Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Market Magpie

At Borough Market

I am a street market girl from way back, so London is my kind of town.  I will always take a market over a shopping mall for local color, interesting, one-of-a-kind items, and fantastic food.  In my post a few days ago about Greenwich, I shared a few photos from the Greenwich Market, and I've posted about London Markets before, but who gets tired of markets?  Not I!

Lunch at Borough Market

These first few shots are from Borough Market on the south side of the Thames, tucked in under London Bridge next to the beautiful Southwark Cathedral.  Borough Market is a wholesale food market, but on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays it is open to the public, and it is the place to get lunch.  Say you're planning an afternoon at the Tate Modern or the Globe Theatre; stop in here first for samples, then grab lunch from a vendor or two and eat it in the beautiful little garden next to the cathedral. The food, atmosphere, and people-watching opportunities will make it a memorable part of your London experience.

Owl cookies from Cinnamon Tree Bakery at Borough Market

At Borough Market

Neal's Yard Dairy at Borough Market
Okay, so while these next few shots are technically shops and not stalls, they are located at Borough Market, and for me, they are an absolutely essential part of any trip there.  I so hope you're not lactose intolerant, because you simply must try these gorgeous British artisanal cheeses.  The original Neal's Yard Dairy is in, you guessed it, the wonderfully quirky Neal's Yard, and I love that one, too, but this one has the added bonus of being next door to Monmouth Coffee.  There's a reason so many people are waiting in line for coffee.  This stuff is fabulous.  Seriously.  I don't drink coffee anymore, but I always break down and have just one small cappuccino when I'm in London, and this is the place where I get it. 

Monmouth Coffee . . . love
Looking at the market from Neal's Yard Dairy

English muffins and croissants from The Flour Station at Borough Market

Flowers at Borough Market

At Spitalfields

On Sundays, we often head to three markets in East London: Spitalfields, Brick Lane, and Columbia Road Flower Market.  Spitalfields is great for clothing, vintage, handcrafted items, and food.  I've posted about it before, so you can read more here.

Early morning shopping at Spitalfields
Big Donut at Spitalfields

After a morning at Spitalfields, a very short walk through some incredibly fascinating architecture brings you to Brick Lane, which is really just one long flea market on both sides of the street.  Brick Lane is lined with Indian restaurants, lots of cafes, and several indoor markets as well.  It gets very, very crowded, so go early!  You will find people selling everything from leather goods to books to clothing to army surplus (seriously, if you need a gas mask, this is where to find it) and old records.  I never buy as much at Brick Lane as I do at Spitalfields, but I do love the food!
Delicious vegan Ethiopian food at an indoor stall next to Brick Lane

Ethiopian injera and several fantastic salads--my favorite meal on this London trip--all for 5 pounds!
Singing and Selling at Brick Lane

Brick Lane

The crowds at Columbia Road Flower Market
If you continue all the way up Brick Lane and follow the crowds just a bit farther, you will find your way to Columbia Road.  Hit this market last for truly astounding flower and plant deals--and good photo opportunities.  If you can stand the crush, you'll find gorgeous flowers at rock-bottom prices.  When we were there in the afternoon, vendors were selling armfuls of truly beautiful tulips for just a few pounds.  

Paella at Covent Garden
A fun market any day of the week is Covent Garden.  It is among the most touristy of all the markets, and as I've said in other posts, a good comparison is Boston's Faneuil Hall.  Still, it's a great place to grab a bite to eat, get your Laduree macaron fix, and find gifts from the lovely to the tacky . . . and everything in between.   

Entertainment at Covent Garden

It's also a perfect place to go to be entertained.  If you need a break from all the noise and frenzy, just sneak around to the quiet rose garden behind St Paul's Church, also known as the Actors' Church, where you can read the names of famous London actors on the memorial benches (John Thaw, who played Inspector Morse in the BBC series, is one of my favorites).  

I always buy some of these pretty handmade soaps in Covent Garden
These are highlights from just a few of the markets I love.  I have other favorites, like Camden and Portobello Road and the Bermondsey Antiques Market.  To read more, check out this post.

And there's more London love to come.  Just think color, architecture, and John Keats . . . xo Gigi


  1. I am dreaming of being there with you, such a lovely way to spend time.
    Thank you so much for these virtual adventures. xx's

  2. Dear Gigi,
    Such familiar sights for me as we go to all of these venues on a regular basis......Brick Lane yesterday for a curry and I have to have a regular dose of Spitalfields, especially All Saints !! ....and, we LOVE Columbia Road. The flowers are wonderful but I also love the individual shops there.
    Looking forward to your next post Gigi. XXXX

  3. Just loved this Gigi...thanks so much for sharing your photo's. So agree about John Thaw, Morse was such a complex, flawed & endearing character and Thaw did an amazing job with him. (I have the whole series and re watch from time to time).

  4. Thanks for this great post. the Borough markets were a highlight of our last trip to London. Now I have others to add to my "must visit" list. Thanks again.

  5. Love your market pictures. Those English muffins are like none I have ever seen. I could possibly break down and drink one of those coffees too, they looked delicious.

    The only market I have been to here was Covent Garden and stood in that same spot watching the entertainment.

  6. It looks like you had such a wonderful time! Your pictures make me want to go so badly. The markets look like such fun; so many unique items! I can imagine it must be dangerous to go with a pocket full of cash. I'm usually a conservative buyer, but when it comes to consignment shopping and anything artsy, I cave! All the food looks delicious; even the donuts look gourmet! It makes Dunkin' Donuts seem that much cheaper. I look forward to reading future London posts!

  7. Great words and pictures Gigi, makes me want to grab the next train down there! Looking forward to more.

  8. Gigi,
    Thank you for feeding my dreams,
    both night and day!

  9. This looks likes such a wonderful day gigi. You really bring it to life with your great photos. I especially like the packaging in the last photo.........I need a closer look! Much love XO

  10. Just gorgeous. I love London. It's just over a year since I was there, but thanks to this delightful virtual trip with you, I am happily satisfied for a little longer.

    Thank you! xxx

  11. You know, I have never been market shopping. Well, that's not true. I have shopped in the Khanakalili bazaar in Cairo. Not the same, but quite a marvelous experience.

  12. This is exactly what I would love to do in London! I would probably have a hard time convincing Mr O to go shopping for the day though:)

    Thanks for sharing your adventures!

  13. A most wonderful tour, Gigi! and lots of pretty images ... thanks so much!

  14. Great blog, informative and up to date. Bookmarking your page. Thanks and more power!

  15. London is the BEST for street markets... oh, now I love 'em! We only got to two last time, so much do "better" next time...LOL! LOVE the area around Neal's Yard and the hodge-podge and food of Brick Lane. Oh, I need to get back to my city! ;o) This has been such a treat, Gigi. Happy Easter ((HUGS))

  16. Wonderful images! Love the mood and the colors! Oh, I'm a sucker for street markets.

  17. Your photos are taking me back! I have only been to London once, and it was over 10 years ago, but your photos and descriptions are flooding me with memories!

    I have so much catch-up reading to do on your blog, and this weekend when I'm relaxing on my downtime that's exactly what I'm going to do.

    I hope your trip was marvelous! Enjoy your Easter weekend!!


  18. Love the snippets and snapshots of life you captured here. Looks like the most wonderful trip!


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