Paris is one of the most beautiful cities in the world that attracts so many visitors each year. Unfortunately a downside to having so many tourists in one area is scammers who try to take advantage of them.
When I went to Paris in 2013 I naively did not know about any of these “well known” scams and I found myself getting tricked by all three in the one day! I felt like such a dummy, but by familiarising yourself with some of the typical scams in advance you can be prepared to get yourself out of a tricky situation and focus on enjoying the amazing sights.
Signing a petition under the Eiffel Tower
This was our very first scam and of course it seems so innocent. When you walk nearby the Eiffel Tower a group of young girls will ask you to sign a petition for them. I can’t remember what it was for but something to do with saving animals or under-privileged children. They say that they just need signatures for their cause which sounds simple enough however you start to fill in the petition and then the last column talks about a donation. I tried to give the form back saying sorry I didn’t want to give any money and they became very pushy and said that I have agreed to the donation. We tried to walk away and they kept following us for some time.
Lost ring near the river Seine
A man will approach you and say that you have dropped a ring. When you say sorry it is not yours he will insist that you keep it anyway as he doesn’t need it and it looks expensive. If you take it he will then ask for money in return. In our case we did take the ring from the man but left it on the ledge of a bridge in-case someone was coming to look for it. A minute later the man came back and as the scam goes, asked us for money in return for finding the ring. He seemed really mad when we said we had left it back on the bridge and then he kept following us for a few streets which was extra creepy! In this instance just decline the ring with a firm no and keep walking.
Bracelets at the Sacré-Cœur
At the base of the Sacré-Cœur there will be groups of men who stop you to give you a friendship bracelet and then demand money for it. These were the people we found the most intimidating, and they actually stopped and grabbed my husband’s arm and would not let go. We kept saying no thank you and tried to walk away but it took quite a while for them to let us go. This was in a really crowded area too! I would recommend walking through this area with a group of people or being very careful of your belongings if this happens to you.
There are a number of other scams that happen in Paris and other large cities, many articles have been written about these so take the time to brush up on what to expect!
Have you experienced any of these scams?