North London Bike Tour: Tour De North Four

Written by: Tom Williams

So this July, 198 cyclists head over to Germany to start the Tour de France. If you think that is weird, wait till I tell you it started in Yorkshire a few years ago. Anyway after the three days of the Grand Depart, the spectacle of the world’s biggest sporting event heads back to France and the action really begins.

And what action it is. 21 days, 2200 miles and 23 mountain climbs. So to pay tribute to this celebration of suffering, North Four went on a little bike ride of their own. Exploring some of the more French highlights of the area and one of the toughest climbs in London.

North Four, North London magazine, tour de france, tour de north london, cycle tour, food tour, french cuisine, review

But first things first. Coffee. Coffee and breakfast, to be precise and it just so happens that North Four HQ happens to be within rolling distance of Boulangerie Bon Matin: a modern french bakery, nestled in Finsbury Park.

So the obvious choice for a French themed breakfast would be coffee and croissants, but here at North Four we try and shake things up. (Don’t worry they have croissants too and the word in our little peloton is they are damn good). Embracing our millennial lifestyle we went for poached eggs and avocado on toast. Pretty much everywhere does avocado and eggs now, but not everyone does them this well.

I might not be able to own a house thanks to spending all my money on avocados, but who needs to when they are this good. And lets be honest, I would’ve spent the money on bikes anyway. Fortunately they also happen to be a great source of carbs and protein, the touch of chilli perfect for firing us up for the day ahead.

Speaking of fired up, you can’t go on a bike ride without fuel, I mean coffee. Being a delightful summer day we paired breakfast with their new Vietnamese style iced coffee. How is that French you say?

Well Vietnam was colonised by the French so I say that counts. Also the coffee was that good I just don’t care. Full and fuelled up we headed out on our ride, armed with fresh legs and an even fresher baguette.

Bike races like the Tour de France are made up of many different types of terrain. The person with the fastest time over the whole tour gets to wear the yellow jersey or maillot jaune and walk away the winner.

We have long flat days; solo hell time trial days; lumpy up and down days; crotch destroying gravel and cobble days all of these combine to make up a grand tour.

But quite often the most important days in the race are the nosebleed inducing mountain top days.

These aren’t the days where you can win the race, a grand tour is too complicated for that but they are the days where you can lose it all. They are the days where riders push themselves to the absolute limit and beyond all for a chance to wear that yellow jersey.

Arguably the biggest and baddest of these mountain top finishes is Mont Ventoux, coming in at 5,200ft of climbing over 14 miles and an average gradient of 7.5% this mountain is a true test, worthy of respect from even the best riders. The steep mountain road leads a weather station and it’s iconic aerial. To honour this particular climb, we decided to recreate it on a climb up to the equally as iconic Alexandra Palace and it’s very own aerial.

Clocking in at 137ft of climbing and just over a third of a mile with an average gradient of 6% the climb to Alley Pally is accessible to everyone but still challenging enough to be a test without the risk of altitude sickness.

Whether you spin up it in your lowest gears or go on a big ring attack (I recommend the latter) the views from the top are completely worth it. They are however best enjoyed after some kind of victory dance. We incorporated a rather sweaty baguette into ours after my rather successful big ring attack.

With the majority of London sprawling out in front of you and providing an ideal back drop to Alley Pally itself, you will soon forget the pain your legs are in. Once you’ve recovered the ability to walk you have a surprisingly peaceful park and gardens to explore. They also happen to make a fantastic instagram backgrounds for those #humblebrag posts you’re entitled to make now that you’re up here. Because remember,  if you don’t post it, you never did it. Oh and incase you completely cooked yourself going up, there is a cafe at the top to restock at.

When you get sick of the views, you then have the luxury of bombing back down the other side into London. If you do it fast enough you can make it to Salut! to try their brand new lunch menu like we did.


Based in Islington, Salut! with it’s friendly and modern take on French cuisine is definitely worth those extra pedal strokes. With an open kitchen and  a comfy rustic vibe it’s an ideal place to rest those tired legs and take care of the appetite you’ve built up. We started with roasted asparagus and 72 day matured lamb ham. I have no idea what or how you get a lamb ham but however you do it is delicious. Oh it also had a poached egg and a Hollandaise sauce with it. But seriously that lamb ham.

While gearing up for the main course, a quick history lesson on the recent Tour de France’s. While the race is of course very very French, it’s been a very long time since we have had a French winner. In fact the Tour de France has had a very anglo based problem. Us Brits have won 4 out of the last 5 of them, thanks to Sir Wiggo and Froome. And we even have Mark Cavendish sprinting for the most Tour stage wins. So it only seemed natural for us to go for a very British brunch for our Tour de France lunch.


North Four, North London magazine, tour de france, tour de north london, cycle tour, food tour, french cuisine, review

R Owtons Pork and Bacon Sausage, Smoked White and Black Beans with Fried Egg and Chives. To give it it’s full menu name. Or sausage, bacon and egg when you translate it from delicious to hungry. But don’t let this simplification fool you. This was a truly magnificent meal.

Sat next to the equally delicious Salt Hake in Sorrel Bianco Butter sauce and you quickly had two very excited cyclists swapping food like kids on a school trip. Soon after eating our fill and with long lingering glances at the dessert menu, no one needs to see food babies in lycra, we were on our bikes heading back to the office to taunt our co workers with the wonders of lamb ham.

If any of the food has tickled your fancy you can find Boulangerie Bon Matin online and over on twitter and facebook. Or if you are up for the lamb ham you can find that at Salut! and on twitter and instagtram. If you or anyone you know have been effected by lycra you can talk to me about it @lycrabore.

Read more North Four bike tours here.

Brave Sir Robin Opening 14th December 2017
Eat & Drink

Local Thinking, Craft Beer Drinking: Brave Sir Robin Launches in Crouch Hill

Carouse founders Chris, Theo and Ben – the charming folk behind Kentish Town’s Rose and Crown – have a new venture afoot and we couldn’t be more bloody excited to see it. We’ve been creeping in their windows, peering through the paint and sneaking glimpses at builders’ bums for a few months now (okay, maybe not the last one), watching these guys transform this cosy corner of Crouch Hill into a rather cool little boozer. Now they’re opening and everyone is invited. Come one, come all, and try all 20 of their beers on tap with us.

Back of persons head with cigarette tucked over ear

Body Hammer: Clubbing, but not how you know it

Last month I decided to try clubbing again. I don’t quite know what came over me, but I actually (brace yourselves) enjoyed it. I went to Body Hammer’s monthly party in Manor House and I’m here to tell you to go too, whether you love clubbing, hate clubbing, or really couldn’t care either way. #notspon

Close up of person shoving a stuffed potato skin into her mount at Skins in The Magic Roundabout for North Four Magazine
Eat & Drink Events

Go Your Own Way at Skins' Fleetwood Mac & Cheese Night

Rich, fried, buttery, potato-y vessels loaded with flavor combinations that go down rather well with craft beer, late nights and good times. Ha, who am I kidding, EVERYTHING goes down well with beer. You heard that right buddy, loaded potato skins are back with a bang (and a generous portion of bacon) and are currently being served at Old Street's The Magic Roundabout by street food pop-up Skins and we could not be any happier. Well, unless they were to stuff it with, say, Mac and Cheese or risotto. Oh, that's exactly what they do? Well paint me green and call me a cucumber.

Christmas Gift Guide by Pretty Shiny Shop in Stroud Green North London
Lifestyle List

A Very Pretty Shiny Christmas Gift Guide

Magical gifts, wonderful gifts, marvellous gifts, beautiful gifts, gifts, glorious gifts glo-ri-ous giiiiiifts. Please Sir, I want some more. It’s that time of year again and whether you love it or loathe it gifts will be purchased and presented into expectant hands. Stroud Green's very own Pretty Shiny Shop have compiled a gift guide to help ease the shopping shock. Imagine only having to trot to your local gift shop and tick off your entire shopping list in one fell swoop. Done, finito, terminado! To make it that little sweeter, it's also all very affordable... so you won't even have to pick a pocket or two.

Three people clinking plastic glasses in the air in a tent with people in the background at Thor's Tipi Bar in Regent's Place
Eat & Drink Events

Drink, Feast, Conquer, Repeat. Thor's Tipi Bar Has Arrived.

Alright guys, it’s happening. The frosty charm of December is, once again, being beaten to a pulp by the capitalists’ wet dream: Christmas. The hideous twinkling of artificial outdoor lighting is starting to appear, with tourists flocking from far and wide to watch D-list celebrities press a button. Invitations to Christmas parties flood in from your multiple part-time jobs, ensuring you make bad decisions bi-weekly til next year. Supermarkets are selling 12-day advent calendars containing confetti, cookie cutters and candles for a flawless £50. And oh, how the mulled wine flows.

Girl peeking through gold and pink balloons at Top Balloon in Shop Stroud Green for North Four Magazine
Eat & Drink Events

Shop Stroud Green Christmas Trail 2017

Who doesn’t love a cheeky statistic, correctly sourced? You know we do. Well, did you know that for every £1 spent with a small business, 63p is re-spent in the local area, as opposed to a measly 40p in every £1 re-spent locally with larger businesses? An absolute travesty, am I right? That 23p has to mean something, right, guys?! Guys? Guys, where are you going? Wait, there’s freebies involved too!

Eat & Drink Events Lifestyle List

Top 4 'Christmas is just a bad excuse for a' Winter Markets

By gum there are a lot of winter markets this year. Fueled by sickly sweet mulled wine and overpriced pulled pork sliders, we’ve managed to wade our way through the murky waters of winter markets and find some decent looking ones round this here part of town. Don’t let our Grinch-esq vibes put you off (I’m more of a Pancake Day person myself) because, if you’re into markets, you’ll probably like these. Read on, if you’re merrier than us.

The Vinteriors team and Mary le Comte at Moseyhome in Finsbury Park, North London for 'Style My Shop'.

Style My Shop: Vinterior x Moseyhome

Take a short walk along Finsbury Park’s own sunset strip and you’ll find MoseyHome, an interiors retailer and styling consultancy who have invited us to collaborate with them on an exciting new series titled 'Style My Shop', in which they invite some of London's most talented interiors experts to quite literally style their shop. Interiors porn at it's finest.

Eat & Drink Events List

Top Five "It's That Time Of Year Again" Things To Do This Winter

Why was the snowman sad? Because he had a meltdown. Much like us, every year, when winter comes. It’s cold, it’s dark, and we know Christmas is on its way. But hey, it’s not all bad – the events round this time of year can be pretty swell. So don your scarf-shawl-blanket and get your frolic on, it’s time for fairy lights, scarfing mulled wine and stuffing your face!

Hand feeling colourful splashes of artwork at Smith and Sinclair Flavour Gallery
Culture Eat & Drink Events

Suck it at The Flavour Gallery

Touch, taste, smell, hear and create art. Smith & Sinclair, purveyors of the Edible Cocktail, presents The Flavour Gallery: a multi-sensory adventure that’ll seduce your senses and tickle your taste buds beyond all imagination. Ooh matron!

Hodgepodge on Crouch Hill, North London. New restaurant opening November 2017
Eat & Drink

New Opening: Hodgepodge Crouch Hill

Offering modern British cuisine with a smokey twist, Crouch Hill's newest contender to its foodie scene, Hodge Podge, is all minimal styling and hearty yet inventive dishes.

Cartoon of vampires standing in tunnel for London Horror Festival
Events List

Top 4 ‘Eat, drink and be scary’ All Hallows haunts

Brush the cobwebs off your sexy banana costume; it’s that time of year to make a tit of yourself in fancy dress again. We’ve rounded up the most spine-chilling Halloween happenings in North London and, trust us, they sound horrendous. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Eat & Drink Events

The Moroccan Medina at The Queen of Hoxton Rooftop

God bless the Queen... of Hoxton. Or, more specifically, their rooftop - which happens to be one of our favourites in this here city of London. These guys are well known for creating beautiful, seasonal pop-ups which have included the Nordic Viking themed 'Skye Halla' and the Neverland inspired 'Bangarang'. This winter make way for 'The Moroccan Medina', a sky high hideaway inspired by the romanticism of the beguiling ancient city of Marrakesh.

Mento, floristry cafe in finsbury park, North London
Eat & Drink

Mento: Flowers and Coffee

Next time you need a caffeine hit why not take it from a cup brewed from Jamaican beans grown under a canopy of rainforest-preserving trees, whilst eating a home made vegan banana bread as you sit among an array of sweetly scented blooms. Welcome to Mento, Finsbury Park.

Eat & Drink

Pilgrim: A Unique Spanish Pop-up Dining Experience

Pilgrim, the newest kid to Hackney's pop-up scene, is a unique dining experience inspired by the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. This six course tasting menu includes regional dishes with a contemporary twist not yet seen before in London.