Please help. Paris or Barcelona

Apr 27th, 2014, 08:57 AM
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Please help. Paris or Barcelona

Hey there.
My name is Holly. I live in Melbourne, Australia. I am in year ten and at the end of this year, around November/December, I get to go on exchange to either Paris or Barcelona (Exchange is when you go over to another country for a month or so and stay with a family who has a child your age and then the child comes and stays with you) and I have no idea which one to choose.
I love fashion, food, coldish weather (nothing about 30 degrees Celsius), culture and learning new things.
I only speak English and I would like to learn a bit of French or Catalan/Spanish before I go over.
It would really help if you could leave a comment about just general stuff about either city. E.g people, culture, tourist spots, food, entertainment, expenses, weather, transport.

Thanks a lot
Holly_Huayra is offline  
Apr 27th, 2014, 11:06 AM
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I really like both cities, so can't say you should pick one over the other. They both are very cosmopolitan with a lot of good shopping, of course (which means high fashion). And they both have great food and restaurants, just different cuisine, of course. And I'd say the people in both are about equal on the friendliness meter to strangers. And both have excellent public transporation, good buses and metro.

Weather? well, I'd say Barcelona obviously is superior to Paris in that one in the winter, as it is farther south. Northern Europe in winter can be pretty gray and grim and cold. But it isn't freezing in November/December in Paris, of course (and November isn't deep winter yet). You really don't have to worry about a place being over 30 in December in western Europe, that isn't even that common in summer except far south. Even in Barcelona, I've been there in July and it wasn't usually over 30 (temps in Barcelona and Paris don't seem that different to me in summer). Of course it can be foggy and some rain in Barcelona in Nov/Dec, also, but it won't be as cold as Paris, most likely.

The things you list are in both, so you just have to pick which appeals to you more, I'd say. You don't seem to have any real special interest in either culture or language, or you'd know which one to pick based on that, there wouldn't be a question.

Have you not studied any foreign language in school at all? If you've studied French or Spanish, I'd go to that place in order to improve that language. I wouldn't bother to learn Catalan, more than a few words, as you really can't use it anywhere else. It isn't very much like Spanish IMO. And you can get along perfectly fine in Barcelona with Spanish, of course. Everything in the stores and elsewhere is in both Spanish and Catalan, as I recall. There are probably some exceptions, but it isn't a problem. I think it would be more useful to learn Spanish or French.

Barcelona December weather


If you have no preference or language choice, I'd probably pick Barcelona for the weather. Both are great on all the other issues you name. I think Barcelona is a bit cheaper than Paris for things like museums, transportation, and eating out. But Barcelona is fairly expensive for Spain. But if you want to visit other countries, like the UK or Germany or Netherlands, Paris would definitely make that easier and cheaper, you could do that for the weekend.
Christina is online now  
Apr 27th, 2014, 11:09 AM
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Expenses will be about the same, weather a bit better in Barcelona (warmer), I liked the food better in Paris, transportation is easy in both places - they're cities, tourist spots - there are hundreds - too many to mention here. Suggest you read a guide book for a list of tourist spots. Paris has more diverse sightseeing than Barcelona. the people are not as outgoing as Australians; they're more reserved. What type of entertainment?

Barcelona and Paris are very different from each other so I think you need to read a bit about each and see what your preference would be. My choice would be Paris.

Will you really be located in Paris or Barcelona or some place on the outskirts? That would be my decision maker as I would not want to be in some area remote from a city.
adrienne is offline  
Apr 28th, 2014, 02:35 AM
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You have two posts Holly, make sure you check both for responses. I answered you on the other one.
schnauzer is offline  
Apr 28th, 2014, 02:38 AM
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Wladecek, stop spamming this forum! You seem to have posted your request on every topic tagged for France. This type of participation in the forums is not permitted.
bvlenci is online now  
Apr 28th, 2014, 03:09 AM
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Christina, it's possible that the OP being Australian has studied Asian languages rather than European languages.

cathies is offline  
Apr 28th, 2014, 07:29 AM
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Thank you all very much

Christina, I did do French in my earlier years of school but I don't remember much of it. I'd love to visit England, as I have a few relatives there so Paris seems to be the better option for that.

Adrienne, for entertainment I prefer the theatre, comedy and concerts.
I've been reading up on both cities and they both seem like beautiful, interesting places.
I'm quite sure I'll be very close to the centre of either city

Schnauzer, I have and the responses have been very helpful

I'll keep reading up on both cities. Thanks again
Holly_Huayra is offline  
Apr 28th, 2014, 01:50 PM
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In Paris there's a weekly magazine called Pariscope. It comes out on Wednesday and lists all the activities for the week. You can buy it at a newspaper kiosk.

I would think that theater performances would be in French but many movies are in their original version so you could see English language movies with French subtitles. Look for VO after the title or description to indicate that it's in the original version.
adrienne is offline  
Apr 28th, 2014, 03:46 PM
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IMHO Paris is head and shoulders above Barcelona - but the weather is likely to be slightly colder (but both will be colder than Australia).

Live performances will be in French but major movies are often shown in the original language (VO in listings) at the large cinemas in the Grands /boulevards. Also there are frequently film festivals (specific actors or directors) and those also will be shown in the original version with French subtitles.
nytraveler is offline  
Apr 28th, 2014, 08:31 PM
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I prefer Paris over Barcelona but really both would be great. I think the weather will be cool in both places so wouldn't make that a deciding factor. The reality is that it will be so exciting that the weather will not be that important. I think there is more to do in Paris and it provides easier access to other parts of Europe and UK. The French lanscape is more different to Australia than Spain too.

With most exchange programs, you spend your week at school or with your host family so having some language skills will make a difference to your experience. Even a few words of French is a headstart over a language you don't know at all. However, I've attempted to learn both and found Spanish much easier (it sounds as it reads much more than French).

Either way, it's a wonderful opportunity and you'll probably get to visit the other place when you're older.
dreamon is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2014, 04:07 PM
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jahlie is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2014, 05:51 PM
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"I only speak English and I would like to learn a bit of French or Catalan/Spanish before I go over."

Can't help with Barcelona vs Paris, I like both myself but would probably say Paris for you since you specified 'not too warm'. For myself I'm probably leaning more toward Spain since I like fine dining and the finest restaurants in Spain are more fun and much less expensive than their high-end French counterparts.

For the languages, take a look at, a free classroom for language learning that was awarded 'Learning App of the Year' by Apple last year.

If you complete either the Spanish or French courses you'll be at roughly A2 on the CEFR scale, I've found after completing both. This is enough to get you around town pretty well. Not fluent of course, but "Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters" as the CEFR description words it.
Bill_H is offline  
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