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-   -   Is the Sacre Coeur safe ? (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/is-the-sacre-coeur-safe-840147/)

cali88 May 13th, 2010 02:20 PM

Is the Sacre Coeur safe ?
 
I had a suggestion to go to the Sacre Coeur on my first night in Paris, since I fly in 3pm.. but after reading so many reviews about scary men .. i'm not sure if I want to go anymore.. can anyone share their experiences with me...

If it is not the place for young women like myslef am I better off at going to Tour Montparnasse which seems more safer?

Or am I just just worried about nothin?

RainyDay09 May 13th, 2010 02:46 PM

Sacre coeur shouldn't be missed, IMHO. the church is spectacular and the view is amazing. There are some suspicious characters who hang out at the base of the steps, but just march confidently past them without making eye contact and they will leave you alone. You could also ride a funicular to the top and avoid the hustlers.

sallyjane3 May 13th, 2010 02:59 PM

Where is the funicular/ where are the funiculars located?

cali88 May 13th, 2010 03:11 PM

Is it safe at night as well?

michele_d May 13th, 2010 03:20 PM

Hi cali88,
When we went to Sacre Coeur last year there were a row of men three wide at the top of the steps as you approach Sacre Coeur. I didn't make eye contact, as we were getting used to seeing so many gypsies and their scams throughout Paris.

After passing through them we stood to the side to watch their scam. It involved the men approaching the women and tying a string bracelet around their wrist all the while engaging them in conversation and smiling and joking. When the man was almost finished tying the bracelet he asked the woman's husband for money. The husband handed over some money which apparently wasn't enough. The scammer became angry. Words were exchanged and more money was handed over before the man let go of the bracelet which was still attached to the woman. Needless to say the couple was not smiling and joking when they finally broke free from the scam artist.

The funicular is located on the left side of Sacre Coeur. We walked up the front steps to the church but walked down the steps next to the funicular. I wouldn't be afraid of the men, there are a lot of people around Sacre Coeur and on the walk from the metro, but just as RainyDay09 stated, march confidently past. Go in the daylight hours. Do not pause or make eye contact and you should be fine.

Don't let this deter you. There are gypsies and scammers at all the tourist spots in Paris. They involve pretending to find your ring, asking you to read something on a piece of paper, and just plain begging. We termed them, "The ring, the string and the paper thing scams". Just ignore them.

You will love Paris.
Michele

RainyDay09 May 13th, 2010 03:41 PM

check out TripAdvisor: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserR...de_France.html

cali88 May 13th, 2010 03:54 PM

YEA! I saw that that's why I am so afarid and it's also my first night in Paris, so I didn't want that experience to spoil my entire week.

voyager61 May 13th, 2010 04:10 PM

If you are traveling alone and are a young woman, I would not choose Sacre Coeur for the first night. It's in a neighborhood that's different from more centrally located areas. Montmartre, near there, is a great experience, but again, not in the evening. Morning is much better. Stick with more central areas for the evening. The view is great, as is the church, but I wouldn't go in the evening on my own. If you are asking the question at all, I assume that you are worried about it, so save yourself some stress and don't make it your first night in Paris.

djkbooks May 13th, 2010 04:13 PM

I'm a woman and I've been to Sacre Coeur/Place du Tertre alone at night.

I take Bus 80, then Montmartrobus.

Take only what you need with you and make sure anything valuable is secure. Then, don't worry about it. If you're approached by anyone, just keep moving - don't stop to see what they want.

Leely2 May 13th, 2010 04:16 PM

I would consider it safe, particularly because it will be light until quite late if you are traveling now/summertime.

However, I agree with voyager's comment:
<i>If you are asking the question at all, I assume that you are worried about it, so save yourself some stress and don't make it your first night in Paris.</i>

Sensible advice.

annesherrod May 13th, 2010 04:36 PM

I was just at Sacre Coeur a few weeks ago with my daughter. We were there slightly after dusk. I did not feel leary or nervous in any way. There were still lots of tourists. We walked ALL over Montmarte after - stayed in well lit areas and felt completely safe.

As anywhere be aware of your surroundings and be alert.

paris1953 May 13th, 2010 04:49 PM

There are so many other places to go and enjoy your first evening in Paris. Why not go elsewhere and get your feet wet? I don't want you to think there are gypsies everywhere waiting to attack you, because this is not the case. Sacre Coeur would never be my first stop in Paris. It is lovely up there, but very touristy...so save it for later in your visit.

Just my thoughts.

nytraveler May 13th, 2010 05:41 PM

Anyone who gets into conversations with random stragne men who are coming close enough to touch them (and put bracelets on them!) is obviously asking for trouble. People like that should be avoided - just walk right past and don;t make eye contact. If someone attempts to touch you, glare and say you'll call for the police (they will understand).

However, this is not something I would do on foot alone at night. Have done it at night with the beau - and not one approached us - but he is 6'3" and we both have obvious big city attitude (or should I say, don;t look approachable).

If you really want to go in the early evening just grab a cab to Scare Coeur.

sicilyan May 13th, 2010 06:18 PM

http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/?saved=1

These are the three guys that you have to avoid...the guy with the white t-shirt is the boss who will approach you...the 2 other ones is his helper...don't give them any eye contact..just say "no thank you" and just keep walking...then they will leave you alone...

StCirq May 13th, 2010 06:25 PM

I wouldn't go to Sacré Coeur my first night in Paris, but not because of safety issues - because you'll be tired and it's a fairly long haul from the city center. If you're staying in Montmartre (which I wouldn't do on a first trip to Paris anyway), then fine, but why wouldn't you want to just get to know the neighborhood you're staying in, take it easy, sit at a café, have an early dinner, and go to bed? Besides, like all churches, Sacré Coeur is best seen in bright light, and while it stays light late from now on in France, you'd best wait for daylight hours on a sunny day.

As for the touts at Sacré Coeur, a direct look in the eye and a sharp "Va t'en!" will let them know you have no use for their antics. There's no need to be scared of them, though. Your safety's not at issue.

djkbooks May 13th, 2010 06:59 PM

If it's a view over Paris you have in mind, going to the top of the Arc de Triomphe (tremendous views) would be much easier and more convenient, all depending on where you're staying.

Not all recommendations from friends, etc., are good ones.

MNsnowflake May 13th, 2010 07:59 PM

I was approached by one of the "string guys" walking up the steps to Sacre Coeur. I tried my best to ignore the guy, but he kept getting in front of me. I finally told him in a very strong loud voice "leave me alone" -- he then did, but called after me, calling me a name (rhymes with witch). That same trip, we encountered several of these "ring guys", which we also ignored. I doubt any of them would get violent, particularly with a lot of people around, but it does put a damper on your spirits. That was in 2007; strangely enough on our previous trip in 2006 we didn't have any encounters.

Like other posters, I wouldn't recommend this for your first evening in Paris. But I don't think there's any reason to be particularly scared of them - just be sure you don't let any of these scammers get too close to you, particularly if there's more than one.

kerouac May 14th, 2010 12:35 AM

Damn, after 37 years living in Paris, 19 of them living in the 18th arrondissement, I still have not seen those string guys. I am obviously doing something wrong.

cathies May 14th, 2010 12:42 AM

nytraveler, I had one of those bracelet men approach me at Sacre Couer. I do keep my wits about me and certainly didn't make eye contact. He was starting to tie the bracelet around my wrist before I even knew what was going on. He removed it pretty quickly when I hit the roof and told him off in no uncertain terms.

PatrickLondon May 14th, 2010 01:08 AM

Anywhere that attracts people is going to attract scammers, I'm afraid; around the Tour Montparnasse may be no exception (since it's close to a main railway station).

I thought of suggesting you might like to go and see the Eiffel Tower light up, but the obvious places to view that (from directly underneath or at the Trocadéro) will also have people selling souvenirs and might have the odd scammer around. Another option might be to take advantage of the late opening at the Arc de Triomphe (if you can stand the stair-climbing - but that could be a way to tire you out completely and help get over any jetlag), to see the Eiffel Tower from the top; but there might be scammers in the subways from the metro station.

On the other hand, even crooks need their dinners, and may have clocked off by the evening.

But I agree with St Cirq - get to know the area around where you're staying, and do some people-watching from a café where you feel comfortable. Whereabouts are you staying, by the way - that might give us some ideas.

Cowboy1968 May 14th, 2010 01:23 AM

Haven't been up there at night, but I always liked to watch the sun rise over Paris in the early morning hours (if for some odd reason I should already or still be up around 6am).
It can look quite magical when the greyish haze gets colored by the rising sun. No souvenir vendors or other nerving people up there at those hours. And then stroll through Montparnasse and watch the city wake up, street cleaners hosing down the cobblestone streets, grab a croissant from a small bakery, and see people running to catch the metro at Abbesses...

PatrickLondon May 14th, 2010 06:38 AM

Montmartre, I think you mean, Cowboy.

Cowboy1968 May 14th, 2010 07:51 AM

Thanks Patrick, Montmartre indeed.
I am not THAT good at hiking at 6 in the morning to go from the butte to Montparnasse :-)

Christina May 14th, 2010 09:27 AM

I stay in Montparnasse a lot, around the Tour Montparnasse is not remotely close to the atmosphere around Sacre Coeur. Really, places are different, everyplace is not the same.

I've never been up there at night, but it never occurred to me to even want to go up there at night. So I don't see why one would even do that in the first place. I wouldn't go up there at night on my first day in Paris, just seems a bad idea.

kerouac May 14th, 2010 10:22 AM

Montmartre can be magical at night. Particularly at Christmas when rue Lepic and rue des Abbesses are strung with the little blue miniature lights, it ups the ante to breathtaking. The traditional areas like Saint Germain or the Marais pale by comparison for the evening ambience.

annhig May 14th, 2010 10:58 AM

Hi calli,

I must be getting short-sighted as we were at Montmatre a few weeks ago and not only was i not approached by people wanting to tie bracelets round my wrist, I didn't even see them. but we were there in the day, where the most worrying thing was the living statue that kept moving..scarey.

but i agree it's not the place for a first night. why not get a boat along the seine [very safe] look at Notre dame and the Eiffel tower all lit up, and then have a nice meal in st. germain? also, remember that the louvre, the grand palais [exhibitions] and many of the department stores stay open quite late on some nights - they might make good places to go on your own.

Michel_Paris May 14th, 2010 11:20 AM

I think I agree with the above who suggest that there are better places to go on a first night: Seine cruise, Pont des Arts, walk along Seine, Champs Elysee/Arc, Eiffel tower,etc...

SusanP May 14th, 2010 01:03 PM

I don't understand why you're even considering going there on your first night if you're worried about it. Take the above suggestions and explore the area around your hotel. I've been up to Sacre Coeur several times, always during the day, and have never even seen the scammers. I think it's better to go there during the day anyway, especially a nice day with the blue ski behind Sacre Coeur...beautiful!

Adoc86 May 14th, 2010 01:21 PM

The last time I went to the Sacre Coeur (2005) it was just my stepsister and I, and we were 17 and 19 years old, respectively. We traveled to several countries in Europe on our own and I didn't feel that the Sacre Coeur was dangerous at all. I think that there are scammers in all cities, so its just something to watch out for in general. But overall if you're aware of your surroundings and don't stray too far when you're by yourself then you should be ok. There are tons of tourists there and the view is gorgeous. I felt that there were far more sketchy places in France than this area. However, I don't know that I would go walking anywhere alone at night in many areas of Europe, or even the US these days!- as a young woman. So it really depends on exactly what time you'd be in the area and if it will be dark. I would agree with everyone else and say to save it for a daytime trip.

kerouac May 14th, 2010 01:27 PM

Regarding those who would only go during the day, the view at night is magical. The city is calm and luminous. Even if only for a few minutes, everybody should see the night view from the top of the steps.

cathies May 16th, 2010 03:35 AM

kerouac, you need to go there with a camera in one hand a a Paris guide book in the other. I'm sure you'll meet up with the bracelet guys then! Oh, just realised you often take your camera places, as I thoroughly enjoyed your photographic essays. May a fold out map would do the trick??

I forget which metro stop is the one that takes you straight up the hill to Sacre Couer? Once I got off a different stop and found myself passing lots of fabric shops and a couple of car workshops, which was fine as I was with my husband, but might be a bit scary for a single female.

cathies May 16th, 2010 04:35 AM

oops I meant to spell it coeur.

emily71 May 16th, 2010 05:43 AM

I keep missing all the scams in Paris, I've never been approached by the bracelet men. I hve noticed there are more "gypsys" around the tourists attractions such as the Eiffel Tower. Most of the time, they are persistant, but not dangerous.

I have been approached by women around the Tower ask if someone speaks English(you can usually tell the scam artists).I've found the best option is to use my Spanish or French and scowl at them. 9 times out of 10, it works like a charm and they will move on to friendlier American prey.

I've noticed that the most naive tourists are the 20-something American women, who are too nice to shoo the scam artists away. I've seen them spend 20 mins. trying to extricate themselves away from these overzealous vendors. Just don't make eye contact and a gruff "no" or "nein" usually does the trick.

The obnoxious vendors selling trinkets by the attractions are the biggest nuisiance for me and it seems to have increased in recent years. I don't mind people calling out to buy their goods but we had a man literly block our path and insist we buy his stuff. I don't see why the Parisian authorities can't clamp down on them.

kerouac May 16th, 2010 07:36 AM

Cathies, having my camera out so much of the time attracts only the gypsy girls, none of the others. I just make an irritated gypsy hissing sound and they back off instantly. No words required.

RainyDay09 May 17th, 2010 07:44 PM

The metro stop for going straight to Sacre Coeur is Anvers.

Aduchamp1 May 17th, 2010 08:39 PM

Last time I was near Sacre Coeur, I was approached in the middle of the afternoon by a hooker with gold teeth. I guess I looked very lonely.

analogue May 17th, 2010 11:39 PM

Sacre Coeur is much better at night than during the day.

kappa1 May 18th, 2010 01:44 AM

It's a fun place, that area ! Once on one isolated street on the way up, I was greeted by 2 transvestite hookers (barazilian or other south americans ? I thought), one sunday morning.

isabel May 18th, 2010 02:33 AM

I've been to Montmartre (which is where Sacre Coeur is located, at least one post above seemed to indicate they were two separate places) both day and evening and felt totally safe. It's full of tourists. But it's beautiful. My daughter (early 20s) lives in the 18th and goes there all the time in the early evening for the great view. The advice people have given you may actually relate more to Pigale, an area below Montmartre which can be sketcy. Even if you don't go your first night try to get there some evening.

Here's a shot of it early evening in December - www.pbase.com/annforcier/image/120879850.
And here's one of the view from there: www.pbase.com/annforcier/image/120879736.

ter2000 May 18th, 2010 02:45 AM

If you're nervous then don't go there in the evening. Even if nothing happens to you, you'll still be jumpy and this will be compounded by jetlag. I think the idea of a boat trip along the Seine is a marvellous idea for your first evening in Paris - then you'll get a "preview" of a lot of the main sights and where they are in relation to each other, plus you can just relax and let Paris unroll in front of you.

I always approach Sacre Coeur from Abessess Metro station - that way you avoid the funicular, where some of the scammers seem to hang out, plus get to see the quaint streets of "real" Montmartre.


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