Tips for Women Travelers in France

Find everything women travelers in France need to know about healthsafetyromance, and women’s rights.

All the information below is provided by Pink Pangea community members based on their experiences abroad.  Add your voice!

Health

Feminine Hygienic Products

Nicole: Tampons and pads are easily available at small and large grocery stores and pharmacies.

Birth Control

Nicole: Most women I know take the pill, which is available with a prescription from a doctor. It is very cheap (from 7 to 35 euros for a pack of 3 months), and you get reimbursed if you are part of the health insurance system. Condoms are only available at pharmacies, but there also street dispensers for when they are closed.

Gynecologists

Nicole: I’ve found that most doctors have a more minimalist approach than in the U.S., and may also seem less warm and comforting but simply get straight to business. They are still very competent.


Romance

Dating Locals

Nicole: It used to be that the American style of dating was not practiced here, but that seems to be changing a bit. Usually people don’t meet strangers in bars though, but rather through friends at parties or out. A date can involve getting a drink or meal or going to a cultural experience like an exhibit.

Types of Men

Nicole: Men who have gone to one of the business “grandes écoles” or studied private practice type of law, generally very well dressed and metrosexual and pay attention to dress and appearance; more hipster, artsy and intellectual types; and more “roots” types who are into sustainable development, etc. Paris is a big city, though, and I think you can probably find a “type” for almost everyone.

LGBTQ-friendly?

Nicole: Yes. The Marais is known for being a good area.


Women's Rights

Women’s Rights

Nicole: Women have the same rights as men, are seeking higher education at high rates, and are active in the workforce. However, in certain contexts men can be much more openly sexist than in the U.S., for example.

Local Women

Nicole: French women are more likely to dress in a feminine style, wearing skirts, dresses and heels on a regular basis, even in the winter. They are generally very conscious of their surroundings, and for example will only discuss certain subjects in public, in front of men, and some subjects only with very close friends.

Women-Specific Environments

Nicole: None.

Perception of American Women

Nicole: Perception of American women varies based on the person’s experience, though overall they are viewed as being more easygoing and casual than French women. Sometimes this is a good thing with no connotations, but it is good to be careful because some French men take this perception to mean that American women are more ‘easy’ and may try to take advantage of that.


Safety

Transportation

Nicole: Metro, velib and walking are safe during the day. There are general safety concerns such as with biking in a large city with many cars.

Metros are generally safe, even late in the evening because there are usually people out. There are some areas to avoid, such as northeast Paris late at night. If you have to transfer lines at night, try to transfer at a large station such as Chatelet, Gare de Lyon, or other stops with multiple lines where there is more of a chance of more people being around. A couple of my friends have mentioned being in almost empty stations and having a small group of men attempt to follow them, and have recommended always going to busy stops.

Shady Areas for Women

Nicole: Northeast Paris at times, certain lines of the RER – north on RER B at night, RER A going east on the Torcy branch (Boissy St Leger branch is okay). Try to stay with one or a couple of friends if you are going to be out late in areas further away from the center.

Clothing

Nicole: Nothing in particular is unacceptable. A friend who grew up here mentioned that she wears pants to avoid being hassled, because men do make comments even if they are not threatening. Choice of clothing is more a question of whether you feel comfortable with attention when you are out rather than safety.

Information submitted by: