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If you've got your heart set on a honeymoon or romantic getaway in France, but you can't afford the trip, then we suggest that you consider Quebec City. With its stone walls, 17th-century architecture, outdoor cafés, open-air art galleries and horse-drawn calèches clip-clopping on cobblestone streets, Quebec City offers the same old-world charm with a considerably lower price tag.

Chateau Frontenac and Upper Town above Place-Royale
Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac and Upper Town
above Place-Royale
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Upper Town sits on a rocky cliff 300 feet above the St. Lawrence River. You can reach the Lower Town, squeezed between the cliff and the river, by descending the Break-neck Stairs, to Place-Royale.

The former marketplace is surrounded with homes built by wealthy merchants. Some have been converted to elegant restaurants.

Walls encircle the city

The oldest street in Quebec, the narrow Petit-Champlain, is crowded with boutiques and workshops where artisans fashion handicrafts from copper, leather, ceramics and hand-woven fabrics.

Outdoor cafe above Break-neck Stairs
Outdoor café above Break-neck Stairs
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

A funicular brings you up to Dufferin Terrace. This 1,430-foot boardwalk offers a panoramic view of the river and its boat traffic, the town of Levis on the opposite shore, the Ile d'Orleans to the east and the Laurentian foothills to the north.

For more memorable vistas, stroll through the Citadel, a huge star-shaped fortress, and along the ramparts, which encircle the city for nearly three miles.

Inexpensive art and free entertainment

The Place d'Armes is Quebec's pulsating center of activity. Here, on summer days, you'll find folk-singers, jugglers, comedians and musicians, as well as calèches. On Rue du Tresor, the next street over, local artists sell inexpensive, but surprisingly good, paintings of the Old Town.

The majestic castle-hotel, the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, dominates the Place d'Armes. You'll find equally romantic accommodations in guesthouses that exude an atmosphere recalling the quaint Left Bank hotels in Paris.

Maple syrup pie

Restaurant Aux Anciens Canadiens
Restaurant Aux Anciens Canadiens
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Restaurants, bistros, bars and outdoor cafés are also reminiscent of France.

Try an eatery serving Quebecois cuisine. Aux Anciens Canadiens, housed in a 300-year-old cottage, dishes out pea soup, tourtière and maple syrup pie, all tasting like they've been lovingly-prepared by your grandmother over a wood fire.

Afterwards, savor the city's old-world charm by meandering along the cobblestone streets, where the sound of church bells and clip-clop of the calèches will enhance your time-trip back to 17th-century Europe.


Quebec City: www.quebecregion.com

More things to see and do in Quebec:

Unusual Quebec Hotels

Quebec Casino Restaurants

Cabane à Sucre Arthur-Raymond Quebec

A Taste of Charlevoix

CTMA Vacancier ferry cruise