Spend a romantic afternoon at Montréal's botanical gardens.

Spend a romantic afternoon at Montréal’s botanical gardens. Photo © Robert Lafond, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

For a short, romantic getaway, Montréal offers the perfect balance of sightseeing and nightlife. Whether it’s a moonlit walk along the Vieux-Port or a dinner at one of the city’s best restaurants, couples can’t help but be intoxicated by the city’s French charm.

Québec City meanwhile is considered one of the most romantic cities in North America. The winding cobblestone streets, classic New France architecture, and overall charming ambience have a tendency to bring out the amorous side in visitors. But nothing seems forced about it—instead, it carries its romantic status quite naturally.

A Romantic Weekend in Montréal

Day 1

After you check into the sumptuous Pierre du Calvet, stroll through Vieux-Montréal. Go for lunch at Les 400 Coups, then take in the latest exhibit at DHC/ART and check out some local talent at Marché Bonsecours. In the Vieux-Port, climb the steps to the top of the Tour de l’Horloge for a magnificent view of the river and skyline.

As the stars start to come out, grab a pre-dinner drink at Le Philémon Bar before your reservations at the cozy and inviting Le Bremner. Head back to your hotel or hire a calèche to take you for a horse-drawn carriage tour, and take in the scenery as you snuggle up.

Day 2

It’s off to the Plateau for brunch at Le Chien Fumant. Afterwards, hop on the Métro and head out to Jardin Botanique, Montréal’s botanical gardens, and explore the 30 different gardens and get an up-close look at the Stade Olympique. Head back toward the city on a Bixi and stop off in Parc LaFontaine to leave the bikes and pick up some chocolate at Les Chocolats de Chloé.

Continue along Duluth to grab a quick bite at Chez José for lunch before browsing the shops along St-Laurent. Don’t forget to check out the urban chic selection at Boutique Unicorn or the effortlessly cool designer pieces at Les Étoffes, then step into Bu for an early evening drink.

Take a mini-tour of the Mile End and then make your way south on Park avenue and nab a cozy table for two at Buvette Chez Simone. When dinner’s over, stay for a drink and the heady nightlife or stroll under the stars to Big in Japan Bar and finish the night off with one of their killer cocktails.

Day 3

Grab croissants from Boulangerie Guillaume, a latte from Café Sardine next door, and leave the city behind for a day in the country; take Route 20 out to the Eastern Townships and follow La Route des Vins (The Wine Route). Stop in for a tasting at Vignoble Les Pervenches, then head to the town of Knowlton to check out the quaint English-influenced architecture and antiques shops.

Continue on the Route des Vins to Domaine Vitis for a sip of their ice wine. Keep on the trail and head a bit farther south for a final tasting at Vignoble d’Orpailleur. From there it’s a short drive through the country to the town of Sutton, where you can get a bit of fresh air during a walk on Mount Sutton before settling in for a rustic French meal at Auberge des Appalaches. After dinner drive back into the city or hang out in the country and book a room above the restaurant.

A Romantic Weekend in Québec City

Day 1

Check into your suite at the plush Auberge Saint-Antoine and then go exploring along the cobblestone streets of Quartier du Petit-Champlain. Stop for a coffee or a cool drink on the corner terrace of Lapin Sauté and be charmed by the traditional music of street performers. Head to Place Royale and check out the small but beautiful chapel in Église Notre-Dame-des-Victoires.

Browse antiques and galleries on rue St-Pierre and rue St-Paul. Stroll among the boats and quays of the Vieux-Port, then head to Quai Chouinard and board the Louis Jolliet.

Enjoy views of Chute Montmorency, Île d’Orléans, and the illuminated city on this four-hour boat cruise as you dine on a five-course meal.

Day 2

Breakfast at Panache and then take the Funiculaire du Vieux-Québec to Terrasse Dufferin. Snap the requisite shots of Château Frontenac before taking the stairs at the far end to the Parc des Plaines d’Abraham. Stroll through the park to the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec. After browsing the largest existing collection of Québec art, pick up some gourmet treats at Les Halles du Petit Quartier on Cartier, then grab a cab to Parc du Bois-de-Coulonge. Picnic overlooking the St-Lawrence River, then wander the grounds, and don’t miss the arboretum close to the shore.

Hail a cab back to Upper Town and shop the independent boutiques along rue St-Jean. Freshen up back at the hotel and cab it to your reservation in the glass dining room at Le Saint-Amour. After dinner, take a moonlight tour through the streets in a caléche (horse-drawn carriage), stopping to admire the view at the Parc du Cavalier-du-Moulin. Then grab a cozy nook at Pub St-Alexandre for a nightcap.

Day 3

Rise early and drive to the base of the Chute Montmorency, about 20 minutes outside of Québec City, where you’ll board the train Le Massif for a leisurely trip up-river. Take in the stunning views of the Charlevoix region and the St-Lawrence from this luxury locomotive. Disembark at Baie-Saint-Paul, check out the modern and ecofriendly hotel La Ferme before exploring the town’s cultural heritage at the many galleries and artisanal shops. If all that walking makes you thirsty, grab a local microbrew at Le Saint-Pub.

Hop back on the train heading a farther 40 minutes north to the majestic Fairmont le Manoir Richelieu in La Malbaie for an overnight stay. Located on the banks of the river, it’s one of the prettiest spots in the region and a perfect place to kick back for the night. When you’re settled in your room, relax next to the outdoor pool and get a massage at the in-house spa.

In the evening have dinner at Vices Versa, and get a taste of the local cuisine.

Excerpted from the Third Edition of Moon Montréal & Québec City.