Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Talking Point: Debates: European
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Click here to listen to the Europewide Debate
 real 28k

Friday, 14 April, 2000, 11:26 GMT 12:26 UK
Paris or London - Which do you prefer?

London or Paris, Paris or London - which do you prefer? Laetitia Casta, the model so beautiful she was chosen to represent Marianne, the icon of Frenchness, her likeness to grace town halls across France, has rented a flat in London.

Is she about to abandon Paris for London? It's triggered a bout of protestation - with sniffy comments from French politicians - they might have lower taxes in London, but have you tried the tube?

Europe Today's Mark Reid brought together in Paris an Englishman who has chosen to make his home in the French capital, Jon Henley of the Guardian newspaper, and first a Frenchman who has chosen to live in London, journalist Olivier Deslandes.

Listen to this week's edition of the Europewide debate and tell us what you think.

Your reaction

Opinions in this particular poll are worth nothing. Parisians will think Paris better and people from London will think London is a better place to live. I definitely like France, as the weather is better!
Stephen, USA

London and England, as a whole, are far superior to Paris and France in every way. England is so cool and wealthy and you can find anything you want in London. Oh I would love to live in England rather than dirty, unemployment-stricken and rude France and Paris any day!
Pete, Canada

New York, though, beats both of them hands down.

Tim, USA
Paris is prettier but London has the nightlife, English, and friendlier people. New York, though, beats both of them hands down.
Tim, USA

After living in both cities for a year each. They each have good and bad qualities. Paris has much better transport and great sights. While London has great clubs and great people.
James, USA

London is not as beautiful as Paris, but people there were friendly and kind. I was shocked how the French were rude and xenophobic. I have seen everything I wanted to see in Paris, and do not want to go there again, while I would like to visit London once more.
Richard, Czech Republic

Paris has the spirit, the touch and the warmth. London is indeed a bad copy of NY.

Ala Shafik, Germany
Don't forget, the discussion is about huge cities with millions of residents, which have been international centres for centuries. Thus, they might have "ghetto" immigrant districts and beautiful downtowns. Those who have been to Russia might have noticed that the capital, Moscow, is, as we say, "licked out" clean, St. Petersburg's is a European city only at downtown as you step on a periphery street, you step out of the imperial greatness into the (poor) rest of Russia. The same works for London and Paris. I don't take the argument about London's "internationalism" seriously: it would have been strange to talk about Pax Britannica and expect the capital of this once world-wide empire to be inward and having great national pride like Paris.
Andrej, Russia

I have visited both the cities and the city that I love is Paris. It is very lively and truly French. The people are moody but willing to help you. London is more American than being English. You can see American influence every where and it is becoming an American colony and a dumping ground. Hard to believe the English ruled the world just fifty years ago.
Arthur Ramesh, USA

If you are going to represent a cultural Ideal, you should live in the country where that ideal is based.

Stacey, USA
Never having been to London, I can't really say which is better, but in all senses, I don't think I should have to. Each city - from Albany, N.Y. to Montreal, Canada, to Rome, Italy, to Paris, France, Brussels, Belgium, or my home city of Manhattan, N.Y, has its own bit of charm (though difficult it may be at times to find what it is).
As far as Ms. Casta's decision goes, however, if you are going to represent a cultural Ideal, you should live in the country where that ideal is based - otherwise take yourself out of consideration.
Stacey, USA

London more cosmopolitan than Paris? You are joking? Paris is the first tourist town in the World, London is a just a bit better now, since about 200000 French cookers, bakers, doctors, designers, fashion designers etc... work over there, but it's still the second class of the French quality workers "artisants du savoir vivre" you could find in France.

Luc Bruit, Belgium

The clubs in London are among the best in the world but they are not on the whole, significantly better than those that typically set the trends in New York.
Cara Pellicano, Milano, Italia

Paris or London? But even if Paris is the best place, I was in Toulouse, Bordeaux, Montpellier and Nice, they seem better places to live than Paris...
Luca Brewns, Switzerland

Name dropping now...London, fantastic, friendly historic city. Paris, beautiful and aloof. NYC, lively and fun. Bangkok, exciting. I've spent time in them all, but the best place I've visited was dirty, smelling, poor and full of the friendliest people I'd ever met. I'd choose Kathmandu every time! Failing that, anywhere out in the wilds!
L, England

The French metro stinks! It can't carry that many people, goes much slower and keeps stopping every 50 metres! Give me a LONDON Underground any day.
Vernon Hunte, England

London has the best clubs in the world, bar none.

Dave Strong, UK
London has got the edge on Paris. It's more open-minded, cheaper and less self-regarding than Paris and it's tiresome "authentic Frenchness". But the biggest and best difference is the nightlife. Parisian and indeed, French nightlife in general is abysmal compared to the UK, and London has the best clubs in the world, bar none.
Dave Strong, UK

Edward Limon of USA, an American living in Paris regrets that London is being swamped by American consumerism. He seems not to have noticed the growing proportion of Parisians now eating at the fast food chains he mentions and that 70% of cinema tickets sold in France are for Hollywood films.
John, UK

As a frequent visitor to both London and Paris, London wins every time. The people are friendlier, the entertainment better, but most important of all, they have an understanding of the whole world, not just their backyard. The French are even worse than the Americans in their insularity!
John Atkins, Singapore

Why should anyone prefer Paris to London? It is a vast, dirty city with rude, arrogant inhabitants. London is built on a more human scale, it is cleaner, far more interesting, truly multi-racial, colourful...London is a world metropolis, Paris is the capital of France. I'd choose London even if I was offered a chateau in Paris!
Nicholas Mandalas, Athens, Greece

London is slightly better than Paris while talking about the atmosphere and friendliness of it's habitants. But not much better! Why are not places like Madrid or even San Francisco mentioned here? Is the Eiffel Tower or British Museum reason good enough to spend your lifetime among millions of hostile, arrogant individuals looking down their noses at anyone else? Or is it more reasonable to visit Louvre or Buckingham Palace once in a while, living in some friendlier place rest of the time.
Jarek Adam Pacek, Gdansk, Poland

Paris every time!

Duncan, UK
Paris every time! Reasons too many to cover them all, but here's a selection: restaurants, food & wine prices, transport, cleanliness, live music, joie de vivre
Duncan, UK

No contest. Paris is far superior to London in every way, from the overall quality of the architecture, restaurants, museums, parks, public transportation, shopping and fashion down to the small details such as superior road signage and plentiful (and clean!) public restrooms. The French have spent an enormous sum on Paris and every centime shows. London, however, looks like the British haven't invested a penny in it in the last 50 years. Regarding the people, I find the French to be refreshingly straightforward and infinitely more interesting to talk with. The British, however, I find to be cloying and condescending, as though they believe Kipling is still alive and the United States is still a colony.
Steven Roelofs, Chicago, USA

After Paris a couple of weeks ago, we were in London last weekend. I found the city not only very dirty, but too crowded and too expensive! We tried to get on the Ferris wheel but that also would have taken 5 hours waiting time to see the rubbish in the streets from above in snail speed. Great fun! Paris has dramatically improved the last couple of years. Although less cosmopolitan than London (who wants this anyway), Paris has character in the French way, and not as the English have distorted the meaning of this word. Give me Paris any time.
de Min, Netherlands

I think the fact that I am leaving the UK for good in a couple of months speaks for itself, and guess where I am going back to... PARIS. I am not French either, yet I love France and compared to Paris I find London appalling.
Matthew Gaffney, UK

It depends on the character of person, education and first contact with the city.

Roman Frolov, Russia
If we talk about pragmatic motivation of course I need to prefer London. But I guess for common people more important are sentimental feelings. And personal preferences of the cities are first of all ...individual. It depends on the character of person, education and first contact with the city. At least for me I prefer Paris anyway. But it is intimate matter. Yes, Parisians are often crude but I understand them and I excuse them. It may be seems strange but for me London looks like place somewhere in Russia. Probably for this reason modern Russians prefer to live in London for more "Russian" habitual environment - chaotic, eclectic and free.
Roman Frolov, Russia

After experiencing Paris for the first time during the Millennium celebrations, I have to say that Paris is a very beautiful city to visit in terms of the sights, but the majority of its residents did seem to be very rude, particularly once they got behind the wheel of a car! London isn't the friendliest place on earth, but it's much better for general politeness. Plus the fact that the average price for a pint was about £4, makes London far superior!
Ian Duval, UK

As an American living in Paris, I was very disappointed after visiting London one weekend. The city is so run-down! I could not believe how 'American' London is becoming. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with becoming 'American', but it is very sad when you look around Leicester Square, Soho, Oxford Circus and Trafalgar and see 'American' trash everywhere, more Gap, Burger King and McDonald's ads than pub signs, internet ads and trash on the side... It will be very sad to lose London to American consumerism. Paris is doing the right thing by keeping the city truly French, and truly European. I was glad, to my surprise, to return back 'home' to Paris that weekend.
Edward Limon, USA

Paris beats London anytime!

A Parks, UK
M. Conomos is sadly mistaken when he says that French make no effort to learn languages. I lived in France for a long time and now live in England and I can assure you that French are much better with foreign languages than the English! The English always expect you to speak English, anywhere. Now having visited both London and Paris more than 10 times, Paris beats London anytime!
A Parks, UK

I agree with Pascal that the Paris Transport system is better, but London is far bigger and deals with greater passenger numbers especially during rush hour. The French throw money at transport which is why income tax is higher and why Latetitia Casta has been living and working in London for three years.

I've spent two years in each city and wished there was a mixture of both: London's surroundings (Kent, Thames Valley etc), the quality of food you get even in the tiniest place in Paris, the open-mindedness of London, the Public Transport system of Paris (provided there's no grève...), the bookshops of London and a certain French attitude to work & Life... But I guess a Hybrid would be boring, so let's put up with the ups and downs of both places...and besides, are they pretending to compete at all?
Birgit Kleymann, Finland

Paris is beautiful, but London, on the other hand, has something or everyone and has the distinct advantage of being in an English speaking nation.
Mark M. Newdick, USA/UK

Why bother to choose between one huge great monstrous city and another. I'd rather be in the countryside any day. I can see the sky, hear myself think!
Rob, UK

Inner Paris is really quite beautiful. The buildings and grand avenues are far superior to cramped, stinky London.

BJ Vandenberg, Australia
Inner Paris is really quite beautiful. The buildings and grand avenues are far superior to cramped, stinky London. While using the metro in Paris, several Parisians approached me and gave me directions. That didn't happen in London but I must add that Londoners were always friendly when I asked them for directions.
BJ Vandenberg, Australia

I don't care what Oscar said. When I think of my times in Paris I shall like to go there when I die even if I've been bad.
Michael Bagley, South Africa

Uh, choose A or B, well me being a Texan I choose C for Copenhagen! As for as people saying the residents of these two great cities are rude I don't believe it. They act as any other big city residents. Though I do prefer being brushed off in French!
Eddie, USA

I was born in London, and have grown up in Australia, I have visited London 5 times and Paris 4 times. There is no comparison in my mind, Paris is the greatest city in the world bar none. It was not worry me if I never go back to London again, but it would break my heart if I thought that I would never see Paris again.
Kim Ricketts, AUSTRALIA

I have lived in both London and in Paris, right now I live in Montreal which is a beautiful blend of London and Paris and my favourite city in the world. But frankly speaking, London beats Paris hands down any day, and not just because it is more cosmopolitan, Londoners as a people are just plain nicer and friendlier than Parisians.
Darren, Canada

I prefer London, but England, like the rest of Western Europe has become so Americanised, one might as well be in New York.
Dana, USA (Chicago)

Paris and London are both world-class cities but each is bested by the true capital of the World - New York

Alex Smith-Ryland, Australia
Paris and London are both world-class cities but each is bested by the true capital of the World - New York. I love London and Paris but the Big Apple has an energy just about anyone who has been there can attest that is unmatched.
Alex Smith-Ryland, Australia

I visited both and I have very mixed impressions. Paris is pretty, yet I think French people could be nicer when it comes to foreigners. London is a very stylish and culturally advance city. As nice as both of these cities are, I think they are very overrated. Rome, Prague, Yerevan are much more interesting.
Zoya T., Russia

Paris is far better than London. It has such style and youthfulness, whereas London seems like a faded old man. In Paris the food is not overpriced and is wonderful. In London I have paid nearly four pounds for a soggy tuna sandwich on pre-sliced white bread. Whereas in Paris I can buy a wonderful large fresh baguette for approx. two pounds fifty. The people in all major cities are not particularly friendly and I would say that in this respect that London and Paris are equal.
Barbara Whitford, Canada

Both are nice for a while. Each has it's cultural and architectural merits. London has the oldest underground system in the world, but Paris has a much better system. It looks as though the French came to London and thought, "this is a good idea, but we can improve on this". And did!
Phil W, UK

Paris doesn't need any trophy... Comparing Paris to London is like comparing a 500SL to a Skoda....
Didier Deshamps, Quebec

No contest. Paris wins by a mile. It's cleaner, friendlier and the range of places to eat is unbeatable. What more do you want?
Paul Clark, English living in Paris

Give me the relative politeness and friendliness of London any day!

M. Conomos, Australia
Never mind Paris, forget France as a nation! I went to France to visit the sites where several members of my family died in 2 wars. I was not overbearing or obnoxious, but was astonished at the rudeness of most French concerning my limited ability with their language. I have since worked elsewhere in Europe, and notice that the French make no effort to learn German, Russian or Danish when they visit those countries! Give me the relative politeness and friendliness of London any day!
M. Conomos, Australia

Paris and London are both beautiful, but you Brits have it all over the French.
Reynard USA

Well it really is no contest. Paris is a lovely place but the people are quite dreadful, and that is what sways it. London is far more cosmopolitan with people from every corner of the World. The cuisine is now far better with a far wider choice. Try getting a curry in Paris! The underground is also much safer in London.
Tom, UK

If I were free to choose a town to live in it would have to be Edinburgh.

Pascal Jacquemain, UK
I was born in Paris and spent 20 years + there. I now live in London, after having experienced Edinburgh, Belfast, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Bristol. I love Paris, and I like London. Yes, Paris has a far better transport system than London. Also, Paris is a lot cheaper when it comes to buying a flat (Most Parisians live in flats, and laws governing the ownership of flats are far better that the lease-holding system in Britain). But if I were free to choose a town to live in it would have to be Edinburgh. What I don't like about London, and to a lesser extent about Paris, is that unless I win the lottery, I will not be able to find a property near to my job. And this means hours and hours lost every week in the public transports.
Pascal Jacquemain, UK

Paris is for yuppies and artists and French. London is for human beings. London has a face and feelings. It has a universal cultural atmosphere, not a village atmosphere of Paris. For a person who has seen and experienced it all there is only one choice when these two cities are compared. That choice is London with its lovely smelling underground!
Mikko Toivonen Finland

26 years in Paris and it never palls. London may be buzzing and Britannia cool but I am sure I live better on less here than over there. £2 for a tasteless cappuccino at Waterloo when you get off Eurostar is just the beginning.
Oliver Smith, France

I think both London and Paris are pretty similar - overpriced, overhyped and not particularly architecturally pleasing!! Give me Roma any day!
Rob, UK

London, indeed the UK, is simply a second rate version of the United States.

Petar Peric, Holland
Paris is far superior to London in every way. It will always remain the European Mecca of culture, cuisine and music. London, indeed the UK, is simply a second rate version of the United States. Paris is truly European.
Petar Peric, Holland (formerly Yugoslavia)

I must agree with my compatriot Mr Wilde who believed that when "the good die they go to Paris".
Fiona Dermody, France

I think that you are all being really silly, it doesn't matter which is better they are both nice places to live in and visit.
Emma Parame, England

There are hundreds of cities that surpass both London and Paris and I would rather live in one of those.

Jim, England
Neither. Both places are dirty, crowded, overly expensive and the vast majority of people who live there are rude and arrogant. Assuming an air of superiority because they mistakenly believe they live in the best city in the world.
There are hundreds of cities that surpass both London and Paris and I would rather live in one of those.
Jim, England

One city is no better than the other. It just depends on where you feel comfortable.

Derek Payne, Gibraltar/Barcelona/London
An interesting subject! Does it really matter? It is surely just how one feels at a particular time in life. I was born in Gibraltar, lived in London and have lived in Barcelona for the past 7 years. I am now moving slowly back to London to enjoy the good things of the city and endure the bad. After 7 years I can assure you there are things I must endure here in Barcelona as well. It must be the same with Paris - a wonderfully beautiful city but is it habitable? To me not. London is more welcoming. However it is just personal choice and depends on your character. One city is no better than the other. It just depends on where you feel comfortable.
Derek Payne, Gibraltar/Barcelona/London

I prefer London. Londoners were more hospitable, courteous and friendly. This coming from a Black American is quite a compliment. Paris was cold and seemed corrupt...worse than NYC.
Felicia Hoffman, USA

I've been in both cities and Paris is far, far better than London. But a city which is even better than Paris is Prague.
Zika Patika, Canada

It's no Contest, I'd vote for London! Paris is nice, but the residents of Paris tend to be too arrogant for their own good. Miss Casta has every right to live where she chooses without childish pressure from her home government! And you Londoners, you shouldn't complain about your rail system, try ours (what little we have of one)!
Stephen Kenney, (California) USA

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

03 Apr 00 | Europe
France galled by model move
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to other European stories