My short visit to charming Quebec City begins and ends with lodgings at the unique Auberge Saint-Antoine directly opposite the majestic St. Lawrence River in the historic Lower Town.
The boutique hotel has the prestigious Relais and Chateaux designation -- one of only 13 properties in Canada -- as well as numerous other accolades. Its 95 rooms offer luxurious comfort for business travellers, a romantic getaway for couples or a comfortable convenient base for families exploring all that Quebec City has to offer.
The nearby Musee de la Civilisation includes children's exhibitions, including Game Story, a hands-on show about the history of video games that runs through April 6. Also not to be missed is the creative Paris on Stage exhibit, which continues until Feb. 23. This special exhibition describes Paris in the Belle Epoque era through art, artifacts, videos, music and sound bites from the time.
Those staying at the Auberge can also walk to several other attractions.
A fabulous farmers' market -- the Marche du Vieux-Port -- features locally produced foods, wine and souvenirs, and many bistros, cafes, art galleries and antique stores are located along the area's cobblestone streets. These include Cafe Baguette & Cie, which is a good place to stop for soup and a sandwich with fresh bread baked daily.
A selection of local cheeses at Panache Restaurant in Quebec City's Auberge Saint-Antoine. JULIE KIRSH/QMI AGENCY
At Rue du Petit Champlain, a 64-metre cliffside funicular transports you to the Upper Town and the city's great aerial lookout point.
Whether you stay at Auberge Saint-Antoine or elsewhere, don't miss the opportunity to dine at Panache Restaurant (reservations recommended). Under the direction of head chef Louis Pacquelin -- renowned for his creative French cuisine -- this is a five-star culinary experience with flawless service that doesn't disappoint.
This superb restaurant occupies a beautiful space with rustic wooden beams, a large welcoming fireplace and red velvet couches.
For lunch I ordered a sampler plate of locally produced Quebec cheeses and a glass of good wine suggested by a friendly sommelier.
Cafe Artefact, a more casual lounge close to the hotel lobby, is a good meeting spot with an informal atmosphere.