Paris, France

Paris-tourist-scamsThe city of love, the city of lights or the city of fashion – Paris has many nicknames. These names testify the popularity and versatility of the French capital, because Paris has many beautiful faces. It has a history dating back to thousands of years, the unique Parisian culture, beautiful sights and its location on the Seine provide a unique feeling when you walk around Paris. It’s the perfect destination for couples from all over the world to spend a city trip. The Eiffel Tower, the Notre Dame cathedral, the Louvre museum, The Arc de Triomphe are all world famous icons of the most romantic city on earth. Couples in love confirm their love by hanging a lock on the Pont des Arts while musicians play on the banks of the Seine river.

tourist-scams-ParisIt’s obvious that Paris is the number one city for sightseeing. The whole city center is a collection of monumental buildings. The beauty of Paris is that all these buildings also come into their own, because the city is so spacious. Furthermore, the food in Paris is exquisite, no wonder since the restaurant was invented in the French capital.

The extensive metro network under the city make it easy to discover all the famous tourist hotspots, or if it’s your umpteenth visit, to discover all the hidden treasures that Paris has to offer. But the best way to do that is by simply walking around and breathing the atmosphere. Or renting a bicycle or Vespa motorcycle, if you can take on the busy Parisian traffic.

Paris tourist scams

However, as in every tourist hotspot, tourists need to be aware of people trying to take advantage of the “all is well” holiday atmosphere which causes the traveler to be off guard when it comes to being tricked or scammed. The differences in culture and habits can be a bit confusing, even to the experienced traveler, and that gives those with dishonest intentions an advantage, especially with travelers who have just arrived after a long and exhausting flight.

  • One of the most infamous rip-offs that Paris is known for is the shell game scam, which is played on the streets near the tourist hotspots. It may look like an honest betting game, but beware that all the other “players” are in on the scam and it’s impossible for you to win.
  • Try to ignore the hand-readers and fortune tellers that try to predict your future. They’ll make up any story to get you to pay them too much money.
  • If someone coincidentally happens to find an expensive looking ring on the street just when you walk past, remember it’s probably not as coincidental as you may think.
  • Asked to sign a petition in support of the handicapped or deaf/mute children? Don’t give a cash donation, because the proceeds go straight into the pockets of the scammers.
  • Walking down the steps from the Sacre Coeur Basilica, don’t let anyone take your hand, because they will immediately start weaving a bracelet around your arm, and before you know it, you’ll have to pay for something you didn’t ask for.
  • The metro is one of the easiest, fastest and cheapest means of travel within the city. But beware when someone offers to help you out with the ticket vending machine, they will rip you off.
  • Always beware of pickpockets in busy areas like metro stations or trains.

Most of these scams are pretty harmless and won’t cost you more than a handful of Euro’s, but they could still make you feel like an idiot as soon as you realize you’ve been tricked.

Paris-tourist-rip_offsBe on guard for these known scams and variations to them. If you happen to run into a new kind of scam, or if you have a story about how the swindlers work, make sure you tell us about it. That’s the best way to warn other travelers and to prevent them from falling into the same traps.

And most importantly: just enjoy your vacation. Don’t be discouraged by these stories, they don’t happen to everyone, and they don’t mean Paris is unsafe. On the contrary, it is one of the most beautiful and romantic cities on the planet, especially away from the tourist hotspots, and because of the many tourists in the city at any moment in time, it’s one of the safest cities in Europe.

  • Shell game scam


    Almost everybody has heard of the shell game and although they all know that the chances of winning are extremely small, many people still fall into the game’s trap. If they wouldn’t, the game would no longer be around. It appears like Paris is the world’s capital of the shell game, as different versions of […]

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  • Hand-readers and fortune tellers


    Tourists in the streets of Paris, especially female tourists, are often approached by elderly ladies who unsolicitedly start to read their hand palms or tell their fortune. These ladies can be very persistent, even if the tourist tries to withdraw their hand or tells them their services are not appreciated. The self-proclaimed fortune teller starts […]

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  • Lost jewelry scam


    This scam is widely known among locals of Paris and experienced tourists, although someone who hasn’t been to Paris yet may not have heard of it. The “gold ring found on the street” rip-off involves an actress, which is most often a woman of Roma or some other kind of gypsy descent, and a couple […]

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  • Pickpockets


    The Paris underground “Metro” is infamous for its pickpockets in both the trains and the busy stations. The stations, buzzing with people walking in all directions at various speeds and with their numerous exits are a playground for pickpockets targeting tourists who are distracted when trying to find their way or who are overwhelmed by […]

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  • Fake signature campaign scam


    This scam is especially popular under and around the Eiffel Tower and is run by mostly Roma or gypsy teenage girls, asking tourists to sign a petition as a sign of support for an organization that supports handicapped children or a similar “good cause” that usually nobody would be able to refuse. Except, when you’re […]

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  • Metro ticket scam


    In this scam, the swindlers are inside the metro stations, especially those below the train stations at which all the tourists arrive in Paris. They are constantly on the lookout for tourists just arriving in the city, who are inexperienced with the ticket vending machines and who are uninformed on the ticket prices. They pretend […]

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  • Bracelet string scam


    This scam is usually played on the steps of the Sacre Coeur Basilica, where men of African origin approach mostly (groups of) female tourists and hold out their hand as if they want to introduce themselves and shake your hand. But as soon as you reach out your hand as well, they quickly grab it […]

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  1. In airport you’ll see someone telling you all the cabs you see on the curb are going outside Paris and the cabs to Paris are parked in the basement. Don’t fall for it, stand in the queue, security/police personal were regulating it all. Any one voluntarily helping you with out even you asking for is not going to help you. Better talk to people with uniform – airport security or police when in doubt.

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