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See France like a local. Work with a local to plan your trip.

Is it Safe to Travel to France in 2020?

ViaHero
Updated September 21, 2020

Generally, France is a safe place for travelers. And a perfectly lovely one! With some help from locals, we created this guide to staying safe in France.

For everything from safety tips to restaurant recommendations, work with a local to plan your trip. Locals will introduce you to a side of France that most tourists miss. Learn more.

"Linelly helped us beyond anything we could've planned ourselves. Everything she suggested for us was spot-on, and I feel we got the best experience by following a local's guidance."
Kate, Recent Traveler
Kate, Recent Traveler

UPDATE: France and the coronavirus

When will it be safe to travel to France? 

Here's the latest:

September 21st: Presently, American citizens are not permitted to enter France unless they qualify for an exception. 

Anyone traveling to France must present a negative coronavirus test that is no older than 72 hours—without this, travelers will not be allowed to board their flight. 

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Read our full update about travel and coronavirus HERE. Or, send a message to a French local

France’s travel advisory is the same as most of Western Europe

Les Deux Margots in Paris | skeeze/Pixabay

Because of the coronavirus, the US State Department assigned France a Level 3 Travel Advisory, which recommends that Americans reconsider travel. 

Before coronavirus, the US State Department assigned France a Level 2 Safety rating. This was pretty standard for Western European countries. London, Spain, and Italy had the same rating. 

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The streets of Paris are largely safe at night

Paris at sunset | skeeze/Pixabay

Romantic, classic, and full of unique charm, Paris is easily one of our favorite places to visit in France. (And there are so, so, so many.)

Happily, locals tell us that, generally, Paris is safe at night. So enjoy those moonlight strolls, Parisian sunsets, and magical nightcaps at bars where Hemingway wrote his novels. 

Just keep in mind that some places are safer than others. Locals tell us that the Le Marais district, the Latin quarter, and the South Bank—popular hubs for tourists and locals alike—are vibrant and safe day and night. Montmartre and Les Halles can be a bit sketchy. 

Local Tip:

Be on your lookout whenever you’re in a heavily-traveled tourist area like the Champs-Elysées—the crowds are perfect places for pickpockets. 

The Paris Metro is safe to ride

Metro in Paris | Paris-Sharing/Flickr

Locals tell us that le metro is safe, but petty theft is common at crowded stations.

Just take common-sense safety precautions when using public transportation—like you would anywhere else. 

We know that public transit in a new country can be confusing, but locals tell us that transportation in France is easy to use.

The Yellow Vest protests won’t disrupt your plans

The “Yellow Vest” protests over rising fuel prices and income inequality have waned, but you may still come across a protest while in France. They largely occur on Sundays in major cities like Paris.

As the Yellow Vest protesters are organized, their marches never come as a surprise—check with your local to learn their schedule, and plan around it. 

Local Tip:

The French like to protest! But big strikes usually come with plenty of notice, so it's easy to create a travel plan to avoid them. 

Work with a local to plan your trip.
See a side most people miss.

Pickpockets and scams are your only real concern

Locals tell us that pickpockets operate at popular tourist sites and on public transportation. Follow common sense and be vigilant. Locals note that Parisian thieves are very good at what they do (tourists have been frequenting Paris for centuries), so be mindful and aware of your surroundings—especially in big cities like Paris and Marseille

Our locals tell us these are some common scams to avoid: 

The string bracelet scam

In this scam, a street vendor asks if you want a “friendship bracelet.” If you say yes (and often, even if you say no), a string/bracelet is tied so tightly around your wrist that you can’t move and then they demand money for the bracelet. Their partner may pick your pocket while they have you “indisposed.”

The gold ring scam

This scam involves a seemingly innocent person on the street pretending to find a gold ring on the sidewalk. They then ask you if it’s yours. When you say no, they offer to sell it to you (some have stamped 18k on the ring). If you end up buying it, you’ll own a worthless piece of polished brass. If you say yes, they will give you a sob story about being poor and ask for money. 

France is a great place for solo female travelers

Woman in Paris | Tristan Colangelo/Unsplash

Solo travelers will love all the spectacular things to do in France. Whether you want to nurse a coffee and people-watch in Nice, explore a Parisian museum, or wander the beaches in Normandy, France offers plenty of wonderful activities.

Locals tell us that women traveling solo in France should feel safe nearly anywhere they go. They say that catcalling is no worse than any other European country, and women travelers shouldn't have any trouble getting around by car, train, or bus. 

Our trip planners provide some quick safety tips for solo travelers

  • Don’t walk alone in poorly lit and deserted areas.
  • Don’t accept drinks from strangers. 
  • American friendliness can be misinterpreted as flirtation—so be firm if you want someone to stop bothering you
  • If you’re on a long train trip using the Intercités de Nuit (night train) on SNCF, France’s national railway, ask for the special compartment for women and families. Even better, splurge on a private compartment on overnight trains.
  • Speaking of which, most French cities have great hostels with female-only rooms.

Benefit from insider advice—many of our trip planners are women. They can give solo travelers insights on what it's like to navigate the country alone. 

You won’t need to get any vaccines 

If you’re coming from the US and are current on your standard vaccines, then you’re good to go. You might want to consider travel insurance however, in case you fall ill or have an accident while in France.

Local Tip:

If you do become ill, pharmacies in France can help. Pharmacists are trained to make non-urgent diagnoses and to recommend medicine. 

Emergency contact info you should know

  • Emergency - 112 (European emergency number like 911 in the US)
  • Police (24/7) - 17
  • Health emergencies - 15
  • US Embassy Paris - +(33)(1) 43-12-22-22, enter zero "0" after the automated greeting
  • Website - U.S. Embassy Paris
  • If you work with a local to plan your trip, they'll be available via phone in case you run into any issues
Still have questions about travel to France?
Why not ask someone who lives there? ViaHero connects you with a local to help plan your trip. They’ll create a guidebook based on your personal travel style.
You’ll see a unique side of a destination and travel independently—all while saving time and money in the planning process. Find a local today.

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