If you were to build a model of a winter wonderland town at Christmas, it would probably look quite a bit like Quebec City’s old town.
Towering over the town, on a cliff overlooking the Saint Lawrence River, is the grand Fairmont hotel Le Chateau Frontenac, a fairytale castle in every way (and it knows it–there’s a shop in the hotel catering specifically to little princesses and princes (or at least there was when I was there)).
It was here that Churchill and Roosevelt met in 1943 to strategize about World War II. For Churchill, getting there wasn’t easy. It involved a daring and highly secretive dash by ship across the Atlantic, dodging German U-boats. And at the atmospheric old bar buried deep in the hotel with views out over the Saint Lawrence, you can sip classic cocktails named after these famous while sitting in old leather couches and being treated to some top-notch waiter service.
The old town certainly dresses up for the season, with lights reflecting off the snow, Christmas trees and garlands at every turn, people enjoying the outdoor skating rinks, horse-drawn carriages clopping along the cobblestone streets, and a deep-seated Frenchness. It makes for a sugary tourist treat but somehow avoids the crass kitsch of places like Colonial Williamsburg.
And it all makes the biting cold worth it.
Photos of Quebec City
What to Know Before You Go
The center of the old town is quite cramped, making parking a hassle. The good news is that it’s all within a very walkable little area. You’ll need to navigate hills and cobblestones (and snow and ice in winter).