Saturday, October 29, 2011

Rome vs. Paris

Over the past two weeks Sadie and I have made another two incredible trips.  First to Paris, then another return trip to bella Roma.  France and Italy have a long history of battling each other.  Whether it be on the soccer field, in culinary supremacy, or fashion design they always seem to be at each other for the title of worlds greatest in something.  After spending some time in the two capital cities, we wanted to give a rundown on how they stack up against each other in some random catagories...

This edition will be known as Italy(Rome) vs. France(Paris)

Options for Alternative Cuisine: This is a big one for us.  As much as we both love Italian food, having pizza and pasta everyday gets a little monotonous after a while.  Not to mention, eating all those carbs doesn’t help us squeeze into those leotards we have to wear each week for our performances.  We’ve found a couple spots in Rome that are incredible.  Handmade pasta gems that are so good it’s almost unfair to the inferior surrounding restaurants.  There are definitely these hidden secrets around Rome, but in every case they are serving Italian food.  Fantastic if you are vacationing in Italy, but not so much if you are used to NYC and it’s endless unique culinary specialties.  In fact, we needed some tastes from home so much that when we came back to Italy in Sept, most of our luggage weight was do to cans of refried beans, taco shells, and other necessities for making Mexican food.  We had to have it!!
Paris is filled with ethnic cuisine.  Japanese, Thai, falafels, Indian...whatever you’re in the mood for, you have at your disposal.  We found an organic vegetarian French/Japanese lunch spot called Bob’s Kitchen that was amazing.  Had incredible falafels another day.  Ate at a local French bistro another night.  Each meal was something different, and that can sometimes be lacking in Rome.  Paris definitely has the edge in this category.
Coffee/Croissants: Both Paris and Rome take coffee and croissants very seriously.  It is their daily breakfast and they are both proud of what they bring to the table.  Generally they say the croissants are better in Paris and the coffee better in Rome.  I’m not a big coffee drinker, but Sadie would tend to agree with that statement.
Also, Italy doesn’t allow Starbucks in the country, which keeps coffee shops local and unique.  Definitely nice not seeing a Starbucks every 50 feet.  Instead of having Starbucks on every corner Rome has a gelateria.  Much better use of space! 
In the end, you can’t go wrong with either.
Public Transportation: Not really a contest in this one.  Paris, one of the best.  Rome, not so much.  The subway system in Paris is extensive and makes perfect sense, even if you’ve never used it before.  The city is vast, but all the sights are easily accessible with the metro, buses, trams, etc.  They also have a fantastic bike sharing system that is great for tourists.
Rome’s public transportation consists of 2 metro lines, 8 or 9 buses, and a Vespa.  The one thing you learn very quickly about Rome is that to manage the city, you need a considerable amount of patience.  In Rome’s defense, it is very difficult to build anything new there because every time they start a new project, they find a spoon or something from antiquity, it becomes an archeological site and the project plans are scraped.  Just one of the prices you pay for living in a city that has layers upon layers of past civilizations.
Inside Notre Dame

Danger Factor:   In all the time we’ve spent in Rome, we’ve never felt any kind of danger or sketchy situation no matter where we’ve been.  The only thing to worry about in Rome is being bombarded with the gypsy salesman.  Endlessly forcing their crappy toys on anyone who remotely makes eye contact with them.  It amazes me that these same guys are out on the streets everyday selling bubble guns and jelly blob toys.  Who are buying these trinkets so much that it actually makes it worth their time to go back and sell more?!  I’ll never understand it.
Paris however, felt a little different.  The area around our hotel gave off that vibe of “you shouldn’t hang out in this area for too long unless you want to be mugged” so it gave Sadie and me a chance to work on our speed walking skills every night going from the metro to our hotel.  We also had a some incidences on trains where we felt like Kristofferson was on the verge of being kidnapped by some hoodlums!  Who is Kristofferon you ask?  It is the name Sadie has given to her beloved IPad of course.  (Named after one of her favorite movie characters from the classic film “Fantastic Mr. Fox”).  Not quite as scary now that you are aware of it being an electrical device and not a person, but we still feared for his safety.  
Museums: Paris has some of the most beautiful and impressive art collections in the world spread through it’s museums.  The Louve, Pompidou, Musee d’ goes on and on.  We toured as much as we could in three days and barely scratched the surface to what’s to see.  Not many cities can compete with what Paris has on display.  


Rome, however, is a museum in itself.  The whole city.  Yes, it has great collections in Villa Borghese, the Vatican, Scuderie, but Rome’s treasures are out in the open for everyone to see at any time of day.  One of the best ways to see Rome is late at night when everyone else is sleeping.  Walk the streets that have not changed much in centuries (some cases millennia) and you will feel like you have an all-access personal pass to the best museum you will ever see.  In my opinion, it’s difficult to challenge Rome when it comes to art and history.  So much to see and it’s accessibility is what makes it special.
Both Rome and Paris are magical cities.  They have so much to offer, but in very different ways.  At some point, get to both cities and see for yourself!


  1. rome without a doubt is better for me. paris is just another spread out big city. like something you'd find in america. rome on the otherhand.... it's like you're stepping into another world... around each corner there is an unexpected piazza, a statue by bernini, a leonardo.... an ancient roman ruin... paris is like a mix of visiting DC and LA. spread out, lots of monuments, very international as far as middle eastern food. but nothing really strikes me as something i couldn't find somewhere else. everything from the GAP, to sephora.... the "beautiful" architecture is a mere copy someone in italy invented sometime between antiquity and the renaissance. i would say rome in a heartbeat.

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