Last updated on September 20th, 2023 at 06:18 am
Paris is a city with multiples aspects, between arts, architecture and romance, there’s a lot to see in Paris.
So much it can get overwhelming. And while this can be a pleasant experience among all those beautiful experiences and landmarks you will visit, there are scammers ready to turn your holidays into a nightmare in every big city.
And during every season of the year, whenever you visit Paris, you can never know if you might stumble upon one of them!
Here are all the commons tourists’ Scams to avoid in Paris. While Paris isn’t exactly a dangerous place to visit for tourists or locals, and no, there’s no such thing as a no-go zone despite what the American’s news was claiming a while ago.
The steady flow of people visiting Paris throughout the year inspires some malicious, nasty persons that will try to take advantage of tourists (and even locals, to be honest) and scam them for their benefit.
In this post, you will learn about the most “popular” and common scams that you can find in the French Capital (and elsewhere), so you can avoid those scams during your holidays in Paris.
6 Paris Scams to avoid as A Tourist
Table Of Contents
#1 “Friendship” Bracelet
When you’re walking in Paris, some very tactile people might try to catch your hand to wrap around your wrist a fantastic friendship Brazilian bracelet, all handmade and free because that’s the power of friendship. Not.
They’re swift, so before you might even understand what happened to you, they might already be wrapping the bracelet around your wrist.
Aside from the intrusion of your personal space, which, let’s face it, is never cool, that’s not where it stops.
Once they’re done with the bracelet and shoving done your throat meaningless talk to make sure you stay with them the whole time, well, the bracelet is no longer accessible. You need to pay for it.
Yes, they want you to pay for something they forced on you. Crazy right?
Of course, you can say no and refuse to pay because you shouldn’t pay anyway. In this case, they will get angry and rip the bracelet off. All you have to do now is to keep going.
The best thing to do is to stay away from them, and if you do get “caught”, wiggle your arm or hand and walk off without listening to them.
Some popular spots where you can find this type of scam :
- Montmartre / Sacré Coeur – They’re usually on the staircases.
- Near the Eiffel Tower
#2 Fake Petition
The title says it all.
This popular tourist scam is usually performed by young eastern women, as people feel more emphatic towards women? Anyway.
They are wandering around most of the iconic landmarks approaching passerby, trying to get them to sign their petitions for the deaf and mute people as they pretend they are themselves too.
Although they are not, and when they do talk, it’s pretty nasty, only to attack or curse at people; that’s when you wish they were mute. I mean, it’s never nice to be endlessly cursed at for 5min.
Technically there is nothing wrong with signing a petition. However, if you decide to sign their petition, they ask you for a donation for their ’causes’ which you are in the right to agree or not, but that money won’t help them or any charity in anyways.
If you refuse, you might want to be careful as they sometimes decide to help themselves out anyway and pickpocket. Or even if you say yes and offer them 5€, for example, they won’t let you go until you give them more as 5€ isn’t enough for them. I see many confused tourists falling for this trap, so please, if you see people getting scammed by these in Paris, try and help them if you’re comfortable with it, as I know it can be a little hard to jump into that kind of thing.
A few years ago, a friend of mine got into an argument with a very persistent lady, and as we were leaving, she shoved her hand right down her pants, aiming for her back pocket; that was quite a scene.
Popular spots where you can find this type of scam :
- Le Louvres
- Famous Bridges (Pont des Arts, Pont Alexandre III…)
- And so on…! They hit nearly all the famous landmarks.
They can also approach you while you’re on Café’s Terrasse; for example, if you let your phone on the table, you might want to be careful if someone approaches you, because, before you even notice, your phone might be gone.
Once she (it’s usually girls as people are less likely to be mistrustful about young girls for some reason) catches your attention.
She will proceed to put whatever papers she has in her hands on top of your phone or anything valuable you may have left on the table to grab it discretely.
So, be careful.
There are many terrific free things to do in Paris, so make sure to check out my 50 free things to do in Paris to plan out your trip!
#3 Fake Taxi
This scam is working around the airport or any big station (for example, Gare du Nord with the Eurostar and Thalys, the flow of tourists is necessary). You freshly landed in Paris looking for a taxi to drive you into the city or to your hotel.
This is where some stranger driving around the airport or scouting the inside of the airport looking for targets will offer you to come into their car because they are going into the city as well/ or they have their own taxi business. So they gently provide to take you with them in exchange for a small fee. Less than the regular Uber/Taxi.
Always be extra careful before hopping into anyone car. Ask what’s your name if you’ve booked a taxi or uber!
By the time you reach your destination will have tripled if you even reach your goal at all.
Never hop into someone’s car that you can’t be sure if it’s an actual taxi driver or an Uber.
This practice is not only illegal, but it will also cost twice as much, if not more, from a regular Taxi, and god knows there are already pretty expensive, and that would be the best outcome; you can never know if you stumble on a psychopath! We may be in 2019, but human trafficking is still a thing, so always be careful and help anyone you might suspect to be in trouble.
If you don’t want to take the RER through and taxi/uber are too costly for you, you can always use the ROISSYBUS, safe, legal and cheaper!
You can check out the best travel apps to download in Paris for more info!
Do you know that game with three cups and a little ball where you need to find under which cup the ball is? Easy-peasy right?
You think that all you have to do is follow their moves, so you bet your money (5€ min), but there’s no way you will win as obviously the game is rigged.
If you happen to see someone winning, it’s only because the guy is working with them to bait tourists into making them think they can win. It’s usually a well-dressed person here to play with them and lure people.
Don’t try your luck; you won’t win. They are found near the Quai de Seine or any famous bridges where tourists go for a simple reason.
The police are often patrolling to try to stop them, whether in civilian clothes or not. As soon as they spot one of them, they throw over the bridges their games and run away. This way, even if they are caught, there’s no proof as the material is gone.
#5 Golden Ring
You might think you can enjoy a pleasant stroll along the Seine’s bank quietly (honestly, it’s one of my favourite activities, so do it!) enjoying the city.
Someone catches up to tell you that you dropped something—a golden ring.
Spoiler alert: It’s plastic.
You say it’s not yours (if you do say it’s yours, I’m sorry, but at which point does this seem like a good idea?). They will insist that you can still have the ring and more nonsense, but since they’re letting you have a golden ring, you should give them some money in exchange. A scam that forces something onto you yet again to scam you some money.
Let’s say, for some obscure reason, you say yes that the ring is yours. There is another scenario where a second actor might come into the scam. If you do say the ring is yours (which you shouldn’t) and will claim it’s there and start to dispute with you about it.
Be careful if you also have valuable pieces of jewellery on you!
#6 ATM Scam
I don’t think this one has an actual name, but you should be careful if you withdraw some cash in Paris near any landmarks or hotspots and notice kids wandering nearby. That’s a widespread scam. I mean fraud, but it’s straight-out theft.
A few years ago, my friend and I were on our way to Starbucks near Opera when we witnessed two girls quickly gathered around a lady who was getting cash at an ATM.
It all happened so fast that one started to scream at the lady’s right side in a horror movie kind of way while throwing herself at the ATM, startling the lady.
It was enough time for the other girl on the left side of her to steal the cash that had left the ATM at that exact moment.
They know what they do, and sadly, before you understand what the hell is happening to you and where the cash is, they are long gone. If you can, always have someone watch out for you when you get some money; otherwise, many banks have an inside ATM, so it is better to withdraw inside in all safety.
If you see something that looks like a scam, the only reasonable thing to do is walk away and don’t pay any attention unless you are trying to help someone.
Also, most are common in Europe and encountered in other European capitals. Sadly, Paris is affected by those scams; any popular places that are flooded with tourists will.
This concludes my list of the typical Paris scams you can see in the city.
Negativity put aside, Paris is a beautiful city full of culture and history, so now that you are aware of what scams you need to avoid, you can thoroughly enjoy your trip to the city of lights! And remember that the best way to explore a city is on foot, and not be afraid to get lost!
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6 Paris Scams to Avoid as A Tourist
✈ Best Travel Ressources To Plan Your Next Trip
If you need help planning your next trip, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered! Here are my favourite websites and apps to plan a trip!
✈ How To Find Flights?
My favourite website to book flights is Skyscanner; it is a good comparator for finding the cheapest flights.
Google Flight is also a good help when it comes to comparing flights.
✈ Where To Book Accommodations?
The best sites to book accommodations are Booking.com or Expedia. They both allow you to collect points for a discount; it’s worth comparing the two as they often have different pricing for the same hotels.
Another perk about Booking.com and Expedia is that you can get bundle deals for flights and accommodations, which can sometimes help you save a lot of money. And don’t worry; you can also select to add accommodation for only a specific part of the trip if you’re not only staying in one place.
✈ Best Sites To Book Activities
My go-to website when I need to book an activity is GetYourGuide when I can’t get a ticket directly on the website or if it’s easier to go through them.
I always check if the price is the same, though, as the whole point is for it to be easier but not more expensive.
If I don’t find the activity I want on GetYourGuide, I like to check Viator for more options!
You can also check out Klook if you need to book more than just activities and would like to get everything from the same website—(i.e. transport cards, car rental, hotel…).
✈ Other helpful travel resources
– Radical Storage: If you need a place to keep your luggage for an extended period when you travel, I recommend using them. It was a great help when we needed a place to keep our luggage safely while we left the city for a few days.
– TheTrainline: If you love to travel by train like me, then TheTrainline needs to be your go-to website for train travel in Europe. It is very reliant and easy to use.
Disclaimer: this resources box contains affiliate links, which means I earn a little commission if you book anything through my links at no additional cost. They help me support the blog and generate more content. Happy travels!