It’s a rivalry that has entrenched itself into the consciousness of two whole nations, defining centuries of international relations and sports-based misery. I am, of course, referring to the bitter, mud-slinging culture competition between those two great European cities: Paris and London (apologies to Milan, Berlin, Barcelona, Edinburgh and Dublin). Now, obviously the London/Paris rivalry is built on all sorts of unfounded assumptions about the quality of French cuisine and the unmistakable superiority of British drinking culture and so on; but what do you think the results would be of an objective analysis? Could one city scientifically claim to outclass the other in a direct competition? Is such an analysis even possible?
Well, the team at HouseTrip London clearly think so: they’ve hoovered up all the weird and astonishing data on Europe’s great culture capitals to decide, in infographic form, which city is the best. Whether or not you’re a patriotic Brit or proud Parisian, there’s still plenty of intriguing stuff to be found here. One fact that leaped out at me was the sheer difference in size between the two. Had I been asked to ‘guesstimate’ the size of London, I would have guessed big, but not 607 square miles big. Nor would I have put Paris at a –frankly miniscule – 40.7 square miles. Could you even really fit the Champs-Elysees, Eiffel Tower, Left bank of the Seine and Notre Dame into such a microscopic space, let alone all the surrounding urban sprawl? Apparently so.
So who is the ‘winner’? Aha, well there you reach an interesting twist: the infographic doesn’t crown either city the King, preferring to let the data speak for itself. So, if you value 300 paintings by J.M.W Turner, 4 World Heritage sites and 240 museums over 376 cinema screens, 101 Michelin Starred restaurants and Disney Land, London is your winner. If, on the other hand, you’re all about a 1,063ft iron tower, Ernest Hemingway quotes and the Mona Lisa, you’ll probably go with Paris. Being a Londoner I am slightly biased, but I think I have come up with a way to help you decide:
There’s no doubt about it: Paris is beautiful. With grand, sweeping architecture and the best café culture in the whole of Europe, it’s hard not to fall in love with France’s premiere city: especially if you happen to visit in Summer or early autumn. As the infographic below notes, it’s even (unlike its rival) been named European Culture Capital – and it’s easy to see why. To be honest, Paris should be a shoo-in for this category, but then I noticed an extra little titbit that changed my mind. According to the infographic’s authors, London has nearly 2,000 hectares of open parkland, compared to Paris’s shameful 39 ‘green spaces’. Hmm, this is going to be harder than I thought.
Both were apparently founded in 4500 BC, both were used by the Romans as outer garrisons of the Empire and both have been the site of some extremely bloody and occasionally successful revolutions. But only one managed to bravely hold out against German aggression for months on end during a vicious international conflict. I am, of course, talking about the 1870-71 siege of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War. What; what were you expecting?
If you’ve ever experienced close contact with Paris’s 2,234,105 citizens, or London’s 8,173,194 inhabitants, you’ll know that they’re some of the bluntest people on Earth. From French snobbery to stubborn English taciturnity, neither type is particularly easy to approach or get to know. Honestly, Parisians and Londoners deserve each other.
So there, we have it: so over to you: who do you think deserves to win this urban head-to-head? Check out the infographic and give your opinion in the comments below.