Paris -Traveling Alone

Jul 3rd, 2001, 10:02 AM
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Paris -Traveling Alone

Hi - with all of the messages and warnings I just read here about Paris theft I was wondering-since I will be going alone in a few weeks- if there is anything else - besides all of the good advice already- that I should know. Will being alone make me an easier target. I have traveled in Italy and Portugal and have never had a problem with theft. I was not alone during those trips but this one will be and wondering how much more cautious I should be than usual. It was making me a little nervous reading all this and I usually am very confident and don't let things like that bother me. So should I just proceed as before with my usual already cautious attitude - or should I be extra extra because I will be alone. Just to let you know - it is very helpful to try to blend in like a local. I dress like locals and go to the "local" resutaurants as a form of blending in so as not to stand out. I think that is good advice for all. Thanks for your help!
Jul 3rd, 2001, 10:14 AM
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I visit Paris quite often, and alone (spent five weeks last fall). I've never felt unsafe or wary. No matter where I am, I don't tell strangers where I live or volunteer how many people are in my party, etc. No suitcase, handbag, briefcase, portfolio, etc. has my name or address visible (in fact, everything has my work address). The only parts of Paris that are offputting are some of the outer arrondissements, and Pigalle, AT NIGHT - during the day, no problems. Your own intuition works everywhere - if something feels creepy, IT IS, and get away from it.

Just keep your wits about you - some people let them disappear on vacations, don't ask me why - and you'll be fine.

Enjoy Paris. It is a city that defies description, and can't be visited just once (sorta like Lay's Potato Chips).
Jul 3rd, 2001, 11:05 AM
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just to add to the above good advice:
I've traveled alone and with others, being on my own is a matter of logistics more than anything else. I've never been a crime victim while traveling, knock wood.
Don't let yourself get bogged down or distracted with too much luggage or too many packages because there's no one else to watch them. If you're doing some shopping, drop some packages off at your hotel before continuing on.
Sorry to state the obvious, but don't stand in the middle of the street peering at the map with your bag gaping open or your packages scattered about your feet. Sit down somewhere with your
bag closed and close to your body and with one eye on it. Better yet, figure out your route before you leave the hotel, and put the essential points on a scrap of paper so you don't have to keep opening up your bag to get the map out.
When you leave the cashier desk or ticket window, take 5 extra seconds to put your wallet away at the bottom of your bag,and close it before you walk away.
I have a file on Paris; if you'd like to see it, email me.
Jul 3rd, 2001, 11:57 AM
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Thanks both to elvira and elaine for your help - I really appreciate it- you have put my mind at ease. A few more questions if I may- I don't wear a money belt and usually have carried a small backpack around during the day when traveling in Europe. There is all this talk about carrying the money belt though - should I do this for Paris or stick to my usual routine. One more question - do you feel self conscious at all if having to dine alone at night in Paris. Any suggestions? Thanks!
Jul 3rd, 2001, 12:02 PM
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*LOL*, Elvira!! I bet Parisians would love THAT comparison. :~)
Jul 3rd, 2001, 12:16 PM
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For city travel, I like a small shoulder bag-- a little bigger than the "wallet on a string" idea. It is not as protected as a money belt, but being small it's easy to keep close to my body, and I can find everything I need easily (I think fumbling through a bag or a backpack can actually make you more vulnerable). Mine has a long strap that I sling across. It is not big enough to hold all the "necessities", therefore I carry less, which is easy on the back too! Then I try to use pockets, camera bag, etc. for the rest, if it's going to be along day of touring. However, if I'm just out for dinner or wandering, I can make do with the small purse by itself.

The previous advice was really good. I will add something I'm plagiarizing from another thread, just in case you didn't see it: don't carry all of your valuables in the same place, just in case the worst does happen. And a simple piece of advice for protection is to carry a photocopy of your passport, and bury it in your luggage. It provides easy access to some ID if you should lose the real thing.

One last thought-- as a woman alone you may actually be safer from tourist-oriented crime, as you will blend in more than a group! As Elvira said, just be sensible about avoiding garden-variety crime, and I'm sure you'll have a great time!
Jul 3rd, 2001, 01:05 PM
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A money belt is always wise. My wife and I always carry our passports and extra cash in our money pouch. If my wife carries a purse or waist pack it will not contain anything she can't replace.
Jul 3rd, 2001, 01:24 PM
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Agreed: pay attention to your surroundings. A freind and I were having sandwiches on a bench in front of St. Julien le Pauve and a couple of fellows who more or less resembled homeless folks here stood very close to us. We made sure they knew WE KNEW they were there and they left. A few moments later we saw them dashing across the street and someone was shouting at them. I don't know if they stole anything. Be careful as you would in any large American city and you will be fine. I cannot think of anyplace I would not fel OK in Paris in the daytime.
Enjoy your trip.
Jul 3rd, 2001, 06:49 PM
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I stress to everyone I travel with to wear a money belt but few listen. On one trip my travel companion didn't have enough money to pay for her item (she'd left everything but a little money at the hotel) and borrowed from me, and most recently, May in Paris, my sister wore a small backpack and a couple of guys tried to unzip it while we were getting onto the metro. They weren't too smart as they tried to shove me to get to her and I shoved back. I hate it when people push! We looked at each other and he and his friend took off. My sister was oblivious to the whole thing! Anyhow, please reconsider a money belt. It doesn't show unless you're wearing slinky clothes and it's really not uncomfortable. Sorry for the preaching.
Jul 4th, 2001, 05:33 PM
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I've tried the waistpouch, and it just doesn't work for me. I used to carry a neckpouch (small leather wallet on a narrow strap) but have found that a small purse that's designed to be worn across the chest (the strap is angled so it lays flat) works best. Look for one that has a pocket (zippered or velcroed) that lies against your body, for your valuables, and the front pocket works for maps, kleenex, etc. I like it because I can put a jacket over it and don't have to remove it first.

No matter where I am, I don't like my "stuff" out of sight, so I'm not a fan of backpacks except for carrying things like umbrellas and guidebooks.
Jul 5th, 2001, 10:30 AM
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I travel in Paris alone frequently. Everyone's advice regarding safety is good. You also asked about dining alone. I find Paris to be one of the easist cities to dine alone in Europe! I choose outside for people watching. I always have a book (not a guide book) and its not unusual to discover other Americans, or English speaking solo travelers when I'm out. The waiters in Paris I always find very respectful. One way to save money is to eat your big meal at lunch. Also, eating in cafes in Paris will take time, (one of the things I love about it). Expect to take at least an hour when by yourself or even more. If you get lonely for companionship, you can always find Americans at the cafes around the Rue Cler area. There are other areas of course, but Mr. Steves has insured that there will always be Americans in the Rue Cler area.Other lively areas to eat in are the Marais, Latin Quarter, especially Rue Moufftard. You can get dinner on Rue Moufftard (try a place in the Place Contrescarpe) then shop among its inexpensive shops for things to take home. Finally, another way to connect with other solo travelers is through day tours. Guaranteed you'll meet others. Have a wonderful time.
Jul 8th, 2001, 12:47 PM
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I visited Paris last fall alone and here are some basic tips:
* absolutely buy a money belt, no excuses
* don't make eye contact with strangers esp. on the Metro
* don't look around like you're lost, even if you are, or pull out maps in public areas
* don't ask everyone in sight for directions
* learn some French
* make an itinerary before you leave, I did and it really helped, I spent 2 weeks in Paris and it was just enough time to see everything
* I'm not a museum/art nut but my god they have the best galleries in the world, spend time indoors at these museums and you're safe: Musee D'Orsay, Louvre, Picasso Museum, Dali Museum
* buy Fodor's book on Paris
* don't be afraid of the Metro
* picture the most confident person you know (or have seen on TV) and strut
Have a good time
Jul 8th, 2001, 01:04 PM
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Bob: Just wondering where the Dali Museum might be.

I do agree with your inputs, but for myself, I do not hesitate to ask nice looking people (elderly ladies walking their dog) in the street, if I am looking for something. However, the Parisian usually know where the next bakery, post office or café is, but very often they have no idea about less known places tourists may search.
Jul 8th, 2001, 03:45 PM
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Ursula: Dali Museum is in Montmartre. I've never been in it, as it always seems to be closed when I try.
Jul 9th, 2001, 03:12 AM
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Elvira good morning and thanks re the Dali Museum.
I found out a couple of details with the Tourist Board website of Paris (

It's called "Dali Espace" (Museum)
11, Rue Poulbot (close to Place du Tertre)
75018 Paris
Métro: Abbesses

Open (according the above site):
Monday-Sunday 10.00 a.m. to 7.30 p.m.
Late openings July and August until 9.30 p.m.

Might be a funny place without too many tourists to explore.
Jul 9th, 2001, 05:48 AM
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About the money belt - I used to wear the waist style, and would again but I admit you can feel it. Then I tried the neck style - but I wore it around my waist - and I like it much better. It lies flat against your hip and the string around your waist is less than the belt of the waist style. Hardly knew I had it on. And one other thing - if you use a backpack or even a purse, try to find one that zips closed with two zippers and then secure the two zippers. I use a tiny combination luggage lock. (I only lock it in crowded places). It works kind of like a zipper pull. That way no one can unzip your bag. I've heard people suggest using twist ties, etc., just something to discourage or slow down a pickpocket.

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