One of the guards at the Louvre inquired politely about the itinerary for our trip, and we told him: London, Paris, Amsterdam. “Ah,” he said, “please tell me that you like Paris better than London.” We laughed.
It’s an interesting debate, weighing the merits of two of the world’s great cities.
Kristy prefers London. She cites the lack of graffiti, the trash-free streets, the well-dressed people. Some of this might be related to the fact that we stayed in the business district, not the Bohemian quarter, but even under the Eiffel Tower the grass is littered with beer bottle caps and cigarette butts. You wouldn’t see that outside of Buckingham Palace. London is inviting.
Personally, I prefer Paris, rough edges and all. London is clean and orderly, maybe too much so. It feels like it’s On Display, as if you shouldn’t touch it. It’s a lovely city, but Paris… Paris is passionate. The clutter and graffiti and the cigarette smoke feel less like urban decay and more like the side effects of drinking too much wine on a warm summer evening and throwing caution out the window. This is a place where your inhibitions are lower, where dinners are longer, where the metros have musicians playing “Let It Go” on accordions. It’s more feral than London, more bizarre. It’s not a surprise that the great American novelists of the 20th century–Ernest Hemingway, Henry Miller, James Baldwin, F. Scott Fitzgerald–all spent significant time here. Every corner brings some new sensation, a sight or smell or sound that changes your perception of the city, of life.
Do we have to come back?