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Top 11 Tourist Mistakes in Paris (and how to avoid them)

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ABOVE: When you're posing for snapshots, watch out for purse-snatchers who reach in from outside the frame.

Mistake #10: Being easy prey for pickpockets and purse-snatchers

imageYour odds of being robbed or mugged in Paris are low.

In the Métro, for example, one estimate puts the assault rate at 1 in 365,000 passengers, or about 6,000 muggings compared to more than two billion underground rides each year.

What's more, violent crime is most likely to occur in places that tourists seldom frequent, such as public housing projects on the outskirts of the city.

imagePickpocketing and purse-snatching are a different story. Crooks with sticky fingers do a land-office business in a city that attracts more than 30 million tourists every year, and neither the police nor the judicial system can keep up with the thieves.

We know several people who have been victims of pickpockets, and we can't resist sharing an anecdote:

While catching a train to Versaille with her husband and brother a few years ago, Cheryl's best friend saw a pickpocket reaching toward her brother's wallet.

Cheryl's friend swatted the pickpocket with her handbag, and the thief fled.

(Fortunately, the thief didn't grab the wallet or the purse before making his exit.)

imageMany tourists invite theft by making their possessions easy to steal.

Men carry wallets and passports in their hip pockets, while women often wear bags behind their shoulders and out of sight, where a pickpocket can rummage like a bear with a garbage can.

imageOther visitors wear expensive camera backpacks that might as well be labeled "Steal me." Belt packs ("fanny packs" in American vernacular) are popular targets for pickpockets.

The most clueless victims of all are tourists who wear neck wallets or pouches outside their clothing, where any snatch-and-grab thief can cut the cord before running off with a stash of money and credit cards.

Our advice:

Another important tip:

Be aware of your surroundings, and be especially watchful in areas that are frequented by tourists. A France Crime & Safety Report from the Overseas Security Advisory Council claims that pickpockets are especially active in:

Bottom line: By using common sense, you'll encourage pickpockets and purse-snatchers to look for tourists who are more careless than you are.

Next page: Mistake #11: Saying "Adieu" instead of "Au revoir"

Top 11 Tourist Mistakes in Paris:
1. Here, today, gone tomorrow
2. Arriving in high season
3. Staying in the wrong arrondissement
4. Commuting from the suburbs
5. Lugging overloaded bags
6. Sightseeing by the numbers
7. Booking unnecessary tours
8. Driving in Paris
9. Overspending on local transport
10. Being easy prey for pickpockets and purse-snatchers
11. Saying "Adieu" instead of "Au revoir"

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Top photo copyright © Lisa Gagne.
1st inset photo © Victor Neimanis.
2nd inset photo inset photo © Julien Lemarchand.
3rd inset photo © Alistair Scott.
4th inset photo © Triggerphoto