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France’s crime rates lag significantly behind those of the US in nearly every category. Statistically, the country is much safer than America and solo travelers generally have little to worry about aside from basic pocket thieves and tourists schemes. Of course, there are neighborhoods, especially in larger cities, where violent crime is common, but those areas are easily avoided and should have little draw for the solo traveler. So is it safe to travel in France alone? Yes. Are there risks? Of course. We’re here to help you understand them.
The Terror Threat
Perhaps the biggest concern of the solo traveler in France is terrorism. The US Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) labels the terror threat in France as “high”. From the Charlie Hebdo Attack to the Paris Attacks of November 13, 2015, to the Truck Attack in Nice, France has suffered a wave of soft-target high-casualty terror attacks that have put the country and tourists on edge. These attacks are of special concern for tourists because terrorists have shifted to striking in public, often in crowded public spaces that attract tourists and are extremely difficult for security forces to protect and patrol. Tourists are naturally at a greater risk.
There is very little tourists can do to mitigate the terror threat. Avoiding open areas with large crowds is one strategy, but visiting crowded public areas is often a key part of the tourist experience. The concern about these kinds of attacks is so high because they are so difficult to prevent. It is important to remember the odds of becoming a victim of a terror attack are extremely slim, but the threat is at an all-time high.
Solo travelers should also be aware of some of the cyber threats that come with traveling to France. The State Department warns that Wi-Fi hotspots are vulnerable to communication intercepts and data theft. Your hotel Wi-Fi is a safer bet if you have to take care of online banking or anything else that might catch the attention of a cybercriminal.
Pickpockets are common, especially in tourist areas, so practice common sense travel safety habits like keeping your valuables in protected places and walk with your hands in your pockets when going through large crowds. “Smash and grab” theft (when thieves approach cars stuck in traffic, smash windows, grab valuables and then flee) incidents are becoming increasingly common so tourists should keep valuables close and lock doors when riding in taxis and Ubers.