Paris mayor reckons London is a “suburb of Paris”
Gare du Nord, Le Louvre… Oxford Circus? Paris and London have been connected by rail for 20 years this year, and London is ‘France’s sixth biggest city’, with a larger French population than Bordeaux or Nantes, but has the capital of England really become a suburb of Paris?
That’s exactly how Paris’s deputy mayor Anne Hidalgo views London.
Hidalgo uttered the stinging remarks in the wake of the news that London has overtaken Paris as the world’s most popular tourist destination.
“London is in some ways a suburb of Paris,” she said to journalists at the Anglo-American press association of Paris.
“Like it or not, while London may have attracted more visitors around the Olympic Games, Paris remains the number one world tourist destination, even if we only include foreign visitors and not national ones.”
Last week it emerged that London had seen the numbers of foreign tourists surge by 20%, to a new record, making it the world’s most popular tourist destination. Good weather over 2013, a British Wimbledon win and the birth of Prince George helped attract 4.9 million visitors to London between July and September, up 19.5% from the Olympic summer the previous year, and beating the previous high of 4.7 million in 2006.
The record figures prompted pride from London Mayor, Boris Johnson, who said: “These incredible figures prove that London is without doubt the greatest city on the planet. With so many fascinating museums, the best theatre scene in the world, more green space than any other European city, numerous top sporting venues, a low crime rate and much else besides, it’s no wonder that people from all over the globe are flocking to London in record numbers.”
But this was met with derisive comments from Hidalgo, who said: “Boris Johnson boasts about the merits of London in different way to the French, and Parisians.
“London aggressively sells itself, often in a way that goes beyond the truth. We are more rational in our communication when speaking about Paris’s strengths.”
She added: “The Mayor of London often claims that London is the best. Well, he can count on me to tell him that Paris is the best.”