Sacre Coeur, Trinkets & Bracelet Scams

In December 1870 following the military defeat of France by Prussia, a project began to build a church in Paris dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as a sign of penitence, trust, hope and faith. ~ Sacre Coeur-montmartre.com

Click on the image below to enjoy a panoramic view and more detailed facts about Sacre Coeur:

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Image by Joyce Meyer

Sacre Coeur Basilica, perched atop the hill of Montmartre, was opened just after World War I.

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Image by Joyce Meyer

View of Paris from the front steps of the basilica

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Image by Joyce Meyer

Not being well versed in French and since we are farmers, the term sack -a-corn helps us remember the name. Whatever works, right?

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Image by Joyce Meyer

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Image by Joyce Meyer

Small spiral staircase with many, many steps up to the viewing level, but oh, so worth it!

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Image by Joyce Meyer

 

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Image by Joyce Meyer

Beggars grace the steps to hit up tourists entering…

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Image by Joyce Meyer

…and exiting.

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Image by Joyce Meyer

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Image by Joyce Meyer

Mini Eiffel Tower vendors are set up in front of the Basilica with their products on small blankets or towels to allow a quick exit since their activities and products are illegal. Kind of a cat and mouse game with law enforcement.

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Image by Joyce Meyer

According to Reuters, reported July of 2013, Paris police  seized 60 tons of miniature Eiffel Towers that black-market vendors were hoping to sell to tourists.  Chinese gangs, many based in the east of Paris, import the trinkets from China before selling them to other groups who control the sellers. These vendors are not paying tax on their sales and are taking business away from authorized vendors. This report also states that police are hindered by the inability of over-stretched courts to prosecute the waves of illegal sellers, many of whom come from Senegal (a country in West Africa) and India. (It makes me wonder how much money is transferred “under the table” to encourage authorities to look the other way or not prosecute)

 Bracelet Men or String Men also work a scam aggressively trying to tie small string bracelets onto wrists or fingers and then demand large payments for the item. Non, merci, keep hands down and just keep walking. 

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Image by Joyce Meyer

A small group of string men are lined up along the steps as we exit. We proceed down and our happy-go-lucky son has been targeted as a man attempts to tie a string to his wrist.  Mama and Sister Lion quickly jump into attack mode and shoo the man away with a stern “NO” and smack the offending hand away before any damage is done.

We are wise to your ways..Don’t mess with us!

For more information about scams in Paris check out the links below or just search “Paris scams” and you will find plenty of information and recounts of personal experiences.

http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/Europe/France/Ile_de_France/Paris-99080/Warnings_or_Dangers-Paris-Beggars_Aggressive_Vendors-BR-1.html

Corporatetravelsafety.com

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Image by Joyce Meyer

As we leave Sacre Coeur we hear sweet melodies floating through the air. No scam here, just a talented street musician doing his thing.

Welcome to Paris!

With the Camino de Santiago completed, we fly from Santiago, Spain, back to Paris on Vueling Airlines a few days before our return flight from Paris to Minneapolis, MN. Might as well look around since we are already here!

When you think of Paris, you think of romance, indulgence, and the sweet smells of perfume.

Um… I hate to burst your bubble, but that isn’t necessarily the case, unless you are Princess Kate or George Clooney. (I’m 60% sure we saw him in the Paris airport)

As we sit with our backpacks on the RER train leaving Charles de Gaulle Airport, Liz warns/lectures us NOT to talk to anyone on the metro subway and don’t be so nice.  A little harsh, perhaps?

We soon find out why.

Scam:  Ticket purchase help

While attempting to purchase metro tickets at a machine, a man speaking broken English acts friendly, takes over the transaction, insisting on “helping.” Forcing his way into our machine, he puts his special credit card in,  pushes buttons with lightning speed and five tickets appear.  Already severely annoyed, Liz notices that the total was 8 Euro. After he thrust the tickets into Randy’s  hand (His culture (Gypsy?), apparently, assumes  the oldest male to be in charge), he says, 35 Euro  – follow me!” and goes towards the metro train we are to get on.  The tiger in Liz raises it’s ferocious head and after grabbing those metro tickets from Randy,  all 5′ 2″ of her chases after the thief (with the four of us following), shoves the tickets back in his hand, scolds him and stomps awayWe then go back to the machine, she and Joan purchase metro tickets for 8 euro total and we go on our merry way. From then on, we keep vigilant with awareness of surroundings and say, “NO,” to every person unnecessarily approaching us. Close call.

Here is a link to a page of security tips when using Paris (or probably any) metro system. The above scam was listed right at the top of the list.  http://parisbytrain.com/paris-security-safety-tips/

Lesson learned:  Be extra careful if you are Minnesota Nice on the Paris Metro.

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Photo from the Paris Public Transportation website.

Welcome to Paris!