In comparing France and Italy to decide where to spend your deserved holiday, you will be disappointed if you think there is a clear favorite. Both west European countries have long held a lure for vacationers who are looking to take in some history, witness the rich culture, and sample scads of local cuisines. Therefore, it is no surprise that Italy and France attract millions of tourists every year. For those heading to Europe, there has always been a single regular question asked: France or Italy?

Both countries have fantastic capitals in Rome and Paris. They are both filled with ancient olive groves, dramatic, picturesque medieval towns and are world-famous for their spectacular fashion tastes. This piece is your perfect guide to France vs. Italy- how they compare and which suit your traveling needs.

History and Culture

At the time when France was the center of the Roman Empire, as established by Charlemagne at the turn of the 9th-century, Italy was the very heart of the Roman Empire about two thousand years ago. Consequently, both countries have loads of things to do, see, and visit. They have ancient monasteries worth checking out and lots of romantic ruins that are excellent for exploring with your significant other. So who wins here? It’s a tie. 

Architecture and Design

The Chateau de ChambordLouvrePalace of Versailles, and Mont Saint Michel can be compared against the likes of Certosa di Pavia, Pantheon, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Duomo di Milano. It is hard to choose which country to visit on this account if you are a design and architecture lover. Therefore, I recommend that you visit both. France and Italy have ancient and modern architecture, artifacts dating back to antiquity, colosseums, bridges, etc. 

Tourist Attractions

It is not out of order to say that you can’t be bored on a holiday trip to either France or Italy. Often touted as two of the continent’s most-visited destinations, they offer a lot as regards bustling cities and fascinating countryside. But since we are comparing both countries, let us take a short dive into the top destinations you will love to check out.

France has attractions including Eiffel Tower; great museums like the Louvre, D’Orsay; L’Orangerie; Notre Dame in Paris; Palace of VersaillesMont St. Michel; Lyon (French gastronomy capital); French Alps; Beaches of the Cote D’Azur and Nice; Strasbourg’s Christmas markets (some of world’s largest); all the incredible wine regions: Burgundy, Loire Valley, Bordeaux, Languedoc, Champagne, Cotes du Rhone; and chateaus in the Loire Valley.

Close to France is Italy, with lots of great destinations and things to do, including Colosseum and the Roman ruin in Rome; Trevi Fountain in Rome; Spanish Steps in Rome; The Vatican in Rome; Carnival in Venice; The David in Florence; Canals of Venice; Ponte Vecchio; great wine regions of Piedmont, Tuscany, Lombardy, etc.; beautiful islands like Capri, Sicily, Sardinia, etc.; beaches of the Amalfi Coast; Milan (fashion capital); ruins of Pompeii, etc.

Choosing the winner here can be difficult. Both France and Italy have the most captivating features and destinations. Indeed, it depends on what type of holiday you are looking to have. But I think France edges it here.

Beaches

They both have lovely beaches if you want to have a beach vacation. As for Italy, it is endowed with wild and monitored beaches. There are around 350 islands off Italy’s coast, so the country is all about islands. What is more, you can have a beach to yourself. Relax on the Amalfi or the Cinque Terre coastlines and relish every second you spend there.

Along the Atlantic Ocean, France has coastlines, and Normandy might be the widest known destination for Atlantic Ocean beaches with fine sand and gorgeous towns. But it can be crowded during the summertime. The French Riviera has always been synonymous with opulence. So, expect to see celebrities when you are there. If you love a nice island treat, Italy might be the place to go. Both France and Italy have awesome beaches, but Italy’s coastlines are a rarity. So, Italy takes this one.

Crowds

Italy and France rank high as some of the most visited destinations in the world. And for most tourists, France clearly wins as it attracted around 86.9 million visitors just in 2017. It is also said to be the world’s most visited country. Despite this staggering number, most people that visit France only go to Paris. And while the Alps, Lyon, and the French Riviera attract lots of visitors, you will only see few tourists when you get outside of Paris.  

As for Italy, it receives way fewer tourists than France every year. Tourist attractions are majorly centered around Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, etc. The implication is that it gets really crowded anytime you visit these places. So, Italy might receive fewer tourists overall, but you can’t visit the major spots without a crowd. Meanwhile, outside of Paris, there is a great deal of the country to see without worrying about the tourist crowd. 

Nightlife

Italians and the French are chiefs in merrymaking. You should definitely spend nights out in Milan. This is not just a Milan thing. Italy is buzzing with exciting nightclubs, and if you want to party hard or soft, you will enjoy your time out. Kick things off with apertivo, a better version of “happy hour”. You will be served tasty snacks with drinks to enjoy before the clubs start proceedings. The French party less than the Italians as they are more about dinner parties, wine-filled picnics in a park, wine bars, etc. France has a more laidback nightlife compared with Italy. Italy wins here.

>>Also Read: Nightlife Guide For Paris

Food and Drink

The category of food and drink is the toughest one when comparing these two countries. If you are bold to compare France and Italy in food as I’m about to, you will be trying to choose between widely known and often-enjoyable Italian treats to the toothsome and intriguing French cuisine. And as for the wine- oh caro. It’s a difficult call. 

There is pasta, pizza, risotto, and more from Italy, with every region and city boasting of a unique treat. From the creamy risotto in Milan to the local Napoli pizzas, you will be spoiled for choice. As for drinks, Italy produces some wonderful wine. There are fine liquors like grappa, limocello, amaretto, and lot more too. Do not forget to indulge in a treat like a gelato that comes in numerous flavors.  

You must have already known about the prestigious French cuisine. It is simple yet amazing. Foie gras is indeed a little complicated, but nothing beats a simple poulet grille. Stop by one of the many pastry shops and bakeries too. Baguettes, macaroons, cheese, and all the treats and sweets are fantastic in France.

Transportation 

Italy and France both have expansive railway systems and good roads. Depending on your convenience, you can choose the mode of transport you want. In Rome and Paris, subways and buses are great as taxis are expensive. And even if you happen to rent a car, finding a place to park can be a struggle, except you are visiting regions where public transportation networks are not well developed, like in Tuscany and Provence. 

France vs. Italy – Final Verdict

Both countries are great places to visit at least once in a lifetime, with each one having rich cultural, historical, religious, and culinary sites to the delight of tourists. And France might win in terms of attracting tourists while Italy takes home the cake as regards beaches and nightlife, a trip to either country will be incredibly rewarding. However, ensure that you make proper travel plans before setting out to either or both countries. Do not forget to consider COVID-19 protocols too.