The last time we were in London, we hadn’t had a chance to check out its most famous business district: the City. I was curious to explore this neighborhood, metonym of the United Kingdom’s financial centre, with a very high concentration of finance, broking, insurance and legal firms.
For a district that is after all mostly office space, the City is less boring than its sounds. First, the skyline, best seen from Tower Bridge across the River Thames, is quite unique. Easy-to-recognize skyscrapers such as 30 St Mary Axe (nicknamed “the Gherkin”) or The Heron Tower (the tallest building in the City) pop up from otherwise old-looking streets with historical buildings, such as the Royal Exchange. A number of new buildings around “the Gherkin”—that building looks like a missile head to me!—seemed to be a work in progress, and in other cases the construction had clearly been halted. Money trouble in the financial centre?
We were in the City around lunch time and took the time to observe Londoners’ eating habits. I was amazed by the number of franchises such as EAT, Prêt-à-Manger and other sandwich retail chains—they are as ubiquitous as Tim Hortons here in Canada! I also noted Londoners also seem to be very fond of these “triangle sandwiches” (often nicknamed “sandwich SNCF” in France, after the national state-owned railway company that sell rather cheap sandwiches) on white soft bread. They are sold just about anywhere and any supermarket or sandwich shop carries a very large selection.
After hanging out in the City, we headed to Canary Wharf, another new place for us. Despite its quite poetic name, it is another major business centre that specializes in banking, media and legal. We soon realized how huge it was getting lost in the shopping mall attached to the station—it felt like La Défense in Paris!
You can see all the pictures taken in London on Flickr.