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Paris Metro rolls out new service for foreign tourists targeted by thieves

Foreign holidaymakers who have their personal belongings stolen on the Paris Metro now have a new and far more convenient way of reporting the theft, without having to go to the police.

Paris Metro rolls out new service for foreign tourists targeted by thieves
Photo: AFP
As the Paris Metro often warns you during its own announcements, there are pickpockets operating on much of the city's underground transport network. 
 
But it hasn't always been clear to tourists what they should do if they're one of the unlucky ones who has their phone, wallet or purse swiped. 
 
Now Paris transport operator RATP is trialing a new procedure for foreign tourists which “aims to facilitate and speed up victims' process” with the idea in mind that this will allow them to apply for their insurance more quickly. 
 
Through the new system, victims will be able to report thefts directly through the RATP at six stations in the French capital where a member of staff will help them to fill out a form available in English and French which will then be sent to the Paris police.
 
For the trial, Metro stations that see huge numbers of tourists pass through have been chosen. They are Franklin Roosevelt, Anvers, Saint-Michel-Notre Dame, Opera, Hotel de Ville and Charles de Gaulle-Etoile.
 
READ ALSO:
Sliding doors: Beware the tiny thieves on the Paris Metro
Photo: Chris Sampson/Flickr
 
As well as helping tourists, the system has also been created with the police in mind. 
 
The RATP and Paris police jointly announced that the new procedure would mean “a significant time saving for the police” while also leaving victims with the option, if they wish, of making a statement at a police station.
 
However the procedure does not apply in all cases.
 
Tourists can only report thefts at the Metro stations if:
  • No violence was used during the theft
  • There was no possibility of immediately identifying the thief, in other words, the victim did not see the thief.
  • The stolen items are not worth over €1,000

So if victims can identify the pickpocket or suffered violence and lost belongings worth an awful lot of money then they will have to visit the nearest police station to report the crime.

According to the RATP, almost 50 million tourists, 40 percent of whom are foreigners, visit the Paris region every year, according to RATP.  
 
Among this number, the transport authority estimates that three quarters of them use the Metro and almost half of them use the RER.
 
The trial, which started on August 20th, is set to last for six months. 

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READER INSIGHTS

‘Painful’ – is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Following a survey that said Paris Charles de Gaulle airport was the best in Europe, we asked Local readers what they thought...

'Painful' - is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Recently, Paris Charles de Gaulle was voted the best airport in Europe by passengers.

The 2022 World Airport Awards, based on customer satisfaction surveys between September 2021 and May 2022, listed the best airport on the planet as Doha, while Paris’s main airport came in at number 6 – the highest entry for a European airport – one place above Munich. 

READ ALSO Paris Charles de Gaulle voted best airport in Europe by passengers

Given CDG’s long-standing reputation doesn’t quite match what the World Airport Awards survey said – in 2009 it was rated the second-worst airport in the world, while in 2011 US site CNN judged it “the most hated airport in the world” – we wondered how accurate the survey could be.

So we asked readers of The Local for their opinion on their experience of Europe’s ‘best’ airport. 

Contrary to the World Airport Awards study, users erred towards the negative about the airport. A total 30.8 percent of Local readers – who had travelled through the airport in recent months – thought it was ‘terrible’, while another 33.3 percent agreed that it was ‘not great’ and had ‘some problems’.

But in total 12.8 percent of those who responded to our survey thought the airport was ‘brilliant’, and another 23.1 percent thought it ‘fine’, with ‘no major problems’.

So what are the problems with it?

Signage 

One respondent asked a simple – and obvious – question: “Why are there so many terminal twos?”

Barney Lehrer added: “They should change the terminal number system.”

In fact, signage and directions – not to mention the sheer size of the place – were common complaints, as were onward travel options. 

Christine Charaudeau told us: “The signage is terrible. I’ve often followed signs that led to nowhere. Thankfully, I speak French and am familiar with the airport but for first time travellers … yikes!”

Edwin Walley added that it was, “impossible to get from point A to point B,”  as he described the logistics at the airport as the “worst in the world”.

And James Patterson had a piece of advice taken from another airport. “The signage could be better – they could take a cue from Heathrow in that regard.”

Anthony Schofield said: “Arriving by car/taxi is painful due to congestion and the walk from the skytrain to baggage claim seems interminable.”

Border control

Border control, too, was a cause for complaint. “The wait at the frontière is shameful,” Linda, who preferred to use just her first name, told us. “I waited one and a half hours standing, with a lot of old people.”

Sharon Dubble agreed. She wrote: “The wait time to navigate passport control and customs is abysmal!”

Deborah Mur, too, bemoaned the issue of, “the long, long wait to pass border control in Terminal E, especially at 6am after an overnight flight.”

Beth Van Hulst, meanwhile, pulled no punches with her estimation of border staff and the airport in general. “[It] takes forever to go through immigration, and staff deserve their grumpy reputation. Also, queuing is very unclear and people get blocked because the airport layout is not well designed.”

Jeff VanderWolk highlighted the, “inadequate staffing of immigration counters and security checkpoints”, while Karel Prinsloo had no time for the brusque attitudes among security and border personnel. “Officers at customs are so rude. I once confronted the commander about their terrible behaviour.  His response said it all: ‘We are not here to be nice’. Also the security personnel.”

Connections

One of the most-complained-about aspects is one that is not actually within the airport’s control – public transport connections.  

Mahesh Chaturvedula was just one of those to wonder about integrated travel systems in France, noting problems with the reliability of onward RER rail services, and access to the RER network from the terminal.

The airport is connected to the city via RER B, one of the capital’s notoriously slow and crowded suburban trains. Although there are plans to create a new high-speed service to the airport, this now won’t begin until after the 2024 Olympics.

Sekhar also called for, “more frequent trains from SNCF to different cities across France with respect to the international flight schedules.”

The good news

But it wasn’t all bad news for the airport, 35 percent of survey respondents said the airport had more positives than negatives, while a Twitter poll of local readers came out in favour of Charles de Gaulle.

Conceding that the airport is “too spread out”, Jim Lockard said it, “generally operates well; [and has] decent amenities for food and shopping”.

Declan Murphy was one of a number of respondents to praise the, “good services and hotels in terminals”, while Dean Millar – who last passed through Charles de Gaulle in October – said the, “signage is very good. [It is] easy to find my way around”.

He added: “Considering the size (very large) [of the airport] it is very well done.  So no complaints at all.”

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