Visiting a city for the first time (or the tenth!) can be a challenge. For somewhere as vast and diverse as London, we’ve found it can be particularly daunting.
Lisa, our new (French) intern, describes her week in the (British) capital, with some sage advice for French visitors – whether tourist or expat.
1. French people are everywhere
Every time you take the bus, especially in Kensington, you can hear un petit je ne sais quoi in French. They’re usually complaining about anything, from weather to high prices, or even just claiming there are French people everywhere complaining all the time!
2. What to do during your stay
Because you can’t always plan your stay, some days you won’t know what to do when in London. My advice is go for the classics: Big Ben, the London Eye, the museums, palaces etc. Visit them all if you wish; they’re inspiring places!
I personally went to the British Museum for the first time this week. I took the bus to enjoy the view, and when I finally crossed the black gates I thought it will definitely become a new rendez-vous. And if you ever miss Paris’s Métro, just go to see the Rosetta Stone, where you can enjoy the oppressive proximity with strangers and be dazzled by tourists’ cameras.
3. The bus stations are hard to find
What’s wrong with the bus sign?
Is it some sort of treasure hunt? If so, please send me an invitation ASAP! Because every time I need to travel by bus, it takes me almost the same amount of time to find the right station as to make the journey. I mean, whose idea was it to give bus stations names and letters as well? Like it wasn’t complicated enough! For example, you will never find the direction of the station on the return journey.
The best app: City Mapper
4. Shopping on Sunday is now possible
If you need to do some grocery shopping, I recommend Sainsbury. It’s not that expensive, you can always enjoy some discounts and, more important, it closes at 11pm during the week and at 7pm on a Sunday.
All shops are, in fact, opened on Sundays. I suggest you visit Oxford Street to enjoy the shops and cafés.
5. British people are helpful
As I am writing this diary, I realise that I may have a bad sense of direction. If, like me, arriving in a new city is a bit disorienting, you can always ask and trust Londoners.
I asked a few people my direction this week, and every time people would help me with their phone. So to all those who stop and will continue to stop to help visitors: Merci!
Lisa, UnderTheDoormat intern.