Yes, you read that right. The Washington Post reports that the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs has warned its citizens about visiting specific parts of 16 American cities. That includes avoiding large tourist attractions - Statue of Liberty, Times Square, and Hollywood - and even some neighborhoods - Chicago's West Side, north St. Louis, and Downtown Detroit at night - altogether.
"After eight years of decline, crime is up slightly [in the United States]," the security guidelines say. "This increase affects some particular areas. It is advisable, arriving in a city, to learn about the neighborhoods to avoid and, in the case of others, the ability to get around on foot and hours beyond which it becomes potentially dangerous get there. Most crimes are committed at night with a focus on the weekends .The majority of homicides take place on public roads and is particularly linked to drug trafficking."
They also offered travel warnings for Atlanta and the rest of the South. Here's the Google translation for the "South Zone," which for some reason includes St. Louis:
Houston: as in all major cities in the United States, it should not leave personal belongings in his car the day and to be vigilant when traveling at night in certain neighborhoods (Downtown, southern and eastern parts of Houston).
St. Louis: avoid northern area between the airport and the city center, but the shuttle from the airport is safe.
Atlanta: be vigilant in the city center after the close of business and avoid the south of the city.
New Orleans: according to statistics in 2011, New Orleans remains a dangerous city (58 murders per 100,000 inhabitants - ratio 10 times higher than the national average). So far, however, most of these crimes are located in easily identifiable poorest neighborhoods of the city. The tourist areas are relatively well monitored and therefore generally remain unaffected by violent crime.
Generally, we must remain ever vigilant, do not stop when you are arrested, do not resist in case of aggression or racketeering: the possession of weapons in a common aggressor. Day and night, avoid walking with bags or valuables visible (cameras, jewelry). In the evening, walk out outside of the busiest central streets of Vieux Carré is a statistically significant risk. Do not hesitate to take a taxi, even for a short distance. When visiting the Vieux Carré, he should not go alone (e) beyond the northwest of Dauphine Street and northeast of the rue des Ursulines and when you visit the Garden District do not go north of St. Charles Avenue and south of Magazine Street.
Florida: attacks against tourists and car, frequent there a few years ago are now rare. For safety's sake, do not stop outside lit areas, especially if someone at the roadside or car, you are prompted to do so. Report their presence at the first station and the police.
Heather Kircher Clavé, spokeswoman for the Consulate General of France in Atlanta, tells CL that the office is reviewing the information. She says that France has an "active presence" throughout Atlanta, which is currently home to 1,042 French citizens.
"France, like all countries, including the United States, has the responsibility to issue travel information and recommendations to its citizens traveling abroad," she says. "The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs aims to provide the most useful and up to date information."
Kircher Clay also says France proudly supports tourism development throughout the region. With events such as France-Atlanta, Georgia Tech, and the French Consulate's joint event earlier this month, she says they strengthened French-American relations through the visits of several "high-profile French artists, scientists, businessmen and officials." Atlanta is also a sister city to Toulouse.
We've reached out to Mayor Kasim Reed's office for his take. If we hear back, we'll post an update.
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