Is it safe to travel to Paris right now?

Which parts of Paris are affected, and how does travel insurance cover you?

Benjamin Parker
Wednesday 05 July 2023 11:54 BST
(AP/Aurelien Morissard)

Paris has seen nights of unrest following the killing of a 17-year-old by police officers on 27 June.

The death of the teenager, known only as Nahel, was captured on video and has shocked France, stirring long-simmering tensions between young people and the police in disadvantaged neighbourhoods around the country.

Transport and businesses have been disrupted as a result of the clashes; on Friday (30 June), interior minister Gérald Darmanin asked regional prefects for all bus and tram services to stop from 9pm local time. Before travelling, check if your plans will be affected and how you’ll get around.

Towards the end of the weekend, riots in the country appeared to be calming, with 157 people were arrested on Sunday night, compared with more than 700 the night before.

But as the French capital is gearing up for its annual influx of summer holidaymakers, is it safe to travel to Paris?

Where are the clashes?

Clashes first erupted on Tuesday night in Nanterre, a town in the western suburbs of Paris, and nearby, and continued their overnight on Wednesday. They continued between Wednesday and Thursday, during which a fire damaged the town hall of the Paris suburb of L’Ile-Saint-Denis, not far from France‘s national stadium and the headquarters of the Paris 2024 Olympics.

The troubles spread further on Thursday night and into Friday, with looting taking place in Rue de Rivoli, which is near the Louvre Museum and the Champs Elysées, and a central Nike store was broken into – a significant escalation. Videos circulating on social media show a fire at the site of an Olympic swimming pool, reported to be under construction for the 2024 Games.

Is it safe to visit Paris?

Around 17 million Brits visit France every year, and most of the visits are free of trouble, but the ugly scenes over the past couple of days could understandably cause some concern.

One important thing to consider is where you’re travelling to in the capital. Most of the city is unaffected by the unrest and the vast majority of it is confined to non-tourist areas: protests began in Nanterre and have spread to other areas, including Bezons, Gennevilliers, Garges-les-Gonesse, Asnieres-sur-Seine, Montreuil, Neuilly-sur-Marne, Clamart and Meudon.

However, this are all beyond the “Periphique” ring road that circles the central district of Paris, where most of the main tourist attractions are located. If you find yourself close to any protests, the advice is to leave the impacted area.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has not issued a travel warning for France, however The Independent has contacted it for an update. The US State Department issued a security alert June warning its citizens to steer clear of trouble spots.

The FCDO website currently states: “Since 27 June, riots have taken place across France. Many have turned violent. Shops, public buildings and parked cars have been targeted. There may be disruptions to road travel and local transport provision may be reduced. Some local authorities may impose curfews. Locations and timing of riots are unpredictable. You should monitor the media, avoid areas where riots are taking place, check the latest advice with operators when travelling and follow the advice of the authorities.”

Am I covered by travel insurance?

The FCDO says “it is more important than ever to get travel insurance”. If you are caught in the unrest, or if you decide you don’t want to travel, it’s important to check the fine print: many travel insurance only offer limited cover for claims related to or caused by civil unrest.

During major industrial action in France earlier this year, Helen Phipps, director at, told ITV News that it was important for travellers to “check your policy wording or contact your insurance provider to confirm what you are covered for”.

She added: “Many people risk failing to take out insurance far enough in advance, leaving them unprotected if something goes wrong.”

Amber Moon, marketing manager at travel insurance provider Holidaysafe, told The Independent said: “Your travel insurance would still be valid in the normal way for medical expenses, for example, if for some reason you got caught up in any rioting by chance and were injured. This would also apply to personal possessions if they were lost and damaged as a result of a disturbance. But we would advise all travellers to take reasonable precautions to avoid areas where rioting is taking place.

She added: “As with all trips abroad we would advise travellers to let someone know where they are going and to keep their policy details with them at all times in case something does go wrong.”

A number of holiday providers told The Independent that they have had no contact from customers about the issues in France, while a spokesperson for easyJet said: “Any customers due to fly to France this weekend who would like to change their plans can contact our customer service team for assistance with their options which includes a transfer to an alternative flight and we will waive the change fee.”

What about other cities in France?

Fires and clashes have been reported in various French cities overnight, from Toulouse in the south to Lille in the north, but the main area affected is Nanterre. Again, be sure to check your travel insurance and plan ahead.

In the southern city of Marseille, France’s second-largest, authorities banned public demonstrations set for Friday, and encouraged restaurants to close outdoor eating areas early. They said all public transport would stop at 7pm.

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