London and Paris. Comparisons and rivalries date way before the Dickens novel and Napoleon and Joan of Arc. The differences seem to be to be far too vast to even put these two cities in the same sentence.
Paris- luxury fashion center of the world, French food, crepes, flowers, romance, violins, berets, baguettes, lapdogs, Louis Vuitton, wine, monuments.
London- tea, royal family, rain, pubs, fish & chips, beer, red tour buses, offbeat underground music scene, Buburry, Cockney accents, the Union Jack, Peter Pan.
La Tour Eiffel vs. Buckingham Palace. Les Champs-Elyees vs. Oxford Street. Sarkozy vs. Queen Elizabeth. Notre Dame vs. Westminster Abbey. French poodles vs Yorkshire terriers. Montmartre vs. Notting Hill. The Metro vs. the Tube. Gilles Marini vs. David Beckham.
There is simply no comparison between the two iconic cities- both steeped in history, and both abounding with flagrant disdain for the other.
On a recent trip to London, though, I discovered just how much of a difference a Chunnel ride makes. In two hours you leave the breathtaking city views of Paris for the dark, tiny winding avenues of London. You leave the sophisticated French women wrapped in a scarf, carrying a Hermes purse in one hand and a teacup Maltese puppy in the other for young, strung-out looking twenty-somethings dressed in neon tights that barely conceal their beer bellies.
While it was nice to hear a bit of English spoken for a change, my experience in London (completely disregarding my fabulous orgasmic Harrods pheonomenon) only made me more appreciative of what I have in Paris. The French language, Metro system, Euro currency, late meal times, and French living might all be drastically different from what I had back at home in the States, but it’s come to be what I know. And I have definitely learned to vote for the devil I know to the devil I didn’t know, and braving the London tube system was certainly a new devil.
Paris and London each have something great to offer, and I wonder if one would be the same city they are without the other. But when it comes to studying and living in a city for four months, Paris je t’aime.