Last updated on March 6th, 2022 at 09:07 pm
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.
Read Best things to do in Paris in Winter.
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!
READ: 10 TRAVELS MISTAKES TO AVOID
Do you know that little 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 trying to bait tourists into making them think they can win. It’s usually a well-dressed person who’s 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 that you can enjoy a pleasant stroll along the Seine’s bank quietly (to be honest it’s one of my favourite activities so do it!) enjoying the city.
Someone catches up to you to let you know 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 seems 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.
So let’s say, for some obscure reason, you did say yes that the ring is yours. There is another type of scenario where a second actor might come into the scam. If you do say the ring is yours (which you shouldn’t)
Be careful if you do have actual valuable pieces of jewellery on you also!
#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, as my friend and I were on our way to Starbucks near Opera, when we witnessed two girls had quickly gathered around a lady who was getting cash at an ATM.
It all happened so fast 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 got out of 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 is the cash, 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 better to withdraw inside in all safety.
Read: French phrases and words to know when you visit.
If you see something that looks like a scam, the only reasonable thing to do, walk away and don’t pay any attention unless you are trying to help out someone.
Also, most of them are pretty commons in Europe to encounter them in other European capitals. Sadly, Paris is affected by those scams; any popular places that are flowed 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!
LIKE ME? PIN ME!
6 Paris Scams to avoid as A Tourist
Chasing Krista says
I’ve run into a number of these many times while visiting Paris, such a smart idea to write a post about it! thank you for sharing, any first timers NEED to read this post!
I keep running into the girls with the fake petitions lately so thanks to them for the idea ahah.
Thanks for sharing. I hate that there are still so many people who run scams like this but it helps for us all to be educated!
Mayi Mac says
Paris is my hometown and sadly all these scams are giving a bad reputation to the city. I hope all first timers or anyone planning a trip to Paris will read this!
Paris is my hometown too ! 🙂
Andrea's Travels says
I went to Paris last summer and totally wish I would have seen this post! So informative!
Jacomijn - Safe and Healthy Travel says
Thank you for sharing these scams!! They need to be out in the open for everyone to recognize. We all need to be alert for these kind of scams!
Sarah T. says
Thank you for this post! I’ll be traveling to Paris over the summer so this was all fantastic information!
Happy it helps ! 🙂
Posts like this are so important for travellers so thank you for sharing! Also I love the layout of your blog, so simple and pretty!
Anya Carion says
This is SO helpful! It’s fascinating how many ways they try to get you, isn’t it?! I almost fell into the friendship bracelet one when I was only 10 years old! Luckily my mum saw it coming and snatched me away, though I didn’t have any money on me anyway haha!
I never knew about these scams in Paris. I am usually very careful but need to be extra careful after reading this. Thanks for sharing, Lyne. ?
Thanks for sharing! All these things are so annoying. We had almost the same issues in Rome.
Great list – and so important to be aware of. We had fake taxi, fake petition, and “friendship” bracelet all tried on us while we were there. And we heard about “golden” ring by a woman we met on a tour who had collected 5 such rings – all while refusing to pay. They were like badges of honor for her. Definitely need to keep on guard for these!
When I visited Paris, I experienced the friendship bracelet scam. Well, not me in particular but a girl in my group. We had to take her out of the middle of people who were demanding money from her. So, yes, this people can get very aggressive and it is better to avoid them. Another scam I have seen in European cities is when you are given a flower and then asked for money. My husband fell for that one and he didn’t know what to do since the lady who was asking for money didn’t want the flower back. I told him to put it in the floor and walk away.
I’ve never experienced any if these in Paris thankfully – planning on going back next year so great post for learnjng what to look out for.
The city is always full of scam artists. I am aware of some of these scams and some others are knew to me. I think the scariest is the fake taxi one. I “lol’d ” when you said regarding the friendship bracelet scam, ” all handmade and free because that’s the power of friendship!”
Joy Generoso says
The sign petition scam really annoys me. I don’t know why they are so many doing that thing in Paris. It’s good that you came up with this post so other travelers will be aware.
This is a very helpful information. Thank you for writing a post about the scams. All I know is pick pockets around Trocadero. Apparently it’s more than that.
Momma To Go says
I try to be so on guard in Europe, but these are great tips!
Greta Sutka Milkovic says
This is such a useful article. Thank you for sharing it, love all the tips. Didnt know about the bracelet scam.
Rachel Bli says
Lovely post. I live in Paris and some of the things that you wrote are definetly true.
Great post! I was in Paris a few weeks ago but thankfully managed to avoid all of these! Was caught by the friendship bracelet in Rome last year though – not fun haha
Holly Goodyear says
Very useful! Of course Paris is safe to visit and generally ok, but it’s important to be aware. I had someone try the bracelet scam on me in Ibiza once, I refused to pay and the woman wasn’t too happy!
woah i had heard some nasty things about Paris but never beived until I saw this post. I am so scared to visit now. lol
Mama Travels Earth says
I recognise a few of these scams from Barcelona, good to have a heads up and be wary, thanks for sharing
Brianna (@ArchivesofAdv) says
It’s so sad that people have to resort to these tricks to get your money. These same scams can be seen all over the world. You just have to be prepared to face them.
Sarah - Borders & Bucket Lists says
Wow I had no idea there were so many scams! I had a friend who went to Paris once and got stuck in the bracelet trap, but she had lost her debit card to an ATM (bless, it was a real one – we just had to go back to get it the next day). So she literally told the guy she had absolutely no money because the ATM took her card. LOL. Sad, funny, AND true.
Great post! A lot of these have happened in other countries I have traveled too as well. It seems like all the scam artists like to chat to each other lol. My friend was scammed the bracelet part, but at least she really loved it.
I guess I was lucky in that I never had a single encounter like this when I was in Paris. It seemed like a very tame city in comparison to some places in Italy!!!
Every popular tourist destination have scammers. The scams differ from place to place and country to country. It is very useful post to know the common scam one should avoid in Paris to have a hassle free trip.
I think this is a really informative post with great piece of advice.Often we search about best places to visit and all but m8ss out 9n such crucial information.thanks so much this was very useful
So many scams in Paris! I had some kids try to steal from me at the Eiffel Tower. I was sitting in the park, and one come up to me and held up a drawing (like they wanted me to look at it) and the other put his hand in my bag! Luckily, they didn’t get anything!
Oh wow! I’ve only seen a few of these in action, but am so glad for the warning! Thank you!
We were in Paris and the gold ring trick was pulled on us. We just laughed and he bloke ran off. I hate the bracelet one as they are so quick especially in Milan!
ahahah ! This list is soooo accurate ! I am laughing but I feel bad for poeple who get tricked while visiting Paris .. not cool.
these tips will come in super handy to anyone planning to visit Paris. Thanks for sharing dear.
Juliet Dreamhunter says
I haven’t been to France yet, but I experienced number #2 in Cologne, Germany a few years back. With petition and asking for money and all, quite an unpleasant situation that makes you wanna leave a beautiful place you were at when they approached.
Thanks for sharing the tips, I had no idea about most of these and will be prepared now! I guess I’ll be visiting Paris at some point, dream city and all lol! The scam with the golden ring is the weirdest ever, based on literally nothing… How are you supposed to believe in people and be open for good when you have to keep an eye on your belongings every minute of your trip? So unfair!
Oh the old bracelet scam… I’ve also seen that in Rome and Lisbon.
Great tips for first timers in Paris! Thanks for sharing 🙂
What a helpful post! I didn’t experience any of these scams in Paris, but it’s always good to be careful and safe when traveling. Pinning this to remind me the next time I’m in Paris.
OMG I have fallen for the fake taxi scam before in Toronto! They execute it so well and I didn’t even know it was happening until i was in the middle of it! Its scary how good people are at this stuff!!
Such a unique idea to write about! I had no idea that there’re so many scams in Paris. Thanks for the information!
omgoodness this is truly frightful! I mean, I’ve heard stories about certain places in Europe but to see it detailed like this really makes me rethink how to travel about – I obviously haven’t given that part of it all much thought! ?
I have fallen victim to one or two of these my first time in Paris! This is great information for people that have never been to any major European city! Thanks so much for sharing! : )
Great information! Its always good to be informed before traveling to any destination!
May Durkee says
This is so crazy, scams are everywhere. I had the “bracelet” scam happening in a form of a rose, haha. They were trying to give me a real rose “for free” and I took it, because it’s free, right?! why not? But then it became 5 euros, wait whaaaat? hahaha I almost got as a prop for pictures, but it was so inconvenient that I just said no, I’m not paying for something you forced me to get and the guy wouldn’t take it back. I literally put on the ground and said: then I’m just gonna put here.
Thanks for the heads up! Best regards – Thanks! | Justmom?
Hi! This post was soo informative, and these scams would be so easy to miss so thank you for writing about them. We need to be aware of what could possibly happen when we find ourselves in Paris or any big city, really. My friend was a victim of the flower scam and they were super embarrassed afterwards. Great one to pin for sure!
omg this is freaking me out! ive been to so many less developed countries than Pair and apart from Bali, I’ve pretty much never run into any bad experiences – must less something of this scale! Do you know if this is prevalent in the whole of France, or only just Paris? I’ve heard so many horror stories about blatant theft in trains and buses too!
The only scam I’ve come across is the bracelet one – I try to avoid people selling things on the street or coming over to talk to me.
Josy A says
I haaaaate things like the friendship bracelet! There is a similar scam in morocco where a lady will grab your arm and draw henna on you (even if you don’t want it and keep saying no) then they’ll scream at you that you owe them money for it.
I had not heard of the gold ring one or the ATM. Eep.
I didn’t know about that one! It’s such a poor behaviour!
I’m visiting Paris for the first time in September. Thank you SO much for these tips!
This is a great post and very valuable for those of us who haven’t visited Paris yet. I would have had no idea. It sure would freak me out if somebody grabbed my arm to put a bracelet on.
Great tips. I saw some of them in action while visiting. The petition was pretty prevalent around Notre Dame Cathedral.
Kartik Dodia says
Honestly, this type of article will be very helpful while traveling somewhere because scamming is normal in the world. Thanks for sharing this. I saved it for my future Paris trip. 👌👌👌