Update: Dana Purcarescu, deputy press counselor for the French Embassy in the United States, sent the following statement:
"We regret that some elements of the previous travel advisory were discomforting to the Richmond community. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs faces the delicate challenge to provide useful information to our fellow citizens travelling to the US while avoiding to stigmatize specific communities; we believe the current drafting strikes a good balance in this regard. Thousands of French tourists visit Richmond every year. In 2012, 1,45 million French citizens vacationed in the US. The cities and neighborhoods singled out in our travel advisory are the most popular destinations, therefore it is our duty to inform the French citizens of some risks, in order to make sure they make the most out of their stay in the US and are looking forward to coming back."
According to France, Richmond went from dangerous to safe over the weekend.
Richmond, Baltimore and Philadelphia are no longer listed among cities that France’s Foreign Ministry cautions its citizens about. The change appears to have occurred some time between Friday and Monday.
Peter Kirkpatrick, co-director of Virginia Commonwealth University’s French Film Festival, said he was among those calling the French Embassy asking it to reconsider. He says the advisory was probably based on old crime statistics.
“I called a few people I know,” Kirkpatrick says. “I don’t know if that did it or not, but most of them had the same type of impression that this (listing) was old information.”
The revised list also softens warnings about Cleveland and Washington, D.C. While it previously cautioned travelers to avoid D.C.’s Union Station at night and avoid Anacostia entirely, it now states to be careful in Northeast and Southeast.
The travel advisories came under scrutiny last week after the Washington Post published a roundup of which cities other countries have deemed unsafe.
The French Embassy has not responded to several requests for comment.