There is nothing quite like Paris. The romance, the views, the hotels, the shopping, the coffee, the food, the architecture, the culture, the innumerable fabulous cafes and bistros, great literary quarters, boutique fashion stores, leading to iconic art galleries. Even though there is nothing quite like France’s fabled capital, these cities come dangerously close to exhibiting some of the same traits as the City of Light.
While Montreal might not be the preeminent city of Canada anymore, this only furthers the city’s Parisian charm. Strolling alongside the Lachine Canal or exploring the old town streets in the Vieux Port is going to further accentuate the comparison. Make sure that you get something to eat at one of the candlelit bistros or one of the corner cafés. Make sure to explore the neo-gothic Basilique Notre-Dame and be amazed at the similarities that you find with the Parisian version.
Exploring the city is an amazing journey, from the colorful and trendy north side of the city to the historically preserved and romantic southern part of Montreal. This is also one of the primary gourmet destinations in all of North America. There are top-class restaurants, innovative delis, great patisseries, and fabulous food markets. Despite the fact that there are some amazing options nearby, the dishes served here are quite different from traditional Parisian cuisine.
Truth be told, most things about Seville are different from Paris, the shops, the music, the streets, the cuisine, the architecture, even the art. However, Seville does have all these amazing things and uses them in much the same way that provides Paris with its sensuality and passion. There are many of the same things that you can enjoy in Paris, but Seville offers them with an invigorating difference. There is something about the atmosphere in Seville that you have to explore for yourself.
Even though they are often overshadows by baroque imperial palaces, the stately boulevards in Vienna make for an amazing place to walk. There are many elegant cafés in the heart of the city, where coffee and cake remain an integral part of life for many in the city.
When it comes to cultural heritage, Vienna is on par with Paris; it was home to the waltz wizard Johann Strauss, Schubert, Beethoven, and Mozart – a literal who-is-who of the world’s greatest classical music composers. You are able to explore one of the world’s largest art complexes in the glorious MuseumsQuartier. Here you will find many Old Masters in the Albertina while the MUMOK Museum of Modern Art displays work that is much more contemporary.
The birthplace of the Italian Renaissance and Europe’s preeminent city for 250 years – it is safe to say that Florence was Paris before…Paris was Paris. It served as the home for political thinkers such as Machiavelli, writers like Dante, and world-renowned artists such as Michelangelo.
You absolutely have to explore Florence on foot, because walking around the street corners and pausing on the many bridges opens you up to an experience that you cannot have when traveling by cab. Explore the area where the commercial and historic districts meet and you will find plenty of small cafés and restaurants to go along with a plethora of designer shops and fine boutiques.
Prague, Czech Republic
Having picked up influences from both east and west, Prague has earned the nickname “the crossroads of Europe.” It took those blends and managed to turn them into a beautiful farrago of architecture. You are able to walk from the more modern settings into Old Town, alongside the 9th century Prague Castle. The baroque St. Nicholas Church is absolutely worth seeing, as is the blackly gothic Tyn Church. There are many cozy boutique hotels throughout Prague as well. All of what Prague has to offer combines into a beautiful romantic, cosmopolitan, and historic atmosphere.
Bradley McGowan is a US based freelance writer, extensive traveller and a regular contributor to The Wise Traveller.