Paris Taxi Drivers Avoiding Migrant Areas so Not to Shock Tourists


Taxi drivers in the French capital have been avoiding some of the areas of the city where many migrants live on the streets so as not to “shock” tourists coming into the city.

The drivers who pick up tourists from Roissy airport told French news outlet 20 Minutes that the purposely avoid areas where homeless migrants live in makeshift tent camps as to not give the tourists a bad initial impression of the city, with one driver named Mordi commenting: “The first image tourists have when arriving in Paris, the most beautiful city in the world, are the tents, refugees, drug addicts.”

“When I can, I avoid at most to go through the Porte de la Chapelle,” the 53-year-old, who has been driving tourists from both of the city’s major airports for over 30 years, said and added, “For a year, I prefer the Porte de Clichy or the Porte d’Asnières, especially at night.”

“When I really have no choice, I go through the Porte de la Chapelle, but I see that the tourists are not reassured, that they are afraid. Me too… There is a certain aggressiveness of people on the street. It’s not nice for anyone,” he said.

Another driver named Djamel said he had also avoided the area for over a year saying, “people try to open the door, break the window. This is not [good] for our customers, especially tourists who come to discover Paris. Before the situation was bad, now it’s dangerous.”

Porte de La Chapelle has been a major hub of migrants and has been the home of various makeshift tent cities that have been cleared several times by local authorities in 2017 and in 2018 plans were announced to evacuate the area, along with other makeshift camps across the city, again.

The Porte de la Chapelle area has become dangerous even for those working to help the migrants living on the streets. In July of last year, the group Solidarité Migrants Wilson was forced to cease operations in the area due to aggression from drug-addicted migrants.

Not all the taxi drivers say they avoid the area, 37-year-old Oliver said he does the opposite saying, ” Yes, poverty is scary, sad, and it gets worse, but I keep going and I explain to tourists the situation, the context.”

“Overall, Europeans are aware but Americans do not understand that we can let that happen. But it does not outrage them more than that. There may be a fear, but I try to reassure them,” he said.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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