Where do French joie de vivre and a fairy-tale setting conspire to sweep you off your feet? In Canada’s oh-so-European (and closer-than-Paris) Quebec City. Lucky for you, if you and your honey visit this year, you can partake in the city’s 400th anniversary festivities: Street theater, a special performance by Cirque du Soleil, an art show from Paris’s Louvre, musical happenings and much more celebrate the founding of the grand ville.
A honeymoon in Quebec means sampling renowned French cuisine, memorable wines and — ooh la la — unforgettably romantic auberges. If Fairmont Le Château Frontenac is the city’s castle-on-the-cliff landmark, the surrounding Dufferin Terrace makes the perfect lovers’ promenade.
Walk arm in arm along it, view the sweep of the mighty St. Lawrence River and roofs of Basse-Ville below, then descend to its 17th- and 18th-century world. Here, beneath the sheltering cliff, walk cobblestone streets winding among boutiques, antique shops and art galleries — and discover why Quebec City truly commands the title “Paris of North America.”
BY DAY: History buffs will love that Quebec City is the only North American city that’s preserved its original surrounding walls; romantics will love strolling through the old, star-shaped fortifications. Pop into the Musée
du Fort for a history lesson, and afterwards, head to the former battlefield known as the Plains of Abraham (about a 10-minute walk from the museum). Nowadays, it’s a park, so do as locals do: buy some artisanal Quebec cheese (Le Migneron de Charlevoix and Le Ciel de Charlevoix are delectable) and, armed with a baguette, find a shady spot for a picnic. Later, shop in Basse-Ville at Boutique Zazou for Quebecois designer fashions or Galerie d’Art du Petit Champlain for regional art. Note: Check out the 400th anniversary festivities calendar (myquebec2008.com) before you go, to make sure you’ve got a list of all the special events; there’s a traveling theater and music show, First Nations theme weeks showcasing native art and artisans, fairs featuring local foods and traditions, and a Cirque du Soleil special performance October 17th-19th.
BY NIGHT: After watching the sunset atop Dufferin Terrace, hunting for your candlelit dinner venue is fun: Find daily menus posted in window boxes outside restaurants. Everyone dines fashionably late, so put Haute-Ville’s rue du Trésor, where artists show prints alfresco along the crowded street, on your agenda. Groove to live jazz at Largo Resto-Club on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings — or enjoy dinner and a cabaret at Le Capitole.