Cosmopolitan and dynamic, Vancouver embodies the West Coast spirit, made up of a relaxed pace of life, tolerance and respect for nature. Beautifully located between the Pacific and the mountains, it is a metropolis where you can ski and stroll on the beach in the same day. A truly special city and a must-see in Western Canada.
Day 1: Gastown, Chinatown and North Vancouver
Start your visit with Gastown, the birthplace of Vancouver, which is not yet 150 years old. Rehabilitated, this small "historic" district, wedged between the port and the glass towers of Downtown, looks like mini Soho with its warehouses and old buildings housing trendy shops, restaurants and bars.
By the way, do not forget to greet, on Maple Tree Square, the statue of Gassy Jack, the Scottish sailor who gave the district its name, and the steam clock of Water street, emblem of the district.
Nearby, Chinatown is home to Vancouver's Asian community (90% Chinese), the second largest in North America after San Francisco. Even if most of the community no longer lives there, Chinatown has kept its tea shops, herbalists and eateries. Stop off at Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden, a haven of peace built in the style of a Ming Dynasty garden.
In the afternoon, head for North Vancouver to discover all the beauty of the city's natural setting. Take to the heights by taking the Grouse Mountain Cable Car, which takes 8 minutes to 1 m above the city.
The view of Vancouver, the Pacific and the Strait of Georgia Islands is breathtaking. Grouse mountain also houses an amusement park and ski slopes.
Also in North Vancouver, the Capilano Suspension Bridge is a suspension bridge 70 m above a 137 m deep canyon. Better not to feel dizzy. Around the bridge, an interesting park allows you to discover the flora and fauna of the rainforest which covers part of the territory of Vancouver.
Day 2: First Nations and Stanley Park
At the airport, at Brockton Point in Stanley Park, in museums… Totem poles, scattered across Vancouver, recall the heritage of the Amerindians, the “First Nations” of Canada. The city now claims this cultural heritage: it is therefore an opportunity to discover this too little-known part of Canadian identity.
Cap, first of all, on the Museum of Anthropology (MOA), located on the campus of UBC University (a little out of the way), to admire an impressive collection of Amerindian totems, but also a set of works of art and objects, which make us discover the traditions of the First Nations.
In the city center, the exciting Bill Reid Gallery exhibits this major artist (1920-1998) from the Haida nation, some of whose works now adorn the $ 20 bills. Bill Reid's sculptures, engravings and superb pieces of jewelry are worth a visit, as are the temporary exhibits dedicated to young First Nations artists.
To complete this foray into native culture, the Salmon n'Bannock restaurant in South Granville brings Amerindian cuisine up to date with joy. What to learn about the delights of bison, sockeye salmon or elk.
In the afternoon, get on a bicycle and tour the seawall (9 km) from Stanley Park : true lung of the city, this 400 hectare park, covered with primary humid forest and centuries-old fir trees, is at the western tip of the Vancouver peninsula, facing the ocean.
The views over the city, the Lions Gate Bridge and the bay are, of course, striking, as is the contrast between nature and the neighboring towers of Downtown. If the weather is nice, end your walk in the plush West End and English Bay, to have a drink on the beach, facing the setting sun.
Day 3: Kitsilano, Granville and the Vancouver Way of Life
Relax as you explore the relaxed, multicultural Vancouver Way of Life in a city close to nature with several beaches. For example, start with a coffee and some good pastries at Many Bakery, a café in South Granville run by Jackie, a Vancouverite of Chinese origin who learned baking in Paris! A delicious example of the local melting pot.
Right next door, the district of Kitsilane, epicenter of bobo Vancouver, lines up organic shops, yoga studios, heated outdoor pool and a beautiful beach that gives it an LA air
Continue your walk to Granville Island, under the Granville bridge, where you can have a cheap snack at the Public Market. Unless you want to indulge in the pleasures of street food in one of the many food trucks in town.
For shopping, we advise you SOMA (South Main) or Cambie Village, for their designer stores, Main Street et Commercial Drive for secondhand clothes and vintage. Finally, if you are addicted to museums, discover the paintings of Emily Carr (1871-1945), one of the greatest Canadian artists, at the Vancouver Art Gallery.
In the evening, the trendy Vancouver, in full reconversion, lives on the side of Gastown ou Chinatown : try the cocktails at L'Abattoir or at Mamie Taylor's, or the divine micro-brewery foams at the Alibi Room.
And, for dinner, you will enjoy yourself. Thanks to its large Asian community, Vancouver offers all the cuisines of the Orient and in its own way invents an original gastronomy, favoring delicious fusion cuisine. In recent years, Vancouver has become a destination for foodies.
Prepare for your trip with our Canada online guide
Destination British Columbia
Canadian Tourism Commission
How to get there ?
Direct flights with Air France, Air Canada and Air Transat from Paris CDG.
Book your plane ticket to Vancouver
When to go
Vancouver's climate is mild and humid year round, with heavy precipitation in the winter. The best season is from late May to October.
Or sleep ?
- Youth hostels: three locations in Vancouver (Central, Downtown and Jericho Beach).
- Buchan Hotel: 1906 Haro Street. Small, well run hotel close to the West End and Stanley Park. Doubles $ 79-129 (€ 60-110).
- Metropolitan Hotel Vancouver: 645 Howe Street. In the chic category, an elegant boutique hotel in the heart of Downtown and a 10-minute walk from Gastown. Doubles from $ 187 (€ 130). Attentive service and discounts on the web.
Where to eat ?
- Lot Bakery: 2150, Fir Street. We really like the “Bakery Cafe” of Jackie, a Vancouverite who studied pastry in Paris. The pastries are at the top, the chocolate-rosemary cookie a killer, and the coffees are good. Welcome and nice surroundings in addition.
- Salmon n'Bannock: 7-1128 West Broadway. Tasty dishes inspired by Native American traditions. To taste bison, elk, sockeye salmon, surrounded by works by Native American artists. A highly recommended experience. Main courses $ 18-38.
- Bao Bei: 163, Keefer Street. It's not just restaurants in Chinatown. Example: this beautiful "Chinese brasserie" which serves fried rice, dumplings and other classics made in Asia. Main courses $ 10-22.
- Chambar Restaurant: 562, Beatty Street. Elegant setting, lively atmosphere and a very wide choice of Belgian beers (but not only…) to accompany mussels and fries and other dishes of European and Maghrebian inspiration (foie gras, tagine…). Success deserved and reservation recommended.
- Vancouver food trucks: Japanese hot dogs, burritos, dim sum, world food comes in a street version in the streets of Vancouver!
Where to have a drink?
- Alibi Room: 157, Alexander Street. The temple of micro-brewery beers in a warm tavern atmosphere. Very nice.
- The slaughterhouse: 217 Carrall Street. A restaurant, but also a very popular cocktail bar in Gastown.
- Mamie Taylor's: 251 East Georgia St. A great place in Chinatown for a drink.
Day trip to Vancouver Island (Victoria and Burtchart Gardens) with Strait of Georgia Killer Whale watching: www.princeofwhales.com
Stanley Park and Vancouver guided bike tours: www.cyclecitytours.com