Hamilton is Ontario's 'City of Waterfalls'
Hamilton is dubbed "the city of waterfalls" for its 126 falls. (Shutterstock)
Q: Does the Niagara Escarpment have waterfalls in addition to the famous Niagara Falls?
-- R. Anderson, Thornhill
A: The Niagara Escarpment is ancient. Its steep sharp cliffs give it the dramatic beauty we associate with Niagara Falls. But besides the famous falls, there are also other lesser-known waterfalls in the area. Hamilton, for instance, is dubbed "the city of waterfalls" for its 126 falls. Turn almost any corner in and around Hamilton and there will be some wall of water that will catch you by surprise (cityofwaterfalls.ca/ and waterfalls.hamilton.ca).
In 1990 the Niagara Escarpment was designated a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. For details on its geology and eco-system, visit escarpment.org/biosphere.
Q: I'm preparing for a cycling weekend in the Niagara Region but wish to avoid the usual trails such as the Niagara Parkway. Do you know of any alternative routes?
-- S. Tennant, Toronto
A: The Niagara Region has more than 200 scenic trails. Cycling route-maps are available online at niagararegion.ca or from the Niagara Region Office (call toll-free 1-800-263-7215). Routes are arranged by theme, municipality, difficulty level, length and terrain surface.
In the town of Lincoln, for example, there are more than 45 routes labelled as "interesting landscapes." These range from the easy 28-km Three Hamlet Ride -- which passes St. Ann's, Silverdale and Tintern -- to the 40-km Lincoln Loop, described as difficult with multiple steep climbs but interesting sights such as landscapes, farms and towns. The routes start near the Ball's Falls Conservation Area.
There is a GPS bike map app for iphone users at niagararegion.ca. (Android and Blackberry apps are not currently available).
Q: Our France trip is planned for September, and I wanted to know if there are any culinary festivals at that time?
-- G. Dass, Thornhill
A: Across France, food is synonymous with life. So much so that, in 2010, UNESCO designated the "Gastronomic meal of the French" as part of the "intangible cultural heritage of humanity." Since then, the French have cooked up a new festival to celebrate all things culinary. This year's National Gastronomy Festival takes place Sept. 22, and there are more than 20 pages of events posted on the official website fete-gastronomie.fr/en. Here are two examples:
-- Bourges, in central France, has Le Petit Train Gastronomique de Bourges. Foodies can hop aboard for a lunch of local delicacies and sightseeing as the train chugs around the medieval town and past half-timbered houses. See bourges-tourisme.com.
-- In the Limousin region, the Bourganeuf tourist office has organized a munch and mingle, where visitors can sample regional food and chat with local producers. See ot-bourganeuf.com.
Also in September, the Provencal village of Mougins holds a highly rated annual gastronomic festival -- Les Etoiles de Mougins -- that features workshops and demonstrations. This year's event is scheduled for Sept. 14 - 16 (lesetoilesdemougins.com).
For more on food-related events across France, visit the French tourist board -- ATOUT France -- online at ca-en.franceguide.com.
Q: Do you know of a place near Toronto to watch car racing? I have family visiting from Indianapolis and wanted them to see races here.
-- M. Ferrier, Toronto
A: Sunset Speedway in Innisfil (about an hour's drive) has been holding stock car races since 1968. While not on the scale of Indianapolis, NASCAR drivers Mark Dilley, Peter Gibbons, Kerry Micks, as well as Canadian legends Jr. Hanley and the late Don Biederman have all raced there. For details, see sunsetspeedway.ca.