Its one of the World’s glamour cities,home of the British so British, expensive said some, but all damn worth it. I have been coming to London for 8 years straight on business trips, and finally made it with the family last July.
We made the trip by car from Versailles, drove up the A16 exit/sortie 42 to terminal de Calais, get on the big Eurostar train car loader under the bay and reach London Earl’s Court in 7 hrs total time door to door. The return was just as easy coming from London and getting on the Eurostar in Folkestone, M20 road exit 11A. The usual michelin webpage can guide you in your route planning from any location ,webpage http://www.viamichelin.co.uk/ It is best to pay the crossing ahead of time online, this secures best placing on the trains,easy out,and no delays. The official webpage is http://www.eurotunnel.com/ukcP3Main/ukcPassengers/ukcTravel/ukpExperience
Once in London Earl’s Court area the site of our apartment the entry on the A4 road is very easy and well marked. You are just outside the congestion zone so no need to pay this outrageous fee (giving right to use your car in central London). Anyway you only needed to get to London,as once there the Tube or underground or metro or subway is the best way to travel plus on foot ::) You are smart to secure parking online ahead of arrival as onsite it can be as much as 36£ while if done reserve online is only 16£ ! This are sites for the following information
congestion zone http://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/congestioncharging/
underground/metro as well as other types of transportation is the official city site here http://www.tfl.gov.uk/gettingaround/default.aspx If staying for a few days, more than a week, or intend to visit the city in the near future a few times, you can opt for the Oyster cards, they are good reusable, rechargeable, and very convenient,info here https://oyster.tfl.gov.uk/oyster/entry.do
for auto parking garages, there are several but with the family using the car I stay at the Earl’s Court Exhibition Center parking http://www.eco.co.uk/p/organiser-parking/81 Once here its very easy to get on the metro/tube/subway at Earl’s Court as they have the District Line and the Piccadilly line into all areas of London easily done. !Update: Difficult to keep up with changes but the exhibition centre is close, all activities move to Olympia but the parking off the area is still possible; new site here http://olympia.london/visiting/parking/book-parking
For accommodations you can look into the city of London tourist office for guidance here http://www.visitlondon.com/accommodation the choices are endless. For families I suggest the by owner apartment flats as the one in Earls Court Studios was excellent, the owner and family lives just above us, and was there for help and chat all the time, a great way to inmerse yourselves into the British lifestime. Webpage http://www.earlscourtstudios.com/index.php
The choices for food and sightseeing are endless, and as I said, the people are very friendly all over. AFter trying some English grout at London Courtfield Pub, we head to our tex mex par excellence Chiquitos, then some good old fashion burgers at Gourmet Burger Kitchen plus our own shopping at Tesco supermarket store for in house eating and the time was well spent by all. Some addresses
Courtfield Pub, 187 Earls Court Road, London, SW5 9AN. no web. try the fish and chips with a pint ::)
Chiquitos, Leicester Square, webpage http://www.chiquito.co.uk/restaurant/london-leicester-square ; the combo platter is a great value and plenty to eat done right
Gourmet Burger Kitchen , by St Paul’s Cathedral, webpage http://www.gbk.co.uk/restaurant/st-pauls/ . Here all is good, big juicy burgers pile high, try the Barbecue !
and the wonderful TESCO grocery supermarkets at Kensignton West Cromwell location, webpage here http://www.tesco.com/storeLocator/ Do you shopping for eat at home and save with a large family is the best way to go.
The city of London tourist office has plenty more of additional information to help you plan your trip. http://www.visitlondon.com/
AS for things to see, well again its a city to walk and be marvel in history. I have been to so many but with the family we visited the ST Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, London Bridge, Victoria & Albert museum, Imperial War Museum, Kensington Palace (P Diana memorial), Hyde Park, Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square (theater district), Piccadilly, Big Ben and saw Buckingham Palace as it was closed for a private event, Ripley’s Believe or Not, and Harrod’s store. These are some detail information
St Paul’s Cathedral, http://www.stpauls.co.uk/. The area is very bohemian, and just sit on the steps while zipping a drink. Church is well the site explains better than I.
Westminster Abbey, http://www.westminster-abbey.org/ . Where the British monarchy can be official, great history and good reading.
Tower of London, and Kensington Palace, http://www.hrp.org.uk/toweroflondon/ . wonderful places of history old and new. Visit the White Tower, and the Crown jewels section for sure. The Palace was the sentimental place of Princess Diana .
London Bridge , http://www.towerbridge.org.uk/TBE/EN/. GReat exhibits and wonderful views over the river Thames.
Victoria & Albert museum, http://www.vam.ac.uk/. For all its avant garde collection
Imperial War Museum, http://www.iwm.org.uk/. For the war history of the western world really.
Big Ben clock in the palace of Westminster, House of Parliament, http://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/building/palace/big-ben/ A must site to say you have been to London ::)
Hyde Park, and other parks, http://www.royalparks.gov.uk/Hyde-Park.aspx . A wonderful park with a nice serpentine lake area. My favorite even on business trips to just walk here.
Buckingham Palace,and others, http://www.royal.gov.uk/theroyalresidences/buckinghampalace/buckinghampalace.aspx This is grand magnificent, just need to plan ahead so you can go inside.
Ripley’s Believe or Not, Piccadilly Circus, http://www.ripleyattractions.com/international-locations/london-england/ . Interesting things in a wonderdul square bringing back old memories of Orlando Florida USA.
Harrod’s store, http://www.harrods.com/ . The ultimate shopping experience in London, expensive yes, but all worth it, try the food section and grab a salmon sandwich.
Other stores my teenage kids enjoy were the Forbidden Planet for mangas and video games etc, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue just off leicester square, webpage http://forbiddenplanet.com/stores/
All in all it is always comforting to come here, now the kids like it too so more plans are in order for 2011. If you need directions, especially with young adults let me know. Have a jolly good time in so British London.