Activities in London
A stroll along Piccadilly
Piccadilly could be seen as London's Champs-Élysées: an elegant shopping street which embodies the very spirit of London. It is less busy than Oxford Street, so shopping is more relaxed (but also more expensive!). Piccadilly Circus is undoubtedly one of London's most famous landmarks. The statue of Eros sits right in the middle, pulling on his bow as if mischievously aiming at passers-by or the eccentric characters who gather round the fountain. A night time visit to Piccadilly Circus is a must in order to see all the bright lights sparkling. And don't miss Tower Records, the gigantic record store which is open till midnight. Here you will most certainly find the latest hit you heard out clubbing last night!
St James’s Church (197 Piccadilly): Built by Sir Christopher Wren in 1684, this charming church is where London's gentry get married. Have a coffee and enjoy the church's shady terrace, or visit one of the weekly markets!
Further down the same street lies The Ritz, the legendary hotel where afternoon tea became a fine art! For over a century, its elegant Palm Court has been serving ceremonial Victorian afternoon teas. Mini sandwiches, fruitcake, scones and fresh cream cakes accompanied by a pot of Earl Grey, Darjeeling or Lapsang Souchong (served for £37 per person). Gentlemen, you are required to wear a jacket and tie!
Tip: If your budget doesn't stretch to The Ritz, we suggest the Japanese restaurant Mitsukoshi (Dorland House, 14-20). You might have trouble understanding the menu, which is generally transcribed but not translated, but we recommend you to stick to the sashimi, which is one of the best and most varied in the city. The grilled dishes won't disappoint either.
The National Gallery (Trafalgar Square) is much smaller than the Louvre but its collections only contain masterpieces of European painters dating from the 13th to early 20th century, placed in chronological order. Don't miss Piero della Francesca's The Baptism of Christ, Holbein's The Ambassadors, the Rembrandt rooms, The Toilet of Venus by Vélazquez, or Seurat's Bathers at Asnieres.
Don't forget to visit the adjacent National Portrait Gallery (St Martin’s Place), which offers a quick overview of British history through its great men and women: kings, artists, heroes and hoodlums. All those who have made their mark in history since the 14th century are hang side by side, including Margaret Thatcher and Mick Jagger.
Parish Church of St Mark
After crossing Regent’s Park, the small Parish Church of St Mark (St Mark’s Square) with its large rose window is an ideal place to stop. The Parish Church of St Mark is not always open to the public but the shaded benches in its flower garden are a real haven of peace, an ideal spot for a quiet break before taking a walk along the canals which lead to Camden. Not to be missed!
Tip: fancy a Chinese meal? Stop off at the Feng Shang Princess (Cumberland Basin, Prince Albert Road). Cross the little pathway to the port and you'll find a Saigon red, two storey boat which houses the restaurant. Fantastic cuisine served in a magnificent atmosphere. The chicken satay is mouthwatering!
Following the canal that links Regent’s Park to Camden is one of the most beautiful walks in the capital. Stroll along the tow-path and take in the colourful barges. Three companies offer boat trips between Camden and Little Venice: London Waterbus Company, Jenny Wren and Jason’s Canal Boat Trip. To delve deeper into the history of London's canals, continue to the London Canal Museum (12-13 New Wharf Road).