One day three ways: Quebec City

PENNY-PINCH

The city's gay precinct - bars, cafes and boutiques - is along pretty rue St-Jean, just outside the Old City. It's also home to North America's oldest grocery store and Paillard, a bakery selling sublime French pastries. Start the day with a croissant and coffee ($3.30; paillard.ca). Take the elevator down to the Saint-Roch district and stroll around the amazing toy store, Benjo (benjo.ca). Wander to the Old Port and the market to grab lunch ($10; marchevieuxport.com), then eat it in the historic square, Place Royale, before catching the bus to Old Town ($3; rtcquebec.ca). Spend the afternoon enjoying the parks and architecture on foot. Then it's dinner at Au Vieux Duluth- cheap and cheery Greek and, best of all, BYO ($16; auvieuxduluth.com) before a well-earned rest in a budget room at historic Hotel Jardin Sainte Anne ($100; hotelsduvieuxquebec.com/fr/hotel-jardin-ste-anne/).

TOTAL: $132.30

EASY DOES IT

Enjoy an authentic Quebecoise brunch at Le Billig creperie ($20; faubourgsaintjean.com). Get oriented on one of Quebec City's new double decker hop-on, hop-off tour buses, which stop at 11 landmark sites ($34.95; toursvieuxquebec.com). Lunch is at Le Parlementaire in the grand parliamentary building, with local dishes made from local produce ($25; assnat.qc.ca). If it's summer, catch the free Cirque du Soleil show at the Port of Quebec Agora (cirquedusoleil.com) and dine on traditional Quebecoise fare at Restaurant Aux Anciens Canadiens, an atmospheric inn in a 15th-century house ($60; auxancienscanadiens.qc.ca). Sleep at Loews Le Concorde Quebec City but not before a nightcap ($20) at L'Astral revolving bar and restaurant, which has views over the city ($170; loewshotels.com/Quebec-City-Hotel).

TOTAL: $329.95

SPLASH OUT

Hire a limo for the morning (four hours at $85 an hour; limoquebec.com) and head out to take the cable car up spectacular Montmorency Falls ($10.95; sepaq.com), before crossing the bridge to nearby picturesque, pastoral Ile d'Orleans. Stop for lunch on the island at Restaurant Vue in the charming old Auberge La Goeliche ($70; restovue.ca; goelich.ca) with its lovely views of the St Laurence River. Back in town, go on a private guided walking tour of UNESCO listed Old Town Quebec ($199; toursbylocals.com). Later, catch a show at the Grand Theatre du Quebec, perhaps from Opera de Quebec ($150; grandtheatre.qc.ca). After, have supper at Toast! in the old port area ($120; restaurant toast.com), before dreaming in French at the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac (from $240; Fairmont.com/Frontenac).

TOTAL: $1129.95

The writer was a guest of the Canadian Tourism Commission and Tourisme Quebec.

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