From our special envoy in London
it Is a monument of british history. A little more than a queen, this is an era, called the victorian, which refers to the size of a empire, became in the Nineteenth century, the first world power. Without doubt this is in part for this reason that the nostalgia of what was the second longest reign in the history of Great Britain, behind that of Elizabeth II, continues to operate an amazing fascination.
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With Victoria, a character whose two major exhibitions at Kensington palace, where she was born may 24, 1819 ( Victoria: the Woman and the Crown ; Victoria: a Royal Childwood ), reveal the complexity, the United Kingdom in prosperity. London is no exception to this opulence. Theatres, large hotels, commercial districts reflect a life that is slight and idle, making the best of the shackles of the morality of victorian. But the city is also a hydra, two-headed. Far from Belgrave Square and palaces of the aristocracy, the capital of pleasures becomes East End of extreme poverty, prostitution and children working in an indifference distinguished. Haunted by the stench and the squalid neighborhoods of East london are the backdrop of the most popular works of Dickens or Stevenson. Today, museums, theatres, palaces, hotels, restaurants and shops to keep alive, and almost intact, the memory of the century of Victoria. An Alternative to the Tower Bridge where the changing of the guard, at Buckingham, the treasures of the victorian era are finally honoured for us to tell a different story of London (www.hrp.org.uk).
• Royal Albert Hall, hymn to love
This mythical concert hall was first the cry of love of a wife for her husband disappeared. When the Royal Albert Hall is completed, in 1867, the prince Albert, the husband loved, has been dead for six years. Not to forget, the queen Victoria engraved in the stone and insert it into the iron railings wrought the figure of the prince, a “Has” reproduced 12.000 times! The room in the ellipse of 6,000 seats, in the manner of a roman amphitheatre, will need the employment of 6 million bricks for an acoustic output to be disappointing. “The only place where a composer could hear twice his score”, it was said at the time, alluding, in a humor so British, to echo that poisoned the first performances. The fault has been corrected, and the Royal Albert Hall was everything that the music scene did the best in the world.
The room in the ellipse of 6,000 seats, in the manner of a roman amphitheatre, will need the employment of 6 million bricks for an acoustic output disappointing
We visit with a guide and it is exciting. Unique opportunity to enter into the holy of holies: the royale lodge, otherwise called the “Queen’s Box”, purchased by Victoria and today the private property of the sovereign and not the Crown. The living room of Elizabeth II, where the royal family retreats to the intermission, with the portraits of his predecessors, and wall lamps in Wedgwood, is a small masterpiece of its kind, just like its private staircase, open to visitors, in a great burst of democratic. On 25 may, the musical works of prince Albert will be played in a unique concert that will mark the kick-off of the bicentenary celebrations of the birth of Victoria. Facing the Royal Albert Hall, the Albert Memorial dedicated, a monument, a magnificent 47-metre-height, the memory of the prince consort. Albert, gold leaf, has taken place, in 1875, under a canopy of mosaics and marble. Such as the wanted, Victoria. The statues of the painters, writers, architects and sculptors loved by the prince, without distinction of nationalities or eras, support in a bas-relief on the monument, such as the comic strip of european humanism (www.royalalberthall.com).
• A museum Victoria and Albert
Opened in 1857, what is now the Victoria and Albert Museum displays its facade bombastic on Brampton Road, architectural synthesis of the empire. The collections of decorative arts, acquired during the universal Exhibition of 1851, at the height of the victorian era, are presented in the part called the British Gallery (room 122 and following). We see the period furniture, including furniture for bathrooms a rare, original, signed by William Burges, but also vases and quirky chairs to the effigy of the royal couple.
The Victoria and Albert Museum. Peter Kelleher / Victoria and Albert Museum
More interesting still, are the evocations of the Crystal Palace, a masterpiece of glass and cast iron, which was the summit of the great Exhibition of 1851. Models, paintings, drawings, plans, and interactive kiosks help you track and understand the elevation of this incredible building 39 meters of height (no obstacle), an impressive feat. In the gallery of jewels (Jewellery, room no. 92), a new and magnificent museum introduces the famous crown of sapphires and diamonds that prince Albert designed for Victoria. We see on various photographs and the two portraits of the queen painted by Winterhalter. The Photography Centre (halls no. 100-101), many of the shots show us the time of Victoria. A set that is part of a large exhibition dedicated to Albert and Victoria (“Queen Victoria & Prince Albert’s Bicentenary”), as the museum has just inaugurated until September 1, 2019 (www.vam.ac.uk).
• horse-riding or metro
It is difficult to understand the victorian London without the associate to the tremendous development of public transport, made necessary to move in a city which a century from 1 to 4.5 million inhabitants. The queen Victoria will be known cabs, the bus and the subway. A museum, the London Transport Museum, tells the menu this exciting metamorphosis. A lift to go back in time, the years marched to the place of the floors, leads to the ground floor, devoted to projects for the future, at the second level, that of the victorian era. The first omnibus of 1829, the horse bus driver, featuring a gallery, to the cars of the first underground line in 1863, the course is very playful. We move from one coach to another, sitting in the middle of mannequins in wax perfectly costumed.
The museum still has the first taxis in London, black cabs
The machines, beautifully restored, are in fact accessible to the public, which makes the museum very popular. Its interactivity makes it a perfect playground for the children, who run from one bus to another, and are invited to live in multiple expériences. Located in the heart of Covent Garden, the museum still has the first taxis of London, the black cabs, in which we learn that the rounded shape of the bodywork was designed by harmony with the soft curves of the red buses double-decker (www.ltmuseum.co.uk)
• In Dickens
Of all the british writers, Charles Dickens was the one who colored the victorian era of a gloom on which the sun of human justice is never lifted. Witness the novel the most popular of his works, Oliver Twist , written in the house that he occupied at 48 Doughty Street, transformed into a fascinating museum. The tour provides the opportunity to come close to a habitat bourgeois in the reign of Victoria. The furniture of the office, the dining room, the bedroom and the living room, especially, are the ones that knew Dickens. In the library, there are rare editions that were owned by and in the display cases of personal objects, such as the engagement ring of his wife, or his need to beard. The great writer can come from one moment to the other as it all seems genuine (www.dickensmuseum.com).
The queen Victoria has used a lot of the train “to the insane speed of 60 km/h,” she wrote to her children. Probably would have never imagined that we could rally London to Paris in 2 hours 20. Eurostar has renovated its trains and provides Business class First array of facilities: total flexibility of the tickets up to half an hour before the start, and, aboard, meal concocted by the chef Raymond Blanc. The other two classes, Standard and Standard Premier. With a ticket on the Eurostar, whatever the class, two entries for the price of one in the partner museums, they are many. From 39 € the go. www.eurostar.com
On Knightsbridge, the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, in a spectacular architecture of stone and brick. Built in 1877, the building at the time was the highest in London and, for a long time, to the victorian era. In a setting of marble and stucco, the hotel has managed to keep the spirit of an English club, the first destination of the building, with an exceptional service. A superb spa, a courtesy car and a double Michelin-starred make this unique hotel, opening on Hyde Park address attractive (read our “expert Opinion: the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London on lefigaro.fr/voyages). Of 800 € to 1200 €. 66 Knightsbridge, tel: 00.44.20.72.35.20.00 ; www.mandarinoriental.com
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In Mayfair, the Brown’s, was the first hotel built in London in 1837 and queen Victoria came here to take tea. Became Rocco Forte Brown’s Hotel, its lobby, restaurant, bar and tea room have been renovated in a deco wallpaper panoramic. Superb. Meeting of several old houses, the hotel has charm and the taste of the books, present in all rooms. And for good reason: Kipling would have written the jungle Book. Of 520 € to 1100 €. Albemarle Street, phone: 00.44.20.74.93.60.20 ; www.roccofortehotels.com
Near Covent Garden, Rules is the oldest restaurant in London. Under the reign of Victoria, the lounges of the first floor housed the dates of the high society. Old-fashioned Service and cuisine of brasserie. Around 50 €. phone: 00.44.20.78.36.53.14 ; rules.co.uk
The East london area is becoming very trendy. This is where the French group Big Mamma has just opened the trattoria Gloria, his first address as british. In a very friendly and deco cozy-trendy, Italian cuisine is made with fresh products in a short circuit. And in addition to being good, is not too expensive (pizza around 15 €), a rarity in London in this category. Around 20 €. bigmammagroup.com/fr/trattorias/gloria
www.visitbritain.fr and www.visitlondon.fr