What? No funds for a rendezvous in Paris? Get le fix in Québec City — closer to home and with a friendlier exchange rate.
The old city walls create a divide between the Upper and Lower Towns. Inside the walls, the reasonably priced Hôtel Château Laurier Québec (1220 Place George-V Ouest; 800-463-4453); while down in the Old Port, the newly opened, 40-room Hôtel 71 (71 Rue Saint-Pierre; 888-692-1171) lies within easy reach of everything.
The Québécois shop Saint-Roch in the Lower Town, namely on Rue Saint-Joseph. Formerly a covered street mall, it recently lost its tacky roof and has been reborn a shopping mecca. Visit Flirt (525 Rue Saint-Joseph; 418-529-5221) for flimsy unmentionables, Baltazar (461 Rue Saint-Joseph; 418-524-1991) for avant-garde housewares, and the enormous toy shop Benjo (543 Rue Saint-Joseph; 418-640-0001). For a little pick-me-up, cozy tea shop Camellia Sinensis (624 Rue Saint-Joseph; 418-525-0247) has just a few tables but hundreds of loose leaves.
Refuel at Christian Veilleux’s playful Versa (432 Rue du Parvis; 418-523-9995), located right off Rue Saint-Joseph. Grab a cushy seat on the patio (under heat lamps) or head inside for the privacy of a curved banquette. Chef Éric Boutin’s nouvelle Québécois menu includes delicious creations such as salmon tartare with a Rice Krispies crust.
If you’re without your own, rent a car, head 30 minutes west, and summon the brass to go through five levels of zip lines and treetop, suspension-bridge courses at d’Arbre en Arbre Duchesnay (143 Route de Duchesnay, Sainte-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier; 418-875-4522).
A 400-year-old city is certain to harbor a few ghosts. The folks at Les Visites Fantômes de Québec (418-692-9770) take guests on a 90-minute, lantern-lit walk through the darkened city, letting you in on some of its spookier secrets. Meet the costumed guide at 98 Rue du Petit-Champlain in the Old Port.
Crazy as a loon.