Paris In Springtime

Posted: 27th March 2014 by Mrs. Toad in Photography
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Beautiful terraces that spill out into the street,  bistro tables filled with warm crusty bread, richly flavoured cheeses and delicate wines, and the soft sound of laughter and friendly chatter wafting through the air might make you think that you have accidentally stumbled into Paris, but really you might just be in Cowichan Bay.

We adventure-seeking toads love nothing more than exploring our extended neighbourhood, and one of my favourite things about being an avid urban explorer is finding that special “something” that in some small way reminds me of my native Quebec while allowing me to continue to avoid the cold weather and blackflies that are, unfortunately, a large part of the Quebec experience.  Having grown up in Montreal and being lucky enough to have visited Paris has left me with an intense appreciation of the art of people-watching and sipping good wine.  Considered almost a sport along the cobblestone alleyways of Old Montreal and the frenzied streets of Paris, many an afternoon has been happily wasted arguing politics or discussing art over baguettes and cafe-au-lait.  So, if like me you crave a little “Paris” in your springtime, let me introduce you to Hilary’s Cheese.

Hilary's Cheese - Cowichan Bay, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Hilary’s Cheese – Cowichan Bay, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

The only thing more welcoming in this authentic little cheese shop and bistro than the wonderful aroma is the warm smile of owner Sonja Todd.  Formally trained in Hotel and Restaurant Management as well as obtaining her sommelier designation, she leaves no detail overlooked in providing an authentic Parisian experience right in the heart of Cowichan Bay.

Hilary's Cheese - Cowichan Bay, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Hilary’s Cheese – Cowichan Bay, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

And while we may be a bit liberal in borrowing a certain “feel” from our French cousins, the experience itself is distinctly west-coast.  Peering out over the marina through delicate beads of rain streaming down the window with the warmth of the fire at your back and a lovely glass of your favourite wine in hand leaves little desire to hurry back to the hectic pace of everyday life.  Time moves slowly and conversation flows easily over an elegant platter of cheese and charcuterie complemented by good friends or perhaps even a budding romance!  And if you are not quite ready to leave the experience behind, oodles of goodies are available for you to take home and create your own special moments.

Hilary's Cheese - Cowichan Bay, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

Hilary’s Cheese – Cowichan Bay, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada –

While we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to this quaint little shop, we look ever so forward to returning when warmer winds prevail, when you will surely find us nestled comfortably on the terrace, watching the hustle and bustle of life unfold over the rim of our wine glasses!  As always, please do feel free to leave your wonderful thoughts and comments for us to share as everyone agrees that good wine is best served with great friends!

Until next time, bon appetit!


Mrs. Toad

  1. avatar Rachel Cohen says:

    Lovely images and post Mrs Toad! I’d be happy to meet you there for a bite to eat! 🙂

    • avatar Mrs. Toad says:

      Thank you so much Rachel, it would be my absolute pleasure to share some stories and a glass of wine with you anytime at all!

  2. avatar Brian Grant says:

    Next time one gets to the Island it would be ashame if you didn’t stop in at Hillary’s for a delicious bottle of island wine c/w the most delicious cheeses made on the island as well! When you meet Sonja tell her Brian sent you!!!

    • avatar Mrs. Toad says:

      Brian, I could not agree with you more! Everybody listen to Brian and come visit us soon!

  3. avatar Spencer says:

    These images really make me yearn for great cheese and excellent red wine. I am really enjoying the clarity and sharpness of these photographs. Once again… you Toads rock the lens!! Nicely captured. Glass up… cheers.

    • avatar Mrs. Toad says:

      Cheers indeed, Spencer! Thank you so much for your very kind comments, we truly appreciate your friendship and support.

  4. avatar Mrs. Mudpuppy says:

    Oh how I long to join you Toads there one day soon! Sounds like just about the best way to spend a little (or a lot) of time!

    • avatar Mrs. Toad says:

      Mrs. Mudpuppy, we have shared many glasses of wine through the years, looking forward to continuing that tradition soon! Take a break from hiking and come and relax on the terrace!

  5. avatar Len Saltiel says:

    Very reminiscent of a Paris cafe. I feel that I have been transported there Mrs Toad. I hope that you had sufficient sampling of the wine.

    • avatar Mrs. Toad says:

      Heartfelt thanks Len for your wonderful comments today! “Sufficient” is such a strong word, I think I need to go back and do some more research soon! Thanks for your visit today.

  6. avatar Edith Levy says:

    Ahhh Mrs. Toad, as an ex-Montrealer myself this post resonated with me. What a lovely spot and beautiful images.

    • avatar Mrs. Toad says:

      Hi Edith, I knew that you would fully appreciate the experience, doesn’t it just take you right back to a warm summer evening on a terrace in Old Montreal? I am so thrilled to have a place to go when I feel a bit homesick now! Thanks so much for popping by today, it’s always a pleasure to see you.

  7. avatar Lisa Gordon says:

    These beautiful photographs make me feel like I am right there.
    Wonderfully done!

    • avatar Mrs. Toad says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words Lisa, it really is the kind of place one could spend an entire afternoon!

  8. Great Post, looks like a great spot to spend some time

    • avatar Mrs. Toad says:

      Hi Mike, it is indeed a great place and the aroma is enough to make you want to try everything on the menu! Thanks so much for your visit today!

  9. avatar Jimi Jones says:

    Well, Mrs. Toad, I thank you so kindly for the experience of sharing the exquisite cheeses and of course, the wine in this quaint slice of Cowichan Bay. I am always happy to indulge a glass of fine wine and the treat of viewing the wonderful photos posted here make this experience that much more special.

    The place really looks so inviting and I am happy you shared it with us.

    Until next time, thank you, I so look forward to your next wonderful post. 🙂

    • avatar Mrs. Toad says:

      Thank you ever so much Jimi, your kind words have left me speechless, which does not happen often, or so I am told! You have a reserved seat at our table, we would be thrilled to share a glass (or bottle) of wine anytime at all! Thank you for your support and your dear friendship.