Temporary workspaces in Cambridge/London/Paris?
May 31, 2010 5:26 PM   Subscribe

Places to hang out and get work done in Cambridge/London/Paris?

Asking for a friend. Friend has two unscheduled days in England/France - will be finishing up some work in Cambridge on a Tuesday evening, needs to be in Paris by Thursday evening. Would like to figure out an itinerary in between that would allow him to spend the most of his time sitting with a laptop and getting work done but still experience some good food/culture/environment. How would you split up this time? What are some good quiet spots to camp out and work in any of these cities (or in between them)? (Wifi not necessary.) The current plan is to head to London & take the train to Paris, but he's open to other itineraries.
posted by yarrow to Travel & Transportation around London, England (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Hmm, since no-one seems to have replied to this...

Don't know London very well but try the café at the Wellcome Collection, a short walk from Kings Cross/St Pancras, where the train from Cambridge gets in, I think. The Eurostar certainly leaves from there. The food is a bit pricey for a café but reliably good, and he should be able to sit and work for a while--there are quite a few places, and though plenty of people come in and out, on the three occasions I've been there it's never been crowded. Lots of exciting things to see elsewhere in the building, too ("A free destination for the incurably curious"), and the British Library is also just nearby, on the other side of the street a couple of blocks back towards St Pancras. Café in there might work too (or the one out front, on the terrace, which I've never been to).

In Paris... Where's he staying? In the 11th, he'll certainly be able to find a place to sit at the Thé Troc Shop (52 rue J.-P. Timbaud), and probably work all day for the price of a couple of (inexpensive) pots of rather good tea. Also comic books if he wants to browse them. In the 17th, a friend of mine wrote most of her PhD at the Libre Echange by métro Brochant. The Bibliothèque d'Information Publique at the Pompidou Centre is amazing and fully open-access, but there aren't many good, easy-access, open-late libraries in France (in fact the BIP may be the only one that meets all these criteria) so there's usually a queue. In fact there's always a queue, except in August. You get in eventually, though. Food inside is way overpriced and the bathrooms are a bit hair-raising (also don't leave possessions lying around unattended), but the experience of working inside that building sure is special. The library entrance is on the other side of the building to the museum entrance. There are other places around, but let's leave it at that for now. I'll check in to see if you specify a rough location within Paris.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 8:35 PM on May 31, 2010

In spring 2008 I worked for several weeks out of the Starbucks on Market Square in Cambridge. Plenty of seating downstairs and T-Mobile wifi.

A comment in this thread suggests it has been closed and replaced with a Subway. That would be irksome, given that I'm heading back to Cambridge in two weeks. Starbucks itself still seems to think it has a store there, as does Google Street View. Fingers crossed.
posted by rdc at 10:17 PM on May 31, 2010

I would second that Starbucks as a good place to work, at least as of 2007. It has larger than usual tables and power outlets; they knew they were in a university town and people were looking for places to work. But if it's gone, there should still be several other coffee shops all around the very small downtown of Cambridge -- a friend of mine completed most of his dissertation at the Cafe Nero nearby.

In London, the British library has a lot of tables and places to work outside of the reading rooms -- these are in the public spaces that don't require a reading ticket to enter. And, unlike the reading rooms, you can have a coffee while you work. (For some reason they frown on that inside the reading rooms -- something about rare books and precious manuscripts.). The BL is around the corner from King's Cros station (where the Cambridge trains come in).
posted by jb at 11:21 PM on May 31, 2010

I'm almost certain that the Market Square Starbucks is still there. There are several other decent coffee shops nearby with wifi. Plus the Central Library has finally re-opened.

Still I'd say the BL sounds like a better option, if you're going to go to London anyway.
posted by crocomancer at 5:07 AM on June 1, 2010

The Market Square starbucks is definitely still there (something next to it closed though...). Cambridge has plenty of cafes to sit and work (2xPret, 2x Nero, several indie places within 5 minutes walk from the market). Central Library has computers and is awesome.
posted by katrielalex at 2:37 PM on June 1, 2010

Response by poster: Location in Paris is 5e/13e, I believe. But it sounds like the Wellcome will work. Thanks!
posted by yarrow at 9:18 AM on June 3, 2010

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