Some do holiday shopping at the mall; you do it in Paris and score old-world treasures — plus nasty jet lag and hefty Euro sticker shock. This year, spend a weekend in super-cute Québec City, where French village charm is as cheap as it is chic.
Lots of cities have landmarks. Old Québec is the landmark: an UNESCO World Heritage site. Survey the snow from a turret suite at Fairmont Le Château Frontenac (1 rue des Carrieres; 418-692-3861), a 19th-century fairy tale castle. Modern types book Hotel le Priori (15 rue du Sault-au-Matelot; 800-351-3992), an intimate, cool boutique.
Ultra-quaint Old Port’s Place Royale and Petit-Champlain (one of the oldest streets in North America) overflow with cute boutiques. Hit Le Roquet (34 boulevard Champlain; 418-266-2872) for funky shirts with simple motifs and phrases and Fruits & Passion (75 rue du Petit-Champlain; 418-692-2859) for housewares and fragrances (from bamboo-hibiscus to zucchini flower).
For Québec delicacies like ice cider, homemade confits, and spruce beer — plus affordable baubles, cozy throws, and pottery — hit the Christmas market of Marché du Vieux-Port (160 quai Saint-André; 418-692-2517), which runs all December. Then explore rue du Trésor, a teensy, hidden pedestrian byway where artists sell excellent paintings.
Romance oozes at the garden-cum-dining room at Le Saint-Amour (48 rue Sainte-Ursule; 418-694-0667). Not French enough? Pull up a chaise at Toast (17 rue du Sault-au-Matelot; 418-692-1334) and tuck into duck foie gras with sweetbreads, lobster, and morels. Canada’s rock star-chef Daniel Vézina cooks at Laurie Raphaël (117 rue Dalhousie; 418-692-4555), where glam decor is outdone only by the seasonal menu of deer, salmon, and oysters. On the way out, swing through the boutique and pick up some of the restaurant’s custom-made ceramics and glassware — the perfect gift for a sweetie, a granny, or just a damn nice souvenir for you.
Pretty much exactly like the trip itself.