If you are a native French speaker and are looking for home comforts in London, or you fancy yourself something of a Francophone, then the Big Smoke has plenty of French haunts and activities for you to enjoy.
There are thousands of French people living in the city and, as a result, there are lots of typically French things to get up to in this capital.
You could go out to a beautiful little bistro, maybe take in some music at a bar or even at a festival: the possibilities are almost limitless.
Why is the French lifestyle so avid throughout this British city? As we mentioned, there are lots of French people living in London, but we think it’s also due to the fact that the French culture is all about having fun and indulging yourself, whether it’s with delicious wine, pungent cheese, decadent food or music that moves you.
We’ve picked out some of the best places to and things to do if you feel yourself drawn to the French way of life while you’re in London. Bon vacances à Londrés!
Chez Elles Bistroquet
A duo of French women who are absolutely charming set the tone for this delightful little bistro on Brick Lane.
Of course, this is one of the most ‘hip’ streets throughout the whole of London, boasting extravagant little boutiques and street fairs that tickle all the senses. But Chez Elles Bistroquet is where you’re going to find some true French style and food.
Le Menu spans brunch, lunch, dinner and wicked desserts that all have a mixture of high-quality English and French ingredients.
For Sunday brunch, we recommend their delicious Croque Monsieur, made with delicious Emmental cheese and a perfect Bechamel sauce. If you’re feeling more of a lunch vibe, the duck rillette is your choice and if you prefer an alternative breakfast they also serve Burgundy snails on the brunch menu. There are fresh crepes and pain au chocolat for those who would like something a bit more familiar.
The lunch and dinner menus change quite frequently but you should expect classics like beef tartare and lots of fresh seafood.
For anyone who has ever asked the question, “What is French Cabaret?”, you need wonder no longer when you go to take in the Soiree Pompette.
This takes place in London’s Exmouth Market and although you may have been to a cabaret before, this one will be a completely different experience, if only for the fact that the entire thing is in French.
You won’t be lost in translation though, as the show has singers, clowns, acrobats and magicians who are masters of showmanship – not a moment will be lost. You’ll also be encouraged to partake in the French food and drinks available, and they’ll certainly appreciate it if you dust off your GCSE French to order a beverage or two.
Play along and become part of the fun at Soiree Pompette; you’ll be recommending it to all your friends before you know it.
Somewhere to stay
The Shaftesbury Collection has a myriad of hotels that are close to lots of French action within the city.
One of the closest to Exmouth Market and Soiree Pompette is The Shaftesbury Hyde Park International Hotel. It’s just 28 minutes in total when you take the Central line from Queensway Station to Chancery Lane Station. There’s a little walk from the second station to the market, but you’ll be there in no time.
Of course, being right next to Hyde Park, this is one of the most desirable locations for a London hotel, as you’re right in the middle of everything. The park is beautiful, particularly in the early evening for a stroll, and you’ll be likely to find French people enjoying the scenery themselves or reading a book on a bench – you could easily mistake it for Paris.
Brixton Farmers’ Market
French people living in London say that this is where they tend to feel the most French, not least because of the accents.
In general, this part of London is becoming very continental, but it’s the wares you can pick up at the market that make it feel particularly French.
Perhaps this is because of all the excellent cuts of meat that you can buy from the market, from beef to pork and lamb that all come from high welfare farms. There are also rare breeds that you can find scattered around, including game sausages – simply delicious.
Of course, it’s well known that French people take their food and ingredients very seriously, so it’s little wonder that many are to be found at this market.
Breads are another thing to be bought at this market and also something else that the French don’t joke about. In these times of intolerances, it’s becoming all the more important for the gluten eaters left in the world to find a delicious and traditional loaf and Brixton Farmers’ Market is just where to get it.
Cheese is another big one here, which is largely represented by farmers who are located close to London. Most of the other suppliers at the market will also have local cheeses, but you can find a French delicacy or two when you have a look around, which is definitely part of the fun. Put your French foot forward and ask for a sample of something; they wouldn’t dream of buying something they hadn’t tried first!
For some truly dark humour, you have to go to see the Troi Ruptures or the Three Splits; it’s a comedy, but you’ll be laughing behind your hand in shock.
This show was a sell-out when it was first launched at the Institut de Francais – which is incidentally a great place for you to brush up on your French language skills, or just have an excellent cup of coffee.
The play shows three couples, three splits and three stories and depicts revenge, drama and surprise all brought to life by award-winning playwright Remi De Vos.
Step inside his world and laugh, even though you know you shouldn’t.
One of the most famous days in French history, Bastille Day celebrates the event in 1789 that changed France forever.
Although its origins are based in revolution and battle, these days, it really is a chance to celebrate and enjoy all things French.
We recommend that you go to Borough Market on July 14th to have your celebration for this French holiday, as there are lots of free outdoor activities that all the family can enjoy during the summer months – as long as the British weather doesn’t turn on you!
Enjoy acrobats and magicians, have your face painted or even try your hand at snail racing – it’s all here. Of course, Borough Market is a London institution and you can be absolutely certain that you’re going to find the best food and drinks here to raise a glass in style.
Bon vivant mes amis and enjoy experiencing all that the French restaurants and culture have to offer you when you’re in London. We certainly hope to see you at Soiree Pompette!
To make your stay in the city even more memorable, book to stay at any of the hotels in The Shaftesbury Collection now.