Chinese Tourists Robbed in Paris

Commenter “Hugely Ceebs” points me towards this article:

Tourists from China are avoiding France amid surging violence and crime, a Chinese tourism expert has said, reporting that customers are turning to Russia as a safer destination.

President of the Chinese Association of Travel Agencies in France, Jean-François Zhou, said “increasingly violent” thefts and assaults are turning France into “one of the worst destinations for foreign tourists”.

Mr. Zhou, a representative for major Chinese travel agency Utour in France, reported a steep decline in visitor numbers from Asia, and said many tourists are now looking to Russia as a less dangerous holiday destination.

I’m going to take that with a pinch of salt. Firstly it’s Breibart; secondly the situation might be being exaggerated; thirdly nobody will go on holiday to Russia instead of Paris.

But that said:

“[Chinese tourists] are robbed in the palace of Versailles, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, in front of their hotel, as they leave the coaches … In high season, not a day goes by without tourists being assaulted.”

There is a massive problem with pickpockets, beggars, thieves, scam artists, hawkers, and general criminals around the main tourist areas of Paris, particularly under the Eiffel Tower and the steps leading up to Montmartre outside the Sacré Cœur. I have known a few visitors who have had their bag snatched or pocket picked in these areas, and the perpetrators are many in number and loitering in full display of everyone waiting for an opportunity. I have often wondered why the police don’t clear them out but am told that when they do, they just move onto somewhere else. For whatever reason, probably something to do with fear of being called racist, the authorities don’t clear them out permanently.

But the situation is getting worse and can’t go on forever. It might be that the Chinese tourist agents have received a lot of complaints and they have decided to issue a warning to the French to sort it out or they really will start looking elsewhere. If this is the case then good: it’s high time somebody said something.

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29 thoughts on “Chinese Tourists Robbed in Paris

  1. France enjoying more vibrancy then. At least it’s benefits are starting to be seen and felt by the wealthy and not simply stuck in the burbs as they used to be.

    The more progressive balls in the fire, the sooner it all stops.

  2. I’ve never experienced any of that, on many trips to Paris. An incident during my last visit might explain why.

    We were in the Place du Concord when I spotted a chap selling roasted chestnuts. Fancying some, I approached him and he ran away. Only after I shouted “Monsieur, je ne suis pas les flics!” did he stop running and sell me some.

    Apparently, I must look like the French’s idea of a cop.

  3. It colours my thoughts of whether to visit. Were I still car-borne, I’d head south of Paris to Melun or around Barbizon or if in Paris, stay in a dormitory arondissement [spelling?] such as 12eme, which I know well – Bercy.

    But not being car-borne, it does give one pause.

  4. I’ve never experienced any of that, on many trips to Paris.

    Nor have I, personally. But I don’t carry a handbag and keep my wallet in a zipped pocket when I’m in those areas. Plus I’m pretty tall, and these sort of people generally avoid big guys.

  5. It colours my thoughts of whether to visit.

    It shouldn’t: just don’t wave your wallet around under the Eiffel Tower. Those videos I have seen of the migrants fighting and the tent city are a bit of a mystery to me, because I’ve seen neither. Paris is Paris, it’s much the same as it always was. The Gare du Nord is still a shithole, though.

  6. Having just spent a week there wandering around these bag-snatching oases, I’ll be the token racist here and name the ethnic group most likely to milling around doing, or looking like they’re contemplating doing, something illegal;

    Sub-Sarahan Africans.

    There. I’ve said it.

    I expect I’ll now be tracked down by an internet shaming campaign, my kids bullied at school, my employer contacted and pressured to fire me and daytime TV talk show hosts will open shows with the question, “how did we, as a society, produce such a monster as TNA?”.

  7. Tim: Paris is Paris, it’s much the same as it always was.

    Well, yes and no. When I was a lad, my parents used to live in the 19th arrondissement, near the Buttes-Chaumont. There’s quite a few areas around there where I would be careful nowadays and where I probably wouldn’t go with my wife.

    But on the other hand Paris and every large city have always attracted opportunistic criminals in the tourist areas, and of course the Chinese are obvious targets because they are such obvious tourists. I blame the vicarious experience provided by theme parks such as Disney World. People go to Paris and expect it to be like the French pavilion at Epcot, except that the employees speak French for some reason.

    I’m sure the same thing happened to Japanese tourists when they started to descend on Europe en masse in the 80s, cameras dangling from their necks, coming in on buses with a guide with a little flag at the head of the group. You no longer see Japanese doing that; they travel by themselves, like normal people, and they no longer get singled out. The Chinese will get to that point as well.

  8. The Gare du Nord is still a shithole, though.

    It’s good to know that there are still some constants in life.

  9. On the bright side, Paris has always been a great city to do a theft insurance job in. The police at Gard Du Nord will write up a nice theft report with all your valuable items that were robbed, all you gotta do is give them the itemised list of what was stolen, some things never change.

    But nothing comes close to Rome central station for tea leafs.

  10. It’s quite possible that someone high up the department handling travel agencies in China feels he’s not afforded the right side of the cut, and so he finds convenient starting a smearing campaign against France tourism. A very common tactic routinely implemented by the Chinese government to signal at once their displeasure for the current situation and their absolute lording over their fellow countrymen, in the past it has been successfully applied to put pressure to the likes of Apple, General Motors, Samsung and others. And France being France, having an atavical need to assert and prove and be liked with almost everyone in this world, they will surely bend over backward with the Chinese to make sure they remain their top destination for travel.
    Let’s wait few weeks (or perhaps few days) for the reply.

  11. Sub-Sarahan Africans.

    They’re certainly involved, but there are enough North Africans involved as well. And the people running the charity scams are all Roma.

  12. Well, yes and no. When I was a lad, my parents used to live in the 19th arrondissement, near the Buttes-Chaumont.

    I should clarify: when I said “the same as it was” I meant “since I arrived 3 years ago”. 😉

    You no longer see Japanese doing that; they travel by themselves, like normal people, and they no longer get singled out. The Chinese will get to that point as well.

    Indeed, good point.

  13. It’s good to know that there are still some constants in life.

    Ah yes, it will be a sad day for mankind when that changes, we’ll have lost one of our few true certainties.

  14. It’s quite possible that someone high up the department handling travel agencies in China feels he’s not afforded the right side of the cut, and so he finds convenient starting a smearing campaign against France tourism.

    Indeed, hence my skepticism

  15. I’ve seen hosts of Chinese tourists in Moscow in the past year, mostly middle-aged or older people. I’ve read that the number of Chinese visitors went up from 400,000 in 2014 to a million in 2016. It has to do with the ruble’s plunge in 2014, apparently. Also, Chinese tourist groups of 5 to 50 people don’t need visas to visit Russia for up to 15 days.

    I got my pocket picked in Rome, on a train in the central station, a couple of years back. I know who did it – two teenagers whose looks, as Italian lawyers are fond of saying, were “compatible with” Roma ethnicity. I had done something exceedingly stupid – something I normally avoid as carefully as leaving my fly unzipped – putting some cash into the back pocket of my jeans. Punishment was swift and inexorable. As an old saying goes, the back pocket isn’t really yours – it’s someone else’s pocket.

  16. I’ve seen hosts of Chinese tourists in Moscow in the past year, mostly middle-aged or older people.

    Oh, I’m sure Chinese go to Moscow. But instead of Paris? I doubt it.

  17. You no longer see Japanese doing that; they travel by themselves, like normal people, and they no longer get singled out. The Chinese will get to that point as well

    If what is arriving are subsidized tours (like the ones that sent Honkongers over the cliff with rage and is on track to do the same in Southeast Asia) nothing will change. My hunch is that for a very long period we will not see the type of change witnessed by the japanese, China has a long way before becoming as sophisticated and worldwise like them.

  18. Marostegan: China has a long way before becoming as sophisticated and worldwise like them.

    You’re likely correct. Of course they are starting from a much lower base than the Japanese did in the 80s. Fifty or sixty years of communism will do that to you.

  19. I’m not so sure I share your scepticism. To the Chinese peasant one generation from a paddy field who has made some money in the city and is venturing abroad for the first time, Moscow will be equally as exotic as Paris. They are certainly likely to know equally little about either. These are the people who comprise the overwhelming majority of the new tour groups in Europe. As noted above, the visa issue will also be a very big incentive.

    Most important will be feedback from friends who have already been. Moscow and St Petersburg are ideal destinations for people who want a closely chaperoned guided tour. Lots of strange and wonderful foreign things to see, no need to interact with the locals, and little chance of getting hassled by hawkers or robbed by Gypsies. If Russian hotels have had the nous to hire some Chinese kitchen staff so the tourists don’t have to endure disgusting foreign food that would easily seal the deal – the top complaint of Chinese tourists in Europe is always the hotel food.

  20. On my first time in Rome, 27 years ago, my wife and I stepped out of our hotel near to the Trevi fountain on our first morning there, and were immediately surrounded by Roma teenagers who pushed a newspaper into my face and began reaching inside my jacket.

    I pushed them away with some force as did my wife

    The drivers of all the cars began beeping their horns and shaking their fist at me, and my wife and I became nervous that we had done something wrong.

    We went back to the hotel and asked the lad at the desk what we had done wrong.

    He laughed at us: the drivers were telling you to hit the gypsies!

  21. james,
    In Rome one pick-pocketting tactic was where a Roma woman would go up close begging money from a tourist while her numerous children would paw “pleadingly” at the target’s clothes. Given the numerous hands and having to pay attention to the mother you would be easily distracted from the “lift”.
    This happened to a friend and I and I followed the advice of the person who had warned me – bellow in the woman’s face and look like you were going to get really aggressive. The woman spoke a word or two and they were all gone instantly.
    This isn’t my nature at all but I had been warned that nothing less would work..

  22. JS
    There were a couple more attempts to rob us in the same week.

    I did much the same as you- roared at them to F—- Off and made as if to punch one of them.

    The response was a sneery laugh rather than fear- but they backed off.

    Strangely enough, when we returned to Rome 15 years later, no attempts were made to rob us, even though there were many more Roma prowling the streets.

    I would have thought that a middle aged couple would offer better pickings than the more robust specimens of some years before

  23. My yankee amte and I got all of our baggage robbed in Rome station including passports, the whole nine yards. It was Easter weekend in Rome! we had to get the consular officer who was on holiday to come and open up the embassy. The painful public service fucker had the shits big time and she gave me a Letter of Identity for one way travel back to blighty forthwith. That was the end of our trip right there and then.

    I also had my US Social Security Card robbed in that bundle and I often wonder if there is some Roma kid from the ghetto that has done well on Wall St on the back of my good name.

  24. I had my pocket picked in Prague, and someone stole my bag in Cannes in the south of France. (I then got to also experience some particularly useless French policemen write me out a police report saying that anything I said was stolen was stolen). People have tried unsuccessfully to pick my pocket or otherwise steal from my person in Prague (again), Barcelona, Belgrade, and Buenos Aires. (Probably a couple of other places that don’t immediately come to mind, too). The worst incident occurred on the Algarve in Portugal, where someone broke into my parked and locked rental car and stole things from the car. (Given how much travel I have done, I have got off fairly lightly).

    I’ve never had any kind of incident in Paris, though. To me it feels like a city where there is some danger of being robbed as a tourist, but I have seen much worse.

  25. And yes. If you are being hassled by people who will not go away, make a lot of noise. Shout at the top of your lungs. It’s undignified, but it works (except in Morocco).

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