Like beautiful, headstrong sisters in a potboiler novel–one a rosy-cheeked English aristocrat, the other a purring Gallic seductress–London and Paris have vied for centuries to be crowned queen of the European capitals. Each has soaring cathedrals and treasure filled museums, a great river, and an iconic tower, and enough shopping and dining to occupy fashionistas and foodies alike for months.
Real hissing matches occur occasionally, and the hairsplitting could go on for years. Think of “The Tale of Two Cities”. During all the years since Dickens wrote his masterpiece, nothing has been settled. The statistics are notoriously confusing especially in the hands of tour guides who extol their chosen city with their iconic attractions. Their main arguments seems to be over who has the most visitors. Personally I wouldn’t visit a city just because or in spite of its number of visitors.
These cities have absolutely distinct personalities. I may be wrong, but my take has always been that London is a man’s town, with its solid stability, its mighty Thames river flowing majestically as a grand avenue to the sea, along with the solemnity of Christopher Wren’s St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the imposing fortress of the Tower of London with its history of incarceration and stash of royal jewels.
In Paris, the Seine River is more intimate, lined with waterside walkers and strolling lovers past the gargoyles of Notre Dame, it’s Eiffel Tower seemingly woven of gossamer, and sparkling at night like champagne bubbles, could not be more feminine. As Rick Steves observes, “The is something enduring about London and endearing about Paris.”
13 thoughts on “ETERNAL RIVALRY”
Give me Paris anytime. A huge difference.Londoners are in bed by 9.30 while Paris gets alive.
In London the BigMac reigns while in Paris it is the baguette avec un peu d’amour et vin de rouge.
And then the language. London English is…well just English but in Paris everybody sings the French lingo.
Rick Stevens is right.
They are like apples and oranges aren’t they? I wander the streets of both and can’t wait to return. The night life doesn’t attract any longer, so I have to return to food and shopping. Paris wins hands down. And oh yes, the language. The English are much more accommodating.
We adored Paris, and didn’t adore London; so I probably shouldn’t comment.
YOU above all, should always comment!
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[some self-harrumphing, as the Babe is wont to say …]
Vell, dullink … I’m pretty sure that our huge preference for Paris over London was due to the fact that during our first European sojourn, everybody was wonderful to us – the Italians were sweet about my Italian, and the French about my French – but for our time in England. The only rudeness we experienced was in London. And I believe we would have found it impossible to love anywhere unless we loved the people … I should feel sorry for the Poms: they are overrun with Aussies.
Well, I absolutely loved London when I was there, and wasn’t as fond of Paris. But today? If I were to go back, I would choose Paris without a thought.
I was lucky in London. Each visit, I had some cozy digs near Highbury/Islington, and it was rather like being “at home.” In Paris, I was still too unsure of myself, too young. I did better in the French countryside, where people would give me time to try my French, and smiled.
But as for Paris being the more feminine? Oh, yes. I love this, from Pink Martini. It feels like Paris to me.
Just listening to that song makes me feel like hopping on an airplane direct flight to Paris! I think it’ would be hard for me to choose because I love them both for different reasons. We have always felt at home in London, and a guest in Paris. I think language has to be part of it. As I mentioned once before, I’ve encountered rudeness in Paris, never in London.
Winston Churchill during WW2 silenced the bells of St. Paul’s. After the War when the bells rang out again it must have been an amazing feeling of comfort and pride. I have never heard the bells of St. Paul’s though I would like to have been there.
Being in Paris with my daughters is special, though I would rather be with my husband in London for some reason! Male/Female?
The best part about London is the Eurostar, the train to Paris! 🙂
When I lived in London, about once a month, I used to catch the Sat morning train to Paris, arrive at Gare du Nord around 10:45, spend the day shopping and browsing and then catch the 8:10pm train back to London. Brilliant.
I remember how amazed I was when I first went to Paris and saw the couples kissing by the Seine and everyone in love. What a difference from prudish, self-conscious Australia!
My granddaughter takes the Eurostar often and loves it. It sounds almost surreal to me to think we can get from point A to point B in such a short time. How lucky you are to have lived in London, it sounds like a brilliant life.
We see kissing couples in all kinds of places here—-some not where they should be!
I’ve never been to Paris, I confess. I thoroughly enjoyed London although didn’t have ample time to explore – we were on our way to Scotland. Edinburgh!!! Now there’s a city I love. I digress. Whether I’ve been to Paris or not, I love your description of London as masculine and Paris feminine. Beautifully written.
I love Edinburgh too, but when I dream of Scotland, I think of climbing through the heather in the moors. Out in the wild. I had to constrain Dr. A to keep him from buying the entire Scottish regalia. My argument: where will you wear it? He had no answer.
For a number of years I tried to make it my life work to visit all of the many museums in London. Can’t remember how many I did. One that I missed was the Tea museum which promised to be a good one. My granddaughter spends a lot of time there but seems to visit as many restaurants as possible.
We hiked the Scottish Highlands on that trip, Kayti and spent only a few days in Edinburgh. Such a lovely, literary city, isn’t it? The second-hand book stores are such a vivid memory all run by men! The Athens of the North, they call it, and rightly so.
The museum I remember from our London trip that really stuck with me was the Imperial War Museum. Going down into that dark underground bunker where Churchill commanded the war effort was quite the experience. I simply must go back!! Oh, but Dr. A might have looked splendid in those kilts? Around the house, perhaps??
We have gone to the Imperial War Museum 4-5 times and it never fails to fill me with awe.
It’s amazing how many great old bookstores are run by men. You get the feeling that they can find anything you’re looking for, closeted up in their stuffy old bookstores. We can spend hours just drinking it in. A young friend made a comment about my living room once. She said she loved the smell of it. I took a sniff and said “old book stores”! That was it. I’m not sure that was a compliment, but I took it that way, because there are a lot of old books in it.
About that Scottish regalia. Dr. A might look so splendid in it his “patients” would begin taking his advice. I’ve always felt you could create an occasion if there is none.