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A wave of violent protests and police mobilizations from Paris has left many travelers wondering if it’s still safe to visit the popular City of Light.
On June 29, the US Embassy in Paris, France issued a security alert in response to potentially dangerous protests following the deadly police shooting of 17-year-old Nahel Merzouk in the Paris suburb of Nanterre.
The Embassy fixed that the demonstrations are likely to continue and could turn violent. They called on travelers to stay vigilant and avoid areas with heavy protests and police activity.
While tourism is not the main concern during this critical time in French society, many vacationers have concerns about their safety.
Should travelers reschedule or cancel planned trips to Paris? How safe or unsafe is this situation for tourists right now? What steps can visitors take to stay safe during their stay?
Here are some things to consider about the safety situation for travelers in Paris amid the recent civil unrest:
What do the locals think tourists should do?
Juliette, a student and seasoned traveler living in the 10th arrondissement of Paris, spoke to Travel Off Path about the local Parisian perspective on tourism during this turbulent time:
“This is the sixth night that things have been a bit rough in the city. But that doesn’t mean that Paris is dangerous for tourists. It is absolutely not dangerous, at least in the center. There might be some riots after dark, with fireworks, arson, looting, but it’s never violent to passersby on the street. Still, we still don’t really know how the movement will play out. »
Rémi, a young professional from the Parisian neighborhood of Belleville, agrees. “Place de la République or Chatelet are the slightly affected areas, but otherwise the tourist places are still very open and accessible”, he says. « Tourists really won’t be affected. »
location is everything
So far, the protests have focused on the suburbs outside of Paris. peripherally, which divides the center of the city and its municipalities from the outskirts of the city (outside walls).
Nearly all tourist attractions and hotels lie within the limits of central Paris, which is largely unaffected by violent protests.
Tifenn, a public employee who lives in the Paris Olympics neighborhood, sees little risk to travelers who stay away from the suburbs. “Paris is still very safe,” he says, “especially during the day, when nothing is really out of the ordinary. If the tourists stay in a hotel in the center of the city of Paris, there will be no problem”.
This is not to say that tourists will not feel the impact of the current unrest in any central tourist destination. On Saturday night, tourists and protesters were evacuated by police from the Champs-Elysees, one of the most popular attractions in Paris.
However, the type of disruptions we’re talking about here are logistical and minimal.
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The suburbs seriously affected by both peaceful and violent protests so far are: Nanterre, Bezons, Gennevilliers, Garges-lès-Gonesse, Asnières-sur-Seine, Montreuil, Neuilly-sur-Marne, Clamart, Meudon, Trappes, Clergy, Guyancourt , Vigneux-sur-Seine and L’Île-St.-Denis.
Tourists should keep in mind that the situation in the suburbs is volatile and should be avoided. Early Sunday morning, protesters rammed a car into the home of the mayor of the southern Paris suburb of L’Haÿ-les-Roses, then set it on fire. The mayor’s wife and one of his sons were injured.
If a traveler is in the wrong place at the wrong time on the outskirts of the city, they risk running into the most violent fringes of these protests. Tourists are strongly recommended to stay in the city center.
The risks are mostly nocturnal
The vast majority of protests and almost all of the violent risk occurs after sunset. To err on the side of caution, many tourists may make changes to their overnight itineraries, such as:
- Opt for indoor activities
- Make dinner reservations within walking distance of your hotel.
- Drink and dine on the terraces of the upper floors instead of at the tables in the street
Curfews have been in place in the nearby cities of Clamart and Neuilly-sur-Marne, and appear to be spreading to other nearby suburbs.
The city of Paris does not have a curfew at the moment, but the metro is closing early in the evening.
Plan around public transportation restrictions
Civil unrest in Paris is more likely to affect tourists’ itineraries than their safety.
Early public transport closures at night mean travelers should plan to stay within a short walk of their accommodation for the night, or arrange taxis or rideshares.
Public transportation within the Paris city center remains safe to use. However, in Parisian suburbs such as Aubervilliers and Clamart, buses and trams have caught fire.
Justine, a French NGO worker living in the Parisian neighborhood of Pigalle, spoke to Travel Off Path about the situation:
“I have been living my normal life, mainly because I don’t really live or go to the areas where the protests are taking place. The main thing I noticed is that the metro has been closing earlier than usual, which could be quite upsetting for commuters. »
Travelers should keep up with changes at the French regional transport agency website.
Stay informed and aware
The situation in Paris and throughout France is dynamic. Tourists must frequently keep themselves informed and aware of their surroundings.
While some media outlets predict the streets will calm down after the shooting victim’s funeral, other reports show spikes in violence and arrests in cities across France over the past 24 hours.
Travelers should monitor their home country’s embassy in Paris for security updates. Local French-language news outlets in English, such as France 24 in it can help tourists stay up to date on current risk levels and avoid protest hotspots of the day.
So can tourists safely visit Paris right now?
For now, here is the final result:
Tourists should feel safe in the city center before sunset, but expect difficulties getting around at night. Remember, even the most violent protests in the suburbs are highly unlikely to affect innocent bystanders.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com