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 wonderful experiences and landmarks you will visit as in every big city there are scammers ready to turn your holidays into a nightmare. And this during every season of the year, so whenever you visit Paris you can never know if you will 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 no-go zone despite what the American’s news was claiming a while ago.
The steady flow of people visiting Paris throughout the year can bring some malicious, nasty persons that will try to take advantages of tourists (and even locals to be honest) and scam them for their own 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.
Tourists scams to avoid in Paris
#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 cool friendship Brazilian bracelet, all handmade and free because that’s the power of friendship. Not.
They’re really fast 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 free 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.
A popular spot 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 I guess 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 quite nasty, only to attack or curse at people, that’s when you wish they were actually 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 do decide to sign their petition that’s when they ask you for a donation for their ’causes’ which you are in right to agree or not, but that money won’t help them or any charity in anyways.
If you do refuse you might want to be careful as they sometimes decide to help themselves out anyway and pickpocket. Or even if you said 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 a lot of confused tourists falling for this trap so please if you see people getting scammed by these in Paris try and help them.
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 reasons) 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 discretely grab it. So, be careful.
#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 tourist is important) 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 offer to take you with them in exchange for a small fee less than the normal Uber/Taxi.
Which obviously by the time you reach your destination will have been decoupled if you even reach your destination at all that it. Always be extra careful before hopping into anyone car. Ask what’s your name if you’ve ordered!
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!
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 tricked.
If you happen to see someone actually winning it’s only because the guy is working with them trying to bait tourist into making them think they can win. It’s usually a well-dressed person who’s here to play with them and bait people.
Don’t try your luck, you won’t win. They can be found near the Quai de Seine or any famous bridges where tourists go for a simple reason.
Quite often the police is 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 nice stroll along the Seine’s bank quietly (to be honest it’s one of my favourite activity so do it!) enjoying the city and someone – there’s every likelihood it’s going to be a woman – catches up to you to let you know that you dropped something. A golden ring.
Spoiler alert: it’s plastic.
Obviously, 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 to it, but you should be careful if you do withdraw some cash in Paris near any landmarks or hotspots and you notice kids wandering nearby. That’s a very common scam, I mean scam, 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 screams at the right side of the lady in a horror movie kind of way while throwing herself at the ATM startling the lady.
To let right 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 cash otherwise a lot of banks has inside ATM, so better withdraw inside in all safety.
If you notice something similar to all of this or exactly what I described as the only reasonable thing to do is to walk away and don’t pay any attention to them. Unless it’s to help someone out of those commons scams! Also, most of them are quite commons through Europe so you can encounter them in other European capitals it’s sadly not only Paris that is affected with them scams; any popular places that are flowed with tourists will.
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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COMMON TOURIST SCAMS TO AVOID IN PARIS