More CT travel

by Eszter Hargittai on June 11, 2004

Since hopping across continents seems to be the CT way of life these days, I thought I’d join in on the fun. Next week I will be in London giving a talk at a conference at LSE on how people search for jobs online (the daylong workshop is on online recruitment in general). A few days later I will move on to Paris to meet Maria in person, finally! We already have tickets to the P.J. Harvey concert thanks to a friend of mine who is much more on top of these things than I am. I will give a seminar talk in an R&D group at France Télécom, but otherwise this will be my summer vacation.

Question: for someone who has pretty much seen all the touristy musts in London and Paris, what are less obvious things not to be missed? I realize entire book collections must exist on this, but I thought I’d throw it out there anyway.

In Paris in particular, there is a museum I visited years ago that I am having a hard time locating again. It is not one of the really famous ones. It featured contemporary art at the time and I think that is its theme in general. I recall that it was on a corner and possibly close to the river, although I am not sure (this was waaay too many years ago). If any of this rings a bell to anyone, please advise, although I realize my description is too vague to be of much help.



Fergal 06.11.04 at 5:56 pm

In London, the John Soane museum. Website here:


Jeremy Fischer 06.11.04 at 7:29 pm

Could you be thinking of the Musee Pompidou? (sp)
It features an unusual exterior: pipes running the length of the builing twisting at right angles, not unlike a popular screen saver of the day….


eszter 06.11.04 at 7:40 pm

Thanks, Jeremy, but no, I was thinking of something much less well known than Pompidou. The museum I’m thinking about was in an older building, I think just one of several buildings on a block.

Fergal, thanks, I’ll have to check that out!


Ophelia Benson 06.11.04 at 7:55 pm

There’s Kenwood of course. Beautiful in itself and it has a fairly staggering art collection. And then Hampstead and Highgate are full of jewels – Keats’ house, the Hill (a small, gorgeous park between the top of the Heath and Golders Green), Highgate Cemetery, Highgate itself, etc.

Marble Hill is quite interesting. As is Carlyle’s house.

And then the view from Richmond Hill is perhaps my favorite thing in London. Unless that’s Kew. Or Hampton Court. Or – oh never mind.


Giles 06.11.04 at 7:57 pm

go for a ride up the Thames in the DUCK – leaves from the Big Wheel.


Tim 06.11.04 at 8:03 pm

Couple of tips from a Londoner:

The area around London Bridge is worth spending some time getting lost in – lots of layers of London in a small area, and there’s a good chance of seeing some of Banksy’s graffiti work. Go on a Friday or Saturday, and eat at the Borough Market under the railway lines. There’s also the (probably not genuine) Roman Bath, on Surrey Street, just off the Strand. There’s a window from the pavement where you can crouch and look in. Dickens’ David Copperfield took plenty of fictional plunges here.

For the best view of London (and lots of green space, and kites), Parliament Hill on Hampstead Heath is worth a trip on the tube.


MAR 06.11.04 at 8:04 pm

If you have any interest in interior design, while in London you might enjoy the Geffrye Museum on Kingsland Rd. and the William Morris House in Walthamstow. Lesser know musuems, but well worth a visit.


Ian 06.11.04 at 8:30 pm

There is also a major exhibition of Edward Hopper’s work at Tate Modern which looks worth catching if you can.


J. Ellenberg 06.11.04 at 9:02 pm

We were just in Paris last week — Eszter, if you like
Francis Bacon there’s a good exhibition, mostly of his pope paintings, in the Musee Malliol, a couple of blocks south of Musee d’Orsay. They’ve also got a small but good selection of turn-of-the-century French painting and sculpture.

As of last week — not sure how closely tied to D-day this is — there’s a very good set of photos of the liberation of France posted on the fence on the western edge of the Jardin d. Luxembourg.

And of course the epicerie at Bon Marche is always an enjoyable tourist attraction…


wsm 06.11.04 at 9:05 pm

Try visiting Brigitte Bardot in jail, if you care about civil liberties.


Rascalnikov 06.11.04 at 9:08 pm

The Cluny Museum and the Maillol Museum are very good and often overlooked museums in paris. If your french is good enough pick up a copy of Zurban at the newstand, it’s the Time Out for paris.

Based upon your description the Pompidou (Beaubourg) is definetly not the museum you’re looking for.


H. 06.11.04 at 10:16 pm

It sounds to me as if you thinking of the Palais de Tokyo, which houses the Musée de l’art moderne. In the 8th arrondissement, probably metro Trocadero.


nelly 06.11.04 at 10:30 pm

It’s not exactly a museum (although you do get great views of fine works of architecture), but if you rent a pair of rollerblades at Bastille on a Sunday afternoon, one of the roads along the Seine is open exclusively to pedestrians,roller-bladers, cyclists etc. It’s a great way to see the city (you pass under Pont Neuf, and go by Notre Dame and the Conciergerie,)for those who are up to it and it’s definitely off the beaten tourist track. Not to mention that it’s the freshest air to be had in the city in Summer.


Joe 06.11.04 at 10:46 pm

If you happen to get thirsty while you’re in the neighborhood of the Tower of London you might stop in at the courtyard bar of the Grange City Hotel (Coopers Row). It incorporates a well-preserved stretch of the original Roman Wall.


Ham 06.12.04 at 1:26 am

Riverside pubs – it is June so you have the light late evenings. Spend some time in a riverside pub courtyard, gazing across the Thames at the tired old brickwork and try and figure out what is was that led this old port to leadership of the world. Hammersmith has a couple, Windsor too.


Linca 06.12.04 at 1:33 am

You seem to be thinking of the Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris, and of the Palais de Tokyo, side-by-side museums, but the first is closed this year.

If you get in Paris before the 28th, there is a quite interesting exhibition of Chinese classic painting at the Grand Palais. Among the smaller museums to visit there is also the Musée Rodin with its very nice garden. And the Paris Jazz festival should be on while you’re there.


ham 06.12.04 at 1:38 am

Get a tasty slice of Cyprus. Ever since the 1974 conflict in Cyprus, London has become home to thousands of Greek and Turkish Cypriots which has provided a host of great restaurants and different foods. One of my several favourites was Andy’s Taverna in Camden, great for a table of 6-8 friends to chat and scoff the night away over meze and rich red wines.


Ham 06.12.04 at 1:54 am

Daytime and accompanied, visit an old address of mine: Peckham, Lewisham and the bad end of the Old Kent Road. Inspect the sixties towerblocks, rubbish and graffiti. Visit the market, go to a pub, eat some chips, sit on the bus. Consider how such deprivation could exist in a state with a welfare system and within a few miles of banks controlling trillions of dollars.

Guardian article Nov.2000: _They call it the Peckham frontline. It is a desolate stretch of road, lined by rundown shops. The children and teenagers who loiter along this stretch of Peckham high street, on their way to and from school, are used to violence. Backpacks slung over shoulders, they pass by, oblivious to the yellow police boards calling for witnesses to the latest assault or stabbing. They are also, by and large, oblivious to the drug dealing – often conducted openly on these streets, and often by youths much like themselves. And just as they accept the violence here, the children accept that it will follow them into the school playgrounds. It is not uncommon for schools in this part of south-east London to have security guards patrolling their playgrounds and CCTV cameras monitoring their corridors. But however accustomed these schoolchildren may have become to violence, nothing could have prepared them for the news that the blood of a 10-year-old had been spilt on these same streets. “He was just a tiny kid,” says Ellen, 13, tears welling in her eyes as she stares towards Oliver Goldsmith primary school._


fyreflye 06.12.04 at 2:52 am

You seem to be thinking of the Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris
That’s the one that popped into my mind when I read Eszter’s description. A lot of great Calders and Brancusis.


Nabakov 06.12.04 at 3:09 am

If you visit the Sir John Soane museam, ask to see their collection of original Hogarth prints (tucked away behind some panels). There is an absolutely hysterical series there that I haven’t seen anywhere else, about electioneering in rural 18th century England.

And in Paris, if you want a bit of third-world funkiness, rendered with gallic elan, and some amazing African food and clothing shops, visit the Chateau Rouge district. (Metro Line 4)


Marco 06.12.04 at 7:08 am

Second the recommendation for Barbès, (Métro Barbès Rochechouart or Château Rouge), a very nutty place I once spent a year in.


James 06.12.04 at 11:10 am

If you like shopping in Paris all the Grand Magasins have been refurbished and are looking particularly swish, especially the new Galeries Lafayette.

If you want something really odd and find yourself in Montparnasse, go to the Gare Montparnasse and try the world’s first treble-speed moving walkway (
Also (thought quite well known) the Musee Guimet of Asian and Oriental works is quite good.

In London the markets are always worth a visit. Columbia Road flower market on Sunday is nice, as are Borough and Portobello markets. The John Soames museum is shut on Sundays, but it very near the LSE so you could probably go before/after your lecture. Also the Museum of London (in the City) has been improved a lot in recent years.


Sam 06.12.04 at 2:26 pm

In Paris, I like the “Parc des Buttes Chaumont” in the 19th (Metro Crimee); it was build by Napoleon III, and is a fairly natural park, rather than a formal garden like most of the Paris parks. The guignol there is awesome, if you speak French. The area around the park is also interesting; it’s a mixture of ethnicities (Senegalese, Algerians, Orthodox Jewish, and French). It is a thus a good area to get Algerians or Moroccan food.


yabonn 06.12.04 at 3:40 pm

They unfortunately lowered the speed of the montarnasse walkway. Bit sad, but the grannies were flying all over the place. Half of the times out of order too.

Last update from the south of buttes chaumont area (i-e belleville, more or less) : the chinese are taking over. Clandestine workshops, restaurants, ridiculous pastries and huge mercedes. I’d advise a bo-bun or canard laqué at da-lat (vietnamese, belleville place).

Buttes chaumont is a sight too. Not only for the place (which is ok) imho, but too for the way they carved false wood bark in the concrete that makes the stairs and stuff there. To “make natural”, you know. You rarely see bad taste so intensely concentrated.

The nearby canal st martin, if not too crowded, is well worth a stroll and a beer. Oberkampf can be nice too, now that it’s uncool again.


jacob 06.13.04 at 6:18 pm

As someone else already said, I’m sure you’re thinking of the Paris city modern art museum, but it’s closed for renovations this year.

It’s not a small museum by any means, but I’d highly recommend going to the Louvre’s current exhibit on art in Paris in 1400, which is part of a national collection of exhibits on art during he reign of Charles VI. Some of the most extraordinary illuminated manuscripts I’ve ever seen, and when I went (for the second time) yesterday, it was nearly empty.

I also like the Rodin Museum (in the 7th, around the corner from the Invalides) and the Musee Carnavelet, about the history of Paris, in the 4th (and it’s free!).


nick 06.14.04 at 4:28 pm

Museums? The Soane, of course, which is the best house in the world. And the Wallace Collection, which is invariably deserted during the week, and is a great way to catch your breath from the morass that is Oxford Street. (Heavy on the Fragonard, but the big gallery with the Reynoldses et al has something for everyone.)

Brick Lane — from the beigel [sic] bakery nr. Shoreditch station down through the Bangladeshi restaurants; hunting Hawksmoors; Chiswick House; um… the London: City Secrets guide is wonderful.

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