Looking for a dose of European charm but lacking the time or money to get across the Atlantic? Here are seven closer-to-home alternatives for you:
Okay, it’s a British Overseas Territory, but it’s only a two-hour flight from most U.S. East Coast gateways. With its British colonial heritage, Bermuda feels like somebody took a slice of the prettiest English countryside and gave it year-round sunshine, clear blue water, and pink-sand beaches. You’ll find many hints of Britain—a rich maritime history, British pub fare, and a pleasant English formality and politeness—but with temps in the 60s and 70s, even in wintertime.
- New Orleans
Founded by French explorers in 1718, New Orleans has its earliest roots in French culture. You’ll find plenty of European influences in the French Quarter and assorted old-world architectural styles in the city’s charming mansions and courtyards. Winter is a fine time to go, thanks to balmy weather and festive traditions originally inherited from Europe, from Reveillon dinners during the holiday season to Mardi Gras in February.
- Palm Beach, Florida
The historic courtyards off Worth Avenue feel like they belong on a Mediterranean island, what with their Italianate tilework, old-world fountains, and Venetian-style balconies festooned with bougainvillea, And, of course, Palm Beach holds more than enough Spanish- and Italian-style estates to ogle along South Ocean Boulevard. You can even sleep in one: The Breakers, a Mediterranean Renaissance villa. In winter it’s even sunnier and warmer than in the Med, with temps in the 70s.
- Quebec City
With its cobblestone streets, traditional French architecture, and farm-fresh Gallic gastronomy, this 400-year-old city feels—and taste—like a French village. It’s “like being back in France,” as one reviewer wrote. “When you pass through the St. Louis gate into the Old Town, it’s like entering a magical world and going back in time….It’s also a great place to practice your French without flying across the Atlantic!”
- Santa Barbara, California
Nestled between mountains and palm-dotted coastline, Santa Barbara has a geography and climate often likened to those of the Northern Mediterranean Sea coast. In fact, Santa Barbara is often described as “the American Riviera.” Its Spanish-style architecture, gentle sea breezes, and sunny weather make for a great winter escape…unless you’re tempted to catch the Santa Barbara French Festival. The largest French festival in the U.S., it takes place annually on Bastille Day weekend in July.
- Saint-Pierre and Miquelon
Did you know there’s an honest-to-goodness piece of France in North America? Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, a little archipelago in the Atlantic just 16 miles off Canada, is the only part of the French colonial empire that remains under French control to this day. Fair warning: The food and shopping are nothing like what you’ll find in Paris. But you can see North America’s only guillotine, as well as the Ile aux Marins, a time capsule from the late 19th century. Go in summertime.
- Victoria, British Columbia
Named for the legendary Queen of England, Victoria was Vancouver Island’s first European settlement. Only 70 miles from Seattle, it’s a slice of Olde Englande, what with its castles, Parliament Buildings, and churches such as Christ Church Cathedral—which is, in the words of one reviewer, “like a piece of England transported to North America.” Between shopping for Irish linens and Scottish wools, you can grab authentic fish and chips or afternoon tea and scones. Victoria is green and picturesque year-round to boot, with five times as many sunny days as Seattle.
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