Paris is an absolute dream come true. Even if you've never visited the City of Light, you've got to admit something as simple as seeing pictures of people visiting the Eiffel Tower or eating fresh croissants outside the Louvre Museum probably fills you with wanderlust… and hunger.
However, you don’t have to travel far to experience Paris or Europe for that matter. In fact, Canada is full of beautiful cities that will make you feel like you just landed on a completely different continent without crossing the Atlantic ocean.
Quebec City, Quebec
There is honestly no place that does Europe (other than Europe) better than Quebec City. Actually, Quebec City is probably the closest thing you can get to Paris. If you’ve never been to Quebec City, picture this: cobblestone roads, carefully preserved French architecture, cute little boutiques and cafes, French cuisine and more.
The French culture is present throughout all of Quebec but more specifically Quebec City where the French settled and fought many wars against the British. And if you need a little more convincing, the spoken language here is French. It really doesn’t get any more European than this.
Another city in Canada covered in cobblestone. Montreal’s roots are similar to those of Quebec City since both the French and English colonized it thousands of years ago.
But besides all its history, Montreal is also full of vibrant town squares, magnificent historic buildings and beautiful cathedrals and basilicas like the Notre-Dame which is a highly decorated church known for its intricate wooden carvings and stained glass windows. It's all of this and more that make Montreal the perfect getaway if you want to feel submerged in the French culture.
And if you’re a big foodie, Montreal is the perfect spot to satisfy your Euro cravings. With so many different restaurants and cafes in the city, you’ll need someone to roll you home.
La Croissanterie Figaro, Outremont, QC
While we're on the topic of food... if you happen to make the trip to Montreal, you absolutely need to stop by La Croissanterie Figaro. This little cafe, located on 5200 Hutchinson Street, is as Parisian as it gets. You'll want to try some of their delicious quiches and of course, their mouth-watering croissants. And if you happen to be there during the summer, make sure to sit outside so you can bask in the sun and soak up those European vibes.
Visiting Ottawa is like stepping into the set of a European movie, you just gotta know where to look. There are actually so many places in Ottawa where you can live out your Euro dreams, one, in particular, is very well known all over the world.
The Parliament Buildings in Ottawa have some striking similarities to some of Europe’s most decorated architecture. In fact, the Parliament Buildings were designed in 1866 after Queen Victoria herself chose Ottawa as the capital of Canada. While this part of Ottawa will make you feel you’re taking a stroll down London, there’s another hidden gem in the city that will truly transport you to France.
Le Cordon Bleu, founded in 1895 in Paris, is a world renowned culinary arts institute that provides classical French culinary training in over 20 countries around the world. And the only Le Cordon Bleu school located in Canada is actually in our own backyard, right here in our nation's capital!
Trust, it's the real deal. Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa's classes are held in specially designed amphitheatres which feature closed-circuit cameras, mirrors and audio systems, along with professional kitchens for hands-on training. And if that wasn't enough, students are mentored and guided by the best in the industry every single day.
If food and cooking is totally your thing, get this, Le Cordon Bleu is currently accepting registrations for their fall semester this October. And hey, if October doesn't work for you, you can plan to register in any season - classes begin 4 times a year!
Imagine joining the ranks of world-renowned chef Julia Child, who studied at Le Cordon Bleu Paris? Totally possible! As a student at Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa, you're training alongside people from all over the world - which means you get to experience a variety of cultures (just like you would studying at Le Cordon Bleu Paris!).
Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa's state-of-the-art facilities, boutique-style setting and world-class French Chefs basically bring Le Cordon Bleu Paris right to you! If you want a true French culinary experience, taking a short course or enrolling in a diploma program is the closest it gets to the real thing.
Perth may be known as a quaint little town in Eastern Ontario, but it’s full of vibrant green spaces and 19th-century stone buildings that truly resemble those found in Europe.
The town of Perth is actually a one hour drive away from Ottawa so if you happen to make the trip to the nation’s capital, you can easily stop in and take a walk down the town’s streets where you can capture some of the iconic stone buildings that make up this little spot in Ontario.
If you have a very unhealthy obsession with the show Outlander (it's an amazing show, ok?), then you'll love Antigonish.
In fact, the town was actually settled by a group of Scots who also established St. Francis Xavier University. The town is so rich in Gaelic and Acadian culture that they even host their own Highland games which consist of heavy lifting, dancing, bagpipe playing and other traditional Scottish events.
Who knows, you might even run into Jamie Fraser while you're there or catch a glimpse of the standing stones at Craigh na Dun (Outlander fans will get this).
If you love wine, you'll want to add Niagara-on-the-Lake to your travel wishlist. Not only is this picturesque place located in Ontario, it's also known for having acres and acres of wineries and large estates.
This is the perfect spot to visit with your friends if you love good wine but can't actually afford to visit a winery in Italy. But really, who needs Italy when you have Niagara-on-the-Lake. Make sure you come thirsty cause you'll be drinking all day long.
And if you're not down for wine (are you crazy?), fear not because this little town is full of cute little shops and corners that will have you feeling like you're taking a stroll down the streets of London.
Justin Bieber might have put this town on the map but one of the real reasons that make this town so amazing is its European flair. Not only is Stratford known for its booming theatre scene (seriously, you have to check out the Stratford Festival & Shakespearean Gardens), but its rich culture and Victorian style shops are really what will make you want to stay.
Oh and the best part? It’s just a two-hour drive from Toronto.
Ok, even if you've never been to BC (except for maybe a quick stop at the Vancouver airport), you're totally going to want to add Nelson, BC to your list of places to visit.
This small city of 10,000 is actually situated on the side of a mountain and from first glance, it doesn’t look like there’s a whole lot going on but trust me, it’s an absolute dream and it’ll have you feeling like you’re in the French Alps, especially if you visit during the winter time.
And if you’re more of a summer person, don’t hesitate because Nelson is not short on amazing patios. In fact, you’ll want to visit the All Seasons Cafe which has a back patio that will literally transport you to Europe. Just think… you could be sitting on a beautiful patio, sipping a glass of wine and enjoying a breathtaking view of the mountains that surround Nelson, BC. Now that is pure European bliss.
Ok you're probably thinking, "what on earth is Almonte?". To be fair, not many people know about this little town just fours hours away from Toronto which is a shame because it's full of European charm and Instagram worthy pictures to fill your feed.
Actually, Almonte is any nature lover's dream, especially those who are looking to experience an outdoor adventure without having to jet to Europe. The town is full of some epic nature trails and it's got a pretty amazing waterfall. And don't worry if you're not a nature lover, because you can also get your shopping fix by visiting Mill St. and checking out some of the town's cute little shops.
St.John's might not remind you of Paris but it'll get the Irish in you going!
This Canadian island is full of Irish pubs and the locals have event adapted a small Irish accent in their speech. If you love music and a hearty serving of meat and vegetable stew, you'll definitely want to visit St.John's.
If you do happen to visit, make sure to visit O'Reilly's Irish Pub for a true dose of Europe. You might even catch some local musicians jamming to the beat of the rainbow (ha ha ha).
And that's not all... St.John's is also well known for its rows of colourful houses which have a similar resemblance to the houses found in London, England. So you can pretty much cross off England and Ireland off your list.
Now really, all of these places in Canada should be on your travel bucket list if you've been dying to visit Paris, but if you’ve got an itch and a passion for the French culinary arts, then you’ll want to make sure you visit Ottawa and Le Cordon Bleu.
Not only will you learn from the very best, but you can also study for various culinary careers which include catering, restaurant and hotel management, journalism, food styling and more.
And if you love to cook but don’t have time to enroll in a full program, you can also consider taking a short, 12-month course ranging from an afternoon to four days long in both cuisine and pastry.
So next time you’re in Ottawa, drop by Le Cordon Bleu and book a one hour campus tour. And if you’re more into eating rather than cooking, there are plenty of restaurants in the city for you to get your French fix!