The perfect weekend staycation guide inspired by the South of France
Who says you have to get on a plane to live that Mediterranean life? We put together the ultimate guide for you to live la dolce vita.
There’s a reason why the South of France has maintained its glamorous reputation since the 1950s era. This is where people, from the layperson to the A-list celebrity, come in search of passion, love, romance and an idyllic getaway. With its Michelin-star restaurants and picturesque hilltop towns overlooking the ocean, the Riviera delivers mightily in all four.
Torontonians live la dolce vita in a metropolitan city home to a wealth of French brasseries, bistros and patisseries. Spoiled for choice, anyone who lives here could spend an entire day tasting and enjoying their way around our version of le Midi (what the French call the South of France).
Until it’s safe to travel again, let us do as the French do and enjoy the finer things in life—without ever hitting a tarmac. Here are our top hot spots to drink, eat, shop and stay like the Parisian in you, at home in Toronto.
A day in France is not a day in France without the tastings of fine wines. Of course, the region is known for its wines, hence the sprawling area at any LCBO named ‘France.’ Let us help you narrow it down. Gérard Bertrand Côte des Roses embodies the South of France lifestyle, with a mouth-watering selection, including their newest pinot noir and chardonnay.
Perfect for the romance of warm weather and summer evening dining is the Côte des Roses Rosé. Many vintage wine lovers count this elegant wine as a favourite, with its blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault, red fruit tones mixed with citrus and herb notes. The rose-shaped bottle is a piece of artwork in itself, featuring a beautiful matte finish.
Surprise your taste buds with the Côte des Roses Pinot Noir, delivering characterful cherry, raspberry, rhubarb, clove and herb tones. In contrast, the Côte des Roses Chardonnay features honey cream, apple and pear notes with white blossom, vanilla and spice to finish. Both bottles come at incredible price points without skimping on the true French experience.
While the bottles themselves don’t tell the whole story, it’s certainly a great start. Created in 2010 by Mélitine Couvoirsier for a competition organized by glassmaker Verallia, this bottle’s base was designed to be the shape of a rose. Gérard Bertrand, as a member of the jury, took a keen interest in this remarkable creation. Côte des Roses wines had found their vessel—the narrow, delicate bottle, fixed with the Côte des Roses, is a whisper of class, mais en français. You can discover Côte Des Roses’s luxurious wines online and in-stores at select LCBO locations.
French onion soup, beef tartare, black truffle tagliatelle, coq au vin and bœuf bourguignon are just a handful of the delicious offerings at Maison Selby, a French-inspired bistro built within a historic 136-year-old home right in downtown Toronto. Their colourful cocktails match a delightfully quirky interior.
If the positively Parisian atmosphere of Jules Bistro doesn’t suck you in, the food will surely keep you coming back. Start with vegetarian French onion soup and split 24 oz. of the finest AAA grade ribeye with a friend or loved one at either their Queen St W or Leslieville locations. The dim, romantic lighting paired with a platter of steak frites will have you believing you’re in France without ever leaving Toronto.
Soco Kitchen and Bar at the Delta Hotel is the perfect accoutrement to the perfect day. Start with brunch on their rooftop with a ricotta omelet or buttermilk pancakes, or enjoy your evening as the sun sets over the Toronto skyline with flatbreads, fresh salads and one of their many house wines, topped off with a scoop or two of sorbet.
A France-inspired day is not complete without a flaky pastry or sweet tart to truly round out the palette of flavours. In the heart of Little Portugal is Hadrien Verrier Patisserie, home to melt-in-your-mouth almond chocolate croissants, dusted with powdered sugar and perfectly browned apple turnovers and danishes. Take a trip to Corktown’s Roselle for a taste of modern French-inspired pastries like madeleines, croissants or layered, fruity cakes. Whether in Queen West or Rosedale, you’ll want to pop by Nadege, a Toronto staple serving French-style ice cream and homemade sorbet, colourful macarons and seasonable favourites.
Shop French, but in Canada. Clementine is a French boutique nestled in the heart of Yorkville, bringing you the best of sustainable homeware—from cutlery and spice mills to textiles, tableware and gardening tools—made in France. Annie Aime has been a staple of the Ossington strip since 2013, bringing the downtown core a taste of Paris with wool apparel, hand and shoulder bags, parkas and more.
A staycation isn’t a staycation unless you’re, well, staying somewhere that isn’t your home! Allow yourself to be doted on and add a little je ne sais quoi to your weekend stay with a night or two at the Delta Hotel on Lower Simcoe Street. Enjoy the aforementioned Soco Kitchen and Bar offerings, too, on the Delta’s gorgeous rooftop patio.
Discover Côte Des Roses online and in-stores at select LCBO locations.