With its breathtaking scenery, a wide selection of delectable food, rich history, and joie de vivre, there’s no wonder why France ranks as the world’s number one tourist destination. From the renowned busy streets of Paris to the French Alps’ raw beauty, stunning coastlines of Cote d’ Azur, and alluring countryside of Provence, the largest country in Western Europe undoubtedly has lots to offer.
Though being an open and spontaneous traveler may work in France, it is still best to prepare to make the trip an enjoyable and memorable one. Before you explore the country, here are our tips for traveling safely.
Threats of theft are inevitable not only in France but in nearly all travel destinations across the world. Many tourists fall prey to pickpockets or burglars, who take advantage of them, taking their belongings and ruining their trips. To avoid such scenarios, always be wary of your things, especially in crowded places like the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, and shops. If you have valuable gadgets like a camera or phone, check the location first and bring it out only when you are sure that no one suspicious is lurking around.
Other criminals are crafty and work together, with one distracting you by conversing with you while the other does the job. So, if anyone goes to you seemingly trying to get your attention, politely refuse and walk away. However, if there are ones who’ll try to take your belongings by force and with weapons, give them away instead of putting your life in peril.
Be extra cautious when in transit
Subway stations are common hotspots for criminals in France, mostly in the cities. No surprise as the country is pretty connected by trains. Thus, this mode of transport is flocked by people, giving individuals with ill-intent the chance to victimize unwary passengers. If you’re riding the train, be sure to be extra vigilant for pickpockets. Put your bag in front of you or place your hands over your pockets to secure your wallet or phone, for instance. French people tend to speak quietly inside trains, so be sure not to talk too loudly. Or else, you’d be obvious as a tourist, easily making you a target.
Meanwhile, fly-by limousines and taxis are also present in France. Legitimate ones have “G7” signs on their cabs. Though it is quite rare, some drivers would take passengers and bring them to a secluded, dark area. If you ride one of them, they will threaten to drop you off unless you pay more money.
Refrain from going to bad areas
Like with any destination, France also has its own list of dicey neighborhoods. Some suburbs you should be avoiding include La Courneuve, Mantes-la-Jolie, and St. Denis.
Travelers can feel very safe during the daytime. However, nighttime can be a different story. At night, certain areas are frequented by ghettos, drug dealers, and sex workers.
With that, always go to well-lit streets, but be sure to trust your instincts. If you feel something is wrong, then there might probably be. Turn back and look for other thoroughfares that seem to be safe. However, if you already end up in a bad area where someone suspicious is already locking their eyes on you, seek refuge in any business establishment or shop. Never dare to walk out of the neighborhood on foot and instead call a cab to pick you up and safely transport you back to your hotel.
Call 112 in case of emergency
While you don’t want something bad to happen, some mishaps cannot be avoided. In case you get into a dangerous situation, call 112 straight away. In France, 112 is the counterpart of dialing 911 in the United States. The number works on both landlines and payphones. You can also dial 17 to talk to the police, 18 for fire brigades, and 15 if you get into a medical emergency. Be sure to log your emergency contacts on your travel notebook or your phone, particularly if you’re traveling solo. That way, authorities can inform your loved ones if the situation renders you unable to do so.
Find a pharmacy
Travelers are often advised to bring first-aid kits with over-the-counter medications for headaches, stomach pain, diarrhea, and allergies. Through that, you can easily attend to any minor medical condition and continue on your trip. If you decide to pack lightly for your France trip but suffered a migraine after a great tour, don’t fret as the country has many local pharmacies where you can get medicine. They usually close around 7 pm like most other shops, but some remain open for urgent situations. Just search online for any available pharmacy near your area.
However, pharmacies in France are more than just a place where people pick up their prescriptions. These famed establishments offer beauty and skincare products, from shampoos, soaps, face cleansers, lotions to everything in between. Be sure to buy all things you need for your trip while you’re at the location.
Always bring your picture IDs or passport
Regular random checks are implemented to tighten security in the country. As such, bring a picture ID or passport everywhere you go so that you’ll have something to show to the authorities should they ask for one. They might also throw a few questions. Just answer and cooperate properly, and there won’t be an issue. Be patient with the process, and remember that it’s all for your everyone’s safety.
Like most countries in Europe, France uses a different plug, and devices work at 50 Hz and 230 V. It can be problematic if your smartphone or laptop’s battery drains while on a trip. After all, your devices keep you connected to your loved ones and allows you to call for help during precarious situations. So, before you go to France, be sure to purchase an adapter to avoid any hassle.
Keep a safe distance from wildlife
While France is much more known for cows and sheep, the country is also home to dangerous animals. One creature you might be encountering is the wild boar, which is widespread across France. They normally live in forested areas and are more likely to be seen by travelers who love to hike. Remember, they are pretty large and boast great strength. While they normally hide away from humans, be sure not to provoke or frighten them as they may charge if threatened, especially if they are with their young. Keep a safe distance should you see one to avoid the situation from escalating.
Avoid speaking brashly or loudly
More applicable in the countryside regions but still speaks true in the metro, French people are often intimidated by people who talk impudently or blatantly. To avoid distracting other people and be the center of attraction the bad way, keep your voice down, especially in public areas, such as cafes, restaurants, and shops. While speaking loudly may be normal back home, remember that there are differences in customs from country to country. You want to make your France trip as smooth and as fun as possible, and paying respect to others is a great step in achieving that.
Those are the tips on how to travel to the beautiful country of France safely. Be sure to keep them in mind for a hassle-free journey. Good luck and Bon Voyage!