A French government Web site is bluntly honest about parts of U.S. cities that its country's tourists ought to stay away from.
In its "Advice to Travelers," the Ministère des Affaires Étrangères offers guidelines for Places to Miss, complete with maps. (Click the tab labeled "Sécurité"— French for "safety" as well as "security.")
The heading says, "The increased risk of terrorism should not make you forget that the principal risk remains criminality." Scroll down to see the city maps. I've translated some of the descriptions:
Boston: "Avoid foot traffic at night in the districts of Dorchester, Mattapan and Roxbury." It also warns of the "revival of juvenile delinquency."
New York: Be vigilant in tourist areas like Times Square and the Statue of Liberty, "as well as in airports, railroad stations, the subway, restaurants, museums, and certain hotels on the West Side. Do not go alone in Harlem, the Bronx, and Central Park at night."
Washington: "Avoid the northeast and southwest quadrants, as well as the bus stops and Union Station at night. In the tourist areas of Georgetown and Dupont Circle it is a good idea to be vigilant at night. The Anacostia area is not recommended either by day or night."
"Baltimore is considered a dangerous city except for downtown."
"Detroit: The center is not recommended after offices close."
New Orleans: The warning is long and boils down to, avoid most of the city and be on your guard everywhere. "Do not hesitate to take a taxi, even for a short distance."
Los Angeles: "Large areas are to be avoided, notably the east, south and southeast districts, such as Watts, Inglewood, and Florence" and caution should be exercised in tourist areas. In the West Side (much of which is considered posh) watch out for aggression, carjacking, burglary in hotels and on private property.
The site also counsels French visitors on the dangers of "natural catastrophes and meteorological dangers," hurricanes (ouragans), tornadoes, seismic risks, floods, seaside hazards, and shark attacks.
Mais oui, but still, the Euro fort, the dollar faible … there's never been a better time to visit the USA!
Good on the French authorities for warning tourists about some of the less savory realities that the tourist industry glosses over. And it's not anti-American prejudice. The French government is equally forthcoming about the "sensitive urban areas" at home.