While I’ve done a lot of travelling outside of Ontario, nothing warms my heart more than to explore more of my own backyard. There are so many amazing small towns to explore! I admit that I haven’t explored nearly as much as I’d like but luckily I was able to fix that a bit in the town of Paris Ontario! This adorable spot in the Region of Brant may look unsuspecting, but it makes for a fantastic Ontario road trip. Don’t believe me? Hop on a tour with Tasty Road Trips and you’ll see how amazing Paris, Ontario is!
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About Paris Ontario Canada
Originally, Paris, Ontario and the surrounding area was inhabited by the Anishinaabe, Attiwonderonk (Neutral) and Haudenosaunee Peoples. (I recommend visiting the Woodland Cultural Centre to learn more about this history). Paris, Ontario was first settled in the 1800s as it had gypsum deposits nearby that were used to create plaster of Paris. This small town quickly became a busy spot as the plaster was exported more and more. It was incorporated as the town of Paris in 1850. 24 years later, it made history as Paris is where the first ever telephone call was received as Alexander Graham Bell made the call from Brantford, Ontario.
The town has since evolved into an adorable town with an unsuspecting foodie scene, a number of incredible businesses and more. Voted “the prettiest little town in Canada“, it’s a no-brainer that there is lots of beauty to be discovered! Nestled where the Nith River meets the Grand River, it’s a picturesque destination lush with beautiful Carolinian forest. It’s also the “cobblestone capital of Canada” with a number of architectural gems. Wander its streets to find examples of Victoria, Edwardian, Gothic and Post Modern architecture. Though I’m sure it’s the cobblestone beauties that you’ll enjoy the most!
How to Get to Paris Ontario
Paris is located within Brant County in Southern Ontario and the perfect getaway from a number of destinations! It’s a short 15 minutes northwest of Brantford along Paris Road and Brant County Highway 2. If you’re coming from Waterloo Region, the Trussler Road route from Kitchener is a beautiful drive or there’s the Ontario 24 South to Regional Road 14 if you’re coming via Cambridge. For my Toronto readers, I recommend Highway 403 to Brant County Highway 2 as its normally the quickest route. If you’re ever in doubt, just ask Google!
Once you’re in Paris, you’ll find a number of parking lots in the heart of town. However, you should note that they are limited to 2-3 hours. If this isn’t long enough for your stay, you can find some street parking just outside of this like along West River Street.
So, ready to leave the flurry of the big city behind? Hop in your car and enjoy a getaway in small-town Ontario!
A Little Bit About Tasty Road Trips
If you’re looking for a great way to indulge in Paris’ foodie scene with a passionate local as your guide, look no further than Tasty Road Trips. I had the pleasure of being invited by the lady behind Tasty Road Trips – Spicy Jan. When I first heard her referred to as Spicy Jan, I was a little curious as to the nickname. Though after meeting her, you’ll realize that it all makes sense with her sass and spunk. Obviously, we got along famously and there’s no guide better than her!
What’s Tasty Road Trips all about? Bringing people together over food. Jan has been on food tours all over the world and thought I love local and I love food. Let’s bring a food tour to Paris! What started as an Airbnb experience has flourished into a full-blown tour operation. What really makes this tour special? Jan gets no kickbacks from the businesses included on these tours. She does this because she loves the community and wants to show others how amazing it is. I was absolutely blown away by the whole tour and dare I say it’s the best food tour I’ve ever been on!
You have a few options for your Tasty Road Trip. You can join a public tour which happens most Saturdays throughout the year – take a look at her website for a full list of available dates and their pricing. There’s also the option to book her One Bite at a Time Tour on Airbnb. Or if you have a group of people who want to explore more of Brant, book a private tour with Jan and she’ll happily set up a custom itinerary! That way you experience exactly what you’re interested in. No matter what you choose, I guarantee it’ll be a tour to remember!
A Taste of Paris Ontario Tour
I’m going to start by saying you’re going to experience more than just restaurants in Paris Ontario on this tour. Jan’s energy is infectious and you’ll see the passion of the local owners at every destination you visit. One thing to note is that the stops may vary depending on availability. However, if you don’t get to visit one of the locations listed below, that just means you’ll have to check them out after your tour!
Places You’ll Visit on This Paris Ontario Food Tour
Your tour will begin just outside of The Wincey Mills. In its early days, this 125-year-old building distributed wool wares from Victoria to Halifax. Throughout the World Wars and the Great Depression, The Wincey Mills was flourishing as demand for their items grew and grew. By the late 1950s however, their orders had dwindled with rumours of it shutting down. This was when Listowel Industrialist & Associates stepped in and continued to use the mills for producing yarn for Spinrite which still exists to this day.
The Wincey Mills looks a lot different now however as it has transformed into a year-round market. You’ll find local vendors offering a number of incredible eats, treats and goodies. It’s where locals and visitors alike come together to shop, learn, work and share what the community has to offer! Thanks to Spicy Jan, you’ll get to indulge in some of the fruits of this labour as you stop at some of the local vendors within its walls.
SOMETHING TO NOTE: If you wish to return and explore more of The Wincey Mills, it’s open Thursday-Saturday from 9:00am until 5:00pm.
Silverstone Energy Bar
As soon as you walk in, you’ll find the Silverstone Energy Bar straight ahead. Where delicious meets nutritious, they have a number of items including smoothies, buddha bowls, kombucha and more. This is the perfect destination for when you’re too tired, too lazy or have no time to make a meal but still want some good fuel to keep you going.
I enjoyed their strawberry daiquiri smoothie which will 100% be my go-to choice on a hot summer day. Made with real lime juice, organic strawberries, maple syrup, and Vega berry protein, it’s incredibly flavourful and refreshing. If you’re looking for something a bit more substantial, you have to get their warrior bowl. Full of sweet potatoes, red onion, cranberries, walnuts and goat cheese on top of a bed of spinach and warm quinoa, it’s drizzled with their homemade garlic sauce. Be warned though, that garlic sauce is seriously addicting. I’ll be purchasing some for home next time I’m in town!
Take a look at their drool-worthy menu to see which of these delicious eats you want to try!
The Olive Oil Co
Next door you’ll find another delicious stop, The Olive Oil Co. I’ve never tasted olive oil as smooth and delicious as these. Family-owned by Mark and Noreen Borne, their goal is to give customers the freshest Ultra Premium Extra Virgin Olive Oils from across the globe. It may sound a little snobby but trust me, these are seriously next level and are offered at an incredible price! How fresh are these olive oils? The olives are crushed as quickly as 4 hours after picking. How amazing is that?! You’ll find olive oils from Portugal, Spain, Greece, Italy, Chile, Australia and even Africa!
Not only this, but all of their oils are tested by a third party to ensure they meet the criteria to be classified as ultra premium. This means you’re always getting top-notch olive oil no matter what you buy. It also rewards the farmers for producing this high-quality olive oil and they focus on fair trade practices. I’d say that’s a win-win for everyone!
Does it get any better than this? How about the fact that they’re one of the few olive oil companies that allow you to try before you buy. Yes that’s right, you can sample over 60 tasty oils and vinegars! You won’t want to sample too many though as you’ll end up walking out with more bottles than you can carry! I’m an avid balsamic vinegar fan so you have to try their wild raspberry white balsamic. It’s a great marinade for chicken, fish or even just as a refreshing drink with some soda water. Add a splash of vodka and it’s ready for the patio!
Florcita’s Classic Latin Foods
What started as a hobby has transformed into Florcita’s Classic Latin Foods. Established by Roberto and his wife Flora, you can taste their love for cooking in every bite. As a social service worker, Roberto cooks in the evenings with Flora because he enjoys it. The majority of their ingredients are sourced locally with the odd trip to Toronto for their special spices. What spices are these? He’ll never tell, just know that they’re special and make every bite as delicious as it can be!
Greeted with a smile, you’ll be treated to their wide range of Latin cuisine. I’ve heard their pupusas are incredible along with their burritos, dips and much, much more. You’ll have to visit a number of times so you can try them all! While I’ve only had a taste of their guacamole, it’s seriously some of the best I’ve ever had. If you’re craving a taste of Latin cuisine, Florcita’s has you covered.
Original Kettlecorn & Gourmet Popcorn
No trip to The Wincey Mills is complete without a sweet treat from Original Kettlecorn & Gourmet Popcorn. Whether you’re looking for sweet or savoury, they’ve got you covered. You can be guilt-free too as their popcorn is all-natural, whole grain, cholesterol-free, trans-fat free, peanut-free, gluten-free AND MSG-free! They also have a number of vegan options so everyone can enjoy their delicious popcorn. Sourced locally from Norfolk County, the hardest part will be choosing which of their 40 flavours to enjoy!
While they have the regular flavours like kettlecorn, butter, etc, I highly recommend you try some of their special flavours. You HAVE to sample their cinnamon toast crunch popcorn and don’t be surprised when you buy a bag to take home! This stuff is addictive! Their maple popcorn is also a delicious treat and makes the perfect gift for any occasion and even a random act of kindness – as well as a gift for you! Gotta treat yo’self, right?
SOMETHING TO NOTE: You can find many of the above businesses at the Brantford Farmers Market as well. The more opportunity for delicious eats, the better!
Dating back to 1927, any trip into Paris needs to include a visit to the Paris Bakery. Chances are you’ll smell their delicious goodies before you even get there as it wafts into the heart of the city! Working with local suppliers, their goal is to source the freshest, most-authentic ingredients they can find. Paris Bakery prides themselves on using old-fashioned techniques that are tried, tested and true to deliver the highest quality they can!
If you’re craving something specific, it’s best to arrive early so you can enjoy the largest selection of their goodies possible. Or to avoid disappointment, you can place a custom order! While they’re best-known for their tasty assortment of donuts, you can find puff pastries, breads, buns, quiches, cakes, cupcakes and so much more! I enjoyed their chocolate-dipped scone which melted in your mouth. It was a constant struggle between eating it ASAP as it was so delicious and trying to draw out the devouring so I could enjoy it for longer!
They have so many unique flavours that I can’t wait to return to try them all. How does a Twix Cheesecake donut sound? Or a Jolly Rancher cookie? To balance it out with some savoury eats, I’m dying to try their broccoli cheddar bread. With so many choices, you’ll have to visit over and over again!
A white brick, unsuspecting building houses one of the most unique established in the city – and possibly even the province. Grab the axe and step inside of Paris Surf. Where clothing store meets pizzeria meets coffee shop and bar, it’s a destination with something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for some seriously rad (and locally made!) jeans, a taste of California sunshine on a cold winter’s day, or a spot to let your hair down, Paris Surf will welcome you with open arms.
I didn’t sample anything here myself, but it’ll be my first stop upon returning to Paris, Ontario. I did hear from some locals however that it has some of the best gluten-free pizza around. So good that even those who are not gluten-intolerant get it for its crispy deliciousness. I’m game and I’m sure my gluten-free readers would be happy to find a spot where a gluten-free pizza is a treat for the tastebuds!
While I don’t like to say it… this spot truly is Instagram gold. Don’t go here just for the ‘gram though, go here for the good eats and great vibes because Paris Surf ❤️s You.
Cedar House Paris
Immediately I found myself gravitating to the bright blue building which I later found out (to my delight!) is a stop on the Taste of Paris Ontario tour. The Cedar House offers casual dining with upscale deliciousness. Using only fresh ingredients, they source them locally as much as possible. You can taste it with every bite of your meal. From burgers to pasta to fish and plenty of delicious appetizers in between, take a peek at their menu to see what you might like to try! There are also vegan and vegetarian options available.
As a treat for the tour, we enjoyed a special appetizer of fried tortellini sandwiched between bocconcini. Topped with even more cheese while smothered in a savoury marinara sauce and rounded out with a dash of truffle oil, it seriously blew my mind. While my waistline would have hated me, I could have eaten twelve!
I have to mention as well that The Cedar House offers a beautiful patio. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy the summer sun while indulging in a pint of craft beer. I’d say this would pair nicely with that Lobster Corn Dog… I’ve got my eye on you next time I’m in the city!
Juniper Dining Co
We rounded out our delicious day with a visit to the Juniper Dining Co. Where fine dining meets comfortable casual, Chef Andrea Legacey along with her husband Brandon are looking to bring Lyonnaise Bouchon cuisine home. Whether you’re looking to get all dressed up for a night out or to enjoy a few appetizers after a day of exploring, you’ll be welcomed into this adorable French bistro.
After a day of exploring, our crew happily enjoyed the cheese and wine pairing offered to us! First was a Sangre de Paris cheese with smoked tomato paired with one of their house wines, a Pinot Grigio. Next was a delectable mountain oak aged Gouda with caramelized onions. It was paired with either an Oaked Chardonnay or a Cabernet Sauvignon depending on your preference. It was rounded out with sautéed mushrooms and blue cheese with a Grenache wine. All were happily perched on top of a housemade crostini.
Every bite from their menu you sink your teeth into is made with quality local and seasonal ingredients. Even their crostinis are made in house! With an incredible wine list, inventive cocktails and a number of local beers, they aim to create memorable experiences that you’ll enjoy time and time again. Don’t miss their half-price oysters and $5 house wines from 5:00pm-7:00pm every weekday!
Everyone needs chocolate in their lives, so be sure to visit Chocolate Sensations to satisfy your sweet tooth. What started as a home-based business is now a staple on Grand River Street. With plenty of handmade quality treats to choose from, you’re guaranteed to walk out with something.
Their top sellers are their peanut butter cups, tortoises, chocolate sponge toffee and their Mayan chocolates which we had a taste. I can see why they sell so well! These tasty little pyramids are must for any chocolate lover. I’d recommend getting a variety of treats are there are just so many to choose from – why limit yourself? Also if maple fudge rolled in milk chocolate that’s dusted with maple sugar sounds right up your alley… add a few of those to your repertoire as well! Be sure to check out their Facebook page to see what unique treats they’re featuring!
This is Not Your Average Food Tour
While it may be a Taste of Paris Ontario tour, there’s so much more to it than just eats and treats! Jan not only dives into a bit of the town’s history but highlights some incredible local artisans and shop owners in downtown Paris.
Wabi Sabi Crystals
I have to admit, I know nothing about crystals. If you’re like me and are completely uninformed but willing to learn, pop by and say hello to Nathalie. She walked us through the top five most popular crystals and wow, was it enlightening! Everything gives off energy and each crystal has its own characteristics. The world of crystals is incredibly fascinating and she is well-versed to educate you! If you’re feeling unbalanced or like something’s missing, stop by Wabi Sabi Crystals. Even if you’re not looking to purchase, you’ll feel a wave of calm and comfort just by walking through her doors.
Paris Bohemian Gallery
With its first season under its belt, the Paris Bohemian Gallery is ready to welcome you for round two! Experience a number of local artists as their imagination, spirit and visions are projected throughout the gallery space. From paintings to sculptures and everything in between, it’s a wonderful spot to take in (and possibly take home!) a piece of Paris.
As a gal with a fine arts background, this space created by local artist Katherine Pickering is truly refreshing in the art realm. To quote her, “Sometimes launching into galleries you surrender to being juried and commissioned so steeply, it can be overwhelming and depleting. As a fellow artist, I strive to put soul back into the gallery experience. Instead, I want to create a space that makes it an empowering opportunity for the artists I promote and a stimulating and enjoyable journey for every patron who visits.”
It truly is a one-of-a-kind gallery space that you’ll adore the moment you step inside!
Debbie’s Basic Black
While I’m an avid colour lover, I know how versatile black is in a gal’s wardrobe. How else am I supposed to rock my plethora of hues? Whether you’re looking for pants, shirts, blazers and everything in between, Debbie’s got it – in black. Originally intended to be a ‘little black dress’ shop, she’s since expanded to include everything a gal could want in an elegant wardrobe. If you’re looking for a timeless item to add to your clothing collection, you’re in good hands with Debbie.
Things To Know For Your Food Tour
Are you looking to go on a Tasty Road Trip of your own? I promise you will not be disappointed! Before you arrive, there are a few things you should know so that you can enjoy your food tour to the fullest.
- While there isn’t a huge amount of walking, it is still a walking tour so comfortable shoes are a must!
- This tour happens rain or shine! If there’s rain in your forecast, be sure to bring an umbrella or dress to combat the weather.
- Summer days can be hot! The tours start at 10:00 am and run for about 4 hours. Even though you’ll be in and out of local Paris businesses, be sure to slather on some sunscreen if it’s going to be a sunny day.
- A lot of the main parking lots in Paris are limited to 2-3 hours. Since your tour starts at The Wincey Mills, I suggest parking either in the lot just off of Broadway Street behind the Ontario Provincial Police. You can also park on the street along West River for the day if that lot is full!
More Things to Do in Paris Ontario
Looking to make a day of it or even possibly a weekend? Returning for a more thorough visit to any of the aforementioned establishments is always a good idea, but there is plenty more to discover in Paris, Ontario!
Get Outside with Grand River Rafting
If you’re looking for some outdoor adventures, Grand River Rafting has you covered. Hop on a guided adventure for an afternoon to remember! They offer a variety of other courses including learning about edible plants, Indigenous history, and even a forest cook-off. They have some of the most unique experience you can have in Brant County!
Go For a Paddle
The Grand River, which runs right through Paris Ontario, is the perfect body of water for some paddling adventures in Southern Ontario. Bring your own canoe or kayak and depart from Paris to Glen Morris or Cambridge. If you don’t have the equipment, both Grand River Rafting and Grand Experiences have you covered. Grand Experiences also offers guided tours if you’d rather not go at it alone.
Hit the Trails
Whether you’re an avid hiker or cyclist, there are plenty of trails to do both in Paris Ontario! There are plenty of rail trails in the area, including the Cambridge-to-Paris Rail Trail, TH&B Trail or the LE&N Trail. Many of these follow old rail car routes that are now best discovered via foot or bike. If you’re really looking for a multi-day challenge, tackle the 275km Grand Valley Trail that runs from Port Maitland on the coast of Lake Erie to the town of Alton. Or if you’d rather, just take a stroll around Barker’s Bush via Lion’s Park and enjoy the lush Carolinian Forest.
Hunt for Cobblestone on a Self-Guided Tour
As I mentioned earlier, Paris is the cobblestone capital meaning there are plenty of cobblestone buildings to check out and admire! One that Jan will point out is The Charles Mitchell House, located at 16 Broadway Street West right next to the Cedar House. Constructed by Levi Boughton, and is a beautiful example of Greek Revival-style architecture. For more historical points of interest in Paris, Ontario, take a look at this self-guided tour and stop by the Penman Textile Mill, a National Historic Site of Canada at 140 West River Street.
Learn How to Live Off the Land with GROWE
Head to the Five Oakes Centre and reconnect with our planet via an interactive-style nature walk with the Grand River Outdoor Wilderness Education program. You’ll learn bird, plant and tree identification as you experience the beautiful Carolinian Forest surrounding the Grand River. Choose from a number of tours including a wild medicinal tea party, wild edible and medicinal hike, winter survival camp and so much more!
Visit the Penman’s Dam
Jan will touch on it during the tour, but the Penman’s Dam deserves a visit all on its own. A popular spot for a picnic, it’s a favourite spot for many Paris locals. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a train as it crosses the bridge above. It’s not uncommon to spot someone fishing here, too!
Where to Stay in Paris Ontario
As you can see, there are so many things to do in Paris Ontario that you might want to extend your stay! While I’ve only ever done day trips to Paris, I would love to have a little staycation in the future. When that time comes, these will be my top picks for accommodation.
Arlington Hotel – Friends of mine have stayed at the Arlington Hotel and raved about it! Located right in the heart of downtown Paris, this historic hotel would be my top hotel pick. Each of their 23 rooms is uniquely decorated and inspired by iconic artists like Leonard Cohen, literary giants like Ernest Hemingway and more. You’re guaranteed to have a memorable stay with every visit! Book your room now or see what other guests think about the Arlington Hotel.
The Carriage House Flat – If you’re a fan of apartment-style accommodation, the Carriage House Flat is a beautiful option. Housed in a manor dating back to 1851, it’s said to be the only Greek Revival Plantation home in Canada. Owners Judy and Rick have been restoring it, ensuring they get every detail right, for over a decade. If you’re a history buff, you’ll want to stay here. Book your stay now.
There aren’t a lot of hotel accommodations in Paris, however there are a number of options on Airbnb. If you’ve never used Airbnb before, it can be intimidating but you’ll love having an entire apartment to yourself instead of being limited to a hotel room! Don’t forget to use my referral code and you’ll save up to $95 on your first booking. If none of these accommodation options work for you, Brantford is just a 15 minute drive away and has more hotel options if you’re in need of somewhere to stay. Click here to take a look at hotel options in Brantford.
Ready to Hop on a Tasty Road Trip?
I can’t stress enough how this tour is the perfect introduction to Paris, Ontario. With a great mix of good eats, local gems and lots of laughter, it is truly a tour to remember! You’ll absolutely fall in love with the vibrant community here in small-town Ontario.
Who’s ready for a Tasty Road Trip adventure? I know I’m ready to experience another one! Be sure to take a look at Jan’s website to see what tours are available and what dates they’re offered.
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