Home / Destinations / Europe / I Was Followed By a Creep on the Paris Metro – Here’s What I Learned

I Was Followed By a Creep on the Paris Metro – Here’s What I Learned

My first mistake was bringing enormous wheeled luggage that was far too heavy.

It was my first travel experience and I really had no idea what I was doing, so I was struggling to lift my suitcase up and down the steps of the Paris Metro on my way to catch a bus to Amsterdam. A guy came over and offered to help lift the back of the suitcase as I carried it up the stairs, so I let him.

ParisMetro

Once he had helped me, I gave him a friendly smile and a “Merci” and continued on my way. But the helpful stranger didn’t want to part ways yet. He kept following me, asking me questions in French that I didn’t understand. I smiled politely and kept walking through the maze-like corridors of the Metro toward the train I needed to catch.

Although I could barely understand a word he was saying, it didn’t take me long to realise that his interest in me was more than simple friendliness. Hitting on someone is a pretty universal language. I tried my best to politely explain in my limited French that I had a boyfriend back in Canada and that I was really not interested and that I didn’t want him to follow me. He didn’t seem to care. I kept smiling my meek, polite smile.

He followed me onto my Metro car. I wasn’t sure if he just happened to be going in the same direction as me, or if he had changed his route to be with me. He stood uncomfortably close to me in the crowded car. I held onto the metal pole to steady myself and he wrapped his hand over mine. I abruptly pulled my hand out from under his, but he simply moved his hand on top of mine again.

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I got off at my stop, praying that he would stay on the train, but he followed me off. He kept walking with me all the way to where I was to catch the bus to Amsterdam. I was avoiding eye contact and trying to walk faster to ditch him, but he still stuck by my side and continued to tell me how beautiful I was. I felt nervous and I was thankful that there were large crowds of people around us and that I wasn’t alone with this guy.

I finally reached the bus stop and found my bus. Never in my life have I wanted to get on a bus so badly. I checked my bags and rushed toward the door of the bus, but he grabbed my arm.

“Un bisou!” he pleaded with me – “one kiss!” He leaned forward, eyes closed and lips parted. I froze for a few seconds and finally shouted, “No!” and pulled away from him, jumping onto the bus and rushing to my seat. I hid my face in embarrassment as he stood below my window blowing kisses at me.

What I Learned From This

While this experience was quite scary as a first time solo female traveller, it taught me something very important. You see, I was too scared to tell this guy to leave me alone because I didn’t want to be rude or cause a scene. I kept hoping that he would get the hint, but he obviously didn’t.

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Yes, the way that this guy was invading my personal space and following me was wrong and he shouldn’t have done it, but unfortunately you will get into these situations as a solo female traveller. What I should have done back then – and what I have done in similar situations since – would be loudly and firmly tell him to leave me alone!

Solo female travellers take my advice – you need to be able to say NO assertively and stand up for yourself. With my polite smiles and meek excuses, this guy was never going to leave me alone. If you are in a situation where someone is making you feel uncomfortable, don’t worry about causing a scene. It’s much better to cause a scene than to have your safety compromised.

Give them subtle clues and politely ask them to leave you alone first, but if they ignore those signals you have every right to tell them to fuck right off. Remember this – if they are not listening to when you say NO nicely and they are putting you in position where you have to be rude to get your point across, it’s not actually you being rude – it’s them.

Have you ever been in a situation like this? Let me know about your travel experiences in the comments.

About Kelly Dunning

A Canadian freelance writer with a love of art, culture, literature and adventure, Kelly loves exploring foreign lands and expressing her experiences through the power of the written word.

5 comments

  1. You are NOT obligated to be polite to these cretins. Say NO very clearly and strongly. If the sleeze keeps it up, stop in a shop and ask someone to call the police. That usually gets them out of there very quickly.

    What a shame and we are targets. I am glad you came out of it was just a few of his “cooties” and with some valuable lessons.

    Women do not need to placate or be polite in this situation. If he had approached a straight man with the same moves, the “no” would have been definitive.

  2. I wrote an article about how to deal with it on my website after i had to deal with it when I was living in South America: http://undertheyewtree.com/gringa-guide-machismo/

  3. Awesome article. Being a polite Canadian is in our blood and it would have been very hard to navagate that situation.

  4. Costa Rica in areas have very aggressive men. Be careful if you go there. I had my wallet stolen by the cab diver, a supposedly kind man attacked me when he was supposed to be helping me with a place to stay and work so i could stay after my wallet was stolen. luckily I got away from him because he felt sick. He was a close aquantence with people I new in costa rica but the situation would not allow me to stay at their residence once I arrived. The husband of my friend was a complete asshole and I don’t think my friend who was his soon to be bride, told him I was moving in. That turned out really bad. Then wallet got stolen. I had no money not place to stay. confronted resturant owner my situation and he said he had a guest house I could stay in until we could figure out some work for me so i could stay..Later on theat night he let himself in the guest house with fancy food like steak etc. we ate and I was ready for him to leave. All of the sudden I started feeling like he felt because he was giving me a free place that I was all of the sudden his whore. He attacked me. I think he was drunk because soon after me fighting him off (and trying to be polite because I had no money or anywere to go he) passed out. I grabbed my things and ran down a dirt road with no street signs, no friends, no cell phone. Luckly earlier I had met( one of my now former costa rican friends) girl friends who was a realiter my X friends soon to be husband. She seemed really nice. In my frantic state I started to recognize that I was near her house. I was a mess, scared, violated, broke and a lone. She helped me. I went to the reality co. and her and another nice man working there gave me some cash to get a hostel room and to call home. my mother ended up buying me a 500 ticket back home. Sucked. What I really wanted to do I have my mom wire me money from my checking account so I could travel to guatemala and create a better experaince for myself, she basically said in her southern way, Hell no! What I learned. Do not trust just anyone, Do not tell people you are in trouble unless its a large local business that is english speaking and friendly and safe to trust. Calm down!! Breath! Always have a back up plan and access to Money if something happens, a cell phone,Stay in touch with your love ones. Do not tell people your private business. Do not dress sexy or flirt with foreigners. Do not wear a pony tail! An attacker can use it as a way to restrait you. Do not give eye contact and or smile at strangers. Be kind, respectful, learn the language, and polite but not shy, or weak. Stay tall stay strong, respect yourself, make good decisions. Before you go make sure you know safe places you can go If you get into trouble. If you don’t have a lot of experiance such as myself travel with someone who does until you become a safe, wise, headstrong traveler. I am dying to travel but never alone again until I know I am really confident.

  5. During my first trip to Europe alone I had this happen to me a least thee times. I always use the excuse that I am going to meet friends and never ever say I’m alone. The first time I was also in Paris, I had a similar situation where I had a man hug me and I had to pry myself away. In Antwerp I had a man follow me on his bike wanting to join me and ‘my friends’ and another man try to secretly follow me home in Luxembourg city, going so far as to walk by parallel streets, casually glance over and act surprised to see me. All weren’t too bad as I was in relatively safe cities but I did have a much scarier experience in Albania. I was traveling with my more polite friends who told a stranger on the bus we were on that we were traveling as three girls while arriving to our hostel late at night. The creepy bus stranger was trying to show off his phone to us, so I asked if I could take a look and it and used it to call the hostel. The hostel owner came to get us, but it could of been much worse.

    Of course this isn’t the situation all the time, I have also met lots of nice strangers who genuinely want to help. I think the key is as soon as you get the feeling that someone or something is a bit off, is to stop being polite, be firm and get yourself out of the situation as quickly as possible. It’s never worth saving someone’s feelings if you feel uncomfortable.

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