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Paris vs. New York… The neighborhood showdown

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Paris vs New York neighborhoods
Vahram Muratyan compares two cities' neighborhoods in his new book, "Paris versus New York, a tally of two cities."

By Bryan Pirolli in Paris—

Vahram Muratyan’s book Paris vs. New York: A Tally of Two Cities has been making quite an impression on big city dwellers. Debuting at Colette last year in Paris and launching in February in New York, the book visually chronicles the comparisons and contrasts between both iconic cities. Images illustrate the cultural showdown, like the macaron versus the cupcake, the baguette versus the bagel, or the bobo versus the hipster.

Recently images from the new book have been making waves across social media sites, particularly Muratyan’s map of Paris that replaces arrondissements with New York neighborhoods.

The Café Francais, in Bastille. Photo: SSedro

For those who know both cities, the comparisons are uncanny, so I thought it might be fun to see which ones are spot-on and which ones seem like a stretch:

1. Bastille – Bowery, East Village: Spot on.

The young, artsy, still up-and-coming Bastille neighborhood where the Revolution ceremoniously began (well, for some) reflects the same vibe you get walking through the gentrifying East Village – although Bastille is much better serviced by the subway system.

2. Marais – West Village, Chelsea: Spot on.

The quirky gay-friendly Marais has all of the vivacity of Chelsea and the West Village, with pricey boutiques to match.

Café Pick Me Up, East Village. Photo: Marco Mazzei

3. Latin Quarter – Greenwich Village, NYU: Stretch.

50 years ago it would have been true, but besides being student neighborhoods, the Latin Quarter feels much more like a tourist trap than the Village. It’s a place where students occasionally study and party, with none of the urban campus vibe of NYU where thousands of students actually live.

4. Montmartre – Gramercy: Spot on.

Severely gentrified since its Belle Epoque bohemian days (think Moulin Rouge) Montmartre, much like Gramercy Park, is a charming place that most people just look at with so few possessing the keys (read: money) to truly access this neighborhood.

5. Passy – Upper West Side: Stretch.

Young people live in and like the Upper West Side. Some young people live in Passy, but no one likes it.

Tourists stream down the Champs-Élysees. Photo: Caribb

6. Champs Elysées – Times Square: Spot on.

Both are equally avoided by locals. At all cost.

7. Arc de Triomphe – Washington Square: Stretch.

We get the similarities, but the Beatniks and students at the Washington Square arch have nothing in common with the Napoleonic greatness of the military-inspired Arc de Triomphe.

8. Choissy – Chinatown: Spot on.

Porte de Choissy is Paris’s liveliest Chinatown, though New  York’s version is even more vibrant.

Taking in Times Square. Photo: Ed Yourdon

9. Saint-Germain – Upper East Side: Stretch.

While they share similar qualities like museums and old rich people, Saint-Germain has many redeeming ones for locals, including great restaurants, boutiques, and endless café culture. The Upper East Side has redeeming qualities as well.  Just give me a few minutes…

10. Louvre – The Met, Union Square: Stretch.

Two big museums, OK, it was necessary. But I’m not sure about the Union Square comparison aside from the skateboarders.

11. Opéra – Theatre District: Spot on.

Locals and visitors alike flock to the area around the Opéra for a night of ballet, music, or comedy in one of the many smaller venues that fuels Paris’s theater scene. Even though theaters are found all over the city, the majestic Opéra Garnier and its little brother the nearby Opéra Comique are two of the most popular.

Your comparisons? So urban dwellers, what do you think about the comparisons between these cities?

About the author

Bryan Pirolli

About the author: With his college diploma fresh off the press, Bryan Pirolli headed for Paris and four years later he’s still there. A journalist and a tour guide, his main M.O. is pursuing a doctorate degree in communications at the Sorbonne Nouvelle. Bryan regularly travels on a budget, experiencing the best of European culture while still trying to make rent.  So far, so good. You can follow his adventures on his blog: www.bryanpirolli.com.

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2 thoughts on “Paris vs. New York… The neighborhood showdown”

  1. Hah! What a fun idea. But yes, there are some weird missteps here.
    They should really make an app/game where you can submit your version of the map.

    Passy is much more similar to the UES than the UWS. The UWS is more like the area west of the Luxembourg Gardens along Blvd Raspail- a chic & intello quartier.

    I’d say Pantheon/Mouffetard for the Union Square/Washington Square Park area. For Latin Quarter St. Marks is maybe the closest match.

    Meatpacking & Bastille are similar in that there is a major intersection of nightlife there – but the Meatpacking is way trendier than Bastille (which can actually be a little seedy and cheesy in terms of nightlife). The nightclubs near Bourse/Quatre-Septembre/Pyramides – might be a better Meatpacking match.

    But my big question is – how did the Lower East Side end up in the 12e? When we’re talking live music, quick/street eats, & non-Brooklyn hipsters – Oberkampf is the only appropriate match I can think of.

    In any case – it’s interesting and definitely a challenge/fun debate!

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