Le Chic En Rose

Diaries of an independent traveller

After our delightful brunch at the Wildflower Cafe, I was keen to see the famous Portobello Road markets and our daughter Mlle was equally keen to show me round what has become another of her favourite haunts. Strangely Monsieur Le Chic did not share our enthusiasm and after a pleasant 10 minute or so stroll down Westbourne Park Road, which lands you in the heart of the market area, he beat a hasty retreat in search of an underground station to take him to a far more important commitment – Tottenham Hotspur’s latest home game!

Wandering past the elegant Regency style terraces, which abound in this part of London, makes for an enjoyable activity in itself!

It almost came as something of a shock when we reached the corner of Westbourne Park Road, where it intersects with Portobello Road going from north to south.  Suddenly you are in the midst of a heaving throng of people, tourists meandering along, locals doing their weekly shopping, market stall traders yelling out the latest deals or people having refreshments at the nearby Castle Pub!

 

The Castle Pub, 225 Portobello Road Notting Hill (at the junction with Westbourne Park Road)

The Castle Pub, 225 Portobello Road Notting Hill

 

As I explained in last week’s post, my previous knowledge of the Notting Hill area was mainly confined to the film, “Notting Hill”, a rather improbable love story between a world famous movie star, Anna Scott, (played by Julia Roberts) and William Thacker, a travel book store owner in Notting Hill, (played by Hugh Grant). Practicalities of plot aside, it was an enjoyable film and you can still see some of the location settings in the Portobello Road area. The entrance to William/Hugh Grant’s flat was a bright blue door and if you go to 280 Westbourne Park Road you can find the original facade (it was actually the home of the film’s screenplay writer, Richard Curtis, though he has sensibly moved out now). If you are quick you can get your photo taken before another lot of tourists jumps in!

 

Le Chic En Rose outside the blue door from the film, "Notting Hill"

Le Chic En Rose outside the blue door from the film, “Notting Hill”

 

I was actually very lucky to have a local guide in Mlle! One thing that struck me is how much narrower the streets were than I’d imagined them to be. At the start of the film there is a sequence showing the Portobello Road markets throughout the year with the changing seasons. No doubt with camera tricks, it made the road seem a lot more spacious than it really is. Mlle was able to guide us through the crowds to 13 Blenheim Crescent, a side street off the main drag where you can find the Notting Hill Bookshop. The current shop isn’t in fact the original travel book store as that closed down a few years ago, but they have kept the exterior the same. Filming the interiors took place round the corner at what is now a shoe shop in Portobello Road. However since the original Travel Bookshop was the inspiration behind the film plot, the current Notting Hill Bookshop remains to this day a highly popular location on the film tourist trail. I was able to pick up a travel guide to Munich and Bavaria there – they had an excellent travel section though they also sell plenty of other categories of books as well as some souvenirs and stationery.

 

Le Chic En Rose playing tourist and film fan at the Notting Hill Bookshop

Le Chic En Rose playing tourist and film fan at the Notting Hill Bookshop

 

Of course the other main reason for our visit was to browse round the countless market stalls and independent shops in the area – Portobello Road has arguably one of the best known street markets in the world and it celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. The Portobello and Golbourne Road Market blog has some interesting information about the markets and events planned for the birthday celebrations here.  Most people probably associate the markets with antiques, although they also cater for fashion lovers, book collectors, musicians, and of course supply a huge range of fresh food and flowers. You could spend days here and still not have seen half of what there is on offer. Although some sections of the market open during the whole week, the full market is only held on Fridays and Saturdays with the latter day being the busiest. Stalls stretch for over a mile along Portobello Road and spill over into nearby Golbourne Road.

 

 

We headed for Portobello Road Cigarette Cards, which you can find at Street Stall 42, 142 Portobello Road see here for details. Mlle had been coveting a print made up of old cigarette cards – illustrated from the first edition of Alice In Wonderland. The print was still there so we duly purchased it.  David, the owner, was a gregarious chap and we spent quite a time chatting to him about the origin of the cards. It was the fashion in America in the late 19th century for cigarette companies to have sets of cards in their packets and the attraction spread across the Atlantic to Britain. Collecting the full set of each cigarette card theme became a popular pastime. We were intrigued by the Alice In Wonderland set as it seems strange today to think of small children nagging their parents into buying more cigarette packets so they can collect the cards inside! Mlle’s purchase was particularly apt as there is a special family connection with Alice In Wonderland. One of my most treasured possessions is a first edition copy of Alice In Wonderland passed down to me from my grandmother via her grandmother!

 

Portobello Road Cigarette Cards Portobello Road Markets

Portobello Road Cigarette Cards Portobello Road Markets

 

David is a member of the Portobello Road Antique Dealers Association, who must adhere to a strict code of practice if they wish to keep their licences. Portobello Road is an antique lover’s paradise – shop after shop displaying wonderful trinkets and treasures alike. Furniture, clocks, collectables – it was quite overwhelming! Amongst the rabbit warren of interconnecting passages we came across Sara Tiara, a ladies’ boutique specialising in bespoke hats. The designs were truly works of art though taking photos was unfortunately strictly forbidden. However I did take away a business flyer with me so I’ve taken a couple of photos to give you an idea of the exquisite hats available.

 

 

I didn’t take too many photos as we wandered round the streets. The one thing you do have to be aware of in such a confined and busy space is the potential for pick pockets – I didn’t want to be having to open my bag up too often or be seen rummaging around in it for my camera. Mlle and I did get hassled at one point by a lady who seemed to think we should buy a shopping trolley off her, but she quickly disappeared to pester someone else when we waved her away. Most of these photos were therefore taken on my or Mlle’s iPhones. I kept cash in my cross body purse and held on to my tote bag tightly!

After an extensive browse in the charming Appletree Boutique, another of Mlle’s favourite clothes stores, we set off towards the tube ourselves as we were heading off to a matinee performance at the Victoria Palace Theatre London (Billy Elliot – great show, well worth seeing!). Alas we didn’t have time to stop off at Portobello Road Gin but Mlle assures me they do wonderful albeit rather strong gin-based cocktails! Portobello Road makes for a wonderful day out – vibrant, colourful and with plenty of food stalls to refresh weary shoppers, it is a fabulous experience all round!

 

 

For more inspiring walks around the world head over the Restless Jo’s Monday Walks!

 

Copyright © 2015 Rosemary Thomas Le Chic En Rose. All rights reserved

55 thoughts on “On The Trail Of Notting Hill: Portobello Road Markets

  1. ledrakenoir says:

    An inspiring walk, really enjoyed it – so much to see… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Drake am so glad you enjoyed it 🙂 This is only a fraction of what was on offer – Portobello Road is a great place to wander! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. kayrpea61 says:

    Sounds like a good day indeed, Madame Le Chic 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It certainly was right up my street – Monsieur escaped to the football though! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. restlessjo says:

    I did enjoy our wander, and especially the lovely flowers. I would have liked to see a photo of the Alice prints but maybe you didn’t include those because it’s a first edition (and copyists?) 🙂 Glad you’re enjoying your time with Mlle.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jo – the flowers were gorgeous so many beautiful bunches to choose from (not that we could buy any staying as we were in a hotel!). I haven’t actually taken a photo of the Alice print (I meant to whilst we were in London – we’re back home now this was on our jaunt in April). However what I will do is ask Mlle to take a photo and send it through to me then I can put it up on the blog. There’s no copyright problem I can think of – it would be obviously a print that we’d bought ( and there are photos online of the cigarette card prints if you google them). Mlle is currently sunning herself in the south of France though then she’s off to Lisbon so I’ll ask her when she gets back to London! It was lovely to catch up with her and see London through her eyes too – we went to some new places such as Notting Hill, which was lovely. This may qualify as a walk for your Monday slot? Enjoy your weekend 🙂

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      1. restlessjo says:

        I don’t see why not, Rosemay. I’ll put it in on Monday. Wish I was in Lisbon now 🙂

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        1. Will send you the link Jo but don’t worry if you have a lot of walks for this week – you could hold it over for next week if it suits better. Just been looking at my cousin’s photos of his trip to Lisbon and really want to go there – it looks lovely! Mlle I think is staying a bit out of Lisbon – Sintra? My cousin had been there too and it looked a lovely place – the Royal Palace would be right up my street with all the history stuff 🙂

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          1. restlessjo says:

            Sintra is stunning! I only spent one afternoon there and it wasn’t enough 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            1. The photos I’ve seen look stunning I’d love to go there! 🙂 Am hoping Mlle will do a couple of guest posts here about her trip it would be interesting to see some places through her eyes! 🙂

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            2. restlessjo says:

              It would! 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

            3. Heard from her yesterday Jo – she’s staying in a little village called Colares just outside Sintra and loving it! 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

  4. KerryCan says:

    The market sounds like such fun! I’ll need to add this experience to my list!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kerry 🙂 Am sure you’d love the markets you would have a field day browsing through the stalls and shops. It goes on for miles too there is so much to see! It was a fabulous experience and great fun to go there with Mlle my younger daughter! 🙂

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  5. Nice pics. I quite enjoy strolling around this colourful neighbourhood. it is indeed very charming. (Suzanne)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Suzanne 🙂 Was very pleased to go round with my daughter – I think I would have got lost otherwise the markets seemed to go on for miles! Somewhere I’d like to go back to and explore more one day 🙂

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  6. atkokosplace says:

    What a beautiful day you had! If I lived there I wouldn’t be able to pass the flower stand and not buy a bouquet to take home daily! Thank you for sharing your day! Cheers, Koko 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by Koko 🙂 Yes I would be the same if I lived there I’d never be able to resist those beautiful bunches of flowers – they were so pretty and would brighten up any home! We had a lovely time wandering round the markets 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Anabel Marsh says:

    It’s the food stalls that would draw me in! I haven’t been to this market, but I have been to Borough Market which (I think) is all food. It was moth-watering – but, like you, we were in a hotel and couldn’t buy much.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The food stalls looked wonderful Annabel – our daughter buys quite a bot of stuff from there! There are so many wonderful markets dotted around London – I haven’t been to Borough one yet! Mlle, our daughter, likes some of the East London ones around Shoreditch and Hoxton too 🙂

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      1. Anabel Marsh says:

        We do get markets here, but nothing lie as good as that.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I love markets anywhere – they are just a lovely concept and I’d far rather go there than shopping centres!

          Liked by 1 person

  8. This part of London is really charming, I love it ! And the weather was beautiful. The hats look amazing !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is very charming Gin and we had never been there before – amazing how you can live in a city for so long and not go to certain places but then again London is quite large! The hats were superb – I could have spent hours admiring them but they were very strict on not taking photos! It was a lovely day though the wind was chilly! Hope you’re having a great weekend and settling into Leeds well 🙂

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      1. Even as a local you can discover new places from time to time 🙂

        I can understand why they don’t want people to take pictures. The pictures can end up on internet, other people will still the design, etc etc.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes that’s so true Gin – unfortunately some people will copy designs and I understand their reasons for banning photos. I love discovering new places – even where you live there are always new surprises as you say 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow Rosemary, I want to retrace your footsteps and do all of this – after watching the movie first!! It just looks so vibrant and fun – you were so lucky to have all the insider take as well from your daughter. Billy Elliot sounds like the perfect end to a perfect day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was a wonderful day out Joy! Apologies for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie – they must have wondered what I was talking about. It is a fun “feel good” movie though and I really enjoyed it at the time in part because of the charming locations. I would never have been able to find all these places if I hadn’t had Mlle with me – she just knew where to head off to and she’s very organised so I just followed her lead! The Westbourne Park Road/Portobello Road Road is a good starting point. The blue door is right opposite the Castle Pub and all the stalls, food outlets and antique places are scattered along Portobello Road going mainly south from that point! Ladbroke Grove tube is to the north right by Westway and Notting Hill gate is to the south. Have you seen Billy Elliot? It was amazing! Also a complete surprise – Mlle had booked it as a late birthday present for me and I had no idea where she was taking me to until we got there. All in all it was a fabulous day out 🙂 Hope you got some more sunshine this week and have a lovely weekend 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I saw the movie a couple of times but a long time ago Rosemary so you’ve inspired me to watch it again and I’ll be following your tips next time we go to London, we like exploring different areas and I think we’d all love this one. It’s funny but we watched Billy Elliot last weekend, again I’ve seen it a few times but years ago, we watched it with our son and all enjoyed it, we even talked about seeing the musical in London so you’ve inspired us to get on with that too!! Have a great weekend, we’re in wet and windy Ireland while the rest of the UK has bbq weather – typical!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Am so glad to hear that Joy – it’s great to share ideas on the blogs that’s why I love reading them. I find out so many more interesting things or places to visit that I wouldn’t have necessarily thought of! There were lots of street artists and performers in Portobello Road too and overall I think it would have great appeal for a lot of people. I had never seen the Billy Elliot film before we went to the musical (though Monsieur and our girls had and really enjoyed it). I can highly recommend the musical am sure you’d all love it! Notting Hill is a great “feel good” movie in my book so hope you enjoy watching it again too 🙂 Oh sorry to hear that you’re not having the best weather in Ireland 😦 We have friends visiting their family in Dublin at the moment – mind you it’s probably warmer than Perth at present! We have had very cold minimums (near freezing) and coolish days with a chill wind – apparently there is an Antarctic polar vortex bringing very cold air up to southern parts of Australia. Having to wear my heavy duty European winter clothes at the moment (quite nice really!) and at least it’s fine too 🙂 I hope you have a lovely trip to Ireland though in spite of the weather! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  10. avibrantday says:

    Fun! Thanks for showing me around Notting Hill! :o)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re very welcome Jacqueline – am so glad you enjoyed the tour and hopefully you can go there one day am sure you’d love it! 🙂 Have a lovely weekend 🙂

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  11. megtraveling says:

    The picture in front of the blue door is a wonderful souvenir! The flowers are beautiful too – what a fun day you must have spent there… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Meg – you’d love the flowers the stalls were full of the most beautiful fresh blooms! Yes I did the tourist thing in front of the blue door but it is a lovely souvenir to have – I was very taken with the film, Notting Hill, when it came out! We had such a lovely day out and about in Portobello Road and Notting Hill 🙂

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  12. Hi Rose Mary! This is actually a place I know. It is so beautiful! It is many years since I was there, and I really enjoyed going on this walk with you. It made me remember a lot of the good memories I have from my trip to Notting Hill 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Hanne that’s great that you’ve been there too – Notting Hill has so much to offer can’t believe I never went there before! Now that you’re back in Norway it’s not too far to go over to London for a trip 🙂 Glad that the photos brought back good memories for you! Hope you’re settling back well and have a lovely week! 🙂

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  13. colibrist says:

    I do not know anything about Notting Hill a part from the film either, but it does make a wonderful walk! Love this architecture! Actually I did not know that the bookstore does exist in reality. Have a nice week, happy travels 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes there really was a Notting Hill Travel Bookshop Laia, which inspired part of the story for the film (the screen writer lived in the house with the blue door so he based it all round his neighbourhood). The original bookshop has now changed hands and is still a bookshop but not a specialist travel one. In the film the book store sequences were shot around the corner in a then antique shop in Portobello Road (now a shoe shop) though they used the facade of the travel bookshop for the external shots. All very interesting – Notting Hill is a fabulous area to stroll around we walked for ages! Hope you’re having a great time with your family in Canada and happy travels! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. It’s so lovely to be reminded of Portobello market. Your photos and description are so perfect – I used to live in Kilburn and would spend many weekends just wandering there and people watching. Hope you had a lovely weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ting that would have been lovely – our daughter has been living in the Kensal Green/Queens Park area since she moved to London, which is not too far from Kilburn! She loves doing the same as you did – wandering round the Portobello Markets and catching with her friends there. The whole area has such great charm and character! I will head over to catch up with all the Monday Escapes later today when I’ll have a bit more time to read through them all! Hope you had a great weekend too and have a lovely week ahead! 🙂

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  15. Heyjude says:

    Popping in from Jo’s site to have a wander with you. I don’t think I have ever been to this part of London so it was nice to explore it. Love the houses! And love markets! A shame you didn’t have time to go into the Portobello Road Gin – I quite fancy a G&T – well maybe not right now, it is a little bit early, but I love finding unusual ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Jude am so glad you’ve popped in from Jo’s Monday Walks and thanks for the follow too – much appreciated! I loved the Notting Hill area, which I had never explored before. Our daughter had been to Portobello Road Gin with some friends a few weeks earlier and she loved it! Not time on our last trip so will have to go next time I think! It certainly sounds an interesting concept from its website and their gin gets a lot of praise from connoisseurs hopefully you can go there and try it out!

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      1. Heyjude says:

        If I get to London again I will make an effort (it won’t be toooo hard) 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hope you get there Jude then you can let me know what you think! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  16. lumar1298 says:

    Love the ladies with the hats…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They are charming aren’t they? Thanks for following my blog! 🙂

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  17. Monika says:

    The elegant terraces look as beautiful as the houses in Arras! It’s cool to visit the place where a movie was made and recognize it 😀

    The hats of Sara Tiara are lovely. Also, I like the tulips. It seems to be a place I have to remember 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Monika am sure you’d love the Portobello Road area – I’ve really only covered a fraction of what there is to see and do there. The tulips were so beautiful and I loved all the hats they were wonderful! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Sartenada says:

    What a great joy it was to see Your gorgeous photos. They brought to my mind memories dating back “hundred years” when we were there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’m so glad the photos have brought back happy memories for you 🙂 I loved the Portobello Road area and amazingly had never been there before despite living in London for 9 years (a long while ago now!). I could browse in the markets for days – there were so many lovely shops and stalls! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  19. poshbirdy says:

    Lovely post. Really took me back to when it was my stomping ground. And the pictures are stunning x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Pauline 🙂 I was so glad to go round here as I’d never been before despite living in London for many years! It’s now my daughter’s stomping ground and can see why she loves it so much – I could spend days there. I love the atmosphere and character of the place and all the gorgeous market stalls and shops! Thanks also for following Le Chic En Rose. Am looking forward to reading your posts too! 🙂

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