Seattle vs. Paris. The Emerald City vs. the City of Light. They have a lot of things in common these two, and not always good ones. Under *areas for improvement,* I could list their notoriously unpredictable, and depressing weather, traffic, parking, or the cost of living (as anyone trying to invest in real estate in King County, WA, or in downtown Paris can attest.)
A lot is said, and written about Paris every day, in the social media, or in the press. Seattle may be a popular city, but many don’t know much about it outside of the United States. Because I have lived and worked in both cities, I thought it’d be fun to compare them (as much as one can compare cities with populations of 2.2 million and 650,000+)
The results are in: Seattle wins. Yes, really! Here are 10 reasons why Seattle is better than Paris.
#1: Seattle is a natural beauty.
Paris may have world-renowned architecture, gardens, and urban landscape, it can’t rival the Pacific Northwest’s outdoor life and majestic scenery. Everywhere you look, there are mountains, and water. From Mount Rainier (an ancient volcano,) to the Cascades or the Olympic mountain ranges, from the Puget Sound (an inlet of the Pacific Ocean,) to fresh water lakes, Lake Union, or Lake Washington, Seattle is the tree-hugger and outdoorsy type’s paradise. Montmartre is a hill, not a mountain, and can you reach the slopes from Paris in less than 45 minutes? Mais non.
|Mount Rainier, the beloved local peak
|The Puget Sound|
# 2 Commuting is a lot more pleasant in Seattle than in Paris
# 3: Seattle watches better
Parisians, people-watching is not a sport! In Seattle, watching sports has been elevated to an art form. From kid sports (a major weekend activity,) to college or professional teams, Seahawks, Mariners or Sounders, on TV or at the local state-of-the art stadiums, Seattleites’ favorite pastime is watching sports.
|Seahawks fans have a name “The 12th Man”
# 4: Had Hemingway known about Seattle’s coffee culture, he would have never emigrated to Paris’ Left Bank
This is the land of Starbucks. Need I say more? Here, coffee making takes time, creativity and craft. Baristas are smarter than software engineers. They have to, to understand local customers’ challenging orders. “Can I get a triple, decaf, non-fat, tall, moka latte, without the chocolate… but with some whip on top?” — After such an order, you hope most people remember to say “please.”
|The original Starbucks store at Pike Place Market, or is it?|
|The perfect café Latte (a local favorite)
# 5: Forget macarons, pains au chocolat and tarte Tatin: Seattle does sweets better!
Molly Moon‘s all organic, all local, all “green” ice cream has longer lines than the Ile St Louis‘ Berthillon. That’s proof, right?
Forget fancy French pastries when you visit the Puyallup Fair – don’t bother pronouncing it, just follow your GPS there – and sample a Funnel cake!
|Yum. No doggie bag necessary, I am sure!|
# 6: Seattle rules at salmon breeding/protecting/catching/cooking
Ever tried fishing in the Seine river? All you will catch is an old Louboutin shoe, the occasional [ugly tourist] corpse, and millions of silly little keys left behind by visitors after they hooked their love locks to Parisian bridges.
In Seattle, you catch the most fabulous salmon. King Salmon, Sockeye, Coho, the list never ends. Salmon is on every menu in the Emerald City (except in coffee shops, because they have figured out that salmon lattes do not taste as good as pumpkin lattes.) Seattleites love salmon so much they built a fish ladder where local kids and their parents can watch the brave fish struggling against the current on their way in and out of town.
|Budding environmentalists wishing salmon “Bon Voyage” at the Fish Ladder|
|Flying salmon (it does exist, in Seattle) is a big attraction at Pike Place Market!|
#7: Forget Paris-Plages. Seattle has a real sand beach!
The first settlers landed in West Seattle, on Alki Beach. The rumour has it it was pouring down that day. Not to worry. They were a tough bunch. Today, only locals, tourists, and pirates, visit the beach. If only the Puget Sound was not so darn cold, we could almost swim there!
|Pirates landing on Alki Beach during SeaFair. Arrrgghhh!
#8: Parisians are too uptight. Seattleites are more relaxed.
It is not known who introduced flannel to Seattle. Doomed artist Kurt Cobain? Vampire covens tucked away on the Olympic Peninsula? No matter. Seattleites fight the constant dampness with fleece, and weatherproof clothing brands such as The North Face or Columbia. Forget Paris‘ les Galeries Lafayette or le Bon Marché! Locals shop at R.E.I., major purveyor of everything Northwest.
|REI: Temple of Northwest Style
#9: Paris dwells too much on the past. Seattle looks ahead.
Old Bridges. Gallo-Roman ruins. Time to dust things off, Paris: Urban planning in Seattle includes flexibility, and a willingness to move with the times. Out with the old, in with the new! Heck, after a devastating fire in the 19th century, the original city of Seattle had to be raised up by a couple of floors once it was discovered the city had been built on tidelands, and toilets often backed up at high tide! Not to worry. As explained in the fascinating Seattle Underground tour, the whole city was rebuilt, and elevated. It’s amazing to visit Seattle’s underground passageways today and realize those old tunnels, and windows, were once at street level!
|Seattle’s Underground Tour: A must-see local attraction
Today, the urban-planning tradition à la Seattle endures. People are getting tired of this eye-sore known as the Alaskan Viaduct? Let’s tear it down and reclaim Seattle’s waterfront. The 520 bridge is unsafe? Let’s raise funds and build a new bridge.
|Seattle’s answer to Paris’ la Tour Montparnasse: The Alaskan viaduct|
|The old 520 Evergreen Bridge only survived for 53 years and got replaced in 2016
(Would you look at the gorgeous weather?)
#10: Seattleites are quirkier
They are a liberal bunch. They are pretty accepting of other people’s quirky ways (unless said other people are conservatives.) They will do anything to save the planet. They are strangely attached to a bunch of interesting characters and places…
Paris thinks Love Locks are a problem:
Paris is lucky not to have to deal with Seattle’s Gum Wall:
Somewhere in Seattle, there is giant troll, tucked away under a bridge. He is friendly and often poses for photos. (I personally believe he is just hiding from the rain, and like most Seattleites, hates using an umbrella.)
In the same neighborhood, one can see a giant space rocket that points at the sky but never goes anywhere. And a giant statue of Lenin, that is allegedly for sale, but nobody except Bill Gates could afford it, and besides, everyone has too much fun hanging out with old Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov.
|Lenin and his friends
Well, in case you are not convinced yet that Seattle is better than Paris, consider this: Paris has the Eiffel Tower, but Seattle has the Space Needle. Even if they were both built to celebrate World Fairs, Elvis Presley only visited one of them and even shot a movie there.
|That’s Elvis, and the Space Needle!|
In fact, some say Elvis has never left the building.