London vs. Paris: Which Has Better Food?
For generations, the English and the French have argued over who's best. The best rulers, the best fashion, the best football team...all have been subject to heated debate.
The problem goes back centuries — the Normans invading England didn't help — with constant battles for control (of the New World, in particular).
And along the way, one question in particular has dominated the conversation: Which place has the better food?
We decided to look at the statistics to settle this debate once and for all, comparing London and Paris' food scenes to declare a definitive winner.
Which City Has the Most Restaurants?
The first question we're asking is the most basic one: Which city has the largest number of restaurants? For the answer to that, we turned to the World Cities Culture Forum.
London: The UK capital has an impressive number of dining establishments: 18,110. You'd think this would be hard to beat.
Paris: In the French capital, though, the number of restaurants is truly astonishing. The City of Lights boasts nearly 45,000 places to dine!
Which City Has the Best Restaurants?
Ok, so Paris beats London when it comes to volume. But what about quality?
One of the most-respected gauges of culinary pedigree is the World's 50 Best Restaurants list, annually determined by more than 1,000 experts. What does it have to say about London and Paris?
London: On the Best Restaurants list, you'll find two world-class London establishments, both serving British fare: the Clove Club and Lyle's.
Paris: Twice as many Parisian places made the cut: Arpege, Septime, Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee and Alleno Paris au Pavillon Ledoyen. All, but of course, serve French cuisine.
Which City Has the Most Diverse Culinary Scene?
Having a lot of great restaurants is awesome. But what about offering lots of different types of cuisine? Bott + Co recently reviewed large cities to determine which offer the most national cuisines. The results may surprise you.
London: Craving Italian? How about Thai? What about German, or even Icelandic or Ethiopian? Not to fret — you'll find it all in London, second only to New York when it comes to diverse culinary offerings.
The data shows there are 89 different countries' foods available to diners in Londontown. (Pro tip: The Indian food here is particularly abundant and amazing.)
Paris: Ranking No. 5 out of 15, Paris is no slouch either, offering 65 different types of ethnic cuisine to sample. But it doesn't come close to its competitor.
Which City Has the Best Chefs?
Every year, chefs nominate their colleagues for the highly coveted Best Chef Award. One-hundred finalists from across the globe make the cut.
London: This year, Brett Graham of The Ledbury was the only London chef nominated.
Paris: Meanwhile, four chefs from Parisian restaurants were finalists: Yannick Alleno of Ledoyen; Pascal Barbot of L'Astrance; Eric Frechon of Epicure; and Pierre Gagnaire, of his eponymous restaurant.
Which City Has the Best Celebrity Chefs?
Last year, Thrillist ranked the best celebrity chefs, looking specifically at people who teach us how to cook on television. These chefs, unlike those celebrated in haute cuisine circles, prepare accessible cuisine and boast captivating personalities to go along with their culinary talents.
London: Three A-list celeb chefs hail from the UK capital. The delightful Jamie Oliver hosted "The Naked Chef" and "Oliver's Twist." Nigella Lawson helmed three charming shows between 1999 and 2015. And the famously volatile Gordon Ramsay still hosts TV shows where he pairs cooking with screaming.
Paris: Jacques Pepin is the only true Parisian to have made Thrillist's list. But the top spot went to honorary Frenchwoman Julia Child, who was actually American but studied and authored books about French cooking.
Which City Has the Best Wine?
Wine Spectator annually assesses what really matters: which restaurants are best for enjoying a great glass (or bottle) of wine.
London: In 2019, 14 London restaurants were singled out for their exemplary wine lists. (But perhaps not surprisingly, five of those restaurants serve French cuisine.)
Paris: Nineteen restaurants received awards this year.
Which City Has the Best Beer?
Looking at everything from number of craft-beer bars and microbreweries, to prices for pints, to (yes) hipster compatibility, Scanmovers recently determined which cities are tops when it comes to finding a great ice-cold brew.
London: Considering the Brits are famous for grabbing a pint, it should come as no surprise that London was found to be one of the top five best cities for beer.
Paris: On the same survey, Paris reached a relatively lowly No. 62.
Which City Has the Oldest Restaurant?
Which city has been serving up its national cuisine the longest? Looking at the oldest continuously operating restaurants, there is a difference of more than two centuries.
London: Established in 1742, Wiltons, known for its oysters and seafood, is the oldest in town.
Paris: La Tour d'Argent has been serving classic French cuisine since 1582. And it has a Michelin star to boot.
Which City Has the Best Traditional Fare?
The first foods that come to mind when you think of Britain and France are quite different...and quite different in quality, too.
London: The most popular traditional fare is fish and chips or bangers and mash. These are hearty dishes and, in their way, satisfying. But they're also known for being a bit bland.
Paris: The City of Lights is known for many traditional dishes, including coq au vin, soufflé, escargot and foie gras. These can all be something of an acquired taste. But they're definitely more complex and interesting than fried fish and fries.
Which City Has the Most Affordable Dining?
Deutsche Bank compared 50 world cities as part of its annual "Mapping the World's Prices" guide, which also looked at the cost to grab a bite.
London: An average pub meal in this English city will cost you $48.80.
Paris: An average bar meal in this French city will cost you a whopping $56.
Which City Has the Most Michelin Stars?
When it comes to fine dining in particular, the gold standard is the Michelin Guide, which bestows stars to a very select handful of dining establishments. Anonymous inspectors assess the quality of the food, the presentation of the dishes and the mastery of culinary techniques when determining which restaurants are the finest on Earth.
London: In 2019, Michelin awarded stars to 67 restaurants in London. A very good number!
Paris: But over in Paris, 75 restaurants received Michelin-star ratings, beating London by a hair.
Which City Has the Most Michelin Three-Star Restaurants?
There are actually three tiers to Michelin rankings: "a very good restaurant" earns one star, "excellent cooking that is worth a detour" gets two stars, and "exceptional cuisine that is worth a special journey" is distinguished with three stars.
Just how rare is the three-star designation? In the Michelin Guide 2019, a mere 57 restaurants were honored as such.
London: Ten restaurants received two stars, but just three got the top rating this year.
Paris: Nine restaurants received three stars in 2019, one lower than in 2018 but still among the best in the world.
Which City Generates the Most Social-Media Activity?
In this day and age, we all have to share our culinary experiences for them to be real. So it only make sense to factor in Instagram love when determining a victor.
London: The top hashtag, #londonfood, has an extraordinary 1.4 million posts. (#londonfoodguide has 126,886 posts, #londonfoodporn has 17,838 and #londonfoodies has 207,893... and counting!)
Paris: The biggest hashtag here, #parisfood, has "just" 255,814 posts. (#parisfoodie has 84,907, #parisfoodguide has 38,091 and #parisfoodporn has 8,053...and counting!)
Which City Has More Cookbooks?
It's one thing to have a respected culinary scene; it's another to have a culinary style emulated around the world, thanks to the popularity of cookbooks sharing how to make your traditional fare.
London: Search Amazon.com for British cookbooks and 2,000 results appear. For London specifically, there are 413 books. "Good Things in England" by Florence White is one of the top 20 best-selling cookbooks of all time.
Paris: Search for French cookbooks and 3,000 results appear, with 436 for Paris. Almost everyone has heard of Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," a bonafide phenom that led to TV shows, blogs and movies.
Which City Do Americans Prefer?
A 2018 survey by YouGov unveiled preferences on global cuisine. Countrymen from around the world were asked to judge a nation's cuisine, with five answers ranging from "don't like it" to "like it a lot."
London: Only 4 percent of Americans claimed to like British cuisine a lot, while 26 percent said they like it a "fair amount." On the bright side, only 4 percent said they don't like it at all.
Paris: Eighteen percent of those surveyed said they like French cuisine a lot, and 33 percent said they like it a fair amount. Here, too, only 4 percent reported not liking it at all.
Which City Do People From the Other City Like Best?
In the same survey, French and British people were also polled, offering a glimpse into how these rivals really feel about one another's cuisine.
London: Just 4 percent of the French find British cuisine great. Nearly half — 48 percent — said they don't like it very much. (Harsh!)
Paris: The British really love French food, with 21 percent liking it a lot and 39 percent liking it a fair amount.
Which City is Most Beloved by Locals?
The same survey also revealed what the people of France and Great Britain think about their own cuisine.
London: Half of British people love their cuisine, while 40 percent like it a fair amount.
Paris: No surprise here: 86 percent of the French love their cuisine, and 10 percent like it a lot.
Which City Has the Best Cooking School?
In an attempt to train chefs in the art of making great dinners, desserts and more, each city offers chef-led schools for would-be cooks and bakers.
London: The School of Artisan Food is a top-ranked cooking school, although it is in Nottingham and not London. In the city, Le Cordon Bleu from France offers a location, and Leith's School of Food and Wine and the Cookery School are available.
Paris: The famed Le Cordon Bleu kickstarted cooking schools and operates different schools on five continents.
Total wins for London: 6
Total wins for Paris: 12
London had a good showing — and touts a much better culinary scene than many give it credit for. But in the end, Paris takes the cake (takes the souffle?) when it comes to the city with the best food.
As for settling the other Paris vs. London debates...we're going to stay neutral.