Police in Paris: What's the Stance?
Parisian police put on quite a stern bravado. They are known for intimidation tactics, but you don’t need to worry about this unless you take part in a protest or march. If you do; however, be aware that Parisian police have a reputation for using tear gas and force against protestors not willing to disperse.
Don’t ask the police for directions. They usually have an air about them suggesting that they don’t want to be bothered. In the 11th arrondissement, you will probably notice vans and several members of the gendarmerie (military force, rather than the ordinary police) keeping guard of the areas that were affected by the terrorist attacks of 2015. Definitely don’t ask them for directions. However, if you see something suspicious, you are encouraged to notify nearby police or gendarmerie officers.
If you notice a sea of police cars and vans with their sirens on, fret not: this is normal. During the weekend, when there are often protests, they arrive by the hundreds to redirect traffic or keep an eye on the marches. If you do find yourself in an altercation with a police officer, stay calm and if you are with others and it starts to escalate, ask them to film the interaction.
If you're planning to visit Paris, check out our local guides for where to go.