A guide to France in Toronto
Vive la France in Toronto! The culture and traditions of this European country are alive and well in Hogtown. They're especially evident in our thriving food scene where macarons and éclairs have had a prolific impact, and boeuf tartare stars on even the most eclectic menus.
You'll also find avant garde fashion from Paris, traiteurs hawking only the best imports, and there's even a sports bar for expats to cheer on their home team.
Here's a guide to all things French in Toronto.
BOULANGERIE & PATISSERIE
This quaint bakery cafe on Queen East is a brunch hot spot. Find this place bustling on weekends when locals pile in for sweet and savoury tarts, croque madame sandwiches and the quiche du jour.
This cafe and patisserie boasts three locations in the GTA. Head here for top shelf croissants, pain au chocolat, pastries, danishes, brioche and more.
This Avenue and Lawrence-area pâtisserie blends French techniques with Japanese flavours. Signature offerings include macarons in flavours like black sesame and taro, not to mention stunning creme puffs and green tea mochi verinnes.
Housed in First Canadian Place, this Parisian-style café serves up slices of quiche, tartelettes and éclairs that aim to transport local office workers to France on their lunch breaks.
This pâtisserie on Yonge north of Eglinton is any excellent source for buttery croissants, seasonal danishes and pain au chocolat. Even if you visit for breakfast, you'll find the pastry case stocked with macarons and petit fours..
Le Neuf Cafe
Find this charming Parisian cafe sitting across from Clarence Square. Snag a spot on the patio here for brunch, or unwind with a latte and mille-feuille in the afternoon.
Mon K Patisserie
This East York pastry shop offers a delightful assortment of danishes, croissants, creme puffs and mille-feuille. Expect to find Japanese influences on the menu in the form of chestnut Mont-Blanc, Japanese soufflé and mango green tea mousse cakes.
Nadège is famous for its fanciful creations including macarons, petit fours and viennoiseries that embrace seasonal flavours. Locations in West Queen West, Rosedale and in the PATH have made this spot a household name.
Specializing exclusively in éclairs, this Queen West pâtisserie impresses with seasonal collections of choux pastry in flavours like apricot saffron, vanilla jasmine and even foie gras.
How could we forget this St. Clair West cafe stocked with fresh baguettes, buttery croissants and various sweet delights?
Patisserie La Cigogne
Fresh baguettes, croissants, tarts and petit fours are always in stock at pastry chef Thierry Schmitt's two Toronto locations. In addition to French delicacies, look forward to Alsatian classics like the tart flambée.
Sweet brioche, pain de mie and fougasse, along with a daily assortment of viennoiseries are staples at this French bakery on Jane Street. Also notable are the selection of desserts including macarons, fruit tarts and entremets.
This pâtisserie in the heart of Leaside espouses quality and tradition. Find various baguettes and loaves of bread along with an array of cakes, tarts, cookies and desserts in store daily.
The Tempered Room
This Parkdale spot serves as a showroom for Bertrand Alépée's sweet and savoury creations. The selection changes frequently, but has been known to include a varied assortment of financiers, éclairs, and other mini desserts.
Locations on Mount Pleasant and on Eglinton West are famous for their inventory of fresh breads, viennoiseries, bon bons and other sweets.
Auberge du Pommier
Contemporary French cooking at this O&B restaurant honours refined techniques and rustic styles of French fare by serving up crispy frogs legs and beef tartare in a an elegant setting.
Duck confit with bean cassoulet and a seared albacore tuna Niçoise are among the principle plates on offer at this French-inspired cocktail bar from Anthony Rose. You'd do just as well to skip the entrées and graze on a collection of raw oysters and gougères.
The best (and only) French restaurant in Toronto's East Chinatown offers up a daily selection of Provençal fare. Escargot fricasse, a trio of duck rillettes, and pan seared steak with Bordelaise sauce are all on the menu.
This brasserie from internationally acclaimed French chef Daniel Boulud is located at the Four Seasons Hotel. Menus rooted in French tradition highlight bistro classics along with delicacies from the rotisserie and contemporary dishes.
The tiny boîte, tucked away down a laneway on Yorkville Avenue, presents dishes inspired by the south of France. Tartine of rabbit with braised endive, riesling-poached foie gras and papillote of whitefish are standouts on the menu.
This sprawling bistro and boulangerie in the Distillery District offers modern takes on French classics. Tuna tartare Niçoise, sautéed escargot with button mushrooms and bone marrow butter, and filet mignon with frites are among the highlights.
This twee Parisian cafe sits at the pedestal of the Thompson Hotel. In the evenings, find the tables populated with Champagne, raw oysters and foie gras terrine, while the salad bar is the main attraction at lunch hour.
Sooth your soul at this midtown bistro with bowls of rich French onion soup or seafood studded bouillabaisse. Cravings for mussels or steak with crispy frites are easily sated too, while noshing on a cheese plate with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot is equally attractive.
Jacques Bistro du Parc
For almost four decades, this bistro in the heart of Yorkville has been turning out quintessential French fare. Start with a bowl of silky vichyssoise before moving on to plates of poached trout with basil butter sauce.
Escargots in a creamy white whine sauce, beef bourguignon and frites, and duck leg are among the many standouts on the menu from this intimate bistro on Bayview.
The three course prix-fixe is the way to go at this Queen West bistro where $35 buys options like escargot, paté, or mussels to start, and roasted chicken and duck confit or steak to follow.
Beef bourguignon sandwiches, tartines and croque monsieurs are on the daytime menu at this charming all day restaurant on Dundas West. In the evenings, look froward to rustic fare, including charcuterie boards, and ratatouille and braised lamb shanks served with confit white kidney beans.
This bistro and brasserie on Bedford embraces French traditions with a menu billing iconic dishes. Savour escargot and steak tartare followed by hearty bowls of moules a la marinière or beef bourguignon.
This handsome bistro on Rue Wellington is brimming with joie de vivre and authentic Parisian classics from chef Albert Ponzo. There's an impressive wine cellar to accompany selections of vol-au-vent, escargot and foie gras terrine.
Old guard French restaurants in Toronto are often synonymous with fine dining and this bistro in The Beach(es) is no exception. White linens and multi-course menus contribute to its formal feel, though à la carte options such as saffron scented mussels and cast iron steak frites don't call for a special occasion.
Head to this French sports bar to sip Breton-blended whisky while cheering during the Euro-Cup, the Olympics and other international sporting events.
In Harbord Village and in Little Italy, this fine foods shop deals in cured meat, cheese and sundries all imported from France. The café counter serves French onions soup, croque monsieur sandwiches and cheese plates. This place is my pre-picnic go-to.
A slew of products from France line the walls at this bakery, cafe and grocery in the Yonge and Eglinton area. Stock up on biscuits, chocolate, jam and chutney along with fresh baguettes, madeleines and canelés.
This boulangerie, pâtisserie and traiteur has everything one needs to live la belle vie. The store is stocked with patés and foie gras, artisanal French breads, fine pastries, preserves and prepared foods.
Chef Marc Thuet's stores are inspired by turn of the century Alsatian boulangeries. Stop into one of these enchanting emporiums to stock your pantry with house-made products and artisanal foods.
Francophone bookstores have evaporated with the rest of Toronto's indie bookshops, though membership to non-profit charity organization (and Canada's largest French language school) includes access to Culturethèque, a French e-library accessible 24/7.
The self proclaimed "Official ambassadors of French awesomeness" operate stores in West Queen West and in the Yonge and Eglinton area. The well curated selection features men's and women's fashions from young European designers.
French designer fashions are the focus at this Yorkville boutique. The posh shop carries collections from Chacok, Zapa, Rodika Zanian and Anne Fontaine.
The annual international Francophonie festival features live music and family friendly fun. The festival is free to attend and spotlights Francophone artists.
Shop for fine foods, arts and crafts and children's wares at this annual marketplace highlighting the best French products in Toronto.
Salon du livre de Toronto
This Francophone book fair happens annually towards the end of the year. The 2016 edition takes place at the Toronto Reference Library from November 20 to December 3.
Toronto Bastille Day
Celebrate the annual French national holiday at the Wychwood Barns in July with festivities and film, music and dance programing.
What did I miss? Add you favourite French retailers, restaurants and festivals in the comments.
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