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Are You Scared To Travel To France?

Scared To Travel To France?
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I can’t stop thinking about the recent terrorist attack in Brussels and the earlier two in Paris (January 2015 and November 2015). My heart goes out to those who are affected by all of these horrible murders. They’ve shaken me up and made me think about whether I want to continue travelling to France. Am I scared to travel to France? This question is likely a shock to my friends and those who follow my blog because I am, quite frankly, in love with France.

My Last Two Trips

My last trip was my 25th time, and I went less than 2 months after the horrendous attacks which occurred in various locations in Paris, including the Bataclan theatre where 89 people were killed.

Before I travelled to Paris soon after each attack, I was asked a number of times, “Aren’t you scared to go to Paris?” My answer was an unequivocal, “No”. I was prepared to be more cautious and more aware of my surroundings, but nothing was going to stop me from going.

Scared To Travel To France Place de la Republique

Place de la Republique Paris France

Scared to travel to France. Charlie Hebdo signs

Charlie Hebdo signs at Place de la Republique Paris, France

When I was in Paris last May, 4 months after the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack, the only sign that Paris was different was the memorial at Place de la République, where 2 million people gathered to pay their respects to those who had lost their lives and to have a rally of national unity. Many signs, candles and photos remained when I visited in May.

When I went back this past January, an even larger memorial surrounded the bronze statue of Marianne at Place de la République and what was most evident was the police presence at all transportation stations and security at the entrances to museums and even stores. I didn’t find that there were longer line ups to get in; however, it was January, a predominantly slow season in Paris. I also didn’t mind having to go through metal detectors or having my purse searched. If it made the building safer, fine with me.

Place de la Republique Paris, France

Place de la Republique Paris, France

Am I Scared To Travel To France?

Now with another attack, this time in Brussels, am I scared to travel to France and has my mind changed about going back to Paris or anywhere in France? It has certainly been on my mind much more.

The answer is: NO.  

My Next Trip To France

Terrorism is out of my control, but there are a few things I can do to keep myself safer. The following is what I am going to do the next time I travel to France.  They might help those who are debating whether to go to Paris, other areas of France, or Europe.

  • I will visit Paris but will not stay a long time or at all. In my case I have been there so many times, missing Paris on my next trip will not be a big deal. I can always go back another time, perhaps when things settle down. Am I a bit leery about being in Paris? I will be honest: Yes.  If it were my first time however, I would not hesitate to stay in Paris, but I might not stay a long time.
Scared To Travel To France Place de la Republique

Protesting in Paris, France (2010)

  • I will not be attending rallies or protests. A few years ago, I was in Paris when strikes were constantly going on.  People were mad at President Sarkozy for suggesting changes to the retirement laws.  I just don’t want to be in big crowds that could erupt into something more volatile.
  • For my next trip, I am going to focus on visiting smaller towns, which I actually prefer. The countryside is beautiful and peaceful and I believe the smaller towns are less of a target for terrorists, at least for now. Call me naive, but that’s my opinion.
  • When arriving at an airport or train station, I will be extra cautious and be hyper aware of my surroundings. I will also try not to loiter around IN the stations, but rather get through customs and security as quickly as possible.

    Train station

    Train station

  • I will register my trip with the Canadian government (most countries have this service so that they notify you in case of an emergency abroad or at home). In Canada the “Registration of Canadians Abroad” website is:  http://travel.gc.ca/travelling/registration

I will not stop travelling because of fear.

I am not scared to travel to France.

[In a future post I will share my Bucket List For France—-those small towns that I want to visit]

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  • Marie
    March 26, 2016 at 8:09 am

    Jan, your post is very timely indeed. My plane tickets have been purchased for myself and my children. Although most of my two week trip will be spent in the countryside and smaller villages, I am flying into Heathrow and will be crossing the channel. I want to cross by ferry as I don’t want to get stuck in the Chunnel if God forbid anything were to happen. I hesitate, however, because I am travelling with children. If I were travelling on my own I absolutely would not cancel, but I have two young children to think of, two young children whose lives are just beginning. I would die if something were to happen to them because I put them in harm’s way. I do realize this is exactly how the terrorists want me to react but it would be foolish to think that I could, that I would enjoy my trip and not worry. That is no way to travel. This is what’s going through my head right now. Nothing’s been cancelled but I have a feeling that I may be postponing this trip.

    • Jan
      March 26, 2016 at 9:43 am

      I understand your hesitation, particularly when you have children and I really hope you don’t have to postpone your trip.

  • Irene S. Levine
    March 28, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    Airports really make you think and take pause. Coincidentally, my latest post on European travel draws many of the same conclusions as yours.

    • Jan
      March 28, 2016 at 2:55 pm

      Airports concern me too, particularly the big ones, which is why I may be considering flying into smaller ones if it’s feasible.

  • noel
    March 28, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    Great tips, yes public places and areas with larger crowds tend to be targeted areas so that really is key with travelling through any of the European countries including France. Sounds ideal to travel to the lesser cities and countryside.

    • Jan
      March 28, 2016 at 3:31 pm

      And, other than Paris, I actually prefer the small towns. For one thing,they’re SO much easier to drive through!

  • Betsy Wuebker
    March 28, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    Good suggestions! Thinking strategically and statistically is smart. Terrorists appear to be going for quantity so avoiding places which are likely to attract crowds is a proactive strategy. Asking yourself the right questions and being honest about how you might react in an emergency, including who else you might be responsible for, is a good way to get to the decisions that are right for you.

    • Jan
      March 28, 2016 at 5:05 pm

      Yes, I agree: they’re going after places with a lot of people so they can make the biggest impact. So sad. I want to travel…but wisely.

  • Anita @ No Particular Place To Go
    March 28, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    I love your statement, “I will not stop travelling because of fear.” Terrorism is so random that if we let it rule what we do and where we go we’re the ones who lose. That said, I totally agree with your preference for smaller airports, smaller towns and places off-the-beaten path. Here’s to smart and safe travels ahead!

    • Jan
      March 28, 2016 at 5:07 pm

      We have no control over what happens and obviously hope nothing will happen. Safe travels to you too!

  • The GypsyNesters
    March 28, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    Totally agree! We have to keep things in perspective. Driving on the highway is much more dangerous. That said, be safe everybody.

    • Jan
      March 28, 2016 at 9:50 pm

      So true about driving on the highway….or even crossing the street!

  • Kay Dougherty
    March 29, 2016 at 10:13 am

    I confess to not being willing to go to Paris or Brussels (or Cleveland during the Republican Convention). They all scare me but I still won’t be staying home – there are lots of other places in all three countries to visit. I do think I’ll be scurrying out of airports as soon as I can and my ongoing crowd phobia is also somewhat protective – I hope. Difficult questions and I think everyone just has to do what makes them the most comfortable.

    • Jan
      March 29, 2016 at 1:22 pm

      I certainly understand your hesitation about travelling to Paris or Brussels and I agree, each person has their own comfort level and has to make decisions that they feel comfortable with.

  • Sue Reddel
    March 30, 2016 at 10:47 pm

    You make some great points Jan. Being vigilant and making thoughtful decisions about how and where you travel is plain smart. Sticking to smaller cities in France is a wonderful idea. There’s so many beautiful ones to visit. I also like the idea of driving and seeing the countryside. I just hope that many people continue to travel. It would be a shame to let the terrorists win and keep people from learning more about other cultures by experiencing them in person.

    • Jan
      March 30, 2016 at 11:24 pm

      Travel brings people closer. We learn more about one another by being immersed in other cultures. Terrorism does the opposite so I hope as well that people will continue to travel all over the world.

  • Cindy McCain
    March 31, 2016 at 7:06 am

    I realized yesterday I have become like colleagues who first baffled me when I moved to Morocco with their No Fear attitudes about travel and expat living. I just returned from Rome where Easter security was high. Morocco is always on alert and I feel safer for it. Terrorism can strike anywhere and fear paralyzes. Because life is so short I will travel.

    • Jan
      March 31, 2016 at 8:24 am

      Life is too short and we have no control over where something may happen.

  • shannon
    March 31, 2016 at 7:16 am

    Hi Jan, I am a Canadian teacher (on leave) living in France for the year. My husband (also a teacher) and children are both attending public schools in our small city close to the swiss border. Yes, it has been quite a year to be living here. First with Marie LePenn winning favour early in October then the attacks in November and finally the recent terrible tragedy in Brussels. However, nothing has stopped the French from expressing outward signs of resiliency and courage that we all know and love. Life goes on as usual here, however I chose not to go to Paris last week because I am not keen to be in large crowds. There are so many other wonderful places to visit and experience while we are here. I love your post and I would appreciate your opinion on your favourite small towns.

    • Jan
      March 31, 2016 at 8:28 am

      Thank you. Another Canadian! I am so envious that you are in France for your year off. For my year off I just kept travelling back to France (3X). wish I had stayed for a lengthy amount of time. You have such a great opportunity to travel when you are based in France. Enjoy your time overseas! You and your family will never forget the experience!