Eiffel Tower: A pickpocket's dream
Word comes from France that there has been a temporary shutdown of the Eiffel Tower because workers are protesting the high number of pickpockets working tourists crowds around, and at times, on the tower itself.
My wife and I visted Paris last fall and we had read up on the vast array of pickpocket scams employed by theives at the tower. One is the “petition trick”. That’s when one or two people stop you, tell you about some horrible affliction killing children across the world and ask you to sign a petition. While you’re fumbling with that, someone sneaks up behind you and lifts a wallet out of your back pocket.
I didn’t think it could happen to me, but it did. I had been walking a few paces ahead of my wife and got asked to sign a petiton. I politely replied “non” and kept walking but then realized Mrs. Patterson was nowhere to be found. I looked back and the same people who had hit me up were now asking my wife to sign. The good news is as soon as they saw me walking back toward her they were less interested, but it still felt weird to be “almost” a victim.
There is also the “found ring” scam which is where someone pretends to find a “gold” ring in front of you and offers to give it to you at a cheap price. We got hit up for that one, too, only it was at the Arc de Triumph.
Paris is a huge city filled with all kinds of people. Most of them are not theives and in fact most of them defy the American stereotype of being rude to Americans. We had a great time in Paris, theives or not.
As for the tower itself I found it to be somewhat overrated. I’m terrified of heights so we didn’t make it past the middle level. And when we decided to go back down and just relax in the park next to the tower for a few minutes we were peppered with offers of overpriced (warm) champagne by people that looked a little on the shady side.
Bottom line: It’s worth seeing, but maybe a place where you don’t need, or want to linger for very long before or after your experience. Get in and get out. There’s a lot to see in Paris.