A Bicycle Ride Through Victoria’s French Food Culture.

The 2014 Festival De La Francophonie kicked off on Thursday March 6th, continuing throughout the weekend at Centennial Square with a groovy lineup of local and visiting performers, kids play area, artisans, and (oh yes) the Sunday Sugar Shack.  For those of us who especially delight in the festivals artisanal nibbles and the one of a kind maple syrup buzz at the Sugar Shack brunch, and leave French Fest in a state of bitter-sweetness knowing another year must be endured before we can re-live it again, do not despair.  In this all-season bicycling city, an edible downtown Tour de France is always on the menu.

If a petite sweet is what you crave, cycle over to Bon Macaron, where owners David and Yann have perfected the light, chewy texture that make this 18th century almond-meringue sweet a one-of-a-kind experience.  The Macaron’s are available in thirty-two traditional and not-so-traditional flavors, with a new flavor released each week.


Only a stones throw away is the sparkling Eiffel Tower storefront of Delices de France, a newly opened imports store with bragging rights to the island’s most impressive assortment of jams, oils, sweets, and spices.  Housed along its shelves, you will find sets of handmade Laguiole knives, elegant Toselli linen, and picturesque pottery from the village of Vallauris.  Aside from the plethora of gourmet goodies, the warmth and enthusiasm of owners Sabine and Mark alone, will charm your heart. They even sell house-made Foie Gras, a rich liver pate that is a favorite among French foodies.

Words and Photos by: Toni Hiat

Across the Bay Bridge, you will arrive at Fol Epi, where baker mastermind Cliff, serves only the most delicious grain products a wood-fire oven can churn out.  The name Fol is a cheeky double-translation, meaning ‘wild’ when referring to strains of wheat, and ‘crazy’ when used otherwise.  “You need to be a bit crazy to do this job,” says Cliff.  With round-the-clock baking and prepping, even milling their own flour, he and his team truly understand the hard labors of love.  If seeking a traditional bread, look no further than a rustic loaf of Boule.  Natural leavening from a wet, rye dough, gives this bubbly, perfectly crusted bread, a subtle sourness.  You may also indulge in their butter Croissants, extra chewy due to their wild yeast component, the Pain au Chocolat (which sell like hotcakes) or a Cannelé de Bordeaux, a caramelized custard-filled pastry.


French restaurant dining is known for rich flavors, and beautiful presentations, and our next stop, Restaurant Matisse is no exception.  Named after the painter, the walls of this handsomely lit space contain some of the artist’s original work.  Connoisseur must-haves are the Coq au Vin and Foie Gras tasting plate.  For dessert, consider a Crème Brulee or Tarte Tatin. Flavored with notes of star anis, the decadent crème brulee is an edible work of art.  Modeled after Matisse’s Icarus painting, it includes a wafer replica of an Icarus figurine resting on a cage of golden sugar.


Another restaurant worth visiting is Chez Michel.  Tucked away on a quaint Oak Bay strip, this cozy little space serves up the best lobster bisque and filet mignon in town.  With an extensive wine list, and chef known for his attentiveness and great sense of humor, this spot is ideal for a casual or fancy night out.

For a more west-coast take, try Brasserie L’Ecole.  They offer a smart menu of salads, seafood, and impressive Belgium beer list.  Menu highlights include dates stuffed with Roquefort cheese, and a Sooke trout with beets, roasted shallots, bacon, and crème fraîche.  With a beautiful bistro atmosphere, and loyal following of French and non-French foodies alike, Brasserie holds down its reputation as being the finest of Victoria’s casual dining spots.

So here ends our foodie journey. With a dedication to tradition, and superb quality, French cuisine is some of the best in the world.  How lucky we are to have an abundance of it in Victoria. Bon appétit!


Here’s a map with all the locations on it!

Places that we visited info:

Bon Macaron Patisserie Ltd.

1012 Broad St

Victoria, BC, V8W 2A1






Delices de France

616 Trounce Alley

Victoria, BC, V8W 2E1



Fol Epi

398 Harbour Rd #101

Victoria, BC, V9A 0B7




Restaurant Matisse

512 Yates St

Victoria, BC, V8W 2Z6





Chez Michel

1871 Oak Bay Ave

Victoria, BC V8R 1C5




Brasserie L’Ecole

1715 Government St

Victoria, BC V8W 1Z4











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