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The majestic winter wonderland scene that’s Québec City this time of year is no doubt what makes up its charming vibe and snow-induced joie de vivre. So brush up on your high school French and grab your weekend bag, plus the person you most want to cozy up to (body heat, right?) and head to Québec’s quaint capital city for the ultimate romantic winter escape.
Québec City travel guide: Where to stay
There’s hardly a more romantic setting than the Old Port neighbourhood upon which this charming hotel sits in the heart of this UNESCO World Heritage site. Plus there’s something so inherently heartwarming about nestling beside the fireplace with a mug of rich hot chocolate served from the Café-Bar Artefact upon arrival. Then head to your room and get carried away watching the breathtaking beauty of ships passing through the ice-covered waters of the St. Lawrence River from your window. As you make your way out, take note of the ale bottles and coloured dishes (dating back almost four centuries) on display in glass cases lining the walls accrued from archaeological digs as the hotel was being built. After an afternoon traversing the European cobblestoned streets (with a stop at the Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, also the stand-in church for the Paris set of 2002’s Catch Me If You Can) book a muscle-relaxing Swedish massage (or two) at the Auberge’s L’Attitude Massothérapie.
Auberge Saint-Antoine, 8 Rue Saint Antoine, (418) 692-2211 saint-antoine.com
Hotel de Glace (Ice Hotel)
It may have been an icy -25-degree day on the official opening of Québec City’s luminous Ice Hotel, but inside the crystalline, frozen walls was a cool vibe of Nordic proportions (and a mere -5-degree climate). Now in its thirteenth season, the fully snow and ice-comprised hotel, which takes its inspiration this year from A Journey to the Center of Winter, is open for business with 44 rooms and suites—plus a fully operational Ice Bar. Order the Signature Hotel de Glace cocktail, a vodka and ice cider served in an ice flute ($12) before a late-night dip in the outdoor hot tub. There’s also an ice chapel for those envisioning a fairytale winter wonderland wedding with a breathy “I do” exchange. Open until March 24.
Hotel de Glace , 9530 Rue de la Faune (418) 623-2888 hoteldeglace-canada.com
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For our chic places to dine travel guide, read on to the next page...
Québec City travel guide: Where to lunch
Le Chic Shack
Because no true Québec City experience would be fully realized without a healthy indulgence of gooey poutine, head to the recently opened Le Chic Shack for your gravy and cheese-laden French fry fix with a haute twist. The hand-smashed potatoes swimming in wild mushroom ragout and coated in Parmesan, cheese curds and fresh herbs of La Forestière ($11) are a savory haven of unbridled gluten-free vegetarian indulgence. Add any of the selections of house-made beef burgers (or veggie, lobster and bison options) served on brioche buns. Such authentic main dishes can only be topped off with an equally rich salted maple caramel milkshake laced with Yukon Jack whisky ($6) for dessert. No guilt here—just plan to travel the rest of your stay by foot.
Le Chic Shack, 15 rue du Fort (418) 692-1485 chicshack.ca
Watch as the delicate snowfall blankets the bustling streets from the sanctuary of the front window this art and jazz-infused resto while you lunch. Opt for a plethora of tapas-style dishes to share, including scallops ceviche and steak tatar. Then split a rich dessert of vanilla panna cotta and choose from a selection of fine teas from the Camellia Sinensis tea house across the street. Stop by again for dinner and a serenade of live jazz music every Thursday through Saturday night.
Largo, 643 Saint-Joseph E. St., (418) 529-3111 largorestoclub.ca
Québec City travel guide: Where to dine
It’s hard to imagine the swish restaurant serving up gourmet Québec cuisine located in the Auberge Saint-Antoine as the city’s biggest maritime warehouse it was in 1820. Today Julien Dumas, the Parisian-expat head chef, prepares local fare using seasonal ingredients, including an St-Apollinaire poached duck foie gras app and a completely veg creamy celery risotto for dinner. Pre-dinner aperitif du choix? A glass of Prémices d'Avril, a honey-coloured white wine sweetened with maple syrup. Follow up the next morning with a room service-delivery breakfast of fresh-squeezed OJ and a healthy omelet, which, topped with a heady mix of plum tomatoes and Parmesan cheese, is infinitely more decadent than its name leads on.
Panache, Auberge Saint-Antoine, 8 Rue Saint Antoine, (418) 692-1022 saint-antoine.com/en/dining
Read on to find out what hotspots to hit up in Québec City...
Québec City travel guide: Must-see hot spots
Quartier Petit Champlain
Spend the afternoon perusing kitschy boutiques and dining at the quaint bistros of this inherently European neighbourhood of Old Québec, tucked under the cliff of the storied Chateau Frontenac hotel and gaze of the statue of Samuel de Champlain that fronts the St. Lawrence River. Descend the steep stairwell leading to the Rue du Petit-Champlain to find the choco-paradise of La Chocolaterie du Village (6 du Petit Champlain, 418-692-2228). Sip on artisanal chocolate while stocking up on chocolate berry Earl Grey tea and jars of chocolate honey that line the front walls of this Belgian chocolate factory (with a history of chocolate museum nook in the back). And be sure to snap a pic by the Petit-Champlain mural, a hand-painted fresco that beautifully renders over 400 years of Québec history and characters into a 900-square feet trompe-l'oeil on the wall of the building owned by the Coopérative des artisans et commerçants du Quartier Petit Champlain.
Quartier Petit Champlain, 61 Rue du Petit Champlain, (418) 692-2613 quartierpetitchamplain.com
Parc de la Chute-Montmorency
Don every piece of merino wool you own for a visit to the breathtaking Montmorency Falls Park located several minutes away from the city. Get up close to the 83 metre-high falls with a cable car and stand above the rushing waters on the bridge perched overtop. (Yes, this majestic backdrop makes for the perfect proposal spot, FYI). Or if you’re feeling vacation-bold, ice climb the hill alongside the rapid falls. Either way, stop by the Manoir Montmorency at the top for a steaming cup of –what else? – hot chocolate. Seriously, like most of this lush, heritage city, it never gets redundant here.
Manoir Montmorency, 2490 Avenue Royale, Beauport, Que., (418)663-3330
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