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I am booked to stay in Rue Poulet near Chateau Rouge metro (Paris) next week. I have heard bad things about safety in that area. How dangerous is it really in that area?

As a single woman, would I be ok to walk from Gare du Nord with my bags to there?

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    Yes but I believe it already feels a bit different to the east and to the west of boulevard Barbès. Sounds crazy but you can go quite fast from an area with visible poverty to a gentrified block. I wouldn't worry too much about safety in any case.
    – Relaxed
    Dec 21, 2023 at 22:49
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    I will be staying to the east of boulevard Barbés.
    – Simd
    Dec 21, 2023 at 22:55
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    So that's the poorer, denser part of it. I don't think it's bad or unsafe personally but you should expect a whole lof of activity in the street, exotic foods, African barber shops, etc.
    – Relaxed
    Dec 21, 2023 at 23:00
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    @RobertColumbia I feel that people do make that association and that's the source of the rumours Simd has heard about. Like I said, I do not feel the area is particularly “dangerous”. I was also trying to describe the area more generally, barber shops are only one aspect of it. And I specified “African” because there is a different culture around barber shops, men spend time and hang around African barber shops in a way I have not witnessed in other areas of Paris.
    – Relaxed
    Dec 22, 2023 at 6:52
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    African women's hair also literally take hours to care for and require special products (including natural hair), which you can source there and in a couple other areas in Paris. Women typically have their hair done at home, not in a shop, though so you won't see much just walking around the neighbourhood.
    – Relaxed
    Dec 22, 2023 at 6:54

3 Answers 3

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+500

A few things to consider:

  • Broadly speaking, the whole north-east of Paris is very dense, poorer and more diverse than the south and the west and that's enough to make people feel unsafe or give it a bad reputation even if it's hard to find hard evidence of a massive difference in crime of any kind. But you won't see impeccably renovated Haussmann buildings like in the 9th (Opéra) or gated communities and nannies waiting outside private schools like in the 16th district…
  • The Barbès boulevard is extremely lively during the day. I am almost weekly in the area for various reasons, the last time in an evening earlier this week. I do not really feel unsafe but I imagine it can feel overwhelming if you're not used to it. Quite a bit of trash too sometimes.
  • Homelessness is also sadly common, including in the “nice” parts of the 17th or the 9th. So that's something you can expect to witness in Paris but that's not even specific to the area you are interested in or a safety concern, really.
  • For what it's worth, crime stats suggest a lot of theft happens in more central areas (with more obvious targets) but that would also reflect police activity and people's likelihood to press charges. On the other hand, this very area (Chateau-Rouge) has been singled out as a “zone de sécurité prioritaire” (so an area where petty crime deserves specific attention) back in 2012.
  • There is an ongoing issue in Paris with extreme poverty and crack addiction that has been repeatedly in the news but as far as I can tell it doesn't impact Château-Rouge as much as some areas of the 19th, the back of Gare du Nord (rue de Maubeuge) and the boulevard des Maréchaux east of Porte de Clignancourt. I frequently see people in a very dire situation (shoeless, delirious) around tram T3b but again not near Chateau-Rouge specifically.
  • Cigarette traffic (“vente à la sauvette”) has long been an issue around the Barbès-Rochechouart metro station and has become more visible this year all the way to porte de Clignancourt. I would assume that cigarette sellers are not in the business of stealing people passing by but they can be pushy and occasionally fight each other. The transit company regularly positions additional security (including guards with dogs) to try to keep it at bay.
  • Even if the issues are real, crime in Paris proper is not that high and the city is probably safer than many US metros, South American cities, etc. You shouldn't imagine that people regularly get robbed at gun point, even in the worse areas. On a purely anecdotal level, in my personal network, I have heard about knife crime in the UK more often than in Paris (and I live there).
  • The “Goutte d'Or” (the area to the east of the boulevard Barbès and south of Chateau-Rouge) is historically a point of focus for immigrants from the Maghreb with lots of restaurants and shops. The area a little further to the north of Chateau-Rouge has a visible African presence. You will see exotic products, ethnic shops, and often people hanging out in the streets or selling food illegally, possibly street prostitution too. This neighbourhood is identified as an area concentrating a lot of social issues like poverty, unemployment, and dense poor-quality housing (“quartier prioritaire de la politique de la ville”).
  • By contrast, the area to the west of boulevard Barbès (what real estate agents call “village Ramey”) is gentrifying fast, organic shops, somewhat trendy restaurants, café with nice terraces, bookshops, tree-lined streets, etc. even if there are also pockets of poverty. Rue Custine, rue Lamarck, rue Caulaincourt, the west of rue Ordener, and other side streets leading into Montmartre fit all the positive cliché about Paris. Maybe just walk in that direction to catch dinner if you prefer that kind of experience?
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  • "Gated communities"...? In Paria...?
    – dda
    Dec 22, 2023 at 4:06
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    @dda How would you describe the Villa Montmorency?
    – Relaxed
    Dec 22, 2023 at 6:40
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    @dda Yet it's exactly what it is, not sure why people are uncomfortable with it. I guess you could get creative to deny it and make irrelevant distinctions but “the very contrary” no less? How so?
    – Relaxed
    Dec 22, 2023 at 8:07
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    @Simd From Gare du Nord? I think taxi drivers are not allowed to refuse to take you but they might hate you. I would just walk, otherwise metro 4 is perfect (entrance on the lower level very close to the Eurostar platforms, two stations to Chateau-Rouge).
    – Relaxed
    Dec 22, 2023 at 8:52
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    @Simd Your profile says London, if you are comfortable walking around on your own through poorer parts of London you will be fine in Paris as well.
    – quarague
    Dec 22, 2023 at 14:20
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It is more likely to get pickpocketted or bag/phone snatched in Chateau Rouge than in the average Paris district. That's by far the main risk. I find the area to be a rather fun place otherwise.

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    Sorry, I don't think that "I wandered around Chateau Rouge a few times, my feeling was that" really qualifies for an answer
    – njzk2
    Dec 21, 2023 at 22:55
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    @njzk2 Barbès / Chateau Rouge are well-known amongst Parisians. Even without going there, I knew the answer (confirmed by Relaxed's answer). A better answer would be providing crime stats, which I don't have any interest to look for since I don't live in Paris anymore. Dec 21, 2023 at 23:07
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Chateau Rouge is the main African centre of Paris. The area immediately to the east is Gare du Nord, which is the main railway station to the troubled migrant suburbs to the north of Paris, and alot of the migrants and homeless in Paris also stay in the area around Chateau Rouge.

I personally have been harassed by migrants in the area around Gare du Nord, but I am also disinterested in African culture so don't like the area much. The only redeeming feature for me is the closeness of the Eurostar and some of the Indian shops.

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