A tale of two cities… But which has got the edge? Romantic Paris or swinging London?

I’m not long back from a trip to Paris, where I stayed with my cousin and her lovely family for 4 days. I’ve been to Paris a lot, in fact, I grew up going there every other summer to see my uncle. I remember grumbling about being dragged around the Louvre aged 10, attending a wedding overlooking the Arc de Triomphe aged 20 something and getting very drunk with my new girlfriend in the Bastille about 8 years ago.

Point being, I’ve spent enough time in Paris to feel like it’s familiar to me now.

But… I live in London and have done for about 6 years. Maybe that will skew my stance on this right now but…

London is so much better than Paris, on so many levels. Sorry Paris, sorry Parisiennes (including my French family), but really it’s streets ahead.

If you’re thinking of visiting either of these cities wondering which is the best one to visit, London or Paris, here’s my ten pence on the subject.

Costs

There’s not much to separate the two here, they’re both expensive.

Hotels in both cities are obscenely expensive and you don’t get much for your money.

Transport in Paris is marginally cheaper than in London but food in London is much better value. You’ll not get a meal in Paris for under €12 a head, but in London you can get a beer and a burger for £7 (OK it’s in Wetherspoons so it’s not that good… still though) and there’s plenty of places you can feed for £5.

And coffee. Don’t get me started… Take this example:

Hang on… How much????

A coffee creme (coffee with milk) in Paris is about €4 – even outside of the centre ville. It’s usually consistently decent but never anything to write home about.

A flat white, the hipsters choice and my personal fave, costs around £2.80 in London. This is a skillfully crafted drink and it’s considerably cheaper than a fairly generic cafe au lait in Paris. To top it off, a flat white in Paris is €5!! Seriously….???

So which is cheaper? London is easily a more budget friendly option (I know, weird eh).

Food

Is Paris better than London for food? Short answer. No.

This may surprise readers who haven’t been to either city but, London knocks Paris out of the park for food.

That’s not to say Paris doesn’t have amazing food, of course it does. A simple joy like a croque monsieur (fried cheese and ham sandwich) is one of life’s great comfort foods. Or, if you’re going next level you’ll find all sorts of stunning French classics like boeuf Bourgingon (heavy wine based beef stew) or duck a l’orange (sure, I’m going for the stereotypical dishes here I know).

I will agree fish and chips and Sunday lunch can’t hold a candle to those. But modern British fare has stolen a lot of French influence and improved on it. Head to The Anchor and Hope or the Jugged Hare and come back to me… And if you’re not splashing out, a sausage roll from the Ginger Pig or a salt beef bagel from Brick Lane is not only a damn sight cheaper than a croque monsieur but a more satisfying feed too!

Still on the subject of food, compare the price of a Michelin starred meal in London to Paris. You’re looking at £30-40 a head for a lunch menu in London vs €50-70 in Paris – at least.

London wins the food battle (trust me).

Romance

Just out of shot, 7 busloads of Chinese tourists with selfie sticks…

Ah Paris, the most romantic city in the world…. Really? I don’t see it.

I’ve been to some romantic cities and I’d say Venice is way up there above Paris. In fact, in France, Bordeaux or Nice are probably more romantic than Paris.

Paris is not that romantic because:

  • Its actually quite dirty and it smells of piss in a lot of the places that would be romantic (walk along the Seine near Musee d’Orsay and you will smell piss).
  • There are tramps everywhere (seriously).
  • All those romantic spots are also packed full of hawkers and touts.
  • There’s a million tourists all taking selfies right where you’d want to propose to your loved one.
  • There’s loads of armed police around because they’ve been having a few terrorism issues over the past few years.
  • Graffiti and vandalism is rife – not a big deal if you like graffiti…

London doesn’t have that rep to uphold so therefore it wins this one.

Transport

This is a 50/50. Both cities have a great infrastructure and access to pretty much anywhere all the time.

Paris is slightly cheaper in this respect at €7.50 for 24 hours (2018 prices) vs London’s £8.40 for zone 1&2 one day pass.

London is also annoyingly complicated for visitors with the Oyster card and contactless options.

So Paris wins this one…

Things To Do

The wonders of the world, pillaged just for you (for free!)

This is another 50/50 really. But London shades it based on the amount of free stuff to do. The Tower of London, London Eye and Windsor Castle are all stunning and will set you back around £20-30 to access.

The Louvre, the Palais de Versailles and the Eiffel Tower are also fantastic and iconic places you have to visit this lifetime (and pay around €20-40 for the pleasure).

You can visit both cities and do a lot for free. In Paris, Sacre Coeur and Notre Dame are free to enter, in London pretty much every museum is free. For parks London has Hyde Park, Regents Park, Richmond Park and Hampstead Heath. Paris has Pere Lachaise Cemetary, Jardin du Luxembourg and Bois de Boulogne.

But London shades it based on the amount of art and culture you can absorb for precisely £0. Go to Tate Modern, The National Portrait Gallery, Saatchi Gallery, British Museum, V&A, Tate Britain and Museum of London for nada. Zilch. Nowt. Rien! #Winning.

Friendly Locals

Paris has a rep for unfriendly locals but I’m gonna say, Paris is as friendly as any other city you can visit. Having just come back, I was welcomed warmly in almost every establishment and had casual chats in English and French all over the city.

London is the same. Busy city, busy people… You will meet some a-holes, but in general wherever you go, show some respect, be friendly and you’ll be treated as you’d expect to be treated.

This one is a tie.

Nightlife

Both Paris and London have excellent nightlife of course, but London has clubs like Ministry of Sound, Fabric, XOYO, Brixton Academy and Electric and the O2 Islington and Greenwich.

Paris has loads of nightclubs too but I’ve never heard of any of them. There you go then…

London wins.

Conclusion: Which Is Better?

If you’re wondering which is better, Paris or London for the first time visitor to Europe. Well..

Everyone’s experience is different of course, I’m sure plenty of people will say Paris is amazing -and it is.

It’s just not as amazing as London.


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