Marylebone High Street Turns French

It seems like not so long ago that Marylebone High Street was this non descript vaguely Granny-ish street. Okay, so it had the Conran Shop
and it had Peter Gordon's Providores restaurant and it had Patisserie Valerie for an old world granny gateau and chintzy tea, but that was about it. It felt like one of those brown, grey, beige British high streets that are all across the country. As a result, when Waitrose came along, it was a big deal: for some it was bad news because it altered the underplayed 'refuge in Central London' feel of the high street: for others it was a cause for joy and relief because it meant Marylebone would stop being this odd oasis.
After all, Marylebone has a fundamental problem: it's slap centre in the middle of London, yet a bit of a walk to Bond Street, Baker Street, Great Portland Street and Marylebone stations: not a long walk by any means, but enough for Marylebone to feel remote when you compare it with Russell Square/ Bloomsbury or Connaught Village or Soho or Fitzrovia, all of which also share a Central London position, yet have more immediate public transport links.
A lot has happened since Waitrose came along, though and these days, Marylebone High Street has turned fashionably French. Okay, so most of London's French community is still hubbed around the French Embassy, Institut Francais, French children's library and Bute Street French delis of South Kensington, but Marylebone High Street is a serious destination de shopping for both London's French and London's Francophones.
In the past couple of years, Marylebone High Street pioneer Agnes b
has been joined by Loft by Design
a cheese shop called La Fromagerie, L'Occitaine, Le Creuset and Petit Bateau who have recently collaborated with blogger Garance Dore
Impeccable yet wallet hammering children's brand Bonpoint is also on the High Street these days, with ever more beautiful window displays
And if you want perfume and/ or a candle, then insanely cool brand Le Labo has a store tucked just off Marylebone High Street, on Devonshire Street
For a baguette or croissant break mid shopping, there's a Paul, though getting a table to sit down is a major headache.Their best bread is always the Campagne: get it sliced and eat straightaway that evening with dinner.
Another French brand heading to the High Street soon is The Kooples
So far Zadig et Voltaire
and A.P.C, two other French brands you'd maybe expect to head here are staying away.
A.P.C opened a second store (after their first on Dover Street) on Redchurch Street in London's East End and Zadig et Voltaire opened new stores on South Molton Street and Westbourne Grove. A.P.C have no need to open a store on Westbourne Grove, because they've long been stocked in Aime, a fantastic boutique on Ledbury Road, which these days also has Petit Aime, a children's shop, next door
Incidentally, the sisters behind Aime and Petit Aime (who don't look like this now, obviously)
are also the brains behind A.P.C opening their Dover Street and Redchurch Street stores.
Anyway, so back to Marylebone High Street and its Frenchification. Obviously, there's plenty going on that isn't French: there's a hole in the wall shop by Monocle (a once interesting magazine now read by businessmen in tandem with the FT), a bunch of quick lunch options, fancy spec shops Mallon and Taub and Roger Pope, Belgian chain Le Pain Quotidien (a lovely weekend lunch venue), old world charming book shop Daunt and a small pharmacy called Madesil, bringing us back to our French theme, which handily stocks the godly French brand Nuxe
Despite all the Frenchification, which I love, one of my favourite places in London to sit over a slow coffee is not French in the slightest, but instead working a Scandinavian theme: Nordic Bakery, tucked away behind Marylebone High Street on Westmoreland Street who now have their own cookbook


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