Is France Any Safer?

Our newspapers have been filled with Brexit and global politics lately, but acts of terrorism are still coming through to remind us we need to remain vigilant.

The latest attack took place in Paris on 3 October, when a man attacked police officers with a knife, killing four people – three officers and one administrator.

The attacker had worked at police headquarters for 20 years as a computer technician. The New York Times reports that he had defended the Charlie Hebdo attack when discussing it with a colleague in 2015, as well as other acts of terrorism, and had posted extremist content on Facebook, but had not been removed from the police department or investigated further. Another reminder of the importance of reporting suspicious behaviour! As a union official explained, ““He wasn’t mean, and he wasn’t a conspiracist, but he was easily manipulated,” she added. “Everyone knew that he was troubled.”

 

Attacks In France

France has experienced some of the West’s most shocking attacks in the 21st Century – from Charlie Hebdo and the horrific attacks on the Bataclan and surrounding areas in 2015 to Nice’s truck attack in 2016 and the Strasbourg Christmas market attack of 2018.

There have also been many “smaller” attacks though, including stabbings, shootings, a package bomb, vehicle ramming, and even an attack with a hammer.

France was 30th on the 2018 Global Terrorism Index (GTI) – two places behind the UK, but higher on the list than Tunisia (47th), Germany (39th) and Israel (41st). The GTI is a comprehensive report on global terrorism, compiled every year by the Institute for Economics and Peace, which looks at terrorism trends and provides valuable insights.

These results reinforce our belief that while it is important to recognise the risk of terrorism and be prepared, we’re still far more likely to be affected indirectly than directly, and the risk is not severe enough to warrant staying home and avoiding travel. As there’s a risk in the UK too, so there doesn’t seem to be much point in forgoing travel to avoid it.

As is the case around the world these days, a number of attacks have targeted police and military, but tourists and the general public have been targets too.

Being prepared begins with information – the next GTI report is expected in December 2019 and we will share the relevant details on our blog as soon as the report is available. A good way to be even more prepared is financial protection in case your trip is affected by terrorism, and that’s where Safe Journey comes in, with cover for direct and indirect effects such as delays, lost passports and possessions, and even the option to cancel if there’s an act of terrorism within 40 miles of your destination, up to 6 weeks before you depart.*

 

What Do The Experts Say?

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises that “Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in France.”

“…The French government has warned the public to be extra vigilant and has reinforced its own domestic and overseas security measures. You should be vigilant in public places and follow the advice of local French authorities.”

The Australian Government lists France as requiring a high degree of caution, and warns its citizens to be alert and aware of risks: “You should be vigilant in public places and follow the advice of local French authorities.”

Similarly, the US Department of State lists France as “Level 2: Exercise extreme caution” due to terrorism and civil unrest.

 

Other Safety Issues

TripSavvy still lists pickpocketing as the greatest risk to travellers in Paris, so take care to keep wallets and purses close, preferably in a closed bag or money belt, don’t keep money in your pockets. This also means you’re less likely to lose important and valuable items if you are faced with an emergency situation.

The ‘gilets jaunes’ protests seemed to have faded recently, but more appeared in September and there were more than 160 arrests when the group “hijacked” a climate protest in Paris. These demonstrations have taken place near tourist attractions and popular areas such as Champs Elysees, so be on the lookout and steer clear of demonstrations or large gatherings.

 

Take Care

The US Department of State provides a useful list of precautions to take when travelling to France – they’re very relevant to other destinations too!

  • Be aware of your surroundings when traveling to tourist locations and large crowded public venues.
  • Avoid demonstrations.
  • Review travel plans if you will be in France on weekends.
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities including movement restrictions related to any ongoing police action.
  • Find a safe location, and shelter in place if in the vicinity of large gatherings or protests.
  • Monitor local media for breaking events and adjust your plans based on new information.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.- in our case, this would be the FCO.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Report for France.
  • Always have a contingency plan for emergency situations.

 

 

*Please read our Policy Wording for full details, Ts+Cs and exclusions.

Single Trip Cover

From £5.17* per person

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  • Maximum excess per claim £100
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*For up to 8 days travel, Worldwide. £53.73 for 180 days continuous travel, Worldwide.

Annual Multi-Trip Cover

From £15.66 per person

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  • Annual Multi-Trip insurance for travel durations of up to 31 days, for each trip you take during a year.
  • Available for singles, couples and families and with no maximum age limit and no medical screening requirements.
  • For Business and Leisure travellers.
  • For UK, Channel Island and Isle of Man residents when travelling in the UK and abroad, when you have booked and pre-paid flights or accommodation.
  • Safe Journey covers up to £2000 per person for travel arrangements, if where you are staying is affected by terrorism and you want to return home.
  • Travel delays caused by acts of terrorism are covered.
  • Personal possessions including money and passports are protected whilst you travel against damage or loss as a result of acts of terrorism.
  • 24 hour (UK based) emergency assistance to help you after an act of terrorism.
  • Maximum excess per claim £100
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†31 Days any-one-trip, Worldwide.

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