Drive half a day north from Boston, and you arrive in French-speaking Québec City, established in 1608 on a strategic bluff above the St. Lawrence River, still surrounded by its wall.
Charles Dickens' 19th-century description of the place still holds true: "The impression made upon the visitor by this Gibraltar of America, its giddy heights, its citadel suspended, as it were, in the air; its picturesque steep streets and frowning gateways; and the splendid views which burst upon the eye at every turn, is at once unique and lasting.”
Thoreau wrote: “I still remember the harbour far beneath me, sparkling like silver in the sun, the answering headlands of Point Levis on the south-east, the frowning Cap Tourmente abruptly bounding the seaward view in the north-east…You look out from the ramparts of the citadel beyond the frontiers of civilization. Yonder small group of hills [form] the portals of the wilds which are trodden only by the feet of the Indian hunters as far as Hudson's Bay."
Mid-summer in Québec city is one giant festival. Come in July for a plethora of outdoor performances in the late-lingering twilight: http://www.infofestival.com/