General Question

Jeruba's avatar

Where can we find an experience of Europe in North America?

Asked by Jeruba (48719points) August 30th, 2009

Only Europe is Europe. Scenery and landscape aside, there is nothing on the North American continent to rival the ancient castles and cathedrals, the enduring civilizations and cultures of the European nations. No question about that.

But what if you wanted a real taste of Europe without getting on a plane?

If you actually know parts of Europe—France, Germany, the Lowlands, Scandinavia, and more—and also know corresponding regions in the U.S. and Canada, tell me this: where in North America do you find the nearest equivalent to those places? Where could someone experience a real sense of being abroad without leaving this continent?

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55 Answers

teh_kvlt_liberal's avatar

Quebec was pretty European to me

Jeruba's avatar

Yes, but have you been to Europe?

simone54's avatar

I guess you’ll have to go to Epcot.

doggywuv's avatar

“there is nothing on the North American continent to rival… cultures of the European nations”
But you are aware that Canadians and Americans are Europeans by heritage? Their culture is just a variation of Anglo-Saxon/German (along with others) cultures.
Quebec is the most European place in Canada, I would say.
As for America, go to Boston and Washington D.C. to see some lovely architecture similar to that in Europe.

teh_kvlt_liberal's avatar

In my dreams :(

Noel_S_Leitmotiv's avatar

Stay here through Obama’s term and you’ll experience Europe’s increased goverment control and oppressive taxes.

rebbel's avatar

New Orleans?
I’ve never been there, but ‘they’ say it looks like France, i think.

Jeruba's avatar

@doggywuv, yes, I am. I am of mixed European ancestry, grew up in New England, have roots that go back to colonial times, and lived in Boston for years among the oldest structures our culture has to offer. There is nothing really old there except the rocks. When I traveled to England and France for the first time, the difference was so profound that it rewrote my sense of cultural identity.

What I am asking is whether people who know Europe can recognize a comparable feel to any specific places in the U.S. and Canada, not whether they create an illusion of Europe for someone who has never been there.

wenn's avatar

I lived in Berlin for 3 months, traveled elsewhere in Germany, France, Switzerland, and Italy. And I really can not think of anyplace in the US that’s gives an overly European feel or experience.

I think you might just have to get on that plane and go. Nothing can compare for experiencing Europe first hand.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jeruba This is a tough question. NYC definitely has some elements. St. Patrick’s cathedral, great food, various languages being spoken around you, fashion, metropolitan museum of art. When I went to Italy I understood NY.

Quebec City feels European. I have not been to France, but I have been to several countries in Europe.

But, I am focusing on cities, did you mean the countryside?

eponymoushipster's avatar

Overall, Montreal (which, yes @teh… is in quebec) is very European both in appearance and culture. In the US, i’d say Boston definitely has a lot of that going for it.

Jeruba's avatar

Thanks, @JLeslie. I don’t think you can possibly compare a countryside with castles and chateaux to a countryside without, so I guess I am thinking mainly of cities and towns. I really mean the culture and flavor and look, but in more than just neighborhoods and pockets. I have traveled some in Western Europe, and I have lived in “Little Italy” in Boston. I’ve been to Montreal (a wonderful city!). But I don’t feel as if I know Europe or know enough North American cities to find real comparisons if there are any. Maybe there is no such place. I just thought that fluther’s world travelers might have some ideas.

I have no problem with getting on a plane and going, but my husband’s health makes it very difficult for him to fly. What I am wondering is if there is anyplace we could go to overland that would help him fulfill a lifelong dream without having to cross a continent and an ocean by air.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jeruba Have you been to Quebec City? I actually felt that was more European than Montrael, although I was there many years ago. Smaller, walkable, much less English spoken than Montrael, it is very French. I think Whitenoise has travelled all over the US and he is European, maybe he knows?

whatthefluther's avatar

I’ve not traveled Europe extensively, but I suspect Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada has a bit of a European flair. It was a major port for the British Empire and has a strong British influence. It is recognized as one of the worlds most livable cities with dense high-rise residential living similar to what I encountered in Athens (in stacking and multi-levels, not architecture). Architecture of the older buildings downtown is Edwardian, but the balance of the city is very modern, dense and cosmopolitan. See ya….Gary aka wtf

JLeslie's avatar

Yes, I just rechecked Whitenoise’s profile, he would be a good person to ask. He is on my fb if he does not reply on fluther I can try for you.

rebbel's avatar

@Jeruba My little brother is returning from New York in some days and when he is back i’ll ask him if he can name any places that resemble Europe.
He goes to the USA every year about and visited several cities there, so i guess he could know them, if they exist.

evegrimm's avatar

Having traveled in Europe, I will agree with many of the posters here: there isn’t really anything in the States that’s like it.

But, as I recall, places in Canada were very European in flavor…but then again, I was very young when I visited.

Mtl_zack's avatar

I am from Montreal and I have travelled to France, Italy, Spain, Holland and Poland, as well as the United States. I find that there are some similarities between Quebec and some European cultures, but it’s hard to see the entire forest from the thicket.

I also go to the US very often and I understnd what you mean that it is very “un-European”. I haven’t been to Louisiana, but I hear that it is the most Europe-like state.

@Jeruba “there is nothing on the North American continent to rival the ancient castles and cathedrals, the enduring civilizations and cultures of the European nations. No question about that.”—What about the great Meso-American civilizations? Have you visited the pyramids? What about going to British Columbia, Alberta or Saskatchewan? In the west there are many celebrated cultures that still practise their traditions, although they are fading fast.

YARNLADY's avatar

Specific places, such as Hearst Castle and the surrounding hills and such is the closest you’ll come.

The hills and roads around Santa Barbara, which is known as the Rivera of America, especially including Solvang, a little town build specifically to resemble Denmark.

The wine country of Napa and Sonoma counties.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jeruba You know, when I think about it the people matter a lot. It’s not only how things look, it is the culture of the place. The feeling. The appreciation for good food, not big food; beautiful fabrics, unique jewelry, museums, these are some of the things I think of.

I have never been to the Rockies, but I wonder if some of the towns resemble European towns? In Northern Michigan there are some attempts to this, but it doesn’t really work, but I would guess that places in Colorado or Utah might do it better.

Jeruba's avatar

@Mtl_zack, your experience is helpful. I hoped I might hear from you. I am starting to wonder if a journey by train across southern Canada from BC to my heart’s second home in the Maritimes, with stops in Montreal and Quebec City, might be a great alternative.

This is the core of my question: But what if you wanted a real taste of Europe without getting on a plane? So although there are some other great destinations in the U.S., that’s not what I’m looking for.

JLeslie's avatar

The train from Vancouver heading east through the mountains is supposed to be fantastic! I think the one I know about goes to Banff? Vancouver is a fantastic city if you have never been; clean, very walkable, beautiful Stanley Park, great food (especially Asian food, which I know is not your goal on this trip). There are also one week cruises from Boston to Montreal and visa versa stopping in various ports along the way.

Jeruba's avatar

By the way, the starting point is Northern California.

JLeslie's avatar

I posted the question on my facebook. So far someone came up with Quebec City before I mentioned it. Here are two links the old city most resembles Europe I think. There are actually elevators on the side of the mountain to get you from the lower city to the upper city if I remember correctly.

Someone mentioned Eureka Springs, Arkansas, but it is a small town, I don’t think it would satisfy what you want.

I’ll let you know if I get any others.

PerryDolia's avatar

I know this has been stated many times above, but IMHO Quebec City, Quebec is the most european city in North America. and, yes, I have travelled in Europe.

And, there is a part of San Diego called Little Italy, I think that for a couple of blocks really feels like being in Italy. And, closer for a northern Californian than Quebec.

augustlan's avatar

Ok, this is a totally whimsical answer, but Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA has a European theme, with copies of several famous places in Europe. Least ‘theme park-y’ theme park I’ve ever been to, and I quite enjoy the shopping and food experiences. That said, I’ve never been to Europe, and I’m sure it is but a pale imitation of the real thing. Still fun!

Jeruba's avatar

Sounds like Quebec City is a winner, and paired with Montreal it should make a great destination. This is all just exploratory. I am still trying to figure out if we can actually get to France and neighboring countries somehow. Many thanks for all suggestions.

teh_kvlt_liberal's avatar

You should learn a little french before going to Quebec
I mean they speak English too, but just in case they ignore you…

Jeruba's avatar

Thank you, @teh_kvlt_liberal. What got me by in my trips to France will probably do well enough. I have not actually been ignored anywhere.

deni's avatar

@rebbel I suppose the French quarter of New Orleans is pretty french like. I’ve never been to Europe but while I was in NO I just assumed that was what France was like. I’m probably totally wrong. I think France is probably a little cleaner. NO seemed kind of grubby to me, sadly.

aprilsimnel's avatar

If you can afford to travel so far, Buenos Aires is supposed to be the Paris of South America. A lot of Europeans seem to have moved there after the War.

Darwin's avatar

To me I felt that the landscape of Spain was very much like that of California. If you stick to things such as the California Missions Trail you will definitely get a feel for the land of Spain.

I agree with others that Quebec is much more like France than New Orleans is, and Vancouver does have a slight feel of London (better weather but no Underground). And if you think getting good Asian food is not very European, be advised that London has some of the best Asian and Indian food in the world.

Parts of Mexico City feel European in that there tend to be plazas with a statue in the center around which are grouped European-looking buildings.

Parts of New Braunfels, Texas, feels rather German, especially during Oktoberfest, and then, of course, there is Solvang, California, aka A Little Slice of Denmark.

evegrimm's avatar

@deni, sadly, Paris is very grubby. Covered in graffiti, tons of smog and hate-on for Americans. This isn’t hearsay—this happened to me and my friends.

However, I have heard from many people that the outlying towns in France, especially the itty-bitty ones, are extremely friendly and clean. (The seaside towns are especially nice, or so I’ve heard.)

YARNLADY's avatar

@evegrimm Hubby was in Paris a few years back for a few days on his European trip, and he did not find any of that to be true.

evegrimm's avatar

@YARNLADY, well, it’s been a few years. Who knows? They may have cleaned it up. Or it could have been because it was humid + hot and we were highschoolers. :)

jrpowell's avatar

I spent a week in Paris in 1999. I didn’t see that anywhere. I actually saw guys in government outfits that cleaned the streets.

cwilbur's avatar

@Jeruba: I’d have to echo the people that say Quebec City—the old city feels just like an old European city. And MontrĂ©al has the same kind of cosmopolitan feel of a European city—New York comes close, too, but New York feels very American to me, while MontrĂ©al doesn’t.

Mtl_zack's avatar

@Jeruba I hear it’s actually very hard to train across Canada. Partly because you get so excited when you visit one city, you don’t wanna leave. But I guess native North American civilizations are a tad different than European ones.

JLeslie's avatar

If you take the train across Canada I want to know if you loved it and what you recommend. I trully enjoy travelling by rail, and would seriously consider it myself for a vacation.

Someone said above Mexico City, and I agree it has some elements also that feel European, but overall I would say not. My experience was that as far as food goes, of course you can get expensive meals with a European flair, but quick bites will be very Mexican. Or, maybe I am not the right one to comment, my husband is from Mexico City, so when I went there he took me a lot of places to get his “fix” of the foods he missed, so I was not a regular tourist.

Everyone in my family loves Paris, except my sister who got food poisining there, I’ve never been. I think Jeruba said she has been there.

@jeruba do you think it would help if you reframe the vacation just simply as a fabulous vacation somewhere, and not focus on trying to find Europe outside of Europe? Just a thought. I don’t want you to be dissappointed.

Jeruba's avatar

Thanks for all the further comments. Europe is the destination. The point is not just to take a trip. The point is to visit Europe, and a trip is necessary in order to ger there.

In point of fact, my husband has a lifelong dream of visiting France. I have been there and he has not. But he has the problem with flying. So I was really wondering if there were any way to reasonably simulate a trip to France without getting on a plane, which in practical terms means not leaving the continent we’re on, while also planning a vacation that would be a fresh adventure for me. I love traveling by rail. And half of my heritage is Canadian. So I could get excited about going cross-country to Quebec.

But he says it isn’t the real thing. I’m a little stymied now. I don’t think traveling across the Atlantic by sea is the answer at all.

We live in California and really see enough of Mexico (and we’re not driving to South America).

I must ponder this puzzle further. I may have some related questions as I work on it. Thanks for all your help and good ideas.

I was in Paris and in the countryside of Midi-Pyrenees 5 years ago and was treated wonderfully everywhere. Whatever political issues there might have been, no one took them out on me and my companion, and I saw much more of an effort to be hospitable to English-speaking visitors than I had before. The only awkward moment came when we met an Englishman in one of the great cathedral towns. We couldn’t really converse comfortably until each of us had finished apologizing for our respective governments.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jeruba You can go to France without taking a plane. There are transatlantic voyages and very inexpensive repositioning cruises to Europe from the east cost. Many wind up in England I believe, but easy to get from Englad to France. I don’t know how much time you have? You could take a train across country and then a ship. Or, Panama canal cruise and then on to Europe. My grandmother took the Queen Elizabeth many times to Europe until she finally got on a plane when she was 62.

Darwin's avatar

@Jeruba – My second cousin and her husband took the QE2 across to England and loved it so much that they sold their house and became permanent residents on the ship. Then, when my grandparents moved to Australia they became passengers on a Norwegian freighter (they generally have cabins for 20 or so passengers) and got there very slowly but in a wonderful way.

If you haven’t taken a long ocean voyage you might consider that as another new adventure that will also enable your husband to see Europe.

And when my Dad went to Paris about five years ago he didn’t seem to notice dirt or graffiti, just good food and a chance to speak French for the first time since his childhood.

JLeslie's avatar

I think the QE2 was recently purchased by Dubai?? Not sure what will be happening with it? But, I saw on vacations to go a repositioning cruise from England to NY for as low as $995! I have seen Royal Caribbean even cheaper. Remember that is all meals and entertainment aboard ship. But repositioning is one way, so again it matters how much time you have, because you have to line up a cruise to get back. Many cruise lines have these types of deals. Here is a link

@Darwin I LOVE the idea of selling my house and being a permanent resident of a ship. I have talked about this with my husband as an idea for our first year in retirement, but I never met anyone who had done it.

alive's avatar

I have been to Europe 3 times. Western Europe and Eastern.

My suggestion to you is Santa Fe, New Mexico.

You are thinking France, but I am thinking Spain. It was founded by the Spaniards, and if you have ever been to a Spanish town, you know that they have a town square with a gazebo in the middle. Santa Fe (and Albuquerque) both have the original 400 and 300 year old (respectively) town squares in tact.

There you can find shops selling southwestern items, and the native american jewelry and pottery makers all gather there to sell their amazing handmade items.

Population wise, Santa Fe is small compared to most city’s but it has a lot to offer, and is a very popular destination site for both local and international travelers. It is ofent named in travel’s magazine and has been voted as a top destination.

the food is amazing (several of their local restaurants have been featured in food magazines and the food network)

Also, as for not flying, no boday has mentioned Mexico. I had been to Europe befor I had ever been to Mexico, and I discoved Mexico is like a poorer/cheaper version of Europe (and i mean this with all my love because I really love Mexico). Obviously not the resort towns. More like small towns and maybe a few large cities like moterray or tijuana, or the state of oaxaca. but i would not suggest mexico city. it is very dangerous.

Jeruba's avatar

I’d like to visit Santa Fe myself one day, but my husband is yearning after France and won’t even settle for Quebec. So that’s the direction of my attention for the present. Thanks for all the other ideas, though. I will take a look at transatlantic cruises even though I expect to find that they are way out of our price range.

Darwin's avatar

@alive I mentioned Mexico.

Santa Fe is indeed a lovely town, but it doesn’t feel too much like modern Spain. Too many vegetarian restaurants (Santa Fe seems to be where all the hippies retired to) and way too much adobe. Spain uses stone.

JLeslie's avatar

@alive Two of us mentioned Mexico.

janbb's avatar

@Jeruba I have travelled extensively in France and England and I think Quebec City is the most like a European city of any place I have been to in North America, both in the French cultural aspects (albeit different in many ways from French French culture) and the architecture.

I think Victoria, BC is probably somewhat like England but I haven’t been there.

Parts of Bucks County, PA remind me of rural England partucularly the drive up River Road.

alive's avatar

@Darwin it is not like metropolitan Spain (i.e. Barcelona, Madrid etc), but it is a lot like smaller spanish towns. Church, square, gazebo, walking. Plus they have several lovely museums (for that “moderness”)

@JLeslie and Darwin sorry i started skimming after reading quebec over and over

@Jeruba as far as “french” it will be very difficult to find something comparable to france (there is only one eiffel tower, and where else can you, as a customer be yelled at by a waiter *see A Year in the Merde . as any french person will tell you france is france ;-) ...)

garydale's avatar

Solvang, California, is one, though touristy now. Parts of the French Quarter in New Orleans. Areas in San Francisco.

YARNLADY's avatar

@garydale Solvang is very touristy, but the surrounding hillsides and the beautiful drive up there helps make it so “European” as an experience.

janbb's avatar

If you’re thinking Spanish type places, many of the mission towns in California such as San Juan de Capistrano and San Juan Bauttista are very Spanish in feeling.

Nova Scotia also has many European feeling towns and one town “museum” that is a French garrison town, sort of like Williamsburg but much better. It’s called Fort Louisburg and is in the Cape Ann area.

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beachwriter's avatar

Lake Louise in Alberta is a bit like Switzerland. Victoria BC is like London. :-)

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