Paradise Found: Quebec, Canada
Long-distance doppelganger: Paris, France
Drive from Boston: Six hours
With passersby saying, “Bonjour madam!” as you walk the narrow, pedestrian-only streets, you may think you’ve landed in the City of Lights. And indeed, Old Quebec— just a six-hour drive from Boston—has all the historical charm that makes Paris so special. Founded in the 17th century as the capital of New France, Quebec’s stone architecture and elegant bistros make it a European-style escape in North America.
Where to Stay
The Fairmont Le Château Frontenac (pictured), with its peaked green roof and intricate brick façade, looks like a castle. An important part of the city landscape, the hotel is set against the backdrop of the St. Lawrence River. The Old Port’s Auberge Saint-Antoine hotel was built on a major archeological site; fittingly, you’ll find unique treasures on display inside (like 17th-century dinnerware found during the digs). Unwind with a decidedly modern spa treatment after a morning of sightseeing. On Rue Saint-Pierre, also in the Old Port, is Hôtel Le Germain-Dominion, a boutique hotel that was once a bank. With candlelit dinners and in-room massages, it’s especially honeymooner-friendly.
What to Do
Stroll the Plains of Abraham, a green space just outside of Old Quebec that runs parallel to the St. Lawrence River. The walk brings you along the Terrasse Dufferin, a wide promenade, and up staircases for a bird’s-eye view of the city. Then explore the chic St. Jean Baptiste neighborhood, which is overflowing with trendy boutiques and sidewalk cafés. Indulge your sweet tooth at Choco-MusÉe Érico, where you can learn about the history of chocolate, and, most important, taste the homemade sweets.
Where to Eat
In 1966, the oldest house in town was transformed into Aux Anciens Canadiens, a restaurant with five dining rooms serving authentic local cuisine—pea soup, meat pies, poutine. For more-contemporary fare, make a reservation at Restaurant Initiale; the sirloin with local oysters, served with miso, wild cranberries, and Brussels sprout leaves, is a must.
Take a drive to Montmorency Falls, 20 minutes outside the city, and walk across a bridge suspended over a 275-foot waterfall. At night, the park is illuminated by spotlights that reflect off the trees, rocks, and rushing water.
Save the Date
The New France Festival (8/6–8/10), in the Petit Champlain district, showcases an eclectic mix of street performers, concerts, theater, parades, and local foods. Locals and tourists alike dress in 18th-century attire (wigs, three-cornered hats, waist coasts).