Down here is the Old Port (Vieux-Port), where you can while away an afternoon cruising the St. Lawrence while getting an earful of city history from a faux Louis Joliet, decked out in waistcoat, knickers and three-cornered hat.

Or, just wander streets such as Rue Saint-Paul and adjoining alleys, where antique shops call out to your credit cards.

We lunched outside at Le Buffet de L'Antiquaire, a dinerlike eatery where locals and visitors chowed down on traditional Quebecois home cooking, such as deep-dish meat pies, pea soup and sugar pie. And, of course, wine.

But, then, what else would you drink when in Paris? Or New Paris?

If you go

When to go

May through September are the best weather options for walking and outdoor dining. That said, winter in the northland also has its charms, and a particular draw is the city's famous Winter Carnival, scheduled Feb. 1-17.

Staying there

For a splurge, Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac is the iconic place. But you may very well pay $300, $400 or $500 a night for one of the 618 rooms. 1 rue des Carrieres; 866-540-4460;

We peeked in at Auberge Saint-Antoine, a gorgeous boutique hotel in the Old Port area that's decorated with artifacts from the city's history. You can spend as much here as at the Frontenac, but it also may be possible to find a room for less than $200 at certain times. 8 Rue Saint-Antoine; 888-692-2211;

The Quebec City Tourism website (see below) can help you find lodging under $100 a night. But when researching, be sure what you're booking isn't far from the Old Town area.

Dining there

So many choices, so little time. Hands down, though, the best meal we had in Quebec City was at Le Continental, just down the street from the Frontenac. Who would think a steak prepared table side by your waiter in a skillet on a Sterno burner could be better than anything you'll find at the finest steakhouse? 26 Rue Saint-Louis; 418-694-9995;

Don't miss

Ile d'Orleans sits in the St. Lawrence River just north of the city. It's peaceful, laid back and has enough farm stands, wineries, cideries, inns and restaurants to keep anyone occupied.

Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre, also north of the city, on Avenue Royale, attracts 11/2 million pilgrims and other visitors a year. The historic houses on the drive to the basilica are fascinating, and the stained glass and tile mosaics in the basilica will blow you away.


Quebec City Tourism, 877-783-1608,