Safety and Security
Political violence in Paris and throughout France is relatively uncommon, although there are occasional instances of extremely large demonstrations simultaneously occurring in many French cities. Large demonstrations in Paris are generally managed by a strong police presence, but even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. We recommend that U.S. citizens avoid demonstrations if possible, and exercise caution if within the vicinity of any demonstrations. The congestion caused by large demonstrations can cause serious inconveniences for a visitor on a tight schedule. Some sporting events, such as soccer matches, have occasionally degenerated into violence that continued into the streets.
Political unrest has developed in some Francophone countries with historic ties to France (e.g., Algeria, Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, and Tunisia). Some French citizens and residents with ties to such countries have protested in front of those countries’ embassies or consulates in France in response to the unrest. Although these protests are infrequent and do not target U.S. citizens, visitors should avoid such demonstrations.
The Government of France maintains a threat rating system, known locally as “Vigipirate,” similar to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Advisory System. Under this plan, the government routinely augments police with armed forces and increases visibility at airports, train and metro stations, and other high-profile locations such as schools, major tourist attractions, and government installations. Over the last few years, there have been arrests of suspected militant extremists allegedly involved in terrorist plots. French authorities have periodically spoken publicly about the heightened threat conditions for terrorist attacks in Europe. The United States and France routinely share information in order to disrupt terrorist plotting, identify and take action against potential operatives, and strengthen defenses against potential threats.
Although U.S. citizens have not been specifically targeted in terrorist attacks in France within the past few years, travelers should remain vigilant. Immediately report unattended packages observed in public places or any other suspicious activities to French law enforcement authorities, who are proactive and will respond immediately. If there is a security incident or suspicious package, do not linger in the area to observe.
Public safety and security in France are maintained by three different forces: Municipal Police; National Police; and the military Gendarmerie. These services are professional, competent, and proactive in fighting crime and violence and maintaining overall state security.
In an emergency, dialing 17 will connect the caller to the Police in both France and Monaco.You can also dial the Europe-wide emergency response number 112 to reach an operator for all kinds of emergency services (similar to the U.S. 911 system) in France. Non-French speakers may experience a delay while an English speaker is located.