Close to Farringdon station, the Postal Museum is a place you can easily miss as few people are passionate by the story of the mail through the centuries. Nevertheless, it would be a pity not to attend one of the most original attraction currently in London. Opened last July, the London Post office offers you to discover the secret underground network used for over 75 years (1920-2003) to deliver the mails in the capital.
Second edition of our newsletter across the Manche. Charlotte succeeds in her new position in Paris but her heart is still in London so I’m lucky enough to see her on a regular basis. With the summer – hot temperatures in Paris / still uncertain weather in London until recently – it’s more than ever the time to get the most of the 2 cities and to start planning your week-end. Look at eurostar.com or snap eurostar (if you’re more flexible) to spot the seasonal promotions. For this summer, we’ll talk about music festivals: Love Box in London/Lollapalooza in Paris, terraces and outdoors – barbecue versus “buvettes” and we mention a famous palace… All the links and details below, happy Summer across the Manche and let us know what you try !
Two bank holidays in a month…. No doubt, May is coming. You will have plenty of time to discover and to enjoy what London has to offer. This month, we’ve made with Marine an eclectic selection where you could see us in our favourite playground. From art and flower exhibitions to open air theatre or Peckham Rye Festival, it’s time to plan your weekend activities. Welcome in May and welcome in London.
Until the 25th of June, the Barbican – this excellent cultural center- houses the exhibition: The Japanese house : Architecture and Life after 1945. Do not miss this opportunity to better understand the evolution of the lodging after the WW2 in a country devastated by the bombs and in which a large part of the population is homeless. Under the US occupation (1945-1952) the Japan is influenced by the Western culture, its magasines, cinema, etc…Nevertheless, building houses is re-building a nation and a so-called “tradition debate” took stage in the society. The new accommodations should be inspired by the Palace style with raised floors, airy and open spaces or by a rural come-back with earthen floors and large roofs? A new genre called “home drame” emerges until the 1950’s and considers every social change under a domestic perspective. You will discover the famous directors Azu and Naruse who testify of this intellectual current. From the 1960’s, the Japan know a new era of prosperity. But the growth of the economy creates overwhelmed and contaminated cities. More and more, the architects reject the urban life and think the house like a safe heaven. The Tea house, silent and independent small room, build outside the house become a must-have. You will end the exhibition by a more immersive approach, you will enter the gardens, the kitchens, the bathrooms of the Japanese houses where some shoes and food products seem to be given up, to help you to project yourself in this domestic life. Enjoy your travel in Japanese land!
On a sunny Monday (it’s always better when it’s a workday), we headed with Charlotte to the Chelsea Harbour, a tiny marina, close to the Imperial Wharf station. To enjoy the view, choose the Chelsea Harbour Hotel, whose interest lies in its terrace. After that, pop in the Design Center, a building as interesting as the stores dedicated to the decoration and refurbishment it houses. Walking along the Thames (or trying to – unfortunately you have a lot of buildings in progress), you will reconnect with the famous Chelsea spirit, these small colored houses. Did I mention the famous painter Turner set his sights on the 119 Cheyne Walk? By chance, just in front of the famous river…sunset admirer forever. If you are a plant-savvy, push the doors of the Chelsea Physic Garden (as usual, all the links to the websites are in the main text), the 2nd oldest botanical garden in GB created in 1673. Then, leave for the Saatchi Gallery, the famous contemporary art Gallery where I always prefer the temporary exhibition rather than the permanent collection. For those who are fancy to do some trendy shopping, the King’s road should be the answer to the stores you look for. Have a nice Chelsea day!
On a rainy Sunday (no, it’s not an usual Sunday in London), visiting the Churchill war rooms is always a good idea. Beside the 10 Downing Street, you will find a bunker entrance housing the secret WW2 bunker (from where Churchill led the country from 1939 to 1945) and the Churchill museum. Open to the public only in 1984 by Margaret Tatcher (a great admirer of the former Prime Minister), this historic underground had been closed at the end of the WW2. After a lot of rebuilding, everyone can now discover what was the day-to-day organisation of the war cabinet. Protected from the bombs, you will pass along the map room (to follow the enemy and allies attacks), the radio room to broadcast the famous Churchill’s speech, a machine room to ensure a comprehensive autonomy to the buildings, and the bedrooms of the closest colleagues. The Churchill museum has been built in an addition to the underground. A fascinating testimonial of the Great Man through the letters from Clementine (his wife) and his friends, his exchanges with Roosevelt, his views on the “Cold War”, a chronological approach from his childhood to his first steps in Politics, you will learn everything on this brilliant speaker, intellectual, impatient and choleric man who also got a Nobel Prize in Literature in 1971 and who painted figurative artworks. Please allow 2 hours at least to get the most of the visit (an audioguide is included in the tour). A bit expensive (£17) but it is definitely worth it.
We were a bit surprised when we have heard that the exhibition dedicated to David Hockney (English painter, printmaker, photographer…born in 1937 in the Yorkshire but quickly seduced by the dolce vita in California) would take place at the Tate Britain until the 29th of May and not at the Tate Modern. This major contributor of the Pop Art in the 1960’s has developed a colorful realism, influenced by the “on-stage” world and the photographic art. Quite impossible to summarize because we have been overwhelmed by the variety of styles – from domestic scenes to Yorkshire and US landscapes-, and expressions: vidéo, pictures, drawings,… But we can say that: we have been very impressed and it’s probably the more fascinating exhibition we have seen for a while. You will not follow there a chronological path giving some clues about his biography but you will dive into a deep creative world. His obsessive theme – how to represent (and to play with) the reality – is revealed from the very first room “play within a play”. Throughout the exhibition, you will discover his work on the perspective, the scenography, the color and a new form of (pop) impressionism. Hockney uses the pictures and the video to create a bigger artwork which questions our perception and what we keep in mind. Please, offer you a pure artistic creative session.
Most of you associate only Canary Wharf with the business center place, a spot to desert after workdays. It would be a pity if we keep only in mind this definition. Built in the 80’s, the unmissable place is also a part of a bigger Real Estate project to give a new life to the docks (bombarded in WW2 and given up by the population). More than ever, with the new Crossrail station in 2018, Canary Wharf will be one of the most commutable place. We have tried to walk in Poplar and Canada Water but we haven’t seen nothing you can’t miss. That’s why, eventually, we have preferred to focus on 3 addresses to consider this place differently. The Museum of Docklands doubtless worths a visit and will offer you a complementary explanation to that of you can find in the Maritime Museum in Greenwich (not too far). You will know everything about the beginning of the Maritime trade and its development with the Indias, the issue of the slavery, the life and its insecurity in the docks in the 18th, the consequences of the World Ward and and the new urban project “Canary Wharf” to reclaim the abandoned docks. After that, have a drink or a dinner at the Pagination, the new unmissable cocktail and wine bar from Drake and Morgan. At last, a cosy, refined and stylish restaurant with accessible prices at Canary. And we have kept a little surprise for the end: the Crossrail roof top garden. If the station will open in 2018, a 300 sq.m high line has been already developed to allow you to discover rare plants and flowers coming from the countries the West Indian Company traded with in the the 18th. The green heart we daren’t expect there.