News & Politics

This Is What France Has to Say About DC

France tells its citizens who visit Washington to ignore half the city.

Le sigh.

Éviter les quartiers nord-est et sud-est, ainsi que la gare routière et la gare ferroviaire de “Union Station” la nuit. Dans les quartiers touristiques de Georgetown et de Dupont Circle, il est préférable d’être vigilant la nuit. Le quartier Anacostia n’est pas recommandable de jour comme de nuit.

That’s what France tells its citizens who visit Washington. Just like the State Department issues travel advisories and warnings for American tourists going abroad, other countries provide the same service for their people, but the recommendations—even from one of our closest allies—are not always flattering.

Translated from the French, the above travel advisory reads: Avoid the Northeast and Southeast quadrants and Union Station at night. In touristy areas like Georgetown and Dupont Circle, it’s wise to be vigilant at night. Anacostia is not recommended during day or night.

So if French tourists visiting DC follow their government’s warnings, you’ll never see them eating on H Street, Northeast, or at any of the restaurants around Navy Yard and Barracks Row in Southeast. And forget about any future Tocquevilles surveying baseball at Nationals Park (in Southeast) or Major League Soccer at RFK Stadium (in Northeast). And all French people will miss the burgeoning arts scene in Anacostia.

In contrast, the State Department’s advice for Americans who visit Paris is relatively tame: “Political violence in Paris and throughout France is relatively uncommon, although there are occasional instances of extremely large demonstrations simultaneously occurring in many French cities.” That’s about as scary as the City of Lights gets.

Not cool, France. Not cool.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.