There are some places in Paris that you must avoid. It’s not always about ghosts, spirits, anti-social activities, and natural forces. There can be various reasons for a place to be avoided in Paris itself. There are many zones where it’s not safe to visit at certain days and times. If you do not know about them, then you may possibly hit those zones at the wrong time resulting in problems. And you would not like to bring back unpleasant memories from Paris. The city of lights must ignite only nice and friendly, pleasant and joyful memories in you, to make you remember your Paris trip with a smile. Hence, it’s good to avoid places which are shunned by locals and also talked about in various media and news channels etc. at various times for various reasons.
At various times the US Fox News and the British Tabloid paper Daily Express, and also Pamela Geller the Islam intolerant blogger, all commented about the various not to go zones in Paris. They were declared dangerous for many reasons. Many of the famous tourist attractions of the city also are marked red in the list, and it’s good to know about the restrictions in visiting them too for your own good if you are new to Paris.
1- The Arc de Triomphe roundabout
At this roundabout crossing, 12 avenues meet. And that is why this is one of the busiest crossings in Paris, which creates a total pandemonium. If you are driving, and you reach here, you are sure to go crazy. That’s because this place has no signs for the direction, and no helpful signs for the driver to take a side or drive by. Any driver would get confused at this busy place. If you are slightest confused about where to go, which lane to take and which way to turn, then do avoid this place by any means.
It’s so dangerous a place in Paris for the drivers and newcomers, that even the insurance companies have a dedicated coverage for driers named Arc de Triomphe coverage. If you do not know the European driving rules, then you are gone here. The difference is felt by which vehicle you are driving. If you are in a car you are in alarm. Scooter riders would love the place and play with the traffic too with ease.
2- The Eiffel Tower on a summer Saturday in the afternoon
Never ever dread to visit the Eiffel tower on a Saturday at the afternoon during the summers. This can be the deadliest decision and can make you stand in the longest queue ever for so many hours that you would lose all hope of seeing the spot and also visiting the rest of Paris with those tired and waiting feet. It’s a too tiring, too boring, extremely unending and lengthy wait, and yet does not assure you that you would get to the ticket counter before dusk. That is why your whole day can get wasted for no good return.
And why won’t it happen! The Eiffel Tower is one of the most visited attractions in the world and is also wonder from the old list of wonders. This means people would see this surely whether they see any other attraction of Paris or not. You will have to visit the place and see the crowd believe that more than 7 million people each year visit this place. The question in this case, in your mind, would be when to visit the Tower. Well, the best time to visit can be too early in the morning. Being an early bird always brings some rewards. And in the case of the Eiffel tower, you can enjoy the best city view from the top when you visit the place either at early morning or in the evening, and that too on a weekday.
3- The small school playgrounds
There are no big parks in Paris and also the houses do not have gardens or yards for the child to play or bask in the sun. That is why all the pressure of children play are taken by the small playgrounds in front of the schools. And that too happens on the Sundays. Sundays are for rest definitely; but not for the parents in Paris who have small children or toddlers. Hence being the tourists or visitors to the city, if you plan to take your kid to any such playground which is referred to as Squares here, then you better avoid the Sundays. It’s too much of rush here making the waiting time for each kid’s turn on a ride to be an average of 10 minutes. And by that time the parent surely loses her/his mind and also endangers losing track of the child in the crowd and rush.
4- The Paris Metro in hot summer days
The Paris Metro is not the right place to be in during the hot summer days. That’s because most of the metro rails are not air-conditioned. This means people do sweat a lot. On top of that, the trains are always overcrowded and make lots of people stand together in a confined space. That’s basically uncomfortable and especially more during hot and sweating summers. That is why if you can avoid the metro in the peak summer as the newcomer to the city, it would be great. The best way to enjoy Paris tour is by walking in the summers to avoid the brushing against the sweaty skin and bodies of strangers in the crowded metro. Walking is rather comfortable and enjoyable than the train ride, and Paris can be covered by walking too in a fun way.
5- Avoid the Gare du Nord after sunset
This is one of the danger zones in Paris you must avid after the dark at any cost. Nothing pleasant happens here, and the atmosphere of this place goes really foul as night falls. The smell of urine in the air, groups of men looking like goons standing here and there without purpose, extremely expensive bars that look dingy, drug dealing gangs and criminals active at places here and there, altogether makes this place one of the most avoided unsafe and stinky places in the city after dark. It’s not a place for families, children, and women. It’s not even safe for adult men. Rather after the dark people avoid the place, and who are still there moves out of the place quickly. If you see people’s movement there after dark, you would see the locals slipping out as fast as possible from the zone right after getting off from their trains. Things may get snatched at this station, and then you cannot blame it on anyone else but your poor research.
6- Public toilets called Sanisettes
The public toilets in Paris can be quite a gamble. You really do not know before entering if they are any good for use or a hell inside there. Actually, these are not operated and maintained by a caretaker or human. They are completely motorized automated toilets which work with programming that is preset. This means your experience of use would depend on the last person who used the toilet. And hence you should not take a chance and risk your sanitation if you plan to stay healthy and complete your tour in Paris painlessly. Or you may visit one at your own risk. The best alternatives to the Sanisettes are the toilets in the cafeteria and coffee shops. However, if you try to use one, better buy a coffee or snack at them and then ask to use the toilet, as this looks bit generous.
7- Entire Chatelet Metro station area
This metro station is a total confusion zone and it must be avoided at all costs. It’s in no way the place for the newcomers to Paris to be in. The station has no direction, no signs, and no proper guidelines for the travelers. Whatever instructions there are in the station are also full of wrong data and totally confusing.
It’s a huge station with a vast area. It’s important too for the location. But the lack of signs and signage and proper instructions makes it a pain to commute through the station. Connecting metro lines meet the station, but a newcomer will never be able to easily find the way. Much time and energy would surely get wasted in finding connections. And even after that one may get misguided or get to the wrong destination. Suggested walking times are wrong, and one can get misguided from them too. The overall environment of the station, the broken tiles, the under-construction makes, the dark areas, the crowd; all makes it an unpleasant spot to be in and must be avoided especially if you want to stay away from the painful zones in Paris.
8- The Champs-Elysees nightclubs
The environment and atmosphere here are overall disturbing and depressing if you are looking for some joyous fun. Do not expect things to turn out smooth and fun here. The teenager crowd is quite obnoxious, bars would not pay you back change for your drinks, and you will still have to tune in with bad tasteless music. And that’s not all! Women can slip inside the clubs for free where men will have to wait for a lady partner to get in, and wait mercilessly till they get one. And when you want to return and it’s late at night, you won’t get a taxi too. Hence, it’s going to be an unsafe, tiring, and uncomfortable night here. Better you rest at your hotel bed for the next sunny day to start your day trip again and forget this area of Paris.
9- Grands Magasins during Christmas and other festive shopping seasons
Shopping is fun, but not at the Grand Magasins when it’s Christmas, or when some sale is going on. Then it can be one of the most dangerous zones in Paris to be in. That’s because of the uncontrollable crowd. A crowd that can make you suffocate, forget way, make tired, make irritated to any point, and can make you walk tirelessly. There will be no place to sit or rest. You must go on, and then also there is no peace or relaxing place anywhere. It’s too crowded and people swarm here like insects in a plague. That is why you must avoid these pronounced shopping spots like the Galeries Lafayette and Printemps.
10- Bois de Boulogne
This park is a dreaded zone at night for its tremendously bad reputation for prostitution here at night. In the darkness, the only scene is prostitutes hanging out and waiting here and there for customers while men hanging out for one of them. It’s a really pathetic scene if you are a family person or with a serious partner. You would never ever want to see women scantily dressed and sitting vulgarly over the place and scattered all over. Hence, always avoid this part of Paris at night. If you have to visit do so at daytime only. It’s a posh zone otherwise and is a shopping area too, but only to be enjoyed during the daylight hours.
11- 18th and 19th districts at night
The atmosphere of the 18th and 19th districts at night time is not at all safe for women, teenagers, and children. The streets are unsafe, and specifically, the areas of La Chapelle, Porte de la Chapelle, Porte de la Villette, and Porte de Clignancourt are not at all fit for night visits or crossing through. The exceptions are Pigalle and Montmartre, which are as good to visit at night as a day. Although polices are a lot in that area at duty after dark, and many tourists also pass through the area, yet it’s a good idea to avoid it with family and kids because of the rough, sex filled environment and the sex toy and related item shops that put items obnoxiously on display.
12- The empty streets of Chatelet Les Halles
This place actually does not have any bad reputation though. But the streets get too empty at night. And this above average emptiness can make it eerie for people to pass by the place at night. As the tourist, you may not feel comfortable walking here and may feel extra alert too. Hence for the sake of mental peace, and also to avoid any real trouble, you better avoid too empty roads and places as the newcomer in the city.
13- Porte de Montreuil
There are a few blocks of this metro station, where at night it’s not good to be alone or stay for long.
14- All crowded areas in Paris
This is a general warning for all those who are really not much thought about avoiding the crowd, and would rather fit themselves anywhere in any crowd, any queue, and any shopping place. If you really do not mind the crowd and can feel comfortable even in a situation where you are brushing off with people at all sides, then in Paris, you have to be more cautious than normal. There are pickpockets everywhere in the city. Pickpockets are in every crowded shopping zones, buses, metros and everywhere, where people are busy and amidst more people. If you are lost or absent-minded for a few seconds, your wallet or bag can get snatched. Your pocket can be cut or picked, and you may be in total despair after losing your belongings.
Being a tourist how to stay safe in Paris
Paris is a safe city, and it does not have any such dangerous problem or situation going on there that tourists need to plan that way. You really do not have to be cautious to roam about in Paris except for a thing or two. Hold on tight to your belongings while on the roads, or avoid getting snatched. And the next thing is to try to look like a local, and also confident on streets, as much as you can, so that you do not attract much attention there.
There are a few things you can do to not look like a confused tourist and rather look like a confident local:
- Avoid carrying a large map on the roads and sneaking into the map now and then. Instead of referring to the map every few seconds, better ask people on the streets and shops to find your way. And keep all homework with the map internal while you are at your hotel room or sipping coffee at a cafeteria.
- Do not carry too many things with you in a large side bag or backpack, as because only tourists would do this. Locals do not move around with all their things in a bag. Rather carry the minimum requirements and walk comfortably.
- Avoid using your camera everywhere, and not keep on seeing things through the lens of your camera. Take photos as required at the tourist attraction points. For natural street photography, take out the camera, use it, and put it back in its bag, and do not show off unnecessarily.
- Before your Paris tour gets travel insurance. This will guard you against thefts and burglary, loss of items, accidents, and injuries, and also health concerns.
- Do not leave your valuables and bags unattended at any place, whether it’s a metro station, or bus stop, or a restaurant. Do hover around, touch them, keep them at body contact, and do anything to show ownership while avoiding the over-concerned look.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best way to travel around Paris?
You can travel around Paris in two ways, and both are fluid and safe usually. One is walking, and another is by train. There are many walks designed by tourist guides and touring companies in Paris. And many of them take tourists through a city walk at various parts of the city en-route, many things are shown to the tourists. Although walking is fun in Paris and you can practically see all of the city by walking, yet it’s comfortable to take a faster ride at times. And for that, you can take a metro train to the destination, and from there you may walk a few minutes to the attractions. But then again you will have to purchase train tickets every time before a ride. This is time-consuming and also would make you stand in moderate to long queues. Hence, what most tourists do while visiting Paris is, they get a metro train pass. With a pass, they can freely roam about anywhere in the city by the train, and the pass has a validity date up till which it works.
Where to find the metro rail price?
You may buy the pass at the train ticket counter, or you may also buy it online. Before visiting Paris, you may get the pass in advance online. This would save your time too.
How to save money in Paris?
To save money in Paris to spend them elsewhere or in the shopping, you should try to buy passes that offer discounts wherever possible. Also, you should try to do a simple breakfast like a coffee and croissant to keep the rest of the money saved. You can avoid the buffet breakfast at the hotel. There are passes to explore the Paris museums. You can buy the museum passes to get entry to all of them at a discounted rate and can also save much time by avoiding lines.
What is the one thing you always must be careful about in Paris?
In Paris, you should always be careful about entering and exiting crowded places and areas. All crowded areas have pickpockets there. And they would always target the newcomer or tourist type people who look to be confused, traveling, discovering things, and not highly confident about roads and routes. Hold tight on to your wallets and mobile phones, and other belongings such that they cannot be snatched from you in a quick try.