Exploring the Architectural Landscape and Urban Planning of England and France

Daphne Zhu
Urban Minds
Published in
3 min readOct 14


Over the summer, I took a highly-anticipated vacation to two architecturally-renowned countries: France and England. From the cobblestone roads to the breathtaking museums, these two European nations have a rich history of architectural preservation and urban development, each with its own distinct character.

Let’s take a closer look at the architectural landscapes and urban planning strategies of England and France, focusing on their embrace of small roads that limit car use and the promotion of cycling; as well as the architectural styles that make them unique.

(Photo: Inside the Louvre Museum, Paris, France)

A feature that I noticed of both England and France is how the layouts of the roads shift the focused transportation methods. With networks of charming, narrow roads that wind through picturesque countryside, as well as England’s quintessential “country lanes” bordered by hedgerows and stone walls — these small roads are not only visually appealing but also encourage cyclists and pedestrians. Their roads are significantly more narrow than those of Canada’s, which makes tiny cars more appealing and convenient.

Many cities in England and France have implemented measures to reduce car traffic in their city centers. Paris, for example, has noted that, “To reduce pollution and prioritize community wellbeing and pedestrian safety, Paris, France, has committed to becoming a car-free city by 2024.” (Source: https://www.motorbiscuit.com). London has implemented a congestion charge — a daily charge of £15 daily if you drive in certain Congestion Charge zones during busy hours — to reduce traffic in the city center. In Paris, I’ve also observed that cycling as a transportation mode may be equally as popular as driving. Noting many bike shares, dedicated cycling lanes, and heaps of perfectly manicured cyclists rocking heels on wheels; biking is undoubtedly très chic.

(Photo depicts Bike Shares in Paris)

England’s elegant Georgian townhouses and flirtatious countryside cottages boast an architectural landscape that reflects their rich history. As my parents and I ventured into a side alleyway, we found ourselves in a cute, bustling pocket in the heart of London: Neal’s Yard. The place featured colourful brick walls, hanging flower baskets, and twinkling fairy lights strung from one corner to another.

(Photo: Neal’s Yard, London, England)

France’s architecture often blends seamlessly with the natural surroundings, creating a harmonious and charming atmosphere. Paris, the “City of Light,” displays iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, and the Palace of Versailles — enchanting destinations that I was able to take in. I stood in awe under architectural marvels that have stood the test of time, pictured below. As a country that places heavy emphasis on artistic tradition, I hope to one day be back and explore more scenes from rustic farmhouses of Normandy to medieval towns of Provence.

(Photo: the Eiffel Tower at night, featuring a glimpse of yours truly)

This eye-opening trip to England and France demonstrated the architectural landscape and urban planning strategies that reflect a commitment to preserving cultural heritage, promoting sustainable transportation, and creating livable, beautiful spaces. Whether you’re strolling through the charming villages of the English countryside (sipping on your steaming English Breakfast Tea) or exploring the grand boulevards of Paris (sporting a béret rouge), both England and France have amazed me with how they can inspire cities around the world to prioritize sustainability without sacrificing aesthetic appeal.

Daphne Zhu is a Co-President of 1UP Toronto.