One day in Quebec City is all you need to fall in love. On a recent road trip to New England and Canada, our last stop before heading back to New York was Quebec City. Our original plans called for spending our last day in Toronto and then visiting Niagara Falls, but a friend strongly suggested a visit to Quebec City, so we made our way north along the Saint Laurent River, and then crossed over the Rivier Saint Charles into Quebec, not really seeing what all the fuss was about. The city looked desolate. It was 10pm on Sunday, so most bars and restaurants were closed, and on top of that, our GPS wasn't working so we had to find the few people that were on the street to direct us to Old Town, where we were staying. After many uphill twists and turns along winding roads, we finally saw the Port St. Louis, the gated entryway to Vieux Quebec (Old Town). (Interesting fact: Quebec City is the only remaining fortified city in North America north of Mexico and St. Augustine, Florida and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.) [caption id="attachment_2749" align="aligncenter" width="660"] La Rue St. Louis is the entryway into the heart of Old Town Quebec. It is lined with shops and restaurants, and is one of the liveliest streets in Old Town.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2726" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] At the far end is the Champlain Monument, which commemorates the man who founded Quebec City in 1608, and is a central place for seeing the Saint Laurent River and for reaching all other parts of Quebec City. This is a great starting place to see all of Old Town.[/caption] It was like entering a magical Wonderland where you're instantly planted into a 1600's fairytale, where nothing is tactile and everything is strategically placed perfectly on your cobblestone path, but could deflate in a second...because you're in a dream. Right? No, this place actually exists and is tangible, in fact very built solidly to protect from invasion of the Fortified gates, castles, palaces, forts, grand fountains, cathedrals, cannons, and lots and lots of picturesque cobblestone streets. It's extremely romantic, and even more so in the chilly Fall, when you have to get close to your partner, arm in arm, and stroll ever so slowly, making stops along the way to stare up at the various murals, statues, have a taste of a maple treat, sit on a perfectly place park chair to overlook the Saint Laurent River while a woman in her 40's belts out Ave Maria. [caption id="attachment_2727" align="aligncenter" width="2000"] The Champlain Statue is centrally located in Place d'Armes, key meeting area in Quebec City, where you can see views and snap photos on the deck overlooking the Saint Laurent River and Laurentian Mountains. You can also easily access Chateau Frontenac, Petit Champlain Quarter, the Lower Town and Notre Dame Cathedral from here.[/caption] While Quebec City may seem large on a map, it's entirely walkable in a day, though we wish we'd been able to stay longer in this magical land. Below is PART 1 our one-day itinerary MUSTS in pictures. START WITH A WALK IN QUARTIER PETIT-CHAMPLAIN: Start your day in the small artist and bohemian enclave of Old Town, know as the Quartier Petit-Champlain, and work your way upward through Lower Town and Upper Town. This small section of Old Town is as picturesque as it gets. It's main commercial strip, La Rue Petit-Champlain, is packed with quaint French restaurants, galleries, murals painted on historical buildings and shops of all kinds. (Fun fact: It's the oldest commercial district in North America.) [caption id="attachment_2729" align="aligncenter" width="660"] It's fun spotting these massive murals on buildings all around Quebec City. An ongoing heritage project which tells the history of Quebec City through fresco mural art, 3 of them can be found just in Old Town, and 11 total. It's a relatively recent urban art project started in 1999.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2728" align="aligncenter" width="660"] A harpist plays on Notre Dame street as people gaze up at the Quebeckers' Fresco on Soumande House, which retraces 400 years of the city's history. The music brings you back to an enchanted, ancient world...[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2731" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Walk through Place Royale on your way to la Rue Petit-Champlain. Peek through the side streets to get a cutout view of the Old Port and the cruise ships lined up on Saint Laurent River.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2740" align="aligncenter" width="482"] La Fresque du Petit-Champlain near Place Royale, created in 2001 by Murale Création.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2738" align="aligncenter" width="660"] Stroll along Rue du Petit-Champlain, browse the many shops, observe all the intricate seasonal and holiday decorations put on display by shop owners, take a rest on a bench and people watch.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2735" align="aligncenter" width="660"] Some notable restaurants on this street that we'd recommend include LE LAPIN SAUTE (http://www.lapinsaute.com/francais/accueil/), a charming restaurant that serves traditional French dishes and its consistently great for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and our favorite, BISTRO SOUS LE FORT (http://www.bistrosouslefort.com/en/), a small, intimate and romantic French bistro. The melted brie with maple syrup, the french onion soup, poutine with peppercorn gravy and sharp cheddar, and salad with maple dressing are all excellent and we highly recommend.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2741" align="aligncenter" width="480"] Le Lapin Saute, a charming restaurant located on Rue du Petit-Champlain that serves traditional French dishes and its consistently great for breakfast, lunch or dinner.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2743" align="aligncenter" width="660"] For a sweet treat, this is by far our best recommendation. This quaint shop at the end of Rue du Petit-Champlain carries all the maples treats you'd ever want and more...to bring home to family and friends. AND, all the maple is locally made by the Fortier family. We kept coming back for the maple cream cones. We even tried them at a different cafe called Cafe Von Hautte, the Canadian version of Starbucks, to our sheer disappointment, as they didn't even come close to the goodness of the maple treats from LA PETITE CABANE A SUCRE. [/caption] TAKE THE BREAKNECK STAIRS OR THE FUNICULAR TO UPPER TOWN OF QUEBEC CITY: The Upper Town is where you'll have access to most of the 'sites-to-see' in Old Town such as Chateau Frontenac, Terrasse-Dufferin (best views of Saint Lawrence River), Notre Dame Catherdral, Rue St-Jean, and the Citadel, the fortification of Old Town. Here you can also grab lunch at Chez Boulay (http://chezboulay.com/), where you can get a delicious, 3-course meal and champagne for $30 p/person. [caption id="attachment_2742" align="aligncenter" width="660"] Take the Breakneck Stairs (called that for their steepness), up to Lower Town. These steps were built in 1635 and are the oldest in Quebec City. For those not up for walking the steep steps, there's the Funicular option, a cable-car outdoor elevator that connects you from Lower Town to Upper Town.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2745" align="aligncenter" width="660"] Terrasse Dufferin, located in Upper Town (accessible via stairs or Funicular) is an expansive boardwalk with stunning, panoramic views of Saint Laurent River, fall foliage and Old Quebec. A bit chilly and windy in autumn, but the air is so fresh and crisp.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2760" align="aligncenter" width="1632"] Panoramic view of Saint Laurent River from Terrasse Dufferin[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2759" align="aligncenter" width="660"] Fall Foliage visible through the Victorian fence at Terrasse Dufferin.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2744" align="aligncenter" width="660"] Terrasse Dufferin in the Fall. [/caption] [caption id="attachment_2753" align="aligncenter" width="660"] Fall Foliage in Old Quebec. [/caption] [caption id="attachment_2765" align="aligncenter" width="611"] If you travel to Quebec City in the winter, a must-do is the high-speed toboggan ice slide, which has been taking place since the early 1900's, and is located at Terrasse Dufferin in Old Quebec. The toboggans get up to a speed of 50 mph! The views of Quebec City from the top of the ride are stunning, and the ride is super fun and thrilling for both adults and children.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2761" align="aligncenter" width="1632"] If visiting in the Fall, we'd highly suggest a stroll through Old Quebec's Pumpkin Festival and Public Market in the gardens of Hotel d' Ville. It's Fall design at its finest, with creative scarecrow characters, pumpkin patches, and a pirate's ship. If traveling with children, this is a must-do. [/caption] [caption id="attachment_2762" align="aligncenter" width="660"] Public Fall Market at Jardins du l' Hotel de Ville.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2748" align="aligncenter" width="660"] Public Fall Market at Jardins du l' Hotel de Ville.[/caption] Stay tuned for Part 2 of Quebec City, where we explore the rest of Upper Town, The Citadel, Old Town at night, and provide our recommendations for places to stay and eat.