A up-surge of crime has been
noted, particularly in Mexico City and some of the
big towns like Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez.
Foreigners are quite often attacked and kidnapped,
whatever their status. Armed robberies are frequent
and road pirates have been known to attack and rob
buses and cars. To limit the risks, only travel by
daylight and be careful in very crowded areas.
Avoid deserted beaches.
French nationals should
present themselves to the French consulate in
Mexico City. Avoid the police as much as possible.
If you have a problem, contact your embassy instead
of going to the police. If you are stopped on the
road, stay calm and polite and pay the fine,
unofficially, if you negotiate it will always be
less than an official fine.
Drug laws are extremely harsh
in Mexico, so be very careful : never accept to
take a packet or a suitcase for someone to be
Before you go to Mexico take
a photocopy of all your official and important
documents. Photocopy any papers you get if you rent
a car in Mexico. This will help you a lot if ever
your papers are lost or stolen.
sites, districts or towns in baroque colonial style
and an enormous variety of landscapes all have a
rich potential, but cultural tourism is not very
well developed. The seaside resorts, with 54.4% of
the total visits, remain the principal attraction.
Cancun in the state of Quintana Roo, is the most
visited site, draining 25.6% of all
Mexico City :
- Notre-Dame-de-Guadalupe : built on the site where
the Virgin appeared in the 16th century, the old
basilica, threatening to collapse, has been
extended by a modern church unmistakably 1970s. All
of Mexico comes there to worship the Virgin of
Guadalupe, who's image, miraculously copied on a
piece of material can be seen from a moving belt,
to make sure that the crowd does not congregate in
front of it!
- Barragan House : for lovers of modern
- Anthropological Museum : reconstitutes the
history of Mexico and its mixed population thanks
to very beautiful pieces of Pre-Columbian art,
particularly Olmec, Toltec, Mayan and Aztec.
- Teotihuacan : just outside the capital, one of
the major Pre-Columbian sites : two immense
pyramids, built around the 5th century AD, and
- Queretaro: a magnificent colonial town,
classified by UNESCO World Heritage, situated 200
kms north of Mexico City. Churches, monasteries,
palaces, flower filled squares and peaceful streets
: one of the most beautiful examples of these
baroque towns which lie around the city.
Corzo : pretty little
town designed in a square cut through by the roads
bordered with coloured houses.
In the Jovel valley, surrounded by mountains lies
Cristobal de las Casas.
Isolated until the 1950s the town has remained very
colonial : arcades, the governer's palace, baroque
churches, the roads are rectilinear, the districts
(barrios) are defined by ethnic groups, religious
orders or artisanal specificities.
From San Cristobal a mountain road leads to
Chamula, then to Zinacantan - a few houses cling to
the side of the hill, sheep, black pigs ... In
there is a wooden cross standing in front of each
: in the centre the palace displays a labyrinth of
galeries, of courtyards and patios dominated by a
tower, observatory or watchtower. Opposite the
palace stands the temple of Inscriptions, a
graduated pyramid which contains the crypt where
the sovereign lay dressed in jade and mother of
pearl. On the hillside the Group of the Cross
represents the different stages that lead from life
to death, then to rebirth.
To the east the road crosses the forest, the
territory of the Lacandon Indians. Five buildings
crown the hilltop on the site of
above the river Lacanha. The temple of Paintings
contains the only frescos, dating from the end of
the 8th century, that have come down to us. The
Square of Yaxchilan :
temples, steles and altars to the glory of the
Jaguar dynasty. On the top of a monumental
staircase stands the acropole and its tiled crests
decorated with a mosaic of stones and stucco. Still
higher, through the maze of the forest, a path
leads to the south acropole.
A peninsula where you
can visit Mayan and Toltec sites. You must visit
(described in 'Main Towns') and Uxmal
Itza, two Mayan sites
which are amongst the most spectacular in
The Zapotec, Mixtec and Aztec civilizations have
made Oaxaca one of the most important Pre-Columbian
regions in Mexico. It is in this region that the
Zapotec, Benito Juarez was born, the Father of
The town of Oaxaca
is a mixture of pre-colonial, colonial and modern
architecture : stroll around the zocalo, listen to
the musicians playing under the big trees, the
jacarandas, the bougainvilleas, the acacias where
the squirrels are having fun, discuss with the
Indians who come there to sell their crops. See the
Tule tree which is about 2,000 years old with a
circumference of 45 meters! Visit the Santa Domingo
church, built by the Dominicans in baroque style.
It is richly decorated with paintings and
sculptures and a very beautiful gold statue of the
The finesse of Mixtec art
resides in its mosaics, made of tiny stones which
form geometric designs, with alternating key
patterns, losanges etc ... where the motives
symbolize the stylized image of the Feathered
Scenes of sacrifice are shown on Mayan frescos. The
sacrifice was an essential ritual of the Mayan
civilization and defined its concept of the world.
As a warrior, the king spilled the blood of his
prisonners. As a God, he spilled his own. It is
through this double ritual that he completes the
mission of man, which is to save life, created by
the sacrifice of the gods, by feeding them in their
turn. The rite therefore reproduces the creation of
the Universe in order to ensure that it is
everlasting. Thus politics and war take on a
religious character. It supplies captives who
belong to the military nobility, who will be
sacrificed at the top of the pyramid or during the
ball game. Auto-sacrifice is practised by the king,
but also by his wife, the priests and the
dignitaries, with the same aim. It is a sacrement,
done using a sacred instrument, a lancet, which is
often the sting of a stingray. All parts of the
body can be cut or perforated but the ear lobe, the
tongue for the woman and the penis for the man, are
the priviliged places. Caught in sacred vases, the
blood is poured over pieces of paper which are
burnt during the ceremony.