OK to Go to France These Days???

Apr 23rd, 2006, 04:15 PM
Original Poster
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OK to Go to France These Days???

My wife and I have long been talking about spending several weeks in France. But now I am starting to wonder if it is really the best time. Seems like there is a problem with the Muslim population there, as well as the youth segment in general. I wonder if it is really safe for an American to be in Paris these days, not to mention the general terrorism risks with overseas flights. Maybe I am being too paranoid, but I wonder if anyone with recent experience has anything to add here. Thanks.
RolandFan is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2006, 04:36 PM
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Yes, you're being too paranoid.

Rillifane is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2006, 04:59 PM
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"if anyone with recent experience has anything to add here"

Yes - I can't imagine having any concerns such as yours. Sure, one needs to be aware of their surroundings anywhere in the world. But to be afraid to travel to France??? Is this really the best time? There is never a "best" time anywhere - heck someone was mugged in LA today so does that make a bad time to go there?

I was in Paris for 10 days during the height of the student riots - and the only things I saw were on news reports on TV at night . . . . .
janisj is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2006, 05:45 PM
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I think it is hard to really know unless you hear from someone there. I was in France at the height of the so-called American bashing in 2003 over the Iraqi War. I had no problems whatsoever and I was a single female roaming around Paris. Ah I wish I was there now.............
coldwar27 is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2006, 06:07 PM
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Unsure what experience you have with international travel, but certainly I echo the other posters. Go, but always with an awareness of your surroundings. You will notice thousands of other tourists like yourself and all of you will have wonderful memories of your time in Paris and the countryside. On the other hand, there are certainly countries I would think it is advisable to avoid. Most are in the strife-ridden countries of Africa where civil unrest is not met with a well-trained and restrained police force. Western Europe, in particular, should be well within your "comfort zone". I am reminded of the saying that goes something like this: "A boat is safest in the harbour, but that was not why the boat was built". Enjoy your travel times.
teacherCanada is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2006, 06:43 PM
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We just returned from Paris about three weeks ago and even with the recent protests (and I think the protesters have a good point, one being the effects of globalization they are feeling) I felt comfortable there. Mainly, these protesters have nothing against you, you aren't going to be singled out. Second, Paris is a big city and events happening in one part of the city don't even register in another. Finally, of course, it depends on how YOU feel, it's no fun being worried especially when you're on vacation. We did end up leaving the night before we planned because of a nationwide strike planned so it's good if you are flexible since strikes seem to happen alot in France. Personally I'd rather go now in case our president attacks Iran, in that case I doubt we'll be welcome anywhere and Paris is too wonderful to miss in a lifetime. Serena
serena is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2006, 06:54 PM
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I definitely think you are being too paranoid. Have you heard of any event at all of violence against American tourists in France in the last six months or so, based on the labor law protest? I sure haven't, and wonder why you are thinking that.
Christina is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2006, 08:37 PM
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Definitely--I'm taking my mom there in 2 weeks! I was in Italy in 2003 "at the height of the so-called American bashing in 2003 over the Iraqi War"--had no problems there or last fall in Paris.
g33kgrl is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2006, 10:37 PM
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Go, there will be no issue.

As to American-bashing in France, it's my recall it was the other way around.
sheila is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2006, 11:38 PM
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I live in Paris, have lived in New York and London, and used to travel globally a lot on business and had some responsibility for monitoring global travel security risks for staff at my old job. In my view, the "terrorism risks" are about the same for a) any reasonably large American city; b) any town or area in North America located close to a military or other strategically valuable location; c) any town or area near a culturally significant landmark; and d) any large city or similar militarily, strategically or culturally significant location in any industrialised/developed country, including Western Europe, Australia, Canada, etc.

As for the risk of violent crime, I generally feel a lot safer in Paris than I felt in London or New York - about the same as Toronto or Vancouver. I certainly feel less worried about pickpockets in Paris than I have felt as a visitor in Spain or Italy.

There are a few exceptions. Although the riots in the suburbs last fall had no impact on people living in central Paris, the more recent protests have presented slightly more elevated risks. I wouldn't have wanted to be in the vicinity of the protests, especially toward the end of them - because this is when troublemakers acted up and the police reacted. A French friend of mine, a long-time Parisien resident, had her purse snatched on a Saturday evening after one of the protests. She had noted that the streets were empty - many people had stayed home - except for the troublemakers who were looking for some action. But she also acknowledged that she wasn't being careful - she was hold the purse by its strap, not tucked under her arm and she wasn't paying attention to her surroundings.

The recent protests do not have any anti-American element at all. The protesters couldn't care less about you. Troublemakers will target people who look vulnerable - and the camera-toting, map-consulting, credit card-packing and slightly spaced out and gawping tourist of any nationality will be a target for thieves in any country.
Kate_W is offline  
Apr 24th, 2006, 03:30 AM
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How many murders were there in the US last year?
alanRow is offline  
Apr 24th, 2006, 04:33 AM
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There are problems with segments of population everywhere. That said, we just got back last week from a week in Paris, and a week in the countryside, and detected no anti American feelings at all. Lots of anti George Bush sentiment from our shuttle driver, which I was happy to join in, but that only came up during a long and interesting conversation. But, otherwise, I found a lot of pro American feelings, in that we do do some things better than the French. I found people genuinely interested in us and happy to talk and exchange ideas, thoughts, "how do you do this here...?"

And, airplane travel is still the safest method, even if the most uncomfortable, tedious and generally a pain.
Momliz is offline  
Apr 24th, 2006, 04:40 AM
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>Seems like there is a problem with the Muslim population there, as well as the youth segment in general.<

>...not to mention the general terrorism risks with overseas flights. <


I think that someone has been listening to too much talk radio.

When was the last terrorist incident involving an airplane?

ira is offline  
Apr 24th, 2006, 04:40 AM
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when we stayed in Southern California over last Chrismas and had 5 minutes of light rain in 16 days of travel, we were stormed by our European relatives with questions like "how did you survive those terrible rain torrents in California?".

It is the same with U.S. media coverage of "riots" in France. Journalists are reported to have paid teenagers to play violence in front of their cameras.

Travel and enjoy!

BTW, the most dangerous part of flying is driving to the airport.
traveller1959 is offline  
Apr 24th, 2006, 05:38 AM
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Well said, Sheila.

Quite honestly, I would not like to be a French visitor to this forum and it's obvious that there are some.
I've seen so many posts talking about rudeness, cowardice, lack of sense of humour, personal hygiene etc. etc.
Oddly enough the "politeness police" never seem to pull those kinds of thread.
Josser is offline  
Apr 24th, 2006, 05:54 AM
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Thanks Josser
I'm French but I don't feel attacked, it is quite funny actually.
If the Americans are afraid to go to France we will get only the most courageous and open minded of them all, that is all!
Bienvenue en France! ><
cocofromdijon is offline  
Apr 24th, 2006, 06:18 AM
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Its always a GREAT time to go to Paris. Stick to Central Paris' arr. 1-8 if safety is your concern. Air travel is safer than car travel...
amwosu is offline  
Apr 24th, 2006, 06:22 AM
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Please do not worry. I have been to France, primarily Paris at least once a year for the past 7 years and have never felt uncomfortable or endangered. I have never experienced any anti-Americanism. We were in Paris from 4/9 through 15 and had a terrific time. Everyone we met or conducted business with was pleasant. We do our best to speak in French and use our French manners when we are there.

As for terrorism, it is a sad part of our times. We are observant, just as we would be in NYC or DC or LA. There are no guarantees anywhere.

If you still feel uncomfortable about going, change your plans and go somewhere where you will be able to enjoy yourself. This is, afterall, YOUR vacation, not mine or anyone elses.
parisonmymind2 is offline  
Apr 24th, 2006, 07:12 AM
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Returned on Sat. from 10 days in Paris. Walked & Metro'd everywhere and there were no student (or any other) issues going on anyplace. All was well & I just wish I'd written down each time a Parisian went out of their way to help me when they didn't have to. My French is very decent so communication was not a problem. There were just little things that came up now and then which were confusing/perplexing & I was so happy for my daughter to see Parisians happily/eagerly/kindly helping out, after you always read about how rude they are. What a joke.
Clarin is offline  
Apr 24th, 2006, 07:56 AM
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It is true as others have posted that you should go where you will be comfortable as it's no vacation to be worried all the time! That said, *please* don't worry about Paris or the French countryside.

For one, the French have years of experience with "terrorism risks". I was a student in Paris in the mid-80's when there was a lot of unrest. From that time to the present, I have always felt the French (and Europeans in general) have a much better handle on security than we do in the US - and I live in NYC!

I also wouldn't worry about "overseas flights" - after all, 9/11 happened with domestic flights on US soil! If you are worried about overseas flights, don't fly a US airline. Security at European airports has always been much stricter (and more organized) than here.

Lastly, as others have said, most of the recent unrest in Paris happened in the suburbs or outskirts of the city and not really where you will be as a tourist. As a broad generalization, the strife was primarily to the north and east... As amwosu said, "Stick to Central Paris' arr. 1-8 if safety is your concern." (I would add a few others: arr. 9 and 16 for starters...)

I do hope you decide to go - you'll have a great time!!
ggreen is offline  

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