Something to declare: Threats to travellers on the move; Don't tip in Paris; Art sans frontières

Click to follow
The Independent Travel

Warning of the week: Threats to travellers on the move

Thieves are common on the Paris Métro and the suburban RER network, warns the latest Foreign Office advice for the French capital. It adds: "There have been several victims of serious assault recently on the RER line B, which serves Charles de Gaulle airport, Orly airport and Gare du Nord".

The US State Department is even more specific, advising that visitors should beware from the moment they arrive at one of the city's airports: "In one common ruse, a thief distracts a tourist with a question about directions while an accomplice steals a momentarily unguarded backpack, briefcase, or purse." Another common method involves picking up a traveller's shoulder bag that has been placed on the floor during a transaction at an airport counter.

Gare du Nord, where Eurostar trains arrive, "Is also a high-risk area for pocket-picking and theft".

If you survive the airport or station, beware of going underground. "Many thefts occur on the Métro Line 1", warns the State Department. This line connects many tourist locations.

The most common robbery technique? "The simple 'bump and snatch', where an individual bumps into the tourist while at the same time reaching into the pockets/purse/bag. Be particularly careful when Métro doors are closing, as this is when less-sophisticated pickpockets simply grab valuables and jump through the closing doors, leaving the victim helplessly watching as the thief flees."

Tip of the week: Don't tip in Paris

The typical French menu carries the message Service compris, which means that a percentage – usually 15 per cent – has been factored into the bill to reward the staff. There is no obligation to add more. If you are paying by credit card, decline any invitation to donate a pourboire as you tap in your PIN. However, if you are happy with the service, you might leave a couple of euros in the saucer for a bill of €50.

In touristy bars, particularly if you are sitting on the terrasse, some Parisian waiters may help solve your tipping dilemma by keeping la monnaie. While it might be vulgar to make a fuss about the odd 50 cents, feel no compunction about insisting on change when you hand the waiter a €20 note to settle an €17 bill.

Bargain of the week: Art sans frontières

Celebrate Bastille Day by getting in free to arguably the world's finest collection of art (though St Petersburg's Hermitage may disagree). The Louvre drops is normal €10 admission fee next Thursday, 14 July – and also on the first Sunday of every month. To help you plan a budget weekend in the French capital the remaining Dimanches libres dates this year are 7 August, 4 September, 2 October, 6 November and 4 December.

EU visitors aged 18-25 get in free on any day, imes, but must show a passport to qualify. And all under-18s are admitted free every day.

Comments