Paris versus Boston

Inspired by the emails that I've received about the blog and book, Paris vs New York: A tally of two cities, I thought that it would be interesting to see how Paris compares with Boston. Please click on any of the photos that you would like to enlarge.

Self-cleaning public toilets

Paris: Free for 20 minutes. Instructions in 3 languages (French, English and Spanish) and Braille.

Boston: 25 cents for 25 minutes. After 20 minutes a warning will sound and the door will open automatically. Instructions in 4 languages (English, French, Spanish and Japanese).

Sunny days

Paris: Lounging by the Seine, reading a book in the Tuileries Garden or sipping a coffee on the terrace of a café are the preferred ways to enjoy sunny days. 

Boston: For young men, warm weather means that it's time to kick, throw or hit a ball. Dodging flying objects is as common in Boston parks as weaving my way around amorous couples is in Paris.

Ice Cream

Paris: Even though Pozzetto's in the Marais ranks high on my list...

Boston: The New York Times claims that Toscanini's serves the "World's Best Ice Cream". If I ever manage to take a picture of my ice cream, I'll let you know. All thoughts of photography disappear when confronted by the array of unique choices that currently include Guinness, Goat Cheese Brownie, Earl Grey, Salty Saffron, Rice Krispie Treat and Bananas Foster.

Narrow Streets Where Interesting Things Happened

Paris: Something momentous happened on this narrow street, but I can't tell you any of the details because I neglected to take a photo of the plaque during the Paris Walks' tour last March.

Boston: I'm getting better though because after snapping a picture of Spring Street, I remembered to take one of the marker showing where Mary Chilton died in 1679. As a passenger on the Mayflower in 1620, Mary came to America before any of the other white woman who settled in Boston. 

Daylight Savings Time and Time Zones

Paris: Daylight savings time starts on March 25, 2012 in France.

Boston: Since it already started on March 11 in the USA, I'm going to have to "spring forward" twice this year. At least the five-hour as opposed to six-hour time difference should make it easier for me to get back on track. I'll let you know if I get out of bed before 10:30 tomorrow morning!

A Challenge

My quest - to find a poster advertising "A fairy tale for grownups set in the streets of modern day Paris [Boston]". Do you suppose Fever Pitch or The Town would qualify?


  1. Oh Boston, my one and only city love. It was the 1st city I lived in, at Park street on the Red line.... I'd lie in bed overlooking the Capital. I loved BOSTON.... but I also love Paris. Humph.

    1. I know exactly what you mean but for me it's the other way around - I love Paris but Boston is rapidly working its way into my heart. After being there in January last year, I'm beginning to think that I could even tolerate it during the winter...and that's saying something!

      You certainly were lucky to have a room with a view of the Capital.

  2. Fun post and nice shot of Brad from Paris Walks! (from whom I learned lots of interesting but useless information.)

    1. i wonder if we were ever on one of Brad's tours together. I did quite a few with him and always thought that he did a great job.

      Any chance that some of the interesting but useless information that you learned from Brad was about the narrow street shown in the photo? It was part of the "Hemingway's Paris" walk.

  3. Glad you told me about daylight savings, I have a plane to catch that day! I'm going to lose two hours coming from the UK :(

    I can't believe Paris lets you use the loos for free, that's not like France!! I'm terrified of those automatic doors though!

    1. Maybe you should plan a trip to England when we switch the clocks back in the fall so that you can recover your lost hours! ;) When I was in Boston, I met a Japanese woman who told me that they don't change the clocks in Japan for DST. It reminded me that we never changed them when we lived in tropical countries either.

      The automatic doors don't bother me that much - for some reason, I'm more concerned by the fact that you can't flush the toilet before you leave.

  4. One of your finest posts to the side by side comparison photos! I'm with Gwan on the toilets. Those doors scare me. So in Paris they do not automatically open after a while? Would rather pay for the reassurance that I would not get stuck inside longer than 20 minutes!!

    1. Quite a few people must share Gwan's and your concern because the toilets in Boston are equipped with a 911 emergency call button. I'm not sure if the doors open automatically on the Parisian toilets. In any event, I didn't see anything written in the instructions about it.

      After seeing all of the homeless people near the toilet in Boston, I thought that the 20 minute time limit was probably designed to keep people from taking refuge in the toilets during the winter.

  5. I loved the movie The Town, and the poster was just the right amount of creepy. And you're so funny to never get a photo of your ice cream. I never get a photo of my champagne.

    And those toilets--never been in one, and we don't have them in Chicago. I was told that it's the law in France than cafe bathrooms are open to the public not just patrons, that you can just walk through the cafe to use the bathroom. No signs on the front door, Restrooms for customers only. Do you know this to be the case?

    1. I think I've heard that as well, but it appears not to be a bit of an urban legend in France:

      "Il n’existe pas de texte de loi concernant l'utilisation des toilettes dans les cafés, restaurants ou hôtels. Mais ces établissements sont des lieux privés et non des lieux publics. Les toilettes sont mises à la disposition de la clientèle, mais pas du simple passant. Ne peuvent donc utiliser gratuitement les toilettes que les clients de l’établissement, c'est-à-dire ceux qui consomment réellement. Le café peut refuser l'accès de ses toilettes à un simple passant."

      "There is no law regarding the use of toilets in cafés, restaurants or hotels. However, these establishments are private places and not public places. These toilets are placed at the disposal of customers, but not of mere passers-by. Therefore the only people who can use the toilets for free are the clients of the establishment, that is to say those who are actually eating/drinking there. The cafe has the right to refuse access to the toilets to passers-by."

      It is, however, illegal to charge patrons for using the bathroom. I can't think quite how to translate this, but the idea is that you can't charge someone for providing a service the need for which has arisen out of the first service you provided to them. i.e. you can't charge someone to drink, thus meaning they need to pee, and then charge them for peeing as well.

      And now you're sorry you asked :)

    2. @Gwan, Thanks for answering Joseph's question!

      @Joseph, I really wanted to watch The Town but couldn't bring myself to do it. With two kids in Boston, it would have only added bank robberies to my long list of things that keep me up at night worrying about them!

      It's the logistics of taking photos of ice cream that makes it impossible. ;) I just don't have enough hands to hold the ice cream and focus the camera! The only reason that I could take a picture of the Pozzetto gelati in Paris is because Stephane was more than happy to hold (and taste) mine while i took the photo.

  6. Welcome back...and great post!!! NYC and Paris has been over compared, so it's nice to see another east coast city thrown into the mix!

    Ok, Guinness, Goat Cheese Brownie, and Rice Krispie Treat flavored ice cream?! These sound incredible! What is Guinness like?! I can't even it actually sweet?

    Have you had the yogurt flavor gelato at Pozetto? This place is great. It's no mystery that there is always a line out the door. Hmm, you've inspired me. I think I'm going to talk Seb into walking down there tonight after dinner. Ok, I'm thinking out loud on your blog. Sorry.

    And you get two daylight savings?! Not a bad deal if you ask me. This is such a great time of year...everywhere!

    1. I didn't try the Guinness ice cream but can imagine that it's good - because they seem to have a way with ice-cream. The only flavor that I haven't really liked is Goat Cheese Brownie but both of my kids love it. Next time that I'm in Boston, I'll try some Guinness ice cream for you if they still make it. It may be a special flavor for St. Patrick's Day.

      I haven't had the yogurt flavor gelato at Pozzetto. I've only had the chocolate and pear - two times in a row. Come to think of it, it's time for me to make another trip to the Marais, especially if the weather stays this warm!

  7. Paris versus Boston?

    Ooo la la... I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to take that one on!

    But thanks for being so kind to Boston, and for not mentioning, for example, Montmartre and the Moulin Rouge on a Springtime evening, the Eiffel Tower (versus the Prudential one) or our "Public Garden" versus Versailles (or even, Luxembourg, for that matter!)

    1. It's easy to be kind to Boston - it's my kind of town! If you don't mind, I may use your ideas for a future Paris versus Boston post. Sara and Philippe rave about the restaurant at the top of the Prudential building. We gave Philippe a voucher as part of his Christmas present. At some point, I'll have to see how it compares with the Jules Verne!

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