I have been getting a lot of requests for suggestions in Paris and I know a few female travelers who will be taking their first solo trip this Spring. I wanted to give a few tips that I would give to my best girlfriend's to stay safe in the city of lights. When I am talking about safety I am referring to keeping your belongings and you safe. Paris is a safe place don't get me wrong but I do go into a different way of thinking the minute I touch down because I am now carrying a camera/lenses, my passport, and my wallet. All very important valuables.
1. Common sense: DO NOT drink too much. I know the wine is good and cheap but it lowers your inhibitions. You can drop/lose your cell phone, keys, or loose your wallet.
2. If you rent an apartment there will be a keypad upon entering the building with a passcode. Please remember this passcode as quickly as possible. If you are traveling alone or in groups do not pull out your keys until you are safely inside! Once you get inside to push the door securely behind you. You don't want anyone pushing the door and entering without access. The doors close slowly and sometimes don't latch immediately.
3. Beware of the pickpockets. I am not trying to disrespect anyone but I would just keep your eye open. You may be approached to sign a paper and they ask if you speak English. Please be polite and move away as quickly as possible. It's a scam and they may try to steal your belongings. They may also approach you when you are dining at a restaurant. If your cell phone is on the table they will place the clipboard on top of the phone and when you ask them to leave they will take your phone at the same time. So please keep your cell phone in your zipped bag.
4. Check your hotel has a standard safe. I know this sounds odd, but I go crazy when I can't fit my laptop in the safe. Not every European hotel has a standard safe size so if it's important to take a look before booking. I travel for work and having a safe place to store my hard drive and top is essential for peace of mind.
5. Riding the Metro: First off DO NOT purchase tickets from anyone other than from an authorized ticket vendor or machine. DO NOT smile or make eye contact with men on the metro. If you smile they will take it as an invitation. I have been followed off enough times to know that this is not a good move. Read a book or look out the window. Play it safe.
6. I keep most of my belongings at the apartment or in the hotel safe. I bring only what is necessary with me. I will put some euros in a small wallet and one credit card with me. If for some reason my purse is taken I don't loose everything. I really like these wallets from Cuyana or any small wallet will do. They have one and two euro coins so you might end up with a lot more change than you are used to. This wallet from Nordstrom would work well too.
7. Visiting the ATM. Beware of your surroundings and if possible bring a friend with you to stand guard. I say this in the nicest way. One day on a Sunday in the Marais on a busy street I stopped by an ATM to grab euros before heading to Italy. I put in my card and literally right before I put in the code I was surrounded by three pickpockets. One covered the screen with a paper so I couldn't see and the two others were in my blind spots. I screamed SO loud they ran. I was very lucky I hadn't entered my pin or they would have taken everything. If you are alone you can go inside to an ATM in a bank that is more secure.
8. Travel with a bag that has a zip. I chose this top zipper bag from Cuyana that I love and it fits everything when I travel. I also have used a Longchamp and it works well too. You want to keep your bag zipped and close to you at all times. I will put the zipper closest to my underarm so I can keep an eye on it facing out at all times. It seems simple but it works!
9. When riding the RER/Train from the airport keep an eye on your luggage and keep it with you. You are sleep deprived and it makes you a little groggy. I have seen things taken quickly when people aren't paying attention. You wouldn't want to start your trip off on a bad note.
10. Keep belongings safe and secure and away. This means keep your phone away when riding the metro. Do not put valuables in your back pocket or coat pocket. I have been with someone who was followed off the train and their phone was stolen out of their pocket.
These tips aren't to scare you. Paris is fairly safe you just have to be mindful and pay attention. I highly recommend traveling solo. In 2010 it changed my life and launched a business. Keep your belongings safe and your mind open to the world around you.