Last Updated on 15th August 2019 by Sophie Nadeau
Every country and every region of each country has its own unique quirks. And though London and Paris may be close to one another geographically (and can even be visited as a day trip from one another), the two European capital cities couldn’t be more different. So Paris vs London; which is bigger? which is better? and which should you visit? Here are my top differences between London and Paris!
Language. (duh…) Even just an effort to say ‘bonjour’ and ‘merci’ is considered a lot more polite than a ‘hello, do you speak English?’
Wardrobe ‘_’ is the new black. No, No, No! Black is the new black and probably always will be (as far as Parisians are concerned).
Wine is so much cheaper. Saving those $$$ (or should that be €€€). In the local supermarket, I picked up a bottle of prosecco for €1.99!
Coffee. No Americanos for you my friend- espresso is where it’s at; now is that a single or a double?
Architecture. Does anyone do architecture quite like the French?
Bread. Pastries. I already knew that bread was better in France- but is there anything quite like experiencing it for yourself?
Queues. Yes, Paris is one of the top tourist destinations –but so is London- and I’ve never queued for an hour to enter the British Museum!.
Tube. Or sorry, should that be Metro? Learn the number and not the colour of the metro line. I swear there are 5 different shades of pink?! Also, the walk between lines within each station is a long trek- wear those comfy trainers!
Catacombs of Paris. Who hasn’t heard of the famous catacombs of Paris and the myths surrounding them? Myths about being able to get lost forever and travel to other realms are abundant. There are indeed also underground tunnels beneath London, but these are not nearly as abundant as those found under the streets of Paris.
Another note on alcohol! ‘Happy hour’ is always €5 a cocktail (unlike London’s £5) and you’re often given complimentary nibbles with this…
Cheese (yep I’m going through all the major food groups here :S). French cheeses + French bread = perfection.
Pickpockets. Paris is particularly known for this and if you stand out as a tourist (camera around your neck etc), you will be approached by people asking you to sign ‘petitions’ etc. I know that pickpocketing happens everywhere, but I have never been approached in London. Ever. (and I lived there for 3 years).
Cars. Obviously the French drive on the other side of the road… But did you know that there is only one stop sign in the whole of Paris and that when driving around L’Arc de Triomphe, cars coming onto the roundabout have priority over the ones already on it? Have you seen the view from the top, though?!
The trains are almost always on time. Please take note, England!
Lockdown in Paris. Seriously what is with the padlock situation? Well, apparently if you and your lover write your names on a padlock, lock it onto a bridge and throw the key in the Seine, your love will last forever. (Is this not bad for the environment?) I’ve seen a few attempts to copy this around London but nowhere has it stuck like in Paris.
City of lights. City of Love. Does London have either of these catchy nicknames or even one at all?! Read more: Postcards from the Big Smoke.
Churches. Churches in London are predominantly Church of England as Henry viii created the CofE when the pope refused to annul one of his eight marriages. Obviously, this didn’t happen in France and so most of the churches I visited were Roman Catholic.
Entry Prices. You have to pay to enter all museums unless you are under 18 or 18-26 and an EEE citizen. Under the pyramid of the Louvre may be worth it, though…
Snails and frogs legs are often served in restaurants. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this in London. Yet another of the differences between London and Paris…
The crown of thorns. The most expensive Christian relic in history can be found at the back of the Notre Dame Cathedral. Its silhouette is visible from underneath the red cloth that constantly covers it apart from the first Friday of every month when it is possible to view and kiss the relic.
Currency. I think it goes without saying that we Brits use the pound whereas our continental cousins use the Euro. Prices for exchange rates are seriously annoying, though!
Royal family. We have the Queen, Kate, Wills etc. etc. The French obviously don’t… Fun fact: I was stuck in traffic next to the Queen once- one of her corgis was sat on her lap. Where Napoleon is buried is amazing, though!!!
Cafés. Yes, there does seem to be some kind of chain store Starbucks, Costa, Pret on every street corner in London. In Paris, although there are a number of these stores, they are outnumbered by the sheer quantity of bars, cafés, and restaurants on every street corner.
The weather; we British do love to moan about the weather and how much it rains. It rains quite a lot in Paris too- but I didn’t see too many people complaining about it! (but how could you with sunsets like these?!)
Catcalling. Okay well, I wasn’t really sure whether I should add this one or not, but after speaking to a number of other people, I realized that it probably is the case that you get wolf whistled and catcalled so so so much more in Paris than in London. I certainly did anyway. And no, it wasn’t what I was wearing etc. But it genuinely did annoy me.
Smoking. I’ve seen people smoking in museum queues, in roof terraces etc. There are definitely a lot more places you’re allowed to smoke in Paris. Even in the eating area where I bought this ice cream…
Another note about coffee drinking: all hours! Literally, you’ll see people drinking coffee at midnight. And there are ‘standing only’ tables outside cafés where people will sip on coffee and watch the world go by. Read more: The cutest Parisian Coffee Shops
Over to you. Wish you’d seen something else? Comment below!