Travel Tips: To go or not to go After the Paris Attacks?

A friend asked the webmaster and a few other frequent Western Front visitors the following question this morning:

“GUYS With all the crap we see about PARIS,etc what does the 2016 tour season look like?????any reason not to make plans????”


The webmaster’s email response was as follows:

No.  Keep your plans for several reasons:

  1. The chance of you being in the wrong place at the wrong time is very, very slim.
  2. As with 9/11; France is probably a lot safer now that they’ve taken out several of the terrorist cells.
  3. Most of the “action” happens in the major cities; and you’re not going to be in those cities for most of your trip.  (Footnote:  One of the Charlie Hebdo attackers lived in Reims and the final shoot out was along the Marne River sector of the Western Front.)
  4. I doubt the terrorists will target the Centennial commemorations; which are sure to have a strong Gendarme presence.
  5. Statistically, you’re life is in much more danger (theater, church, school shootings etc.) over here than it will be in France.  It’s just that Americans get freaked out about terrorism.

My one warning is this:  If you get pulled over by the local police / gendarmes don’t do anything stupid.  I have a FB group entitled  Feel free to join that, if you do FB.  You can probably find similar groups for other regions.  One of the things that I re-post are from the “Gendarmerie de la Meuse” FB page.  I can only assume that the other Departments of France have a similar page.  There’s also tourist offices, etc.  By joining/liking them, this will help you be a little better prepared than the average tourist.


The webmaster also provided this friend with a link to a recent topic in Rick Steve’s blog entitled, “Don’t be Terrorized…  A Few Comments and Rick’s Response.”  Rick takes a very similar position.

Just as with value investing–i.e. buying stocks when they are out of favor–it takes courage to go against the grain and to book a trip overseas when one’s friends are talking about the latest terrorist attack.  However, one has to approach this with a clear and rational mind, not with emotions.  The shootings were a few isolated events in Paris.  Yes, additional events could follow, but even that risk is diminished with the recent police actions.  That is a far lower level of risk than traveling to a company in the midst of a civil war, or traveling to a country with a weak government where the risk of an overnight coup is always present.

So the webmaster encourages readers NOT to change their plans and to take that next trip to the Western Front.

Bon Voyage!

2 thoughts on “Travel Tips: To go or not to go After the Paris Attacks?

  • John Snow

    Randy: Good response. I would also note that scaring away tourists (a major revenue stream for some regions of France) is likely one of the secondary goals of the terrorists. Deciding solely on the basis of a relative few, albeit deadly, attacks in urban areas to not make a visit to France means that the bad guys win. I have no doubt that the French in the urban centers and the rural agricultural areas will be glad to see Americans once again. We need to stand with our French allies, and visiting their country is one way of doing that.

  • Patrick Osborn

    I heartily concur with Randy and John’s observations. The Gendarmes will likely be able to keep down any threat to commemoration activities, which are to a large extent away from population centers anyway. The Gendarmes can be a bit intimidating, to be sure (I swear the ones I’ve seen in Paris must have been country boys who don’t like city folk and were recruited partially because of their ability to scowl); but just be pleasant and use polite language (bon jour/bon soir, merci beaucoup, etc.), and you’ll be fine. Go to Europe, enjoy your time there as usual, and stick a figurative finger in the eye of those who want you and others to stay away. If France and Belgium could survive over four years of brutal warfare a century ago, they can survive this, especially with another little helping hand from the Amis. (Oh, and the current exchange rate is favorable for US travelers, too. All the better.)


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