I've always wanted to have something short on the European and art deco style influences in FF8 but I have never studied it. Who better than a real, historian Wens to help me out! After shooting photos and ideas back and forth, we ended up with what you see below! Tina also helped out with the bits about Germany.
There are a multitude of European influences in FF8 most notably in the character names but for now we're going to look at locations. Most locations were heavily influenced by France's design aesthetics and countryside. It's very fitting, since the game's theme was quite 'la vie en rose'.
This location is perhaps the most obvious. Galbadia's capital, which was recently renamed after Vinzer Deling, is very similar to Paris. The most dominant landmark in Deling City is the huge arc in the city centre. This arc looks sort of like those Roman arcs of Triumph which can be found in both France and Italy since Napoleon decided he wanted one, too.
The streets are similar to the Champs Elysees, but only very slightly. The buildings are too low, but that could be since it all has to fit the game's view on one static screen. The street also isn't wide enough, though the sidewalks are wide enough.
It should be noted that although Galbadia has many French inspired names, people and locations, the country's political and military situation is based on the U.S.A.. The commentary is not very subtle, Galbadia houses the most powerful missiles in the world "just in case" at an Area 51-like compound and everything has a "bigger is better" theme – from the military to Galbadia Garden. The neighboring country, Timber, would naturally be Canada – originally known for lush forests but now lacking in its own personality, while the major cities are the only locations relevant to outsiders.
Like parts of France, there is a canal system that goes through Deling. This mansion doesn't fit into any particular category of architecture that I can immediately identify, however it does look European. That banner hanging outside, for example, is quite typical of something you might see on the continent. Mind you, Americans who wanted to pretend they were aristocrats did that kind of thing, too; apparently, you can get your own coat of arms made for a price.
Most of these banners hanging outside mansions, particularly castles and chateaux carried a symbol associated with the residing family; even the family's coat of arms. In this case it's the symbol for Galbadia, since the owner of the house is a well known Colonel. The flag symbol is everywhere in the City, even huge spotlights project it into the sky.
Dollet is very French bistro, with actual bistros to boot. The cobblestones, lamps and how streets are jutted right beside a river or the sea give that feeling of being in Europe. Dollet and its beach, Lapin, are both undoubtedly French names as well. The place seems to be more a French-Italian mix. The sound of a clock's chimes at the town's square is also a reminder of how old the city really is. Dollet was built at the remnants of an ancient empire.
Winhill seems to be a very old place, as seen in Raine's tavern which has stained glass windows and stone walls. However, it's not uncommon to have taverns like that in Eastern France, given that that area is closer to Germany. Although there is a recognizably homogeneous official French culture, each region has its own culture as well. You won't find the same types of taverns in the South of France for example. They're more cafe oriented down there.
There are places like the chocobo road all over France, though this setting looks more North-eastern for the obvious reason. If this is France, then probably near the Alps or even heading towards Germany. Coincidentally, Monterosa Plateau in the game was named after the real Monte Rosa mountain massif in the Alps. The buildings look a little German. Plus, you also get hamlets like that in Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Houses built with natural materials like these are typical for farmers in Germany though, the roof is called "reetdach" (made of reed).