Nine Comparisons Between Paris and Los Angeles

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I just got back from my first-ever trip to Paris. So why not use this opportunity to postpone my better lists for later, and waste your time with these comparisons between the City of Lights and my own home base, the City of Angels? Who knows - maybe this list will even help you plan your next vacation.

  1. City layout. Paris is a centuries-old city that lives and breathes alongside the legendary river Seine. Its medieval boundaries remain in spirit. It is divided into 20 numbered arrondisements, little chunks of urban coziness, the numbers spiraling outward from the center of town. Neat. Los Angeles is a cluster of small cities in a sea of strip-mall suburbia. No heart to the city at all. Winner: Paris.
  2. Public transportation. Paris has its Metro subway system, which runs about everywhere. They certainly didn't scrimp on the stations: usually you travel less than a minute between them. However, there are always strikes across the various lines, which is hugely annoying. I have no opinions on its bus system. LA has a cute little subway system that is brand new and used by nobody. Its buses are huge, smelly, and slow - driving behind them is like walking behind a fat family at the mall. Winner: Paris.
  3. Restaurants. Now this is tricky subject matter, as Paris has been renowned as the gastronomic capital of the world longer than Los Angeles has even been around. But as I remain indifferent about French food, I find Paris a little out-of-date when it comes to contemporary world and fusion cuisine. As for LA? Hey man, if you're enjoying sushi, burritos, Szechuan food, barbecue chicken pizza, or pad thai this week, you have LA to thank for popularizing it. Tons of ethnic restaurants in this town serve fresh, delicious meals at the lowest prices of any first-world nation. And nobody is allowed to smoke inside restaurants here! Nobody! Winner: Los Angeles.
  4. Dog poo. Paris and LA seem to have the most dogs per capita of any major Western city. The Parisians love their tiny little poodles, whereas Angelenos go mostly for larger dogs. The difference? Nobody cleans up their dog's doo-doo in Paris, leaving it all over for you to step in. Meanwhile, neat-freak LA residents have bullied local dog owners into carrying a little plastic bag with them whenever walking Fido, so others don't have to deal with Fido's mess. Winner: Los Angeles.
  5. Culture and entertainment. Anybody who lives in LA will tell you that its reputation as a cultural wasteland is a myth. It's one of the world's major centers for art, music, theatre, dance, and film. But let's face it: Paris rules. 3 opera houses, more cinemas than anywhere else on earth, nightly classical music concerts in the kajillion cathedrals around town, circuses, tons of live theatre, museums dedicated to everything you can imagine... LA is the place to be when it comes to rock concerts, but otherwise: Winner: Paris.
  6. Night life. I'm not much of a night owl, so this isn't a huge issue for me. But I know plenty of folks who will shoot themselves if they can't spend their Friday nights in a cramped, noisy, trendy nightclub. I must report that both LA and Paris are notorious dead zones for club-hoppers. There are places to go, sure, but hardly a "scene". Winner: tie.
  7. Weather. Who can top the 250 days of sunshine Los Angeles sees each year? Not to mention our consistently mild climate? Certainly not moody Paris. Winner: Los Angeles.
  8. People. Parisians are snobs, Angelenos are flakes. People in LA are pretty friendly, and even if they don't mean it when they smile and say hello, who cares? Somebody smiled at you today and said hello. Parisians aren't very good at surface friendliness, but so many are so charming to watch and listen to. It's not true at all that they are rude, nasty people. I met some delightful Parisians. It's a close race, but... Winner: Paris.
  9. Happiness factor. Tough call! In Paris you have people kissing each other all over the place. Same with LA. As far as I'm concerned, though, the constant strikes all over Paris (even the Louvre was on strike during my visit), the cigarette smoke, the variable weather, and the dog poo are serious black marks. LA has smog and traffic and rampant homelessness, but from my 9 years here I think much of it is overstated (except the homelessness, which is awful). Earthquakes? One serious shaker every 25 years isn't much to complain about. And there's all that sunshine. Ultimately I have to give this one to my adopted hometown. Winner: Los Angeles.