So, you've found yourself in Paris: the city of love, light and la mode. You sip wine on the balcony of your 7th arrondissement holiday apartment, gazing across at the Tour Eiffel and feeling eternally grateful that Paris is in fact the dream that literature and film has painted for you.
As you finish what you promise will be your last glass of wine, you reflect on your perfect day. You were strolling through the Tuileries garden, with your take-out Angelina heaven-in-a-cup hot chocolate, and then finished the day with a spot of shopping on the Champs-Elysées. "I wish I could stay here forever," you catch yourself thinking.
But ooh la la, what is this?! Your wallet is no longer in your handbag, your over-priced Navigo travelcard is no longer in your back pocket, and that Sephora lipstick you threw into one of your various shopping bags? Gone. You instantly retract that thought of "forever", whilst praying you were smart enough to lock your passport and Eurostar return ticket in the hotel safe, rather than taking it out with you, where they could've got their hands on it.
Who is this "they" I speak of? Pickpockets. Be wary, they're anywhere and everywhere: the Metro, the supermarket, Starbucks- and they want your iPhones, wallets, and anything else they can get their hands on.
Whilst I've not fallen victim to a pick pocketing scam yet, I did come exceptionally close when I lived in Paris last year.
My sisters and I were walking around the Carrousel du Louvre area, on a Saturday afternoon. As you can imagine, the place was swarming with people, all rushing off in different directions; map in one hand and a shopping bag full of novelty gifts in the other. But I didn't have any of those things. I had both of my hands free, and my satchel bag to the side, with the front of it facing me - not the public.
So, when an "innocent" lady tried to squeeze past me in between the crowds, mumbling "pardon", I thought nothing of it- she obviously just wanted to get past. So why was it that when I looked down, she had her hand completely in my bag?! When I realised what she was doing, she just mumbled "pardon" again, and carried on with her shitty pick-pocketing day.
Luckily for me, my wallet is too huge for anybody to be able to grab it out of the tiny gap on the side of every satchel, but had I had something a little bit smaller, such as keys, or even my phone, she would've walked off with it, and I probably would've had no clue.
"Did you grab her hands and confront her?!" my friends asked, as I told them the story. No, unfortunately not. I literally just stood there gobsmacked, primarily for two reasons:
1) I CAN'T BELIEVE PEOPLE ACTUALLY DO THIS! You always hear about these things, but it's just such a stupid, ridiculous thing to do with your life, and I was stunned by how cheeky this woman was.
2) I WASN'T EVEN A TOURIST! I LIVED THERE! I'm not saying that tourists deserve this treatment, but it's common knowledge that tourists are the likely targets of pick pocketing scams.
What was even more surprising was that she also seemed like a tourist herself. And if she wasn't, then she was doing a great job putting on that shit French accent. Let this be a lesson: you can be as careful as you like, have your bag facing a certain way like I was, but these nasty people will always seem to find a way to ruin what should otherwise be a fantastic trip. Where was the scene in Amélie where the poor tourist's wallet and passport went missing? Unfortunately, nowhere.
Nonetheless, Paris is too beautiful to be scared off, so make sure you are smart, and wary, particularly in crowded areas. Never keep your wallet or valuables in your back pocket, as it makes you an easy target. Remember that pickpockets often work in pairs or groups: beware of somebody coming to distract you, while their friend attempts to get something from your handbag.