The water pool where Grand Union and Regent’s Canals meet, directly north of Paddington, is affectionately nicknamed Little Venice. If you actually know Italy, don’t expect to find it back there; you’d be disappointed. The small, quiet canals of Little Venice have nothing in common with the gorgeous ones of La Serenissima. Yet this peaceful area still seems exotic: walking along the canals, you can feel like you’re thousand miles away from London’s hubbub, although you’re only minutes away from busy Paddington.
Follow the canal downstream through the tranquil neighbourhood of Maida Vale and you’ll reach Regent’s Park in half an hour; if you’re brave enough, you can keep on walking all the way to Camden Town to admire Banksy’s graffiti.
Nearest Tube: Paddington station
A recent survey has showed that the residents of wealthy Richmond upon Thames were among the happiest – if not the happiest – of England. This is hardly surprising: only a few miles away from London’s bustle, Richmond is a haven of peace.
Located on a meander of the River Thames, Richmond boasts a large number of parks and open spaces including one of England’s most famous greens (Richmond green).
Richmond Hill rises a few hundred meters south of the city centre. Though only 165 ft (50m) high, the view from its top has inspired such artists as J.M.W. Turner and Sir Joshua Reynolds and is one of the best-known on the Thames. You may find that the landscape has changed little since its depiction by these masters two hundred years ago.
To the south of Richmond Hill lies Richmond Park. Three times the size of Central Park in New York, it was originally a hunting reserve of king Charles I and is famous for the hundreds of deers it still hosts.
On Sundays, a stroll along the river Thames is a popular activity for families and lovers alike. Even if as a broke londoner, you may not afford to live in Richmond (after all, the council prides itself on being “a favourite retreat of Royalty, the rich and the famous”…), you might still wish to check out why Richmond’s inhabitants are so happy with their lot.
Tube station: Richmond
Posted in London for free, London landscape, parks and nature, Romantic, Uncategorized
Tagged best place to live in London, deers, nature, Richmond green, Richmond Hill, Richmond park, thames, Turner, view, walk
Regent’s canal is only a small part of London’s larger network of canals, and connects the Grand Union Canal (near Paddington) in the west and the Limehouse basin and the Thames in the East.
Exiting Camden market and its noisy and animated atmosphere, the peace of the canal is even more striking. The traffic noise and crowd of Camden are replaced by still water, trees, the occasional passers-by and… Banksy’s graffiti.
At mid-way, it is possible to leave the canal and walk up Primrose Hill for a panoramic view over London. Then, the canal will lead you to the London zoo, in Regent’s Park North-East corner. This walk could take no more than half an hour.
Photographs: Julien Stievenard
Nearest Tube: Camden Town
In the 19th century, London’s prosperous bourgeoisie settled in the neighbourhood of Holland Park and started to build extravagant houses to show off their wealth. A walk in the area will give you a taste of the architectural trends of the time: the more imposing and spectacular the better, the emphasis being on prosperity rather than good taste.
In Addison Road, at the number 8, stands the Palazzo Debenham, built for the shopkeeper Ernest Debenham. It displays an extravagant Italian front of blue and green bricks. This is the most sumptuous house of the neighbourhood, but many of them are worth a look.
On Melbury Road, a few minutes away, one of these mansions, Leighton House, is open to the public. You can visit it for a few pounds and have a glimpse of what the interior of these villas are like.
Nearest Tube: Holland Park