I’ve lived in Paris for just shy of two years now, which is an achievement I can tell you though not one I will ever be given a medal for. But it could have all been so different. Paris wasn’t my only choice for university, oh no. I could have gone to London to complete my formal education. Imagine that. Me as a moody Londoner, getting on the Tube and huffing at people while reading Metro. Recently I was in the old Smoke and I couldn’t help but compare the two cities.
Let us start by comparing the public transport networks. While the Tube predates the Metro by around 40 years that doesn’t mean it is any more sensible. Living in Paris for such a long time means that I am no stranger to using a topological map in order to navigate myself around a city and I thought I knew the London Underground relatively well turns out I don’t. Or at least that it’s a lot more mental than the French version (who would have thought it?) Where is the sense in having three different train lines running from the same platform? Even the catastrophe that is Merseyrail doesn’t do that. Luckily I managed to bump in some charming locals who managed to help me with my route. In Paris you can barely move sometimes for employees of the ever powerful RATP who can help guide you to your destination. Recently in a fit of effectiveness they even stationed people all along the RER C which had been temporarily closed for repairs.
London seems busier than Paris too. If we compare the Champs-Elysees and Oxford Street I can try to quantify this. Both are major shopping streets in two major capital cities. Oxford Street is much nicer and has a Topshop (a major plus in my mind). Whereas the Champs has fake beggars trying to scam you out of your hard earned cash as you wait in the queue to be allowed in Louis Vuitton just so you can go and stare at pretty things. However you can actually amble up the Champs-Elysees with some ease while gazing at the wondrous Arc De Triomphe, such pleasures cannot be enjoyed on Oxford Street as you get battered by permatanned girls clutching at their River Island bags.
Don’t get me wrong I enjoy both cities immensely. I just happen to feel that Paris has a better quality of life. Alright, we might live in much smaller apartments and be surrounded by the French all of the time but everyone takes their time with things. Drinking wine isn’t just something you do on a Friday night after a long week at work; it is basically a human right on the continent. London is definitely more eclectic and diverse than Paris but I wouldn’t switch them for the world.