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French London: Normandie Hoche at Agnès B in Covent Garden
Andy ParsonsNormandie Hoche at Agnès B in Covent Garden

Cheese, croissants and Parisian fashion: it’s the best of French London

By Time Out London contributor

We may beg to differ on British weather and food, but the French are one of London’s biggest European communities. About 300,000 of us live here, making it (according to some measures) France’s sixth biggest city.

The first to cross the Channel were persecuted Protestants who sought sanctuary in the sixteenth century: just like today’s trendy young French, they settled in east London. Much later the capital was home to ‘Free France’,  the exiled government led by Charles de Gaulle during WWII. Nowadays prosperous French families reside in South Kensington‘s ‘Frog Valley’, and the City and its surroundings attract bankers and students.

But you can find us (often together – we’re a tight-knit bunch of expats) all over London: from stylish bakeries and boutiques in Soho and Covent Garden to stinky cheese shops, cosy cafés and vibey bars from Dulwich to Shoreditch – and always immaculately turned out, bien sûr. Normandie Hoche

Did you know? Think the French are rude? The English expression ‘to make a French exit’ translates into French as ‘filer à l’anglaise’: ‘to take English leave’. Perhaps we share more than we thought.

Normandie’s favourite French places in London

The pissaladière, frog legs or baked eggs with peppers at Blanchette will send you to the Mediterranean coast via Paris in one bite.

With the rustic charm of a French country house, L’Atelier in Dalston specialises in escargot pastries and melted camembert.

Say fromage at Androuet in E1, where you can stock up on the finest French cheeses.

The Courtauld Gallery houses impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces by Cézanne and Manet.

For a taste of Pigalle’s hip dive bars, head to ‘bo-bo’ (bourgeois-bohemian) drinking den Joyeux Bordel in Shoreditch.

Quintessentially Parisian fashion house Agnès B has an outlet in Covent Garden for timeless staples: stripy T-shirt, anyone?

The best of French London, according to you

Chez Elles bistroquet in Brick Lane: the only chill yet authentic small bistrot with seasonal daily specials. Perfectly French.’ @Mel20Lemon via Twitter

Aubaine bakes the best croissant aux amandes I’ve had – it’s on par with boulangeries in Paris.’ Lee Lee via

‘Oliver’s Bakery at markets across London: authentic breads and pastries as they should be.’ Sebastien B via Facebook

‘The French House in Soho, of course!’ Petra O via Facebook

Voilà: here are our top French restaurants in London. Now discover the best of Spanish London.

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