency or use it to locate your phone (Just don’t go chance down bad guys in an effort to get it back). 2) Be sure to set up your phone with a password or Face ID lock to always be secured when you are not using it.

10 de jul. de 2022
Respondendo a

Great tips, TRL, with thanks for sharing the good advice - bon voyage!

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