Has Paris toppled London as the most hyped city in Europe?

The two cities go to-to-toe on culture, finance and retail

London vs Paris. The ongoing battle between these two urban powerhouses has got to be up there with one of Europe’s greatest friendly(ish) rivalries. For most, it’s a subjective debate. How the Champs-Élysées compares to Covent Garden or whether people are more wowed by the Sacré-Coeur or St Paul’s Cathedral comes down to personal taste. But now, a far more statistical light has been shone on the subject. And any proud Londoners would do well to look away now.

In a ranking of Europe’s most talked about cities, compiled and released in March by communications agency ING Media, Paris has topped the league and surpassed London for the first time since the annual research project was launched six years ago. Measured based on digital visibility including online and social media mentions on everything from culture to commerce, the research revealed that key events in the French capital throughout 2023 all contributed to the victory. These included Men’s Fashion Week, Paris Fashion Week and The Rugby World Cup. And there is more bad news for staunch Londonphiles as there is a good chance the UK capital could see a repeat of this defeat in 2025.

Infographic showing which cities are leading on culture-related mentions, taken from ING Media's report. Credit: Chris Gardner / ING Media
Infographic showing which cities are leading on culture-related mentions. Credit: Chris Gardner / ING Media

‘We shouldn’t be too surprised that Paris has been a more visible city than London over the past 12 months,’ says Damian Wild, managing director of ING. ‘The French capital has made the most of events – from rugby to fashion. And with an Olympics boost it could retain its crown next year. For that to happen it will have to capitalise on the Olympics and it’s fair to say the city isn’t yet gripped by Games fever.’

That’s not to say this trend is a fait accompli for years to come, he adds.

London can recover. It continues to reign supreme on culture. It’s hosting this year’s Champions League final and, as a major innovation hub, it continues to draw significant foreign direct investment. But what this year’s rankings show is that there is no room for complacency.’

No complacency, indeed. As the battle intensifies in an Olympic year and with London snapping at the heels of its French counterpart, let’s delve a little deeper into where each of these great cities’ winning streaks lie.


The Design Museum’s half-pipe, installed in the lobby as part of its Skateboard exhibition, runs til 19 May. Photography: Felix Speller / London Design Museum.

While Paris might have taken the overall crown, the stats on culture are in and London has it. According to ING’s report, the UK capital had 22.9 million culture-related mentions last year compared to Paris’s 21.9 million. Both cities are home to some of the world’s most iconic museums, galleries and historic sites.

As previously pointed out, opinions on whether Le Louvre pips the National Gallery, The Musee D’Orsay falls short of the V&A or the Eiffel Tower makes more of an impression than Big Ben all ultimately come down to a matter of taste. In terms of current exhibitions – from the Skateboard exhibition at London’s Design Museum to the Grand Palais Immersif’s showcase on urban art in a digital age – there isn’t much in it, either. And so, if a distinction is to be made, it all comes down to the numbers.

Apart from the frequency of culture-based mentions highlighted in the report, London also has more museums, more art galleries and more football stadiums than its French counterpart.
Winner: London


The lobby of 8 Bishopsgate
The lobby of 8 Bishopsgate – a commercial building bucking the post-pandemic leasing slump. Photography: Dirk Lindner

Looking first to physical centres of commerce, London has long led the pack. Canary Wharf and The Square Mile—where innovative new offices like 8 Bishopsgate are bucking the widespread office leasing struggle post-pandemic—stand up well against Paris’s La Defense. As of last year, London won back the title of Europe’s largest stock market, according to Bloomberg, and the UK capital also takes the lead in terms of foreign direct investment (FDI). It topped the 2024 FDi Intelligence’s list of major European cities of the future and was described as offering ‘the best business environment and the biggest economic potential of all major European cities.’

The same ranking did highlight that the 2024 Olympics will see a ‘flurry of new infrastructure’ in Paris which would bolster the city’s commercial clout. Furthermore, when it comes to which city was talked about the most in relation to inward investment last year, Paris comes out on top with 18.7% of the mentions compared to London’s 16%. On this one, though, money rather than mentions talks.
Winner: London

Restaurants and café culture

The freshly opened Mistinguett restaurant in Paris. Photography: DePasquale+Maffini

Paris’s reputation for being Europe’s capital of gastronomy remains almost unchallenged. Almost being the operative word. If any city can nip at the foodie heels of the French capital, it’s London. But while the latter boasts 80 Michelin-starred restaurants as of 2024, Paris already had 118 in 2022. To add insult to injury, the classical French cooking techniques of Hélène Darroze at The Connaught have often been hailed as some of the best Michelin-starred food in London. Outside of the realms of fine dining, both urban hubs offer plenty to keep locals and visitors alike happily fed and watered. This includes exciting new options such as music-hall-inspired Mistinguett and neon-diner Melt in Paris and imperfectly perfect Saltine in London. As for café culture? It’s not even close. Paris takes the caffeinated crown with ease.
Winner: Paris


Six Senses London revives The Whiteley department store. (c) Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas

On numbers alone, this one should go to London. While Paris has around 87,000 hotel rooms, according to Statista, London has approximately 123,000. As for high-end properties, London is looking ahead to a bumper 12 months. At least 13 super prime hotels are scheduled to open by the end of next year, including Chancery Rosewood, the Waldorf Astoria Admiralty Arch and Six Senses at Whiteleys on Queensway.

Already up and running is the £1.1bn Peninsula London, which launched in September last year. Indeed, Savills predicts that around 1900 new luxury rooms will come online in central London by 2025.

The lounge at the Hôtel Les Deux Gares. Photography: Rosella Degori

Meanwhile, in its Olympic year, Paris is anticipating a strong 12 months for hotel uptake and revenue – particularly around Games time – and has some exciting new launches in the pipeline, including La Fantaisie this summer and Touriste’s Hotel Chateau d’Eau, which opened at the end of April. Unlike the UK capital’s high-end launches with even higher price tags, Paris’s launches are at the more boutique end of the spectrum. A tough one to call. While the glitz, glam and statistical advantage lies in London. There is something just a bit more inspiring about the smaller, quirkier new offerings on the other side of the Channel.
Winner: it’s a tie


Bottega Veneta’s flagship Paris store on Avenue Montaigne, redesigned by the brand’s creative director Matthieu Blazy. Photography: François Halard / Bottega Veneta.

Last year, it was widely reported that London was losing out to other European cities – Paris in particular – in the luxury retail market. Warnings were rife that luxury brands were investing more in their French stores than in their London ones and that even British shoppers were being put off shopping on home turf, given they get better value for money in the European Union.

While London has seen some inspiring, design-led new retail openings over the last 12-18 months, including Gucci’s new flagship on Bond Street and Rixo’s 5,000 sq ft flagship on King’s Road, Paris also delivers the goods across the retail spectrum. From the Bottega Veneta flagship redesign to the Bernard Dubois-designed Courrèges store and Burberry’s new location on Avenue Montaigne, the French capital is arguably offering shoppers more of an opportunity to spend. Not least, given it is here they are likely to get more bang for their buck.
Winner: Paris

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Peek inside Touriste’s Hotel Chateau d’Eau – inspired by Paris’s legendary nightclub scene

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