Most merchants close up shop at midday to lunch with their families at home. The baguettes and croissants are the real deal. The euro is the currency of the land, though many businesses accept Canadian and U.S. dollars.
You'll find the most action on the tiniest and most populated island, Saint-Pierre. With its colorful clapboard houses, narrow streets, classic cafes and Peugeots zipping around, it's Greenland-meets-Normandy. Join the locals as they break for la collation, a light meal, in the late afternoon; duck into Délices de Joséphine on Rue General LeClerc for a spot of Mariage Frères tea and a Paris-worthy pastry.
Go for: Bastille Day, the anniversary of the storming of the infamous prison in Paris in 1789, is celebrated at Place du Général de Gaulle in St. Pierre. July 14.
Cajun Country, Louisiana
Expelled by the British from what are now the Canadian Maritime provinces and northern Maine during the French and Indian War (1754-1763), many Acadians settled in south Louisiana, spawning a rich culture and their own dialect, Cajun French, that is still very much alive today.
In some pockets, such as the small town of Arnaudville, French rules -- on street signs, in radio broadcasts, political ads and even as the sole language of some residents.
At the Vermilionville Living History Museum and Folklife Park in Lafayette Parish, a replica of an Acadian village depicts life circa 1765-1890. For a modern taste of Cajun life, landmark Lafayette restaurants Randol's and Prejean's host live Cajun music and specialize in local favorites such as crawfish étouffée.
Go for: Unlike the glittery spectacle in New Orleans, Mardi Gras in Cajun Country has changed little since its early days. Revelers on horseback dress up in costumes made from flour sacks or burlap, and ride from house to house collecting ingredients -- including live chickens -- for a communal pot of gumbo. Feb.12.