A mixture of stunning architecture, history, delicious cuisine, and a vibrant culture, Québec City provides a romantic view of a life before digital distractions. It is here that one can unplug and escape the stresses of everyday life. Québec City exudes passion, love, excitement.
On a snowy day, a walk through the old city is almost too picturesque. It is as though you are within a fantastical snow globe surrounded by historic stone buildings, cobbled streets, bright holiday lights, and friendly locals with French accents. When it snows in Québec, everyone walks around with a silly lovesick grin on their faces. It sounds ridiculous, but anyone who has experienced Québec in winter will tell you the same thing.
Romance is a part of life here in Québec, and when I ask locals for romantic suggestions, they begin their answer with, “Oh, but that is so easy! Québec is the most romantic city in Canada,” to which I smile and agree with them wholeheartedly.
Where to Sleep
A romantic trip to Québec starts with the right hotel selection. Let’s face it, if you’re traveling to Québec for romance, there is bound to be some ‘bow-chicka-wow-wow’ happening, am I right? Yeah. I am. That being said, nobody is going to get their groove on in a hotel room that looks like their grandmother’s bedroom, or where the bed is slightly harder than the floor.
Thankfully Québec is full of fabulous boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts. Here are my top choices:
Auberge Saint-Antoine — The best boutique hotel in Québec City, Auberge Saint-Antoine is located in lower town and was the site of a major archaeological dig during its construction. During the dig, artifacts from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries were uncovered, and each of these artifacts have been incorporated into the hotel’s design. Situated on a quiet private street, Auberge Saint-Antoine is a quiet escape, and they serve one of the best chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) in the city in their Café-Bar Artefact.
Hôtel Le Clos Saint-Louis — Once the home (circa 1844) of Dr. John Racey Sr., a Scottish doctor, Hôtel Le Clos Saint-Louis is known for being one of the most romantic hotels in the city. A Victorian luxury hotel, each room features antique furniture and cozy beds, and transports you back to a time when the word digital didn’t even exist. Hôtel Le Clos Saint-Louis is in upper town on rue Saint-Louis, a short walk from Chateau Frontenac.
Auberge Aux deux Lions — Located outside the old city walls near the fine dining restaurants and sparkling nightclubs of Grande Allée, Auberge Aux deux Lions is a marriage of historic Québec and modern chic. Rooms feature exposed brick, comfy beds, furniture with sleek lines.
Where to Eat
There are so many restaurants in Québec that one could visit a different restaurant each night for a year and still have a long list of places to visit. That being said, there are a few places that are an absolute must when visiting Canada’s city of love.
Located within Auberge Saint-Antoine, Panache is one of the most popular fine dining establishments in the city. Their head chef, Louis Pacquelin, is one of the youngest in the city, and at 24 years of age is already a culinary genius. The food at Panache is a modern take on French cuisine. It’s exciting, flavorful, and an absolute must.
Tucked away on rue Saint-Ursule, Le Saint-Amour has been in business since 1978. Designed by Giovanni Maur, it features three dining spaces, including an indoor garden with a vaulted glass ceiling and artwork by Jean Gaudreau. Head Chef Jean-Luc Boulay’s (the same man behind Chez Boulay) menu features mouth-watering Québeçois cuisine like arctic char, guinea fowl, and red deer.
What to Do
In Canada’s city of love, romance could be a moonlit walk through the old city to look at the holiday lights, the Chateau Frontenac, or admire the view of Lévis located on the other side of the St. Lawrence River. Of course it doesn’t have to stop there; you can also visit Spa des Neiges, a nordic spa along the St. Lawrence river in Québec City.
Every romantic getaway in Québec City should include a calèche ride (horse-drawn carriage ride) through the city. Calèche drivers can be found outside the Chateau Frontenac, or you can arrange a ride ahead of time by booking through their website or though the hotel where you’ll be staying. Rides start at $90 for 45 minutes (for a maximum of four people).
If you’re looking for something a little different, take the Québec-Lévis ferry at night to view the city lights, and bring a couple small bottles of wine in your pocket to drink during the ride. Or perhaps head over the the Plains of Abraham for a winter picnic, remembering to pop by Éico’s on rue Saint-Jean in the Saint-Jean-Baptiste neighborhood for some decadent chocolat chaud to go.
In a city like Québec, almost anything can be romantic. Just remember to pack your long underwear, and perhaps load some Barry White into your iPod to help set the mood when needed.
All photos are courtesy of the author.