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Eiffel Tower with Merry go around

Paris the city of art, dreams, love, and pickpockets.

Paris Travel – A dream

Paris is a dream city, there is no doubt about that. When we think of Paris, we think of the charming cafes, romantic parks, bridges, designer boutiques, and fashionable locals.However, sometimes this iconic city does disappoint. We had one such unfortunate experience on our trip with Paris pickpockets.

Our arrival at the airport as exciting as it was, soon converted itself in a horror travel story.We were traveling to Paris from Berlin and reached the city of love very happy and excited. Ecstatic about this wonderful city which we always wanted to visit but never planned it out before due to a reason or other.

Finally, landing here gave us all the opportunities we always dreamt of, all the stories, movies that have fed us about the magic of this city. We could not wait any longer to start exploring it on our own.

Initial Impressions

When we visit any new place, we always keep an open mind and give us enough time before making any opinions. The same was with Paris. The airport is quite big and almost took us an hour to decide on the best possible way out to the city (unfortunately, this is one of those rare times when we could not plan out how we will reach our Hotel from the Airport beforehand. This is always one of the checklist items we do before traveling to any place.)

We checked with tourist info but it did not match our zest to get the suitable tickets for public transport. For most of the European cities, you can find the official public transport and an alternate company which also gives these public transport tickets with some additional costs and benefits.

In Paris, we decided to go ahead with actual city public transport (which in itself is not cheap). Paris is distributed in 5 zones and is quite big as a city, getting a correct transport ticket can be quite daunting at first if you don’t know the exact zones you wish to travel to.

Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower on a rainy day

Charles de Gaulle Airport is located in zone 5 while our hotel was in zone 3. The ticketing guy gave us one ticket of zone 3 to 5. BUT little did he tell us that we need to travel through zone 2 and change train at zone 1 to reach our destination. In order to not get a hefty fine as soon as we arrived, we decided to get down at the last station in zone 3 and get additional tickets for zone 1 to 3

We were starting to get a little exhausted by carrying all these bags and dragging them to get the tickets. Anyway, we traveled till “Gare du Nord” and needed to change the trains there. We were waiting for our metro train to come and discuss our plans for the day. The train pulled in and people started to get out. I was the first in line to get on to the train.

The horror story

As soon as I started to get in, there was a lady with a big bag who just came in front of me and wanted to get out from where I was getting in. It made me move towards the other side of the entrance.

That was the moment I felt something in my back pocket. I realized I had my wallet there. Within the next fraction of milliseconds, I felt my wallet sliding up like it was slowly getting out on its own. It did not take any longer for me to understand what was happening.

I have been brought up in India, and fairly acquainted with commuting in crowded trains where pickpocketing is quite common. My something is wrong spider-sense triggered in and I knew my wallet is being stolen.

Paris Business Center
Paris business center

Fight or Flight

Within those few moments, when the realization kicked in, I started shouting at my highest level so that I am heard for a long time. The sound I made did not make any sense or was not in any specific language, but it made everyone in the compartment to notice me. Sneh was, unfortunately, a little behind me and had no idea what was happening and just heard me shouting.

I turned around and saw a guy standing too close to me and trying to say things in French and pointing out that the lady wants to get out. I shouted at that guy so that he knows that I am not an easy target.

Eiffel tower at night
Eiffel tower at night

Honestly, I was in bit of a shock. I was not certain on what to do next, as explaining to anyone did not seem like a practical solution. Till the time I could even decide on my next set of actions, the guy sprinted out of the already closing door and ran.

I chose to calm myself down and not follow further on this quest. My wallet was still safely tucked in my pocket, the guy was gone and I had no energy or resources to continue further.

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Self Realization

When there is a flight or fight response in our brain and the adrenaline has already done its job, you start to realize what has happened and what could have happened.

There were thousands of thoughts whirling in my mind, each of them starting with ‘What if…’

What if he was successful in stealing my wallet, what would I have to do in the next few days, possibly going around police station to lodge a complaint, calling all the banks to disable my card? What if I confronted him and asked him for an explanation? Would I feel any better now?

 

I realized I don’t need to pursue this. Recently, I have started learning more about stoicism and it helps in such anxious situations. It says,

Summary

Of course when something like this happens all such principles are hard to follow but it definitely helped me to get my mind around the fact that I am safe now and I don’t need to dwell in the past or think about any of the what-if situations, rather I should live in the present and make sure I don’t make my mind about Paris based on a single incident.

And what I can tell you is, I had one of the best experiences in the city, the twinkling Eiffel Tower, endless museums or in general meeting different people. Everything made me fall in love with this city more with each passing day.

Do I think I will visit again? I feel I am not yet done with the city and there are so many other experiences that are waiting for you and me in this magical place.

It is not what happens to you, but how you react to it

Epictetus

How to avoid Pickpockets and be safe in Paris

This incident can happen to anyone who is traveling, if you would like to know what you can do to be safe and avoid such mishaps, read on:

  • Money Belts – If you are traveling in generally crowded places, it is advisable to wear a money belt. It will help in storing your cash and valuable documents safe.
  • Keeping the wallet in your back pocket is a complete No – Keeping stuff in the back pocket makes you quite vulnerable for such attacks, try to avoid it as much as possible.
  • Be cautious – when you are in crowded space, like metro, bus, train, market, always make sure to be cautious. The pocket pickers are very active in such areas and they are generally very elaborate with their plans.
  • Hotel Safety –  If your hotel, has a locker or in general, if you can lock stuff in the room, prefer that for your valuables like extra cash, passports, etc.
  • Material Loss is temporary – Even after being cautious, accidents happen. If you happen to lose any stuff, always remember it is just a materialistic thing that you can possibly buy. Lodge a police complaint and try to get your stuff back. Once you have tried what you can, remember that it is just a materialistic loss.

If you happen to find yourself in a similar situation, these are some important links that can help you:

Did you have any similar experiences while traveling? What was your reaction? Let us know in the comments below.

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