ELLE (Canada) - - Escape - ALIYAH SHAMSHER

“We love win­ter here!” one very en­thu­si­as­tic lo­cal said to me as I hud­dled by a cozy fire­place at Que­bec City’s his­toric Au­berge Saint-An­toine. One look out­side proves that the Québé­cois know how to do win­ter right: Peo­ple are cross-coun­try ski­ing along the grand boule­vards, iceskat­ing at Place D’You­ville and even ca­noe­ing along the par­tially frozen St. Lawrence River. If you ab­so­lutely must go in­side, the 95-room Re­lais & Châteaux bou­tique ho­tel is the beat­ing heart of the Old Port, one of the city’s old­est neigh­bour­hoods. Sip the sig­na­ture hot choco­late (a mix of lo­cal ar­ti­san choco­late and pure cream) on one of the lobby’s sheep­skin-clad ban­quettes to warm up be­fore you head back into the snow. PLAY Car­naval de Québec—which started back in 1894—cel­e­brates the very best that a Que­bec City win­ter has to of­fer, from out­door sports to din­ing and danc­ing. From Jan­uary 29 un­til Fe­bru­ary 14, you can fill your Ther­mos with Cari­bou, Car­naval’s sig­na­ture cock­tail (a con­coc­tion of vodka, brandy, Cana­dian sherry and Cana­dian port), and take in every­thing from ul­tra­com­pet­i­tive (and icy!) ca­noe races to the famed snow sculp­tures. SHOP Tucked be­neath the cliffs that run along the St. Lawrence River, Quartier Pe­tit Cham­plain is home to a kitschy mix of art gal­leries, ar­ti­sanal shops and au­then­tic bistros. Must-buys: hand­made moc­casins at Ami­moc, minia­ture vin­tage cars at Tabagie Casse-Cou and maple syrup at La Petite Ca­bane à Su­cre de Québec (a.k.a. the Sugar Shack!). EAT At Panache, Au­berge Saint-An­toine’s restau­rant, you can take in the post-and-beam ar­chi­tec­ture while savour­ing chef Louis Pac­quelin’s lo­cal menu. (Think game and trout paired with win­ter squash and sweet cab­bage salad.) DRINK You’ll find some of the best Québé­cois wines at Le Tourne­broche, the brain­child of French chef Stéphane Roth and restau­ra­teur Guy Collin (both head up the top-rated restau­rant Le Pa­tri­arche). The bar and restau­rant serve dozens of lo­cal wines and mi­cro­brews—and the house-made brew pairs per­fectly with the ro­tis­serie chicken. EX­PLORE Fur­ther prov­ing the re­gion’s love of all things snow and ice, the 44-room Hô­tel de Glace (or Ice Ho­tel) has be­come one of Que­bec City’s most beloved at­trac­tions since it opened on New Year’s Day in 2001. It’s built from scratch ev­ery De­cem­ber. (Last year’s theme was Space-Time; this year’s will be an­nounced on De­cem­ber 8.) Past high­lights have in­cluded a chapel, a café, a bar and even a spa. n

From top: The Que­bec City sky­line; Bon­homme Car­naval; Au­berge Sain­tAn­toine’s Panache restau­rant; Quartier Pe­tit Cham­plain; Car­naval’s ice cas­tle; the Hô­tel de Glace

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