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Paris revealed as ‘most expensive’ city in EU (but it’s not all bad news)

Paris has been ranked as the seventh priciest city in the world (well above London) in a new cost of living study, that concluded only alcohol and tobacco offer value for money in Paris. But there's more to it than that.

Paris revealed as 'most expensive' city in EU (but it's not all bad news)
Photo: Moyan Brenn/Flickr
Expensive living your thing? Then Paris is the place for you. At least if you pay attention to a new global study.
 
The French capital has retained the dubious honour of being the most expensive city in the EU, according to the latest Worldwide Cost of Living Survey from The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
 
Singapore topped the rankings ahead of Hong Kong and Zurich – Europe's most expensive city. Another Swiss city Geneva was ranked sixth, just ahead of Paris in seventh. (See the table below from left to right)
 
Paris, the only eurozone city in the top ten, “remains structurally extremely expensive to live in,” the report said.

Paris has also proved to be particularly expensive, compared to other cities when it comes to the cost of entertainment and clothes.

The same can be said for the cost of a basket of goods in a supermarket, although the authors of the studies believe this may have something to do with the quality of product demanded by the French.

There was good news for smokers and drinkers however.

“Only alcohol and tobacco offering value for money compared with other European cities,” says the report. 

Indeed, a standard bottle of table wine in Paris averages $10.35 – cheaper than every city that ranked higher than Paris.
 
The same bottle of wine sells for $23.68 in Singapore and a whopping $26.54 in Seoul (see table below). 
 
Paris has actually dropped two positions in the ranking since 2016.
 
But the survey may be a little misleading because, as the authors have explained, it doesn't mean Paris is necessarily expensive for those who live here.

Jon Copestake, the editor of previous studies has told The Local that while Paris was pricey there was an upside.

“Paris has always been expensive. It’s partly driven by high real estate prices that feed through to retail prices,” he said. “It's just structurally expensive and the high wages also makes a difference.”

“Parisians shouldn’t see it as bad news. It's partly due to the high salaries there. It just means other places abroad are cheaper when they go and visit. They will have a much higher purchasing power. It’s the same in places like Oslo where prices are also driven up by the very high salaries,” Copestake added.

 
 
The survey, released on Tuesday, aims to help companies calculate packages for expats and business travellers by comparing more than 400 individual prices across 160 products and services including food and drink, clothing, rents, transport, utility bills and recreation costs.
 
The top ten was rounded out by Geneva in equal seventh, then New York and Copenhagen at joint ninth. 
 
While Paris has featured among the ten most expensive cities for 15 years, The EIU said that the relative cost of living in the French capital has moderated. 
 
“Currently, living in Paris is 7 percent more expensive than living in New York, but just five years ago it was 50 percent pricier,” the paper reported. 
 
London, the UK capital, fell by 18 places from 6th last year to 24th – its lowest position in the cost of living ranking in 20 years.

Do you find Paris too expensive to live?

 

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READER INSIGHTS

‘Painful’ – is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Following a survey that said Paris Charles de Gaulle airport was the best in Europe, we asked Local readers what they thought...

'Painful' - is Paris Charles de Gaulle airport really that bad?

Recently, Paris Charles de Gaulle was voted the best airport in Europe by passengers.

The 2022 World Airport Awards, based on customer satisfaction surveys between September 2021 and May 2022, listed the best airport on the planet as Doha, while Paris’s main airport came in at number 6 – the highest entry for a European airport – one place above Munich. 

READ ALSO Paris Charles de Gaulle voted best airport in Europe by passengers

Given CDG’s long-standing reputation doesn’t quite match what the World Airport Awards survey said – in 2009 it was rated the second-worst airport in the world, while in 2011 US site CNN judged it “the most hated airport in the world” – we wondered how accurate the survey could be.

So we asked readers of The Local for their opinion on their experience of Europe’s ‘best’ airport. 

Contrary to the World Airport Awards study, users erred towards the negative about the airport. A total 30.8 percent of Local readers – who had travelled through the airport in recent months – thought it was ‘terrible’, while another 33.3 percent agreed that it was ‘not great’ and had ‘some problems’.

But in total 12.8 percent of those who responded to our survey thought the airport was ‘brilliant’, and another 23.1 percent thought it ‘fine’, with ‘no major problems’.

So what are the problems with it?

Signage 

One respondent asked a simple – and obvious – question: “Why are there so many terminal twos?”

Barney Lehrer added: “They should change the terminal number system.”

In fact, signage and directions – not to mention the sheer size of the place – were common complaints, as were onward travel options. 

Christine Charaudeau told us: “The signage is terrible. I’ve often followed signs that led to nowhere. Thankfully, I speak French and am familiar with the airport but for first time travellers … yikes!”

Edwin Walley added that it was, “impossible to get from point A to point B,”  as he described the logistics at the airport as the “worst in the world”.

And James Patterson had a piece of advice taken from another airport. “The signage could be better – they could take a cue from Heathrow in that regard.”

Anthony Schofield said: “Arriving by car/taxi is painful due to congestion and the walk from the skytrain to baggage claim seems interminable.”

Border control

Border control, too, was a cause for complaint. “The wait at the frontière is shameful,” Linda, who preferred to use just her first name, told us. “I waited one and a half hours standing, with a lot of old people.”

Sharon Dubble agreed. She wrote: “The wait time to navigate passport control and customs is abysmal!”

Deborah Mur, too, bemoaned the issue of, “the long, long wait to pass border control in Terminal E, especially at 6am after an overnight flight.”

Beth Van Hulst, meanwhile, pulled no punches with her estimation of border staff and the airport in general. “[It] takes forever to go through immigration, and staff deserve their grumpy reputation. Also, queuing is very unclear and people get blocked because the airport layout is not well designed.”

Jeff VanderWolk highlighted the, “inadequate staffing of immigration counters and security checkpoints”, while Karel Prinsloo had no time for the brusque attitudes among security and border personnel. “Officers at customs are so rude. I once confronted the commander about their terrible behaviour.  His response said it all: ‘We are not here to be nice’. Also the security personnel.”

Connections

One of the most-complained-about aspects is one that is not actually within the airport’s control – public transport connections.  

Mahesh Chaturvedula was just one of those to wonder about integrated travel systems in France, noting problems with the reliability of onward RER rail services, and access to the RER network from the terminal.

The airport is connected to the city via RER B, one of the capital’s notoriously slow and crowded suburban trains. Although there are plans to create a new high-speed service to the airport, this now won’t begin until after the 2024 Olympics.

Sekhar also called for, “more frequent trains from SNCF to different cities across France with respect to the international flight schedules.”

The good news

But it wasn’t all bad news for the airport, 35 percent of survey respondents said the airport had more positives than negatives, while a Twitter poll of local readers came out in favour of Charles de Gaulle.

Conceding that the airport is “too spread out”, Jim Lockard said it, “generally operates well; [and has] decent amenities for food and shopping”.

Declan Murphy was one of a number of respondents to praise the, “good services and hotels in terminals”, while Dean Millar – who last passed through Charles de Gaulle in October – said the, “signage is very good. [It is] easy to find my way around”.

He added: “Considering the size (very large) [of the airport] it is very well done.  So no complaints at all.”

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