Quebec City – What’s not to love about a city that makes you feel like a femme français? Your bébé and you can live like Europeans (and yet your American dollar will actually have value!) in this charming little city in eastern Canada.
Monday: Sip & Shop
Get your caffeine buzz while your petit chou (this means “little cabbage” but never mind that—it’s an adorable term of endearment nonetheless) listens to French conversation. It’s tough to choose from the city’s 100 cafés, restaurants and bistros, by my fave is L’Omelette (66 rue Saint-Louis). Not so much for the ambiance (although there’s nothing better than an open-air window seat overlooking the street) but for The. Greatest. Café au Lait. In. The. Universe. Whittle away an hour or two then pop in and out of local shops on rue St. Louis. Bring your sturdiest stroller—these cobblestone streets can be killers. Need a bathroom break or diaper change? Every bistro and hotel along the way has clean, accessible bathrooms, with the exception of the Chateau Frontenac, where you need a room key to open up the door to its swanky washrooms.
Tuesday: Gourmet Eats & Fresh Air
Head to J.A. Moisan Epicerie Fine, North America’s oldest grocery store. Stock up on two or three varieties of cheese, strawberry jam and a loaf of fresh bread. Uneasy because your French is weak at best? Worry not. Even in local stores where English is but an afterthought, employees are friendly and gracious and will find a way to help you figure out what you’re trying to say. Stroll your spoils along the city’s fortification walls and lay down a blanket on the massive grassy knolls of Artillery Park.
Upper Town, Quebec City
Wednesday: Views & Performers
Live the high life on the edge of Haute Ville, or “Upper Town.” Stroll your darling along the newly renovated Terrace Dufferin and gaze out at the calm waters of the St. Lawrence River from this high perch on the cliffs. Secure an outdoor café table for two at any of the cafés across the street and indulge in crepes with fresh fruit or a vibrant salad. Remember how to get here because you’ll want to return after dark, when street performers break out their juggling and flame throwing gear to enrapture you and your cherie.
Thursday: Galleries & Cannons
Now go way down to the other side of town—Basse Ville, or “Lower Town.” The streets are lumpy and bumpy, so strap on a Baby Bjorn or personal carrier. You can take the Casse-Cous (Breakneck Stairs) if you’re daring, but you’ll be much more comfortable in the Funicular, an outdoor glass elevator. Poke your head into the art galleries, pick up a few locally crafted jewels and—if your baby has already turned into a toddler—head over to UNESCO-sponsored playground on Place-Royale filled with pirate ships and cannons.
Funiculaire, Quebec City
Friday: Out & About
Drive over to the Parc Aquarium du Quebec. It’s small enough to manage without an extra adult hand and your stroller will sail over the meandering outdoor paths and through the indoor exhibits. Sit outside in the park/playground zone and sniff the flowers that line the gardens. Before evening hits, make a reservation for a fine French dinner at Café de la Paix. Most restaurants here are well-versed in the art of lingering, so carve out a few hours to savor every course.
If your baby does nothing but coo during the evening hours, feel free to bring her along because many local restaurants here are friendly to offspring. Want to relax over wine, doing nothing more than gaze into your honey’s eyes? Book a sitter. Either way, your senses will be indulged and you’ll be feeling like a belle Parisienne in time for the weekend.
Just visiting? Stay at the posh Hotel Manoir Victoria, which has a special entrance for strollers and an indoor pool.