Unsurprisingly, we got a few raised eyebrows when we mentioned we were visiting Barcelona as part of our last trip. Clearly, Barcelona is not in France and everyone knows how desperate I am to spend as much time as I possibly can in France.
As a result, since returning home, “How did you go in Barcelona?” has been the quiet question on lips of just about everyone. You get the sense that they almost scared of my response.
Well, It turns out that I found Barcelona captivating. Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t immediately besotted like I was with Paris (or Lyon for that matter), but I certainly enjoyed Barcelona more than any other non-French, European city we’ve visited so far.
This is probably considered a good response by whoever I am talking to. So, once they’ve established that I didn’t completely hate Barcelona, “How did it compare to Paris?” is the next question that’s been regularly heading my way.
Obviously, that’s not the easiest question to answer, particularly given the sheer diversity of the two cities and the fact that I am a dedicated francophile. However, today I thought I’d have a go at comparing Barcelona and Paris…
- The first big similarity I noticed was the architecture. While Barcelona is definitely the more eclectic of the two, featuring everything from Roman walls to over-the-top modernista architecture, a substantial number of Barcelona’s buildings have a classic Parisian feel, which comes from pale stone and dark, wrought iron.
- The first big difference I noticed was the amount of skin on display in Barcelona. It was hot in both cities while we were visiting. However, despite the similar levels of warmth, the dress codes were vastly different in both cities. Unlike the chic dresses, skirts and tops we saw in Paris, in Barcelona it was all short (short!) shorts, bikini tops and strapless dresses. Flat, strappy sandals were popular in both cities.
- Both cities have a métro system that makes it easy to get around. Having said that, I think the Paris Métro is a little better because it has more lines and more stops.
- It pains me to write it, but I think I enjoyed the food more in Barcelona. Restaurants and tapas bars right across the city are doing some amazing things with seafood, and I loved every bite. (However, the Spanish wines can’t hold a candle to the French ones – particularly the rosé.)
- Although it was high season when we visited both cities, Paris didn’t feel as packed with tourists as Barcelona did. This surprised me a little, given how popular Paris is in high season. Perhaps Paris’ broad boulevards just deal with the crowds better than some of Barcelona’s winding alleys.
- Both cities have heaps to keep visitors entertained, although I think we covered everything we’d want to see in Barcelona in the six days we were there. We still have a long to-do list for Paris, despite having visited the city seven times.
Barcelona has a really relaxed, happy vibe and I could definitely visit again. But I’m guessing I will always prefer the complex sophistication and refinement of Paris. Paris just has a magic that continually calls me back.
But enough from me – you know I am always keen to hear from you. Have you been to Paris or Barcelona or both? How would you compare these two fabulous cities? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
And until next time – au revoir.