Category Archives: Paris, Île-de-France

Dicey Paris Neighborhoods, Episode 194

Dicey Paris Neighborhoods


On today’s episode, let’s talk about Paris neighborhoods where I would rather NOT stay, or book a hotel, or rent an apartment. There aren’t so many such places, so it’ll be a short episode. I get asked all the time: is this a safe neighborhood? So yeah, let’s talk about it and name the names!

If you’re interested in safety while in France, you should also check out How to Stay Safe in France, Getting Caught in a Terror Attack in France, Making Sense of Terror Attacks in France, How to Protect Yourself from Pickpockets in Paris

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smiling and pleasant young woman carrying a clipboard on the courtyard at the Louvre
This pleasant-looking young woman is one of the many scammers who will try to get you to sign bogus petitions in Paris. It’s a pretext to rob you, walk on, do not engage such persons!

Episode Highlights with Timestamps

Beware of Sensational Reporting

[01:57] “No-go zones” in Paris are NOT a thing, but there are places where it is wise not to go.

Fine by Day, Bad Idea at Night

[03:33] Many of the “unsafe” areas listed here are fine during the day, but not so fine at night, which is why you shouldn’t book your hotel there.

It All Depends on What You’re Used to

[05:13] Big city folks are not easily startled by dicey neighborhoods, but country folks will probably freak out more.

Assessing Your Risk Level

[06:16] Men tend to feel safer no matter where they do. It’s another story for women.

Most Dicey Areas Are Outside of the Paris Belt Road

[06:45] It is best to say within the Paris belt road, aka “le périphérique” because that’s where most of the projects are located.

Keep It Simple: Stay Inside the Belt Road

[07:54] Only a few areas outside of the Paris belt road are dicey, but it’s too complicated for visitors to judge where exactly.

The Only Major Tourist Attraction Located Near a Dicey Area in Paris: Saint-Denis

[09:56] The only major tourist attraction located in a “bad” area is the Saint-Denis Basilica. You can still go if you get an Uber ride and go in the day-time.

Avoid the “Portes de…” Areas

[11:39] As a general rule, it is also best to avoid staying in areas called “Porte de…” This is not true for all of them, but most of them are a little rough.

map that shows the ring road around Paris
The Paris ring road or “périph”

What About Dicey Areas in the Center of Paris?

[13:18] There are only a few metro stations in the center of Paris next to which I wouldn’t want to book a hotel or AirB&B.

Paris Metro Stations You Want to Avoid

Most of them are in the northeast quarter of Paris: Stalingrad, Jaurès, Barbès, Place de Clichy, Porte de la Villette, Gare du Nord, République, Goutte d’Or, Danube, Place des Fêtes.  Chatelet-les-Halles and Pigale are not great either, but not as bad.

Broad Rule: Avoid the Northeast Quarter of Paris

[14:56] Broad rules always fail at some point, but it’s worth noting that if you avoid the northeast quarter of Paris, you’ll avoid most of the dicey areas.

What About Taking the Metro Late at Night in Paris?

[15:58] Is it safe to take the Paris metro late at night? Yes, if you follow some rules: enter as close to the driver as you can, don’t be alone in a car, avoid the tunnels.

How to Avoid Cell Phone Theft in the Paris Metro

[16:34] Don’t have your cell phone out when standing near the metro doors. Someone might grab it and run out just as the doors close.

Gun Violence is Rare in France

[17:40] There aren’t a lot of guns in the hands of the general population in France and gun violence is rare.

Biggest Risk: Pickpockets!

[17:53] How to protect yourself from pickpockets in Paris. That’s what you should be thinking about also.

[18:22] Theft statistics vs. murder statistics in France.

Learn What to Do in Case of a Terror Attack

[20:56] Terror attacks are rare, but terrifying. There are some things you should do to mitigate your risk.

Conclusion: Your Homework

[22:13] Tell others where you’ll be staying. Enroll in the Smart Traveler Program. Backup your phone before you leave. Take an older phone with you when traveling. Don’t take so much! If you need to pick a budget hotel, don’t go to the northeast corner of Paris. If you want affordable choices in the center of Paris, check out our hotel selection.

map that shows ZUS aka "Projects" around Paris
List of ZUS around Paris

12 Perfect Spots for Your Picnic in Paris

12 Perfect Spots for Your Picnic in Paris, Episode 190


Let me tell you what makes for a great picnic in Paris. It’s not so much the food (although it can be divine!) but the spot where you have your picnic. You go out of your house to eat outside because of the view, don’t you? Otherwise, most of us are more comfortable sitting at a dining room table. But with these Paris spots in the background, it’s worth going outside to enjoy your meal!

Listen to today’s episode to find out where the 12 best sport for a Paris picnic are and what you will find there when you go. Some are perfect for romance, others are best for families with children, others again are for those who are nostalgic for the picnics of yesteryear. There is a perfect spot for everyone’s picnic in Paris, and they are all here!

In this episode we also talk about interesting French picnic foods that most may have never heard about. Maybe we have adventurous eaters among us?

We also talk about how you can find your picnic foods, and how a picnic in Paris can be both wonderful and really good for your pocket book! Bon appétit!

cheese display at a paris cheese shop with some of the product shaped like the eiffel tower

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12 Perfect Spots for Your Picnic in Paris

  1. Pont des Arts
  2. Vert Galant Park
  3. Quai des Tournelles along the Seine
  4. Jardin du Luxembourg
  5. Place des Vosges
  6. Jardin du Palais Royal
  7. Champ de Mars or Trocadero
  8. Square Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet in Montmartre
  9. Buttes de Chaumont Park
  10. Square des Batignoles (shopping on rue de Lévis)
  11. Parc Monceau (shopping on rue de Lévis)
  12. Lac Daumesnil in the Bois de Vincennes

French Picnic Foods

French Grocery Stores: Franprix, Carrefour, Monoprix, Casino, Biocoop, etc.

Foods You Could Try:

  • grated carrot salad
  • celery root salad (célery rave)
  • sliced cucumber salad
  • cubed beet salad
  • salade de museau
  • pâté de campagne, pâté de foie
  • foie gras
  • jambon au torchon
  • jambon de Bayonne
  • French cheese made with “lait cru” (raw milk)
  • Orangina soda

colonnes de buren at the Palais Royal

Train Strikes in France, 2018 Edition, Episode 189

Train Strikes in France, 2018 Edition

On today’s episode, everybody FREAK OUT! There’s a train strike happening in France spring 2018! OK, don’t freak out, I think I can help you take back control and have a great vacation in France all the same.

How to Get Information About Train Strikes in France

C’est la grève

Find Out If Your Train Is Running (From the part of the SNCF has been renamed OuiSNCF)

Train Status

How to Get Your Money Back

Phone Number: 0805 90 36 35

Our Recommendations

Don’t give yourself an ulcer over a train strike in France. Make alternative plans instead!

The best thing you can do is avoid the train completely and go with a car rental or a regional bus, a flight, or even a ride share.

There are always options: In Paris, if the the Metro and RER systems are on strike, look at bus options. They are rarely all on strike at the same time.

Install the RATP and SNCF Apps on your phone where you can see your alternative options in real-time!

Don’t Let Uncertainty Rule Your Trip

I think what gets to people is the uncertainty of this whole situation. Americans want answers and they want them now! Well, that’s not how it works in France. We’re used to living with some level of wait and see.

French people can navigate through a strike like nobody’s business because they’ve done it 100 times! This would be your first time, so, unless you’re training to become a little bit more French, avoid the whole thing and plan on other modes of transportation.

 

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train strikes in france: announced strike days for April, May and June 2018

If You Enjoyed this Episode, You Should Also Listen To

Tips for Using Uber in Paris (and by extension anywhere in France)

Tips for Driving in France (the experience)

Driving in France (the rules)