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The ten 'real' no-go zones in Paris
There are no-go zones in the City of Light after all. Photo: AFP

The ten 'real' no-go zones in Paris

Oliver Gee · 21 Jan 2015, 12:42

Published: 21 Jan 2015 12:42 GMT+01:00

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Yes, yes, we've all seen the clip by now. A security analyst told US TV network Fox News that eight areas in Paris were absolute "no-go zones" for non-Muslims and police. 
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the French were outraged. The mayor has since announced she is will sue the channel for tainting "the image" of Paris. Fox News and the analyst have issued separate apologies, and when The Local visited one of the areas, residents told us how decidedly accessible the areas were. 
But perhaps Fox News was on to something? Maybe there are no-go zones in the city, just not the type that the notorious American channel were inventing. We've put together a list of ten places in the City of Light that are best avoided. 
1. The roundabout at the Arc de Triomphe

Observe the picture above. Would you take the challenge? Photo: Steven Scheffler/Flickr
If you're driving in Paris, this is the number one no-go zone. There are 12 avenues that all meet at the enormous roundabout, creating a melting pot of madness and mayhem. There are no lanes marked on the street, and it's generally considered to be a complete free-for-all. If you absolutely must drive here - and you come out the other side unscathed - then we say you can officially drive anywhere.
2. The Eiffel Tower on a Saturday afternoon in summer

If you think this queue looks big, imagine being at the end of it! Photo: John Keogh/Flickr
The Eiffel Tower is the most visited tourist attraction in the world - and rightly so. Around 7 million people swing by every year. But unless you love queuing or have hours to spare, you should never, ever visit it on a Saturday afternoon in the summer. The best time to see it is in the evening or early in the morning. And definitely go on a weekday if possible, otherwise you might be waiting a very, very long time to see the best view of the city.
3. The terraces of Parisian cafes

Photo: A cafe called Les deux magots in central Paris. Photo: Robyn Lee/Flickr
Unless you enjoy paying €10 for a pint of beer, you should try and avoid the terraces of Parisian cafes. These are definite no go zones for those on a limited budget. Sure, that price includes a front-row seat for some first class people-watching, but often you get a comparable view by gazing through the window. And a lot of tourists don't even realize they're paying through their teeth for the experience. So, unless you know what you're getting yourself into, sit inside or even stand at the bar. Especially in winter. Or just order a coffee.
4. The Metro (on a baking summer's day)

The Paris Metro. Beware. Photo: Frenchhousehunt/Flickr
There is no air conditioning on most of the Paris Metro. It is overcrowded. And it often smells a bit musty, let's say. These three reasons mean that on a sweltering hot day in July, the entire Metro system is an absolute no-go zone. We suggest you see the city on foot (Paris is an extremely walkable city) and that way you don't have to spend ten minutes with your face in someone's armpit. 
5. The Gare du Nord train station after dark

The Gare du Nord as night falls. Note how quickly people are leaving the scene. Photo: Ines Saraiva/Flickr
Do you like the smell of urine in the air, the presence of a swathe of drug dealers, dingy and expensive bars, and loads of men hanging around with apparently nothing to do - all in the dark? Well then, Gare du Nord is for you. If not, then this is another bonafide no-go zone. Unfortunately, this station marks many people's first impression of Paris as the Eurostar arrives here, as do trains from CDG airport. We advise you to move straight on. 
6. Public toilets

A harmless looking public toilet. But do you dare venture inside? Photo: Ian Fisher/Flickr
If you really can't hold it in, go to a cafe or bar to use the toilets. The public toilets of Paris are hit and miss, but when they're a miss, they miss by a mile. Note: If you are going to use the toilets of a cafe, it's best you buy a coffee at least while you're there. Back-up note: just because other people are peeing at the Metro stations, that doesn't mean you should too. And the same goes for between parked cars.
7. The Forum des Halles

The unsightly exterior of the Forum Les Halles. Photo: Cyberien94/Flickr
This enormous shopping centre is a no-go zone, too. Partly because most of it is still a construction site and partly because it's so big you're going to get lost anyway, and partly because there are better things to see and do in the 1st arrondissement anyway and better places in Paris to go shopping. 
8. The nightclubs around the Champs Elysées

A busy night out on the Champs Elysées. Photo: Cha Già José/Flickr
If you're looking for a good night out in Paris, welcome to the number one no-go zone. At the nightclubs on the streets branching off the Champs Elysées, you'll find everything you don't want on a night out.
You'll pay through the nose to get in, won't get much change from €20 for a drink, have to put up with bad music and hordes of teenagers. The atmosphere is also known to get a bit moody as the night progresses.
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And you can forget about finding a taxi home from there too. To make matters worse, women can often get in for free, meaning the men are left outside trying to snag a lady friend to tag along with. Nobody needs that on a Friday night. You'd be better off shopping. But not here...
9. The Grands Magasins during the sales (or at Christmas time)

The Galeries Lafayette at Christmas. It must be late, otherwise it would be swarming. Photo: Pierre-Louis Ferrer/Flickr
Crowds, crowds, crowds. If you like doing your shopping in peace, without the masses, then places like Printemps and Galeries Lafayette are total no-go zones. At Christmas time, there are beautiful puppet shows in the window fronts - but it's no secret - and it sometimes feels as if all the parents of Paris have brought their children along for the show. Verdict: pick another time to visit. 
10. The Bois de Boulogne at night

Even the wildlife at the Bois de Boulogne can't bear to look. Photo: Fabrice/Flickr 
Even though this is in a fairly posh area in the 16th arrondissement, this park has been described as "a big forested brothel". Known as a rendez-vous spot for prostitutes, this isn't the kind of place you'd want to head for an evening stroll with the family or with your partner. By all means, check out the area during the day, but this a clear and definite "no-go zone" at night. You've been warned. 
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