Paris v London

As you may or may not know, I live and work the working week in the French capital Paris.

I left London as a workplace in 2000 thinking it was a horrible, cold, unfriendly and dirty place to survive. That was then.

On a whim and on the back of a business trip to London in January, I whisked the family off to London for a short stay last week. Well what a change. So much so that I’m thinking of chucking in Paris and moving back to London.

In comparison with Paris the streets are clean, the people are friendly, racism and sexism are all but dead (not the case in Paris), the transport system is excellent, the congestion charge has reduced pollution…and the food. Now believe me I have always been a champion of French cuisine, but what I’m seeing in Paris now is what I call the pub grub syndrome that was rife in Britain about ten years ago. You probably recall that just about every pub in the land had the same menu regurgitated from bought in frozen meals. The same is happening in Paris. I work close to the Champs Élysées and I’m finding that the lunchtime brasseries all have the same menus and the food is generally pre prepared off site ie ready meals. The biggest culprits being confit de canard and aligot d’Auvergne. Both great dishes in their own right and when cooked (not simply heated up). Back to London every meal we had was very obviously prepared using fresh, raw ingredients. What a pleasant change.

Apart from all of the above in 48 hours we managed to pack in Jamie’s Italian in Greenwich, Whitehall, Trafalgar Square, Horseguards, Changing of the guard at Buck house, Westminster Abbey (including mass), Covent Garden, Oxford Street, the Royal Obsevatory, Tower of London and the Crown Jewels and the London eye.

Then a quick Ryanair back to Limoges.

Add in the cost of living, property and food is more expensive in Paris and the level of taxation, well I’m seriously thinking of plumbing for London in the very near future.

What a makeover in a relatively short period of time.

I know exactly how you feel. I have just got back from a long weekend in London and now would really like to live there if I could find work, not easy anywhere I suppose. Perhaps it is just the holiday feeling.

Not that I am a customer but most Quick "Hamburger" joints in France are Halal only. The entirety of chicken production at a factory in our next village in Brittany (150000 chickens a week I kid you not) is Halal. I usually insist on non Halal produce.

I am assured by those in the know that that great source of Rugby fans, aka The Muslem Brotherhood (et al), have ensured that no such non-Halal item can be on sale at either Stadt de France or Twickenham.


I too did the learning to drive bit there, but somewhat in advance of your good self - 'Advanced Chariot Driving' I think the test was about, can't remember now. At that time yonks afore ye olde M4 was even a glint in Marples eye, I recall that Slough held some sort of record for the greatest number of traffic lights in a 3-mile stretch of road in the world - or something similar (just the sort of record the place would 'enjoy') - 27 if I remember correctly;

It was the pits during and after the War, and with the wondrous MP Fenner Brockway, he took it to the lowest possible level - and started digging!

My second job was in a Nissen hut located under the gasholder at ICI in Wexham Road, which I held for 5 lousy years, and somewhat tainted my view I fear. What a hole!!

I'm assuming they weren't Halal pizzas...

They are always hanging around there looking hard. I used to live on Clignancourt, upmarket there I hear you say. One evening as I was going home with my wife and two boys we heard the sirens. We were just up from the police station. So I said as a joke: "Ah they must have picked up the order from McDo and they are in a hurry to get back and eat it."

My mrs who is also a fonctionnaire went off on a rant about how I shouldn't say things like that in front of the boys and how it's disrespectful and how would the boys ever learn right from wrong.

Well the squad car with sirens and lights, pulled to a halt and the very good fonctionnaires, 4 of them, got out with their arms laden with pizza boxes.

First time I've ever seen my Mrs speechless.

Haha excellent!! Learnt to drive in Slough in the winter of 1993 and concur that it is similar to an armpit in many ways. There are also a lot of mini roundabouts and nasty box junctions...

I have actually heard an American ask how to get to Sluff - I felt like intervening and saying that once he felt he had a 'wind sore' just keep going. Never been myself.

David Mapletoft (to distinguish from our other David M only). I agree with you totally. Although spending most of my yoof in and around London, I also did a total of 20 years living in Oz - Melbourne based mainly although one serious year's stint on the Ridge in Sydney. Would have stayed longer if I could have found a job at the time, but that's life!

My wife's twin sister has just sold her flat in Paris (Pantin actually one stop on the 'wrong' side of the Peripherique but still on the Metro), and has now joined us in the countryside with no regrets -so far.

I think there is a certain age when much as you enjoy the galleries, theatres, entertainments etc., city livng just gets too hard, and let's be honest too threatening on occasions, Paris, London wherever,- but having a choice between London or Paris, I'm afraid Paris is a different class overall.

Aaaaaaaaggggghhhhh! Don't mention SLOUGH!!!!!!!! The armpit of the world and I was born there! Well-named and the original and continuing Blot on the Landscape!

Ye Gods the thought of even coming within 25kms of the place makes me want to vomit!

(You may gather I have a slight aversion to the place?)

Not bad, we were at 39 rue Doudeauville.. The landlady is a complete maniac alcoholic who spent all day shouting the the place was full of foreigners!! As for our friends the cockroaches.. I did a final blast with extra strong cockroach spray of all our belongings before we left (they were inside the TV, bbox, all plug sockets, toaster, kettle..). Drove everything down here to Bordeaux and about a month went by before they started hatching again. Two months later and the entire flat was crawling and even the neighbours started getting them. Got hold of some magic roach gel from the owner of an English pub and carried on with the spray, but no joy. In the end after they started running up the walls, appearing inside our fridge and getting into the bedroom the wife lost it and called out a professional. The bloke put gel literally ALL OVER OUR FLAT, charged us €60 and not a peep since!!!

Are the police still putting up barracades to hold back the crowds in Chateau Rouge metro..?

David, I've set a meetup for the 23rd May in the Auld Alliance if you are interested. More details here.

Ha - I'm in the 18th on the corner of Deaudouville and Stephenson. The place was infested with cockroaches when I bought it so I set one of them destroy everything bombs off and left the place for the weekend. Counted over a hundred of the bugs when I got back after the weekend. You'll know the stink that comes from the butchers on rue du Poulet quite well then and the joys of skidding on the grease that comes out of there just before the fruit and veg stand when you get out at Chateau Rouge.

Yeah it's tricky to generalise about both I know.. We lived in Barbes in the 18eme for a year in a 35m2 and my wife has never had such strong allergic reations - maybe the air quality, maybe the old floorboards, maybe the cockroaches everywhere.. In London though we were on the Heathrow flight path in Clapham and you get woken up EVERY SINGLE DAY at 5am by planes.. In short, get out of the big smoke if bothered by noise, pollution or crowds. Then again venturing outside leaves you at risk of small minded townie/country rednecks!!! (no offence meant Bordeaux, we love you really...)

Wow! Ive just had the exact opposite experience. London: I walked around for 4 days; at the end of each day I felt I needed a shower.

Here in Paris I cycle every day and can breathe easy, and do not feel at all dirty as I did in London. I saw much more traffic in London than here in Paris.

London streets were jam packed with traffic. In Paris just yesterday, at 4pm, I cycled down a main street with no traffic (just a few cars).

I found the food in London was grossly overpriced and not as good a quality.

The Underground / Tube / Metro in London is so poorly signposted it was very very difficult to navigate (luckily I have had some past experience here and had some idea of where I was going). The Paris Metro system is so easy to find and connect with your destination: simple number system, not a complicated line name system.

I did expect a lot more from London seeing as though the Olympic games were there recently. I saw little change in the place 20 years after my last visit.

I must say Im comparing 4 days in London to six months in Paris. Maybe it would be different if I had stayed longer.

Im from Sydney, Australia. So neither French nor British (resident)

BUT my experience is Paris wins, hands down :) when it comes to these aspects.

Our local geeks have already floated an idea about us helping them set up an import chain from other parts of Europe because we have the languages. In short, they are considering smuggling in order to stay in business. Strikes me that Hollande has gone well off target with this idea.

David, from a view of a retired architect I fully agree. There is very little left to compare living in the deeps of rual France, but if you are not retired you can go bananas here!! An example I posted here on SFN last night and your opinion about this "vice caché operetta" would be very much appreciated. Norman Clark is bringing with his remarks below the situation for business owners in France very much on the point. And is getter unfortunately getting from worse to bad: A French lawyer, living in Eze but working in Monaco once told me "first we get rid of these from north Africa and when we are finished with them we go to for the rest". Okay, being a lawyer in Monaco makes all clear, but thats the way it is.

I'm too old to start another business but the very idea of doing it in France is quite crazy. Hollande's latest idea is to tax sales of internet devices (on top of VAT etc) and to use the money so raised to help the creative industries. It will take an army of civil servants to administer and anyone with any sense will buy the stuff cheaper outside France. Whilst we are in a recession the creative industries in the UK seem to be doing fine without such taxes. The other idea was to introduce an internet special sales tax which would be applied to all internet purchases to compensate local retail shops missing out sales due to cheaper internet prices. As an expat of only a few years permanent residence in France I also rather object to paying a special tax being applied to pay off the French national debt. At the same time communes in France seem to be engaged in an orgy of spending on street impovements, paving, landscaping etc to the extent that our population 800 village has paid 1000 euros per head (making 3000 for our house) for such work recently. There's super landscaping but precious little commercial activity and the commune itself does little to promote it except that they did buy an empty butcher's shop at large cost, let it to somebody who never paid a centime in rent, and made off after a few months leaving it empty. In short commercial sense seems to be lacking.