With a travel warning and heightened terror alerts throughout Europe, some people find themselves concerned about jetting off to Paris or Berlin. Though opinions on the safety levels of these cities are hotly debated and constantly changing, if you are looking for alternatives to a European vacation — whether due to price, convenience, or safety — here are 10 cities with a European flair (at least in parts) around the world.
1. Pondicherry, India
Located on India’s Eastern shore in the state of Tamil Nadu, this city is a marvel in cognitive dissonance. A colony of France for approximately 300 years, the city’s street signs are identical to those adorning Parisian boulevards, you can hear French being spoken (not just by expats, but by locals), and it boasts a heady mix of ornate colonial architecture and South Asian tropics.
2. Macau, China
This is a city that most people have probably heard of but have a hard time identifying on a map. Believe it or not, this territory 40 miles east of Hong Kong was actually ruled by the Portuguese until 1999 (yes, that recently!). Today, it still boasts a mashup of Portuguese and Chinese culture reflected in its remains of cathedrals and mosaic-tiled streets.
3. New Orleans, United States
Like Montreal, New Orleans is unmistakably French and much more at the same time. A hotbed of who’s who of American chefs, it somehow combines the languor of the American South, French aesthetic refinement, and a joie de vivre all its own.
4. Montreal, Canada
Ah, mais bien sur. Quebec has often been maligned for being an antiquated France, but make no mistake about it, the Canadian province has a sophisticated identity all its own. Certainly, it proudly boasts its French heritage, but it’s more than reflexive. Montreal’s arts scene is worth the trip alone — especially if you can find galleries off the beaten path — and the city’s culinary happenings are much more than poutine.
5. Mexico City, Mexico
While it’s infamous for being a blur and bustle of traffic, Mexico City boasts stunning Spanish colonial architecture that’s worth a stop if you find yourself in this massive country. Once the capital of New Spain, the Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral and neighborhoods full of French-style houses reflect the financial resources and political prominence it held. Today, it has a food scene that should not be missed.
6. Buenos Aires, Argentina
If you were to ask five people which city in South America feels most European, four of them would certainly say Buenos Aires. In addition to some of the most stunning Spanish architecture anywhere, it also is home to a large European population, which gives it a particularly dynamic feel. And of course, it’s famous for its nightlife — so plan on sleeping on the plane ride back.
7. Melbourne, Australia
Melbourne might not look particularly European, but it certainly feels like it at times. Maybe it’s the foot bridges, which are decidedly quaint, or the pervasive coffee culture, which rivals the best espressos you’ll find in Italy. This, combined with the blossoming arts scene, makes it a cultural capital — not just in Australia, but anywhere.
8. Guanajuato, Mexico
Nestled in the cradle of a narrow valley, this Mexican city doesn’t make it onto most bucket lists. Made up of tiny alleyways and winding streets, Guanajuato has a nostalgic feel — reminiscent of an old-world Spanish village. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the city is known for its Basílica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato (also just known as “the Basilica”), which has a ceiling you can’t miss.
9. Hanoi, Vietnam
Like other cities on this list, Hanoi owes its French Quarter to a complicated socio-political history. The vestiges of colonization are complex, but, architecturally, no one can contest that it’s a beautiful sight. The French Quarter makes for a fun day’s stroll, as everything is within close proximity. The Hanoi Opera House and the Hotel Metropole are must sees, and, if you’re feeling like spending the big bucks, you can dine at the hotel, too.
10. Victoria, British Columbia
While British Columbia is often praised for its natural beauty, its cityscapes are worth a couple days’ romp as well. True to the namesake of the province, Victoria pulls English influences that can be experienced at the Fairmont Empress Hotel and Butchart Gardens. You kind of get the best of both worlds: scenic splendor of the Pacific Northwest along with the elegance of England. Now that’s a winning combo.