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Food-related street scams in Paris: Got some news?


John Talbott
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We have topics on Advice for the first time visitor and where the first timer should eat but not one on street scams.

The old ones include squirting those tiny packets of catsup or mustard on your clothes to divert you or yogurt on your shoes to make you look down or spraying your head with water to make you look up, ah ha, but a new one happened to us twice today separately in Paris.

First, by a deserted bus stop on the Seine, a male scammer "found" a gold ring by my feet and offered it to me as good luck (presumably, to stay food-related, to put in my King's cake); then pleaded for recompense, and ended up furious that I hadn't fallen for the scam. (I saw him try to pull the same routine equally unsuccessfully on a French businessman 100 feet away 10 minutes later so it's not tourist-targeted).

Two hours later, Colette had a female scammer repeat the scenario whilst strolling through the Tuileries with a friend.

And you? Had any interesting food-related street scams attempted lately?

John Talbott

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This "King's cake" ring scam was tried on us on rue Francs Bourgeois last spring. It is almost amusing because the ring is enormous, a brilliant brass color and has 18K stamped on the inside in almost 1/2 cm. tall letters! And yes, the woman put a curse on us when we wouldn't play. We later saw her on Quai d'Orsay, still pushing the ring.

eGullet member #80.

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Thanks John. Now I can prove to my wife that I'm not an impolite jerk. We were walking along the Seine on Friday near the Pont des Invalides (after a long walk from the 6th to the Musee Guimet only to find it closed due to the transit strike). A young women picked up a ring near our feet and asked if it was ours. Smelling a scam, I just kept walking . My wife suggested we are being impolite and we should stop and talk. We didn't.

Since this is a food forum, I should add that we had a nice lunch earlier at the Cafe du Marche, enjoyed a delightul meal that evening at La Ceresaie that evening (walked again), and a fantastic meal on Friday night at La Regalade despite beastly traffic causing us to arrive almost an hour and a half late.

P.S. At least the "old" scams were food related.

Edited by hughw (log)
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Thanks John. Now I can prove to my wife that I'm not an impolite jerk. We were walking along the Seine on Friday near the Pont des Invalides (after a long walk from the 6th to the Musee Guimet only to find it closed due to the transit strike). A young women picked up a ring near our feet and asked if it was ours. Smelling a scam, I just kept walking . My wife suggested we are being impolite and we should stop and talk. We didn't.

Since this is a food forum, I should add that we had a nice lunch earlier at the Cafe du Marche, enjoyed a delightul meal that evening at La Ceresaie that evening (walked again), and a fantastic meal on Friday night at La Regalade despite beastly traffic causing us to arrive almost an hour and a half late.

P.S. At least the "old" scams were food related.

Hugh, quite a coincidence. I was en route from the Cafe du Petit Palais, where I was sipping a cafe serre awaiting Colette's depart from the Courbet show to Ze where we showed M. Ledeuil the news that he was the #9 chef in France (one better than Pierre Gagnaire) in Liberation/oMnivore's ranking (but more on that in this week's Digest). In any case, my incident occurred at the SouthEast corner of the Pont Alexandre III and Cour La Reine. Sounds very near; they must be working those bridges. Food news: #9 is #1 in my book; the rouget and pasta with mushrooms and figs with sorbet were terrific, but the confit de canard: nickel.

John Talbott

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Thanks John. Now I can prove to my wife that I'm not an impolite jerk. We were walking along the Seine on Friday near the Pont des Invalides (after a long walk from the 6th to the Musee Guimet only to find it closed due to the transit strike). A young women picked up a ring near our feet and asked if it was ours. Smelling a scam, I just kept walking . My wife suggested we are being impolite and we should stop and talk. We didn't.

Since this is a food forum, I should add that we had a nice lunch earlier at the Cafe du Marche, enjoyed a delightul meal that evening at La Ceresaie that evening (walked again), and a fantastic meal on Friday night at La Regalade despite beastly traffic causing us to arrive almost an hour and a half late.

P.S. At least the "old" scams were food related.

Hugh, quite a coincidence. I was en route from the Cafe du Petit Palais, where I was sipping a cafe serre awaiting Colette's depart from the Courbet show to Ze where we showed M. Ledeuil the news that he was the #9 chef in France (one better than Pierre Gagnaire) in Liberation/oMnivore's ranking (but more on that in this week's Digest). In any case, my incident occurred at the SouthEast corner of the Pont Alexandre III and Cour La Reine. Sounds very near; they must be working those bridges. Food news: #9 is #1 in my book; the rouget and pasta with mushrooms and figs with sorbet were terrific, but the confit de canard: nickel.

I would say we were actually about halfway between Pont des Invalides and Pont Alexandre III on the right bank. We were approached probably around 3:45-4:00pm. Obviously, we have a friend in common.

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One of the highlights of my last trip to Paris was, as boarding the Metro a guy bumped into me and the started apologizing and briskly brushing me off. I felt myself being pushed about and kept assuring the man in front of me it was not a problem. Then the doors started to closed and he ran off. One of his associates sneered, cursed me, and threw a receipt from my pocket - the only thing he had been able to retrieve.

Everyone else on the Metro just sat there or stood there watching and saying nothing.

Pissed me off that the gang considered me an easy mark. But afterwards, having emerged unpickpocketed, my misaventure has become a fond memory of Paris - and, perhaps, a good lesson for future Metro rides.

Food related - I was on my way to lunch.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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  • 4 months later...
...., by a deserted bus stop on the Seine, a male scammer "found" a gold ring by my feet and offered it to me as good luck (presumably, to stay food-related, to put in my King's cake); then pleaded for recompense, and ended up furious that I hadn't fallen for the scam.  (I saw him try to pull the same routine equally unsuccessfully on a French businessman 100 feet away 10 minutes later so it's not tourist-targeted).

In the "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" department, not 50 paces from where I experienced this scam 6 months ago, a female gypsy tried it again as I was walking across the Pont Alexandre III to lunch about which more later. Either they or we don't learn.

John Talbott

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My wife and I were in Paris the last week of Jan and the first 2 weeks of Feb. In the same spot John mentions above we witnessed the same scam going on. We walked across the bridge 4 or 5 times and everytime there were at least 2 men doing the same thing. The "ring scam" was a new one for me.

There were 2 other incidents that happened to friends during the same time. One friend was on the metro platform (Porte de Clignancourt). A man walked by and "dropped" a set of keys. As my friend bent over to pick them up his accomplice grabbed his wallet from his rear pocket and took off running down the platform. No one tried to stop him and he took the money from the wallet and then dropped the wallet as he ran up the stairs. I saw one other "key drop" tried on a street in Montmartre but the mark just kept on walking.

The final incident was the old "gypsy children" ploy. Two female friends walking down the street, one of them was surrounded by a group of 5 or 6 children begging. One of the kids tried to get her purse but the other friend chased them all away by screaming.

As much as we all love Paris and as much as I like to go "walk about" in the city it pays to remeber it is a huge metropolitan area. Just like anywhere else in the world you need to be aware of what is going on around you.

The only food related part of these stories is that they all occurred during the day as we were on our way to lunch.

edited for spelling

Edited by dlc (log)
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On a beautiful Friday in Paris a couple of weeks ago on my way to an excellent lunch of suckling pig at A l'Ami Jean on rue Malar in the 7th I was hit with this scam three times within the space of ten minutes.

I had just crossed the foot bridge from the Tuileries to Quai Anatole France and was heading alongside the river toward rue Malar. Two of the scamsters were young women. The third was an older man who approached me on rue de l'Universite a few blocks east of rue Malar.

Each time I refused to stop. The first two times I simply said its yours and went on walking. The third time I yelled at the scamster and told him it was the third attempt in ten minutes, adding that it was enough.

I told the story to three friends who live in Paris. The same scam had been played on two of them. Neither bought the ring, though one had been briefly tempted.

BTW this was my second lunch at A l'Ami Jean, while different from the first it was still worth the visit.

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