converge88

Visiting London and Paris. Recommendations?

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The wife and I are visiting London and Paris in a few months for the first time and I'm wondering if anyone has any tips?  Places to eat, record stores, places to visit, places not to visit? Also the catacombs in Paris look really cool. Are the tours worth it? I know the lines can be long. Thanks! 

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1 hour ago, converge88 said:

The wife and I are visiting London and Paris in a few months for the first time and I'm wondering if anyone has any tips?  Places to eat, record stores, places to visit, places not to visit? Also the catacombs in Paris look really cool. Are the tours worth it? I know the lines can be long. Thanks! 

My favorite restaurant in Paris is Le Soleil Gourmand. It's located in Montmartre (Sacre Couer). Definitely check out Musee D'Orsay, Pere Lachaise Cemetery and Notre Dame. Then there's plenty more to choose from: Eiffel Tower, Pompidou Centre, Picasso Museum, Louvre, etc. depending on how long you're staying. I've been to a few record stores in Paris but I can't remember the names. I was looking for French stuff like Serge Gainsbourg and Francoise Hardy. There are a few good stores near the Bastille District.

 

I've never been to the catacombs.

 

Definitely go to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The Tate Modern is also good. A trip to Windsor Castle is cool but that will definitely take up a day. Most of my time in London has been spent in Brixton. There are a few record stores around there. Rat Records in Camberwell is great and you should definitely check out Rough Trade which is near curry row. Brixton Market has some really good restaurants. Mama Lan is great and not too far from the market you will find Jeff the Chef who serves up some of the best jerk chicken I've ever eaten. 

 

If you can take a day trip to Brighton, it's worth it. There are a handful of record stores and some other great shops to check out. 

 

Have fun.

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For LAHDAHN, I guess you'll visit Soho on your adventures (since it's considered the center and where typical shops are), so you'll want to go to Berwick Street, as there's Sister Ray (vinyl is in the cellar) and a couple of other record shops near by. Soho's fairly lame thanks to Westminster council fucking it up (a lot of chains, so you'll be fairly safe with whats on offer there). So highlights for me: Duck Soup is great if you can get a table. BiBimBap is a great - hot rock bowls with bits and pieces in 'em! Hummingbird Bakery for cupcakes fatty cake stuff. Meat Liquor for burgers. Bently's on Swallow Street for seafood (read: expensive). Big tip if you central is to just walk everywhere here. I see people get on at Oxford street and hop off at Bond street like complete lemons. Don't be a lemon. 

 

Jumping on the above: Rat Records in Camberwell is good if you want to head out of the main city a little, hang out with the locals, I can recommend loads in this area since I lived here for 4 years. To get there, you'll either want to travel to Oval or Elephant & Castle (it's a 15ish min walk from either, or a 5 min bus ride). Stormbird does great craft, local ales/beers. Camberwell Arms is another great little boozer with a restaurant that does some great food. Van Hing for all your typical Vietnamese, looks shabby, but it's actually really good. Avoid Silk Road, it's an over subscribed Chinese food place, the staff rush you to eat and you'll end up with the runs! Theo's does a great pizza if you can put up with some art school grumps serving it! If you're heading back towards town (up towards Elephant & Castle on Walworth Road), there's a new place called Louie Louie which I hear good things about. And once you pass Elephant & Castle, there's this HUGE Italian warehouse takeover called Mercato (which is near Ministry of Sound if you want to go to a bog standard club, but there's sometimes a record fair here). Otherwise, jumping on the above once again, about Brixton, everyone goes wild for Brixton Village which is an indoor market, I think the record shop is still there. Loads of food options there, but huge warning that it can be tricky trying to get a table though so depends what time of day you're going. Else there's a few bars and places to eat on Atlantic Avenue, like a Wahaca (mexican street food) and Dip n Flip for burgers. Since you're in Brixton, go and see the Bowie memorial if it's still there/hasn't been trashed.

 

Sometimes a guy rocks up on the Southbank with LOADS of yer dad's records, but that'll only be weekends. Otherwise, it's nice to have a stroll down there and to watch the awful skaters not land any tricks (avoid the film museum there, it's shit). Also has a Wahaca. You can see a pattern forming.... But I recommend cocktails and a meal in Skylon. Or just hang out in the Southbank centre itself.

 

I'm not too great with North/East, which is where it's all hip and stuff now. Maybe someone else can chime in here. Rough Trade is out in Shoreditch (hop off at Liverpool Street and walk through Spitalfields Market), but not sure what else is that ways now. I think Erased Tapes still might have thing on the go that ways too, might be wrong.

 

Generally, West London (Kensington and beyond) is just deemed expensive and dull. Banquet Records is out in Kingston if you want to make the trip, but that place is the holy grail for all things good. 

 

if you do go to Brighton (aka: Shoreditch-by-Sea), Resident is your to-go-to shop there. Rarekind is good too. BUT I have a special soft place in my heart for The Record Album near the station, it's a diggers paradise with loads of old records. The owner will give you a lot of time and he's the coolest guy to talk to (Like he's got a pic of him hanging out with The Avalanches whom basically bought out a lot of stock from there, so I'm told).

 

This has been Whoa, for TimeOut LonelyPlanet magazine!

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5 minutes ago, converge88 said:

Can you guys dumb down the oyster card and which one I should get? I noticed lots of different options to choose from. 

Actually, you have two options. If your current bank card is contactless, or have mobile payments on an NFC phone, you can use that and the cap applies (You can connect to WiFi on the underground, but it might only still be available for certain mobile network providers still). Simply tap/hover the card above the yellow reader until it's read. Don't wiggle it about. 

 

Else, all underground station self service machines will vend an oyster card (or buy from a counter if available). Buy a pay as you go one. You'll need to keep an eye out and top it up, but generally it's about £6-7/day if you're travelling in and around zone 1 & 2 on all (tube, bus, overground). Excludes Boris bikes I think. Don't touch those, they're like tanks (although fine for cycling through Hyde park with). 

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You should visit the Catacombs in Paris. I would suggest getting in line 1-2 hours before they open. Kinda seems like a waste of time on the front end, but it will save you 3-4 hours of standing in line if you show up when they open or after. I've heard that you can buy tickets for the Catacombs online, but I didn't go that route, so can't give informed advice there. 

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For Paris,

There is plenty places to go but get there early in the morning before long lines.

For the Louvre museum, go there before 10 am if you can  otherwise you have two hours of queues.

Also, forget the Eiffel tower, Champ-elysées, etc, there too much tourists but  go for a walk in Le Marais or Saint-Germain des Près.

For the record stores, The must are loacted between La Bastille and Père Lachaise (Musicfearsatan, Souffle Continu, Bord Bad...)

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In Paris I grabbed lunch from a market a couple blocks away from the Eiffel Tower and just had a picnic on the lawn with some wine. It was cheap and I didn't have to wait in any lines. 

 

The only paid exhibit i went to was the arc de triomphe. It wasn't too expensive and I only waited in line for 15 minutes. 

 

The Paris metro was really easy to figure out for places that were too far to walk to. 

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Do not let anyone help you buy Metro tickets in Paris. They will try and they will do their best to convince you that they're legit---their English is probably better than your French. If you can't figure out the kiosk on your own or it won't take your ATM card---go to a window and purchase tickets there.

Going to the Eiffel Tower is fine if you just want to see it and not access it. There's no line for that and the crowds aren't crazy. 

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11 hours ago, jmpatrick said:

In Paris, try Music Fear Satan.  Not far from Pere Lachaise.

http://musicfearsatan.com/

nice metal shop.

 

and not sure of we mentioned it but there's a great punk / garage spot in Paris that we really liked, they even carried a bunch of Ty and Oh Sees stuff.

Born Bad.  check it out  - http://www.bornbadrecords.net/

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I just got back from Paris today! Here are my 2 cents...

 

The Bastille district is a cool area. My wife and I found ourselves in that neighborhood several times throughout our visit. Lots of cool shops, bars, etc, and less touristy and less expensive. I also recommend Born Bad records like others have mentioned. There's a "cat cafe" named Cafe de Chats where you can eat and drink while cats roam around for you to play with and pet. There's also The Moonshiner which is a speakeasy behind a pizza shop that makes great cocktails and has friendly bartenders. Lastly, The Bataclan is nearby if you're lucky to catch a show.

 

Another must-visit in my opinion is Walrus Records. It has a great selection, and also a cafe in front of the store, so if your wife doesn't care so much for vinyl shopping, she can have a coffee or beer while you shop!

 

If you really want to see the touristy stuff, spend the extra money on a "skip the line" tour. You'll have to follow a tour guide, but it will save you tons of time from waiting in the general admission lines. We used Fat Tire Tours, and thought the guides were really good and informative.

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Just got back from Paris on Thursday!  The catacombs were great, I highly recommend it.  You can buy tickets online in advance, I think they're more expensive online but you don't have to deal with the lines.  We waited in line prob 10 minutes when we got there.  The Louvre was overwhelming and we missed some cool stuff, but again you can get tickets online in advance (even just the night before) and skip the long lines.  We almost missed our flight out of CDG even though we were there 2 hours early (had to run to our gate) so I'd recommend getting there 3 hours early when you come home.  Baguettes are dirt cheap and amazing, Belgian beer is really cheap, I really enjoyed Paris a lot more than I thought I would.  Oh and also for their subway you can buy 10 tickets at once at a discount, definitely do that if you think you'll use that many (can also split with your wife).

 

Most of what I know about London is the main touristy stuff, Westminster Abbey is cool, the eye was cool, the Tate is great.  We took a river ferry to Greenwich which was nice.  Also check out St. Dunstan in the East, it's a church that got bombed during WW2, and they left the ruins and turned it into a garden, it's a really cool quiet spot to rest, somewhat off the beaten path.

Edited by hammertime

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On 16/07/2017 at 8:08 PM, whoa said:

I'm not too great with North/East, which is where it's all hip and stuff now. Maybe someone else can chime in here. Rough Trade is out in Shoreditch (hop off at Liverpool Street and walk through Spitalfields Market), but not sure what else is that ways now. I think Erased Tapes still might have thing on the go that ways too, might be wrong.

If you do go to Splitalfields there's a record fair on the 1st and 3rd Friday of the month which is always worth a look.

 

Also don't forget Camden Market, sadly there has been a bad fire there recently but I know the main record shop survived although it is right on the edge of the fire affected area but I'm told should be re opening soon and there are other stalls selling records around the market. There is a shop on the way up to Camden lock from the tube which is Out on the floor records in Inverness street and there's also All ages records in Pratt street which is a punk and hardcore place.

 

There's a few popping up in Hackney as well, have been going in to Cosmos records recently on Hackney Road when I'm in that part of London and I know there's a couple more around there. As @whoa said it's all very hip and trendy around that part of London but that does mean there's new interesting little shops popping up all over the place.

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I just got back from London and the FIRST thing I would say is do not take a cab from Heathrow to your hotel. We spent two hours in the cab during the evening rush hour and it cost about 125 pounds. Do the underground. All of our friends gave tons of suggestions for places to eat and drink, but no one bothered to mention this to us.

If you're into metal you need to go to Crypt of the Wizard. http://www.cryptofthewizard.com/

I enjoyed Camden Market. There were a lot of little record stalls and shops. The place is pretty overwhelming to navigate, so give yourself a lot of time and try to go in the morning. Seek out the lady making beef bourguignon burgers near Camden Lock food vendors. Best thing I ate in London.

 

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If you want to hit all the legit tourist stuff in Paris, which although many may steer you away, it still is fun and cool to see for a first timer. I actually bought this:

 

https://www.parispass.com

Total tourist thing but gets you everywhere and beat the lines. The most underrated part about it is there's a double decker bus that just drives to all the attractions on the pass all day. You can just hop on and off and get all over the city. Even if you don't want to see the eiffel tower but there's stuff near there, hop on the bus and get a free ride to where you want to be. 

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I'm gonna second St. Dunstan-in-the East, it's one of my favorite places to just chill out for a bit and everyone I've taken there has loved it. It's decently close to the Tower of London if you're gonna be in that area.

The major museums are all pretty great and not to mention free, except the transport museum I believe. The V&A and Tate Modern are my personal favorites, and the British Museum kinda goes without saying. The South Bank is pretty to walk along at night, there are food stalls around but I personally haven't tried any so I can't give any opinion on what's good and what to skip. There's a street food market on weekends at the Southbank Centre that I've heard good things about, though.

If you have the time, Brighton is definitely worth a day trip. Buy a train ticket online a few days in advance and you should be able to get a good deal, less than $20 roundtrip per person. If you're a burger person, Burger Brothers on North St. is the best burger I've had in the UK. It's tiny and gets crowded easily but it's so, so worth it.

Avoid cabs, they're a waste of money. London transport will get you basically anywhere you need to go for much cheaper and walking is even easier - in zone 1 pretty much everything is closer than you think. And yes, tube from Heathrow absolutely. A few pounds to central London in ~30-45 minutes. But as someone who lives on the Heathrow branch of the Piccadilly line, try not to let your luggage take up three seats while the rest of us stand. ;)

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Last tip, don't ever fly Aer Lingus. I don't know if they only fly to or from Ireland, but they fuckin' suck. Terrible staff and I am on day six with no word on my luggage that they lost. Yes, the records I bought in Dublin and London are presumably gone. Aer Lingus is hands down the worst airline I have ever flown for many reasons.

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