Madrid or Barcelona? Sydney or Melbourne? Paris or Lyon?
The truth is, there’s no real answer. Or is there? (Editor’s note: There is, and it’s Madrid.)
Emily and Sacha both work at Spotahome. Sacha is from Paris, while Emily has lived in Lyon. Not so much lived, as ‘had to be dragged away kicking and screaming’. You could say they’re both fans of their ‘hometown’. Just a bit. We decided to get them together for a friendly chat. Our mission: to decide once and for all which of these legendary cities is the best.
So jump in. Get reading. See who you agree with.
Paris or Lyon: Culture
Sacha: Paris is obviously the unofficial culture capital of the World. There’s so much here. You can discover something new every day from now until the day you die. Nietzsche once said ‘an artist has no home in Europe except in Paris.’ Paris is a city of ideas. Ideas, and good clothes: I mean, look at you…
Emily: Only a Parisian would know a famous quote about his own city. Yes, Paris is a city like no other, but did you know that cinema was born in Lyon? It was invented by the Lumière Brothers in 1895. There’s an [annual film festival](http://www.festival-lumiere.org/en/> to prove it. Oh, and we also have museums and literature. Tell me something you have, that we don’t?
Sacha: The Catacombs, a 320 km burial site. It runs under the whole of Paris. That certainly doesn’t exist in Lyon.
Emily: You can find the same thing in Rome. Anyway, Lyon has the traboules, secret passageways that run between buildings. These don’t exist anywhere else in the World.
Who wins? Lyon won the Europe’s 2016 leading city break destination award. But the thing is, it’s 5 times smaller than Paris. Naturally the prize belongs to the capital. (Editor’s note: Why does 5 times bigger mean better? By that logic, Tokyo would be better off increasing its hefty 37,833,000 population to 189,165,000. Ouch.)
Paris or Lyon: Art
SachaThe Louvre is the largest museum in the World. The Pompidou Centre is the biggest modern-art museum in Europe. The Mona Lisa is the most famous painting on the planet. Why are we even having this discussion?
Emily: Because Lyon has the best street art. CitéCréationhas decorated many large walls in Lyon and none in Paris. Go to the Mur des Canuts. It’s the largest mural in Europe. In fact, Lyon is the capital of trompe-l’oeil (look the word up in Google). There’s loads of classical art too. We win.
Who wins? For its size, Lyon is doing well. But Paris is the queen of innovative art. It’s always been one step ahead. It has to be Paris. (Editor’s note: But if art is life and life is art, surely Lyon wins for taking it to street level?)
Paris or Lyon: Location
Emily: Paris took the prize for culture and art, but Lyon wins for nature.Geographically, it’s in the centre of Europe. It’s near Switzerland, Italy, and Spain. From Lyon you can be in the Mediterranean, the mountains, or on the ski slopes in less than two hours. It takes you two hours just go get out of Paris! (Editor’s note: it took me six).
Sacha: Well, Paris is near England, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany. The whole of France is centred around Paris. To catch a train, you have to go into Paris to change almost every time.
Who wins? Both cities have the Eurostar, but Lyon beats Paris for its location and its natural surroundings.
Paris or Lyon: Food
Emily: It’s a fact: Lyon is the culinary capital of France. Maybe even of the World. Why? Because of its location (again). Food here is influenced by the surrounding regions. And it’s also home to Paul Bocuse, the ‘Pope of French cuisine.’ So there.
Sacha: Yes, but it’s famous for very heavy, meaty food. French ‘terroir’ cuisine. Personally, I prefer the restaurants in Paris – you can find food from every corner of the globe. And some of the world’s highest ranked chefs have restaurants here. Should we talk about wine? Paris has its own actual vineyard in the city centre. It’s called Clos Montmartre.
Emily: Yes, but have you read the reviews? With Beaujolais, the Rhône Valley, and Burgundy around the corner, there’s no competition. Lyon has the best variety of wine, and at such a cheap price.
Final verdict: Lyon is a clear winner for its wine and its cuisine. Paris has amazing food, but nothing is more delicious than Lyon. Anyway, you can find a baguette with blue cheese in both cities, that’s all that matters.
Paris or Lyon: Nightlife
Emily: Lyon has everything you need and more. It’s medium sized, so nights out are easy to organise. Vieux Lyon is the best place for Irish pubs. The Croix-Rousse is for bohemian bars and live music; Hôtel de Ville is the go-to area for gay bars; and Confluence is the best place for techno, electro, and house. It’s a mini, manageable version of Paris.
Sacha: I don’t know where to start. Everyone can find something they like in Paris. Each neighbourhood has its own special vibe. République/Belleville is for trendy grungy people. Les Champs Élysées is for posh crowds. The Latin Quarter is for students. The northern arrondissements are best for electro music. And the Marais is for those who like cross-dressing.
If none of that sounds good to you, just buy a bottle of wine and some cheese, and go to the banks of the Seine. It’s impossible not to enjoy yourself there. (Editor’s note: I’m in. A night out in Paris sounds like a cross between Dazed and Confused and The Hangover.)
Who wins? Paris
Paris or Lyon: Price
Sacha: Yes, Paris is one of the most expensive cities in the world. But jobs pay quite well. You can even get paid €25 euros an hour for giving English classes to kids. Can you put a price tag on living in the best place on the planet?
Emily: Don’t speak too soon. That title is still up for grabs. Quality of life is better in Lyon. Apartments are bigger and more affordable. A litre of beer is €0.5 cheaper.
Sacha: Yes, but travelling from Lyon is much more expensive than from Paris. The airport is really expensive. You can get there, but you can’t get out again!
Emily: Just fly from Geneva. You can get a BlaBlaCar there – it’s really cheap.
Who wins? Okay, Lyon is better in terms of cost of living. But if you go to Paris, know that there are cheap places to eat and drink: you just need to find a local expert to show you the good stuff.
Paris or Lyon: Romance
Sacha: Paris is the City of Love. Apparently, it’s home to two of the world’s cheesiest places to propose.
Emily: And one of them is Disneyland Paris…
Sacha: You can even pay for a ‘Papparazi Proposal’ and catch your magic moment on camera.
Emily: And what if they say ‘no’? According to surveys, Paris is actually the city of singletons, infidelity and divorce. How romantic.
Sacha: City of love does not mean city of eternal love, Parisians know how to enjoy life.
Who wins? OK then, probably Paris. (Editor’s note: They’re a happy-go-naughty lot, those Parisians)
And the winner is?
Somewhat predictably, we decided that both cities were winners.
Paris is Paris. There is almost no competition. It’s one of the most exciting cities in the world. You have to live there at least once in your life. It you have the money and the motivation, do it while you’re young and full of energy.
If this is your first time moving to France, pick Lyon. With a more friendly and authentic vibe, you’ll feel at home far quicker than in Paris. It also has a fabulous student and Erasmus community that you won’t find in bigger cities.
Wherever you live, you’ll love it. Paris and Lyon are just 2 hours apart anyway.
(Editor’s note: That’s a cop out. I already told you that Madrid is the best.)
No Spotahome employees were hurt in the writing of this article.