Paris is a beautiful place to visit. But for those who balk at the price of a flight to France, there’s thankfully a Paris much closer to home: Paris, Ontario.

Located a few kilometers northwest of Brantford, Paris is a beautiful small town that is filled with attractions, activities, and places to visit. Better yet, you can experience all that Paris, Ontario has to offer in a day, making it a perfect day trip for those looking to relax. With gorgeous nature trails, delicious restaurants, and historical buildings aplenty, there are plenty of things to do in Paris, Ontario.

The History of Paris Ontario

Paris, Ontario’s namesake is clear, but it’s not named after its larger French counterpart without reason. When the area was first being surveyed, a large deposit of gypsum was discovered nearby. Gypsum can be used to make plaster, and due to the gypsum being mined and used in the construction of many buildings in Paris, France, the mineral began to be called the plaster of Paris. Hence, the name Paris for the town.

Originally settled in 1829 and incorporated as a town in 1856, Paris’ most notable feature would be the cobblestone buildings that are found along downtown. Constructed using stones from the nearby Nith and Grand rivers, these buildings can be visited as part of the Cobblestone Tour offered by the Paris Museum.

Visit Penman’s Dam

Built over 100 years ago by textile industrialist John Penman to provide power to run mills, Penman’s Dam straddles the Grand River at the heart of Paris. While the mills are no longer running, the dam now serves as a beautiful spot to rest and partake in a picnic during the spring and summer. The faux waterfall is gorgeous, and you’ll see many kayakers and tubers pass you by as you soak in the sights.

But Penman’s Dam isn’t just a place to visit during the day. At night the dam lights up in an array of colours, creating a picturesque scene that is the perfect way to wrap up a day in Paris.

Explore the Outdoors in Paris Ontario

If you love to explore nature, Paris has more than enough trails and activities to keep you busy for a day. The town itself is home to numerous trails and paths to walk and cycle on, many of which start at Lion’s Park in the heart of downtown. The Nith River and Distillery Trail is popular with both hikers and cyclists, and the Hub of Ontario Trail leads right into nearby Brantford.

If you’re not a fan of exploring trails, the Grand River is a great alternative if you want to beat the summer heat. Featuring slow and fast currents, the Grand River is great to travel along in a kayak, canoe, or even a whitewater raft. You don’t even need to be an expert to explore it; Grand River Rafting is a local business that offers exciting tours for beginners and families.

Paris Ontario’s Telephone History

Did you know that Paris played an important role in the creation of the telephone? While Alexander Graham Bell developed the telephone in nearby Brantford, the first long-distance call was made between Brantford and Paris. The location is marked by a plaque in downtown Paris, so check it out if you want to see one of the most interesting historical events to take place in the town.

More details on Bell’s life and how he created the telephone can be found at the Bell Homestead National Historic Site, which is located a short drive away from Paris in Brantford.

Dining in Downtown Paris

No trip to Paris would be complete without stopping at one of its many restaurants. And fortunately for foodies, there are plenty of tasty and refreshing dishes to try while you soak up Paris’ charming atmosphere.

One of the most popular restaurants in town is Stillwaters Plate and Pour, which features an expansive patio overlooking the Grand River combined with an excellent menu that will satisfy the tastebuds of any hungry patron. If Stillwaters is crowded, it’s not the only patio in town. There are multiple restaurants and pubs located along the river that are perfect for relaxing at while enjoying delicious food. The Paris Beer Company is also a great place to stop if you’re in the mood for trying out some flights while overlooking Lion’s Park.

Choice Hotels in Hamilton, Halton & Brant