If your plans to live out your wildest travel fantasies got derailed this year by COVID, all hope is not lost. Do you dream of wandering cobblestone streets and weaving your way through lush vineyards before enjoying a great glass of French wine? Those dreams can still come true. The best part? You don’t have to hop on a seven-hour plane ride to do it.
Hidden away in the countryside not too far from Toronto are hidden gems of towns, reminiscent of France. These spots are full of European flair in everything from architecture to landscapes, cuisine to wine selections. If you’re looking for a weekend escape with your SO, check out these suggestions for discovering what lies just beyond your own backyard. Pack your bags and load up the car, your summer getaway awaits.
1. Take a trip to Paris... no, not that Paris
Address: Paris, ON
Why You Need To Go: Besides sharing a name with France’s romantic capital, Paris, Ontario also offers plenty in terms of history and stunning architecture. It's even known as the "cobblestone capital of Canada." You'll find tons of fine dining, outdoor cafes, bakeries, plus cheese and candy shops. After a day of strolling around, do as the French do and pour yourself a nice glass of wine. Available at the LCBO, the Cabernet-Syrah or Sauvignon Blanc from Félix & Lucie French wines can help you unwind after all your Parisian-inspired fun.
2. Discover the arts in Almonte
Address: Almonte, ON
Why You Need To Go: A fan of the arts? Almonte is definitely for you. The town is renowned as a charming hub for arts and culture. It's perfect for anyone who dreams of exploring Paris' artsy Montmartre district. Go gallery or studio-hopping to discover the many talented local artists, and don’t forget to do the Almonte River Walk which gives you beautiful views of the Mississippi River.
3. Relax by the waterside in Elora
Address: Elora, ON
Why You Need To Go: This quaint little town is known for its homey charm and naturally wonderful sites. While certain attractions are closed this year (like the Elora Quarry), the town is filled with gorgeous spots to discover either in town or by the water.
4. Visit Galt to fulfill your European travel dreams
Address: Cambridge, ON
Why You Need To Go: Galt is a 19th-century neighbourhood filled with historic churches that’ll give you all the France feels. Boasting antique shops, pubs, and a farmer’s market (where you can visit Daniel’s Cheese & Deli, a cheese shop specializing in Canadian cheddars, and pick up something local to pair with your next bottle of wine), Galt should definitely be on your summer road trip bucket list.
5. Get your French Alps resort fix at Blue Mountain Resort
Price: For lodging guests, play-all-day adult passes are $32 in advance or $54 on-site
Address: 190 Gord Canning Dr, Blue Mountains, ON L9Y 1C2
Why You Need To Go: If you’ve been dreaming of the French Alps, could we perhaps interest you in a dreamy Euro-style resort instead? Blue Mountain Resort is an alpine ski resort that has activities all year long for the more outdoorsy among your group. Plus there's an exciting nightlife, great eateries, and fun shopping.
6. Explore Lavender Fields in Prince Edward County
Price: $8 for adults
Address: 732 Closson Rd, Hillier, ON K0K 2J0
Why You Need To Go: There are plenty of aspects of Prince Edward County that can be compared to France, perhaps most notably their abundance of wineries and adorable antique shops filled with artisanal products. Oh, and if you’re looking for a picturesque addition to your Instagram grid, definitely check out the Prince Edward County Lavender Farm.
7. Go Wine Tasting in Niagara-on-the-Lake
Price: Varies by winery
Address: Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON
Why You Need To Go: Got wine on the brain? Can’t say we blame you. This gorgeous town is a wine lover’s paradise, with tons of award-winning wineries and vineyards to explore — and taste test, naturally. But if you feel like venturing off to explore on your own, the town’s got quite a few parks for you to picnic. Head out to stunning Ryerson Park (which just might give you some serious provincial French vibes).
8. Spend your weekend escape in Perth
Address: Perth, ON
Why You Need To Go: From cute cafes to live music and local galleries, Perth has tons to offer visitors looking for an entertaining change of scenery. Meander around the historic town by the waterside before treating yourself to some quality cuisine, with restaurants ranging from diner-style to elegant sit-down suppers. On your way back to your Airbnb or hotel, grab a bottle of French wine (Félix & Lucie has both a white and a red option), and enjoy!
9. Take an enchanting stroll through Kingston
Address: Kingston, ON
Why You Need To Go: Kingston is more than just the hometown of the Tragically Hip. Known as "Limestone City," Kingston’s 19th-century buildings will impress any architectural enthusiast. You’d swear the city’s historic Fort Henry was cut and pasted directly from Europe itself. With plenty of coffee shops, bars, and restaurants, there’s no reason for you to miss out on all that this gem has to offer.
Now, what’s a French-inspired getaway without some proper wine to add to your joie de vivre? Available in the French wine section at your local LCBO, Félix & Lucie wines are the perfect accompaniment to whichever weekend getaway destination you choose.
Choose between a bottle (or two) of the crisp, refreshing Sauvignon Blanc or the delicious, medium-bodied Cabernet-Syrah. These quality French wines are crafted specifically for lovers, featuring a heart-shaped lock on the bottle. It's a tasty, affordable way to enjoy imported French wine during your romantic trip.
You can purchase Félix & Lucie French wines at the LCBO. Learn more about them here and follow them on Instagram for more details.
We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit any location, you check the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, respect the environment and obey any local laws.