How to have a French vacation without ever leaving Toronto

This summer, it seems like everyone is traveling to Europe. Whether you’ve got your own European vacation planned this summer and don’t want it to end or are dreaming of getting a taste of Italy or Greece, we’ve got you covered. Here’s your how-to guide to summer like a European this summer — without ever leaving Toronto, this time with all things France.

Lock in your love

Along the cobblestone streets of Toronto’s historic Distillery District, you’ll find a nine-foot long LOVE art installation, designed by Mathew Rosenblatt, which rivals Paris’s Pont des Artes, “love lock bridge,” located across the Seine River. Since 2014, thousands of locks have been latched to the installation to symbolize the permanence of a couples’ union.

Pay your respects

Tourists from around the world are drawn to Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, captivated by the allure of visiting the final resting place of luminaries such as Jim Morrison and Marcel Proust. Opened in 1876, Toronto’s Mount Pleasant Cemetery is an immersive voyage into the city’s rich history. Encompassing a sprawling 205 acres, A-list graves of prominent Canadians include former prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King and pianist Glenn Gould.

Smell the blooms

In the summer months, the farmlands of Provence transform into a sea of vibrant violet, as lavender blooms. At the Lavender Polo Farm just north of Toronto, visitors can revel in over 155 acres of the fragrant Spanish and English sun-kissed flowers from mid-June to late July. 

Lavender Polo Farm

Gaze at the stars

Captivating audiences since 1939, cinema’s annual gathering, the Cannes Film Festival, stands as the epitome of glamour in the realm of celebrity events. Known to be a launchpad for awards season, the Toronto International Film Festival (Sep 7–17) is chock full of star-studded film premieres, elegant red carpet moments and splashy gala events that make headlines across the globe (including France).

Cabaret all day

With its alluring blend of acrobatics, extravagant choreography and iconic cancan dancers adorned in costumes of sequins and feathers, acclaimed cabaret the Moulin Rouge has been dazzling tourists and locals alike since 1889. On July 29, the Junction Underground will be transformed into the Sugar Shack and feature a fun and flirty evening of burlesque and cabaret performances from classic to comedy and everything in-between.

Experience pastry culture

At Goûter, French-born head pastry chef and owner Rodney Alléguède has been winning diners’ hearts with his no-fuss croissants in flavours ranging from chocolate to raspberry.  But the offerings don’t end there. The spot is also brimming with French breads and pastries (madeleines, cinnamon knots and fruit Danish) and savoury treats as well. 


Don a chapeau

Is there anything more iconic of French fashion than the beret? Continually being reinvented, a long list of It girls have sported the stylish topper over the years including Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve. For your own Parisian chic chapeau, visit milliner Karyn Ruiz at Toronto’s Lilliput Hats. Every hat is handmade by a person, not a machine, and produces truly unique and one-of-a-kind looks for any occasion. 

For more of our Summer Like a European series, click here.