Trying to figure out whether to visit London or Paris? London has Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, The Shard, and Tower Bridge. Paris has the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral and Arc de Triomph Monument. Both cities are incredible places to visit for food, nightlife, culture and people. But if you’re short on time or can’t make it to both, here are our thoughts on how they are different, the best things about each place and whether London or Paris is right for you. 🎯
THE CONTENDERS: LONDON OR PARIS?
🇬🇧 London is the political, cultural and financial capital of the United Kingdom (and arguably Europe, pre-Brexit). Located in south-west England, the city is bisected by the Thames river and home to over 8 million people (depending on what statistics you cite). British culture is renown for its monarchy, biscuits and tea, big red buses, bright red phone booths, rain, lush gardens, cozy pubs, strawberries, Pimms cocktails and tennis. Each of London’s neighborhoods has a distinct feel, so the city feels like a cluster of villages.
🇫🇷 Then, there is Paris – the heart of Europe and one of the most romantic cities in the world. Paris is bisected by the Seine river and divided into twenty arrondissements (districts). Though only 2 million people live within the 20 arrondissements, millions more live in the surrounding suburbs. The city has deep historical significance and many cultural institutions. And speaking of culture – the French are known for fabulous baked goods, cheeses, wines, and everything that has to do with style and art.
So, London or Paris? ✈
Hi, I’m Lids. I’m a U.S. ex-pat who lives in London and I have travelled to Paris tons the past few years – mostly to visit friends, feast, visit new sights, or go on a lot of long walks. I’ve also travelled widely in both England and France, having visited the Cotswolds and seaside in England and Bordeaux, the Alps and Cote d’Azur in France. I’m a big fan of great food and getting outside to play in the snow or do anything related to water sports.
THE PROS AND CONS
My initial recommendation is to see both cities as they have so much to offer. But if you’re limited on time or funds or logistics and need to decide between London or Paris, then consider this:
If you’re travelling with a significant other and would like a romantic trip, go to Paris! There you can sit in a small cafe under the stars (or city lights), split a bottle of wine and a dozen oysters. Let the sparks fly. Then go on a long walk to the Eiffel Tower and and climb up (or take the elevator) to the top for bird’s eye views of the city. Afterwards, head for the Luxembourg Gardens with a picnic blanket, macarons from Laduree or Pierre Herme and French champagne. Sprawl out on the grass and people watch. Stay in one of the city’s over the top, fabulous hotels such the Royal Monceau or the Shangri La and order room service for breakfast in bed.
If you love fashion, head for Paris: the shopping is legendary, Paris is home to Fashion Week and tons of fashion-influenced cultural venues such as the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art and the Louis Vuitton Foundation. Paris’s best shopping is located on Rue Saint Honore in the 1st and 8th districts. Make sure to visit the Maison Kitsune boutique shop and the Le Bon Marche department store for the best items.
If you have kids and want to learn something from the world’s most stylish and “together” parents, head for Paris and take the kiddies to any restaurant, playground or park. There, see for yourself everything you’ve read @ Bringing Up Bebe and believe it when you see toddlers graciously snacking on escargot in bistros and politely playing on the monkey bars in parks.
If your travels have anything to do with work, and pending on where you work, consider London. As English is spoken (stating the obvious), you may be able to do some networking or catch up with clients as there is no language barrier. London is one of the world’s best places for works and there are so many industries here – media, finance, technology, retail, you name it. You’ll find lots of fresh ideas ao come to be inspired! 👩💻
If you love diversity and creative cultural offerings that push boundaries, head for London. London has so much variety and you can find the best of anything you’re interested in here. Like food? Your choices runt he gamut from Ghanian cuisine @ Zoe’s Kitchen, to Italian @ Cecconis, to Sri Lankan @ Hoppers, to Chinese @ Park Chinois and to British @ Dinner by Heston. Like music? See mega gigs @ the O2, grown up gigs @ Barbican Center and Royal Albert Hall, young and rowdy gigs @ XOYO and jazz gigs @ Ronnie Scott’s. Into sports? Then how about cricket @ Lord’s, tennis @ Wimbledon or horse racing @ the Royal Ascot.
If you love decorum and pageantry, London is your city. Cross the pond to wear a fancy, feather hat to afternoon tea, eat small cucumber sandwiches and show off your most proper manners. Visit the Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guard who are dressed in big, bushy hats and red coats. At night, get tickets for the Tower of London Ceremony of the Keys, where the tower is “locked up” in a ritual that has taken place for hundreds of years. Oh, and nothing says pomp and circumstance like a horse 🐴 Ride one through Hyde Park or drive outside the city for a proper hunt.
Since both cities have the truly great restaurants, hotels and cultural sights, we vote as follows: if your visit has anything to do with romance, fashion or family, think about Paris (find our guides and maps for the city here), but if you’re focused on work, want to see something cutting edge or over the top fancy, then London is a better choice (our London guides and maps are here). Safe journey or bon voyage! 🎉