As a French girl who came to London 2 years ago, I had never imagined that I would be this happy. Ever. Sure, my language and accent has not been London-ised but maybe it is a good thing, I am not afraid to be French about everything I talk about - it is my identity and like everyone, I am proud of it.
Anyway, the London that I saw and experienced during the last two years is so much better than what I had dreamed of when I was living in France. One of the reasons for it are those amazing little places that are tucked away in the alleys of London where I can re-live the feeling of shopping for things that I LOVE.
This is my account of how you can enjoy London local markets and get the best out of them in one weekend:
1) Enjoy a Saturday morning in Camden Market.
Open: Daily 9am-6pm - depends on the five markets - Saturday is the biggest day
Tube : Camden Town, Chalk Farm (Northern)
It would not be a surprise if I said to you that Camden Market is one of a kind in London (I am tempted to say - in the world, but we’ll come to that later), this amazing place can be categorised as vibrant, memorable and full of character. Unfortunately it is also one of the most crowded places that you can find in London after Oxford Circus maybe. For someone like me who likes to chill in leisurely nice places, it is a real pain and it can totally spoil my mood; that is why if you still want to enjoy Camden markets on the weekend I would strongly advise you to go in the morning.
It is common misconception that Camden Market is one big, happy market. After making a bet with an English friend and loosing £10 later, I understood that Camden markets has not only one market but five markets ^%&*^%$%^*&&^%^*&^%^& (that’s me upset about losing £10),
1) Camden Lock Market
2) Camden Stables Market
3) Camden Lock Village
4) Buck Street Market and the
5) Inverness Street
To begin your day, there is nothing better than to enjoy a hot and delicious cappuccino in Camden Lock Village, you will find in the middle of the place a coffee stall which makes yummy hot beverages. My advice: Enjoy drinking it along Canal Market! Depending on what you want to do next, you can then go to do shopping, to chill or to bargain-hunt into the different markets; here you will find for sure stalls selling everything you’re looking for.
These include vintage clothing, antiques, souvenirs, books, bric-a-brac, cut flowers, music, furniture or jewellery. Food stalls are also one of the most representative activity you can find in Camden Markets, but please be careful and take care; don’t trust all of them, anyway that’s a little risk to take :)
If you are a tourist, you may want to keep everything you like but you’re most likely to be laden with bags full of new purchases so take note of all the products you liked and get them off myMzone later!
2) Portobello on a sunny Saturday afternoon!
Open: Monday-Wednesday, Friday-Saturday 8am-6.30pm, Thursday 8am-1pm
Tube : Notting Hill Gate (Central, Circle or District), Ladbroke Grove (Hammersmith & City)
Let’s carry on the weekend with a “Portobello afternoon”; this typical vintage market of West-Central London used to be a farm and has then been turned into a vintage clothing area during mid 60’s, where you could found second hand clothes and military uniforms. It is now considered as one of the largest antiques market in the world; the special and typical atmosphere you can find here makes of Portobello Road such an appreciable place that you will never forget it!
With more than 800 antiques dealers showing up here on Saturday, Portobello is home to several immigrants communities who bring diversity and a piece of their own flavour to the mix of the worldly famous Portobello road! Depending on where you are on the market you will find different kind of stalls and atmosphere, the southern end of the market features genuine antique products whereas more you get into the north end more the products become modern and a bit less classy. They have awesome gaiters (Ladies, snatch them up – they are mostly handmade and feels awesome on your feet) and handmade bags – that will amaze you.
So, I think you got the point... Portobello is definitely one of London’s most interesting and famous markets you can find in London.
3) East London on Sunday - Brick Lane / Spitalfields / Sunday Up
Brick Lane / Open : Saturday 10am-5pm (The Backyard Market), Sunday 6am-1am (Street Market), Sunday 10am-5pm (The Backyard Market and Upmarket)
Tube : Liverpool Street (Central, Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan), Aldgate East (District, Hammersmith & City), Old Street (Northern)
It is now time to talk about the end of our lovely week-end, and without any doubt East London is obviously THE place to be on Sunday! The first place I would advise you to go to is definitively Brick Lane, this area is one of the most typical you can find in London; don’t pay attention to the apparent mess reigning there but appreciate it! Indeed, Brick Lane is one of the last bastion of disorder and lawlessness and that is why we LOVE it.
The place is now mainly composed of two different great little markets located in large industrial and parking areas: Backyard Market and Sunday Upmarket. And if you take Brick Lane street toward Shoreditch you will find another charming “street market” in Cheshire St. I would be strongly tempted to affirm that Brick Lane is my favourite market in London because of its authenticity and its soul, one of the only places in london where you can find such unusual junk shops.
The indoor Sunday Upmarket is the heart of Brick Lane, with designers of all kinds it is a temple for vintage and retro lovers! Indeed, with more than 150 stalls you can find lots of products including handmade toys, retro clothing, jewellery, accessories and even homewares.
Backyard Markets is a place you can’t miss, with several food stalls and a funky, arty and fashionable atmosphere, the 80 stores set up there provide independent designers clothes and gifts that you won’t find anywhere else.
The last place you need to visit before leaving East London area is Spitalfields Market. Few minutes walking from Brick Lane, Spitalfields covered market has been renovated but still keeping its industrial atmosphere with an astonishing stone effect flooring or huge industrial-sized lamps. Different kind of products are available there but booksellers remain an important part of the market, otherwise these last few years have seen the emergence of good bread and pastry stalls.
To summarize, I LOVE Brick Lane area and I would strongly recommend you to have a walk there, you will find your happiness!