The rivalry that sears across the channel may be age-old, but it’s one based on mutual affection and respect. The question of which city is better – London or Paris – will probably remain unanswered for generations to come.
That shouldn’t stop you exploring both cities for yourself, however. Today, Paris is reachable from London with a short hop on the Eurostar train. It’s the perfect way to experience both cities side by side. Let’s take a look at what both cities have to offer and how they compare.
Paris has earned a global renown for the quality of its cuisine. Haute Cuisine – literally ‘high cooking’ in French – is seen as the standard for European cookery. The city’s restaurants have earned a total of 81 Michelin Stars compared to London’s 61. For these reasons, we have to give the prize in our first category to Paris.
Don’t write London off, though. With hundreds of restaurants and an innovative food scene, London is always evolving as one of the most interesting culinary landscapes in the world. The deeply entwined cultural mix of London means that we enjoy a diverse palette, from delicious curries, sumptuous steaks.
Paris has its fair share of great music. There’s certainly something romantic about hearing the lively bounce of a jazz-manouche street artist as you stroll through Montmartre. Many of the bohemian cafes and wine bars in Paris double up as impromptu gig venues during the evenings, and there’s an eclectic mix of progressive styles to hear.
Although the scene is buzzing in Paris, it can’t compare to the maturity of London – possibly the world’s greatest musical city. From Tin Pan Alley to the Troubador, Camden and Abbey Road – you’ll find more musical history here than you could ever experience in a single visit. Unfortunately for Paris, London wins the music category hands-down.
The Louvre vs the Tate, the Pompidou vs the National Gallery; let’s just face it, these are impossible choices. Both cities have broad collections of the finest art in the world. Both have some of the biggest names, including Da Vinci, Picasso, Dali, Turner, Rembrandt, Van Gogh – we could go on. When it comes to art, it might be a case of visiting both cities and making up your own mind. After all, art is a very personal experience. For this one, we’re going to have to call it a draw.
This is another tough choice. The nightlife in London is well-established with some of the world’s top clubs. Fabric, XOYO, Ministry of Sound, Cargo, and Studio 338 all provide some of the most progressive music and dance scenes the world over. Paris is known for having a slightly over-pretentious scene. However, the big-name clubs in the city have unparalleled pedigree. La Locomotive, Batofar, Chez Castel and Le Montana all provide extraordinary experiences (if you can get through the door).
Although it’s a close draw, we’re going to have to give the prize to London for nightlife. Paris is magnificent, but it’s nose-in-the-air door policies and relatively early curfews give London the edge.
All in all, it’s a very close call between the two cities. If I had to give you an outright winner? Well, I will always be a Londoner. For me, it’s the king of cities. But if I’d never visited Paris then I’d be missing out on a tonne of beautiful experiences too. Both are cities that you simply have to visit at least once in your lifetime.
To reach Paris from London be sure to check out our London to Paris by rail tours.