Quebec City for Lovers

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Quebec City for Lovers
French Canada is one of the country's most romantic regions. Picnics in the park, soothing soaks in Nordic spas, nights on the town, and a splendid winter calendar provide many opportunities to get close to your sweetheart.
By Flash Parker, AFAR Ambassador
Photo courtesy of Finn O'Hara/Canada Tourism Commission
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    Picnics in the Park
    When spring warms up the city, the parks, greens, and plazas become perfect places to unfurl a picnic blanket. Any picnic requires a visit to Le Marché du Vieux-Port, where fresh cheeses, artisan breads, and more await. Skip down to the St. Lawrence for a riverside picnic, stroll along Parc Linéaire de la Rivière's many kilometers of trails at Saint-Charles, or cozy up at beautiful Parc de la Chute-Montmorency. Alternatively, add some historical panache to your picnic by visiting the Plains of Abraham, with its acres of public space.
    Photo courtesy of Finn O'Hara/Canada Tourism Commission
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    Romantic Nordic Treatments
    A trip to the Sibéria Station Spa is sure to get your pulse pounding. Sibéria Station introduces guests to the Scandinavian ritual—best enjoyed in pairs—of entering a steaming sauna before plunging into ice-cold (or warm, if that's more your style) water. The spa includes hot tubs, steam baths, and numerous massage centers offering different treatments. Le Nordique Stoneham, located on the picturesque Jacques-Cartier River, is a wonderful place to experience Finnish saunas, Turkish steam baths, outdoor tubs, and more. Tyst Tradgard features some of the most romantic outdoor pools and baths in the province, grotto-esque massage parlors, and couples' treatment rooms. Romantic getaway packages are available at all three spas.
    Photo courtesy of Le Nordique spa Stoneham
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    A Night at the Theater
    Quebec City's theater and performance scene was made for grand evenings out. Tucked away in the heart of the Old Town, Théâtre Capitole has been hosting magnificent cultural events, concerts, and dramas for nearly a century. The Grand Théâtre de Québec, as the name suggests, is also big on spectacle, and puts on outdoor events, performances by L'Orchestre Symphonique de Québec (the oldest active orchestra in the country), intimate concerts, and more. The Théâtre du Petit Champlain is something of an alt-programming venue, which often blends music and theater; impress your date date with a season of genre performances.
    Photo courtesy of Guillaume Cyr/Le Capitole de Québec
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    French-Canadian Date Night
    If it's time for a night on the town with your loved one, check out Maurice; located in a restored mansion, it's been a Quebec City institution for well over a decade. Maurice's bars and restaurants alone draw big crowds and rave reviews, but it's the salsa floor and cigar lounge that make it one of the city's best date venues. The art deco Hôtel Clarendon is home to L'Emprise, one of Quebec's finest jazz clubs, while Chez Son Père is a French folk music favorite; drinks are affordable, the atmosphere is relaxed, and the music is just smooth enough to inspire a bit of romance. Alternatively, relax with a glass of wine culled from Le Cercle's 2,000-bottle cellar while the musicians do the hard work for you.
    Photo courtesy of Maurice Nightclub
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    Where to Stroll Hand in Hand
    Quebec City's rivers, parks, and woodlands are idyllic and perfect for romantic strolls. Governors' Park, near Château Frontenac, is lined with timeless Victorian homes and is beautiful at any time of year. The Terrasse Dufferin provides breathtaking views of the city and the St. Lawrence River, while the Corridor des Cheminots is a multipurpose trail that hugs what remains of an old rail line, connecting many of the city's most charming neighborhoods. Hop on a bike built for two and pedal your way out to Île d'Orléans, Portneuf, or Côte-de-Beaupré to experience the countryside at its most splendid, where rolling hills, sparkling rivers, and Quebec's picturesque mountains await.
    Photo by Robert Chiasson/age fotostock
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    See the City from Above
    A dozen roses and a box of chocolates are a decent enough gift, but those looking to make a bolder statement about their feelings should consider booking a hot-air balloon ride with Montgolfière Aventure; their sunrise flights over the city are remarkable. For something even more adventurous, opt for a pulse-pounding chopper ride with Hélicoptères Canadiens, operators of expeditions that take in the best of the urban skyline. GoHelico's tours also explore the city and take guests out over the St. Lawrence, Île d'Orléans, and Montmorency Falls (where engagement proposals have been known to take place). Keep your feet on firmer ground by soaking in the panoramic views from the Observatoire de la Capitale.
    Photo courtesy of Benoît Chalifour/Tourisme Québec
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    Warm Hearts, Icy Playgrounds
    Quebec City's winter wonderland is a playground for lovebirds. Do your best imitation of a toque-wearing Canadian by strapping on your skates and spinning your sweetheart around the ice at Place d'Youville, or pull on your warm and woolies in anticipation of a thrilling toboggan ride down the runs at Dufferin Terrasse. The Plains of Abraham feature a skating rink that overlooks the St. Lawrence River and miles of well-groomed cross-country skiing trails. Those with a competitive streak will want to put Le Massif de Charlevoix on the top of their list; in addition to the spectacular skiing, couples can line up for the luge and find out just how far their love will carry them along the track.
    Photo courtesy of Mathieu Dupuis/Tourisme Québec
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    On the Water
    Quebec City's location on the St. Lawrence means there's plenty of opportunity for you and your partner to get out on the water to experience the sweet solitude of a summer or autumn cruise. The Baie Beauport yacht club—less than five minutes from downtown—sits on a long sandy beach, and rents kayaks, sailboards, kitesurfing gear, and canoes to visitors. Further afield is the Base de plein air de Sainte-Foy recreation area, with numerous swimming, kayaking, and boating options. The Société des Traversiers invites vacationers and honeymooners to cruise the St. Lawrence and Saguenay Rivers on cruises designed to highlight the natural beauty of the city.
    Photo courtesy of Jean-François Bergeron/Tourisme Québec
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    Touring for Two
    Getting under the skin of a destination while still enjoying quality time with your beloved can sometimes be difficult. Thankfully, numerous Quebec City outfitters offer engrossing, behind-the-scenes tours that are perfect to enjoy as part of a couple. A horse-drawn carriage ride through the Old Town is plenty of fun if you're willing to open yourself to the moment; Les Calèches du Vieux Québec's guides are informative, entertaining, and enlivening. The food tour provided by Tours Voir Quebec has been designed to explore the way that culture and cuisine have informed one another throughout Quebec's history, and allows guests to sample the best in local food and flavor.
    Photo courtesy of Benoit Cecile/Tourisme Québec
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    Love Mementos
    The Old Town's many galleries, boutiques, consignment shops, and curio emporiums are sure to house the gift you've always wanted to buy (but never knew existed). Sculpteur Flamand is the city's only woodworking boutique; their collection includes more than 3,000 traditional folk, modern, and bas-relief pieces, plus more. Jewelry Le Forgeron d'Or has been designing luxury jewelry for the country's most discerning customers for years; their selection of wedding and engagement rings is stunning. Fusion & Couleurs stocks whimsical glasswork from renowned designer Isabelle Malo. If you really want to rummage around, there are more than 50 boutiques in Quartier Petit-Champlain in the Lower Town to explore.
    Photo courtesy of Sculpteur Flamand