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Is Paris Still Safe To Visit Right Now Amid Civil Unrest?

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A wave of violent protests and police mobilizations radiating from Paris have left many travelers wondering if it’s still safe to visit the popular City of Light.

On June 29, the U.S. Embassy in Paris, France issued a security alert in response to potentially dangerous protests following the fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Nahel Merzouk in the Parisian suburb of Nanterre.

The embassy stated that the demonstrations are probably going to continue and could turn violent. They called for travelers to stay vigilant and avoid areas with heavy protest and police activity.

While tourism isn’t the primary concern during this critical moment in French society, many vacationers are left with questions 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?

Paris Champs Elysees Sunset

Here are a few things to consider about the safety situation for travelers in Paris amid recent civil unrest:

What Do Locals Think Tourists Should Do?

Juliette, a student and experienced traveler living in Paris’s 10th Arrondissement, 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 hectic in the city. But that doesn't mean Paris is dangerous for tourists. It's absolutely not dangerous, at least in the center. There may be some unrest after dark, with fireworks, fires, looting – but it's never violent towards passersby in the street. Still, we don't really know yet how the movement will develop.”

Rémi, a young professional in Paris’s Belleville neighborhood, agrees. “Place de la République or Chatelet are the slightly affected areas, but otherwise the touristic places are still very open and accessible,” he says. “Tourists won’t really be affected.”

Scenic Alexander III bridge and Dome des Invalides cathedral in a distance, Paris, France

Location Is Everything

Protests so far have been focused in the suburbs outside of Paris’s Peripherique, which divides the city center and its arrondissements from the city’s outskirts (extra muros).

Almost all tourist attractions and hotels are squarely within the boundary of central Paris, which remains largely unaffected by violent protests.

Tifenn, a public clerk living in the Olympiades neighborhood of Paris, sees little risk for travelers who stay away from the suburbs. “Paris is still very safe,” she says, “especially during the day, when nothing is really out of the norm. If tourists stay in a hotel in Paris city center, there won’t be any issues.”

This isn’t to say that tourists won’t feel the impact of the current unrest in any central tourist destinations. On Saturday night, tourists and protestors alike were evacuated by police from the Champs-Elysees, one of the most popular attractions in Paris. 

However, the kind of disruptions we’re talking about here are logistical and minimal. 

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map of paris france with eiffel tower

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 note that the situation in the suburbs is volatile and should be avoided. Early Sunday morning, protestors crashed a car into the home of the mayor of the southern Paris suburb L’Haÿ-les-Roses – then lit it on fire. The mayor’s wife and one of his children were injured. 

Should a traveler be in the wrong place at the wrong time on the outskirts of the city, they risk coming across the more violent fringes of these protests. Tourists are strongly encouraged to remain within the city center.

Credit: Agence France

Risks Are Mostly Nocturnal

The vast majority of protesting and nearly all of the violent risk is happening after sundown. To err on the side of caution, many tourists might make changes to their evening itineraries, such as:

  • Opting for indoor activities
  • Making dinner reservations a close walking distance from their hotel
  • Wining and dining on upper floor terraces rather than streetside tables

Curfews have been in effect in the nearby towns of Clamart and Neuilly-sur-Marne, and seem to be spreading to other nearby suburbs.

The city of Paris has no curfew right now, but the metro is closing early at night. 

Paris from above at night

Plan Around Public Transport Restrictions

The civil unrest in Paris is more likely to affect tourists’ itineraries than their safety. 

Early public transportation closures in the evenings mean travelers should plan to either stay a close walking distance from their accommodation at night, or arrange for taxis or rideshares. 

Public transport within Paris's city center remains safe to use. However, in Parisian suburbs like Aubervilliers and Clamart, buses and trams have been set on fire. 

Justine, a French NGO worker living in Paris’s Pigalle neighborhood, spoke with Travel Off Path about the situation: 

“I’ve been living my normal life, mostly because I don’t really live in or go to the areas where the protests are. The main thing I noticed is that the metro has been closing earlier than usual, which could be pretty annoying for the travelers.”

Travelers should stay up to date with changes on the French regional transport agency’s website

paris metro closed

Staying Informed And Aware

The situation in Paris and across France is dynamic. Tourists should stay frequently informed and aware of their surroundings.

While some news outlets are predicting that the streets will calm down following the funeral of the shooting victim, other reports show upticks 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. English-language French local news outlets such as France 24 En can help tourists stay up to date on current risk levels and avoid the protest hotspots of the day. 

Young Woman Looking At Her Phone On Near Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

So, Can Tourists Safely Visit Paris Right Now?

For now, here’s the bottom line: 

Tourists should feel safe in the city center before sunset, but plan for difficulty getting around at night. Remember, even the most violent protests in the suburbs are very unlikely to affect innocent bystanders.

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Lisa

Wednesday 5th of July 2023

We are traveling as tourists right now in central Paris and we have seen no unrest.

Paddy

Wednesday 5th of July 2023

Is Paris a destination for anyone but boomers completely unaware of the effect their generation has had and still think it's the Paris of the 60s?

Ashok

Wednesday 5th of July 2023

I planned for this week to visit Paris (08th & 09th Jul 2023) but I am still worried and canceling my trip because of this news. Maybe I will get one more chance in my life.

Matthew E

Tuesday 4th of July 2023

No. The answer to the article's question is "no."

When you're considering a vacation destination and you see the words "ongoing civil unrest" or "violent protests" attached to it, that is your cue to reconsider.

When arsons in the country number in the thousands, over 700 law enforcement officers have been inured, there are attacks on police stations and private homes alike, and there is news footage of gang members firing AK-47s out the windows of the police van that they stole and are now cruising around in, you might want to think twice before visiting the area, whether you plan to stay in the center or not. Paris is compact, and that center is only a few miles from Nanterre, where all of this kicked off.

The article tells you that if you stay in a hotel in the city center you won't really be affected. The following paragraph describes a police sweep of the Champs-Elysees that cleared tourists and protesters alike.

Maybe now just isn't the time to spend thousands of dollars on that long-awaited trip to the City of Light. Because for the moment, that light is coming from fires.

John D

Thursday 27th of July 2023

@Peter Gresswell, Disturbances????? What have you been drinking? I guess the little kids who were stabbed in the park a few weeks ago were merely "injured" in your blinkered vocabulary....

Peter Gresswell

Wednesday 5th of July 2023

@Matthew E, You are being a bit hysterical. Anyone who knows France will tell you that disturbances are not that uncommon in big cities like Paris, Rennes and Marseilles, especially at weekeneds. This series of protests is a bit bigger it's true, but not reason enough to cancel a trip. You are very unlikely to be holidaying in the Banlieue of Paris. Go to Paris and enjoy yourself.

Ariana

Monday 3rd of July 2023

I was planning on going to Paris in late August, do you think these issues will still be happening and should reconsider travel to Paris?