PARIS (Herald de Paris) – We have known each other for a while now: I feel that the time is ripe for me to break the news. Paris is a dangerous place. Oh, wait, no, allow me to rephrase: Paris is a jungle of concrete filled with retarded apes in heat. But not to worry; your French undercover agent extraordinaire is here to help. I shall teach you here how to avoid problems.
Allow me to quote Lonely Planet France: “Places to be particularly careful include Montmartre (especially around Sacré Coeur); Pigalle; the areas around Forum des Halles and Centre Pompidou; the Latin Quarter (especially the rectangle bounded by rue St-Jacques, blvd St-Germain, blvd St-Michel and quai St-Michel); below the Eiffel Tower; and on the metro during rush hour.” Well, that’s true enough. That is, if you’re worried about pickpockets or street vendors who try to sell you glittering Eiffel Tower key rings.
You’ve probably heard of le Moulin Rouge, where you can’t find Nicole Kidman, where there is no weird elephant-shaped apartment, but you can still find a red mill and overpriced sights of bare breasts. Geographically, this place is just between Place de Clichy and Pigalle. A touristic highlight encased between sex shops (one is even called ‘Sexodrome’ http://www.sexodrome-paris.fr/#), pubs, concert venues, and more sex shops (did I tell you that one is called ‘Sexodrome’?)
When I lived in Pigalle, I would hear pimps beating up whores in the middle of the night. People were getting shot sometimes. It’s more gang-related stories so unless you join a gang, you shouldn’t have any problems.
Except with the retarded apes in heat I was mentioning earlier. Imagine walking back home at two in the morning, after missing the last metro, listening to your MP3, and some guy just steps in front of you, and chats you up. “Hey, Miss, you look good! Hey, Miss, want to have a drink with me? You’re charming, you know. You got a nice ass!” At first, it’s entertaining. But after five years of this diet, you’d be ready to rip their hearts from their ribcages with your teeth. No offence.
I ran a little experiment amongst my friends, asking them if they had had that type of encounter before. Everyone did, men and women alike; no exception. Perverts humping your body during rush hour on line 13 of le metro, older men asking you how much for a trick on les Champs Elysées, drunk jackasses harassing you near Châtelet… Or for men, some areas of Le Marais (gay area) can be far from safe.
The equipment needed for an efficient counter strike: no heels so you can run faster, not showing too much of your skin (or having a coat to cover it), and most importantly, an MP3 player. Plug it deep into your ears and pretend to be deaf to the world. Success rate: 50%.
Yes, it does fail sometimes. As I was coming back from work on a Saturday evening, well after the night had fallen, I was attacked in le metro. Two teenage boys were exiting the train. On his way out, one of the boys randomly whacked the back of my head and ran out laughing. I had a good headache for a few days afterwards – he didn’t hit half-heartedly.
Stranger than the fact that someone would find amusing to hit a person with no reason whatsoever, what struck me in this absurd attack was the fact that I am no small and fragile thing. And well over ten years older than the boy. What does it mean if you need to be defiant of babies?
This insecurity has been growing for years in Paris, and was unsurprisingly turned into a political weapon. Sarkozy increased the police pressure on citizens and the word “insecurity” has been heard in most political speeches in the last five years. Meanwhile, according to former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, the French government “cut in three years nine thousand police and gendarme jobs.”
Does this mean you need to carry a taser gun at all times in Paris? No. I’ll keep fighting with my MP3 player, because in the end, 350 days out of a year, nothing happens to me.
And if everything else fails: run.