Old Montréal, Montréal
Concierge.com's insider take:
Horse-drawn carriages still trot through the winding cobblestone streets where, in the 17th century, French settlers erected a city hall as well as a market and some stables. These days, the carriages cart visitors on 30- to 60-minute tours through the area between the Old Port and the modern city center. You might feel a bit cheesy clomping along while cars zip past, but rest assured you'll be getting a better view of the scenery and, thanks to the interesting guides, an understanding of the historical context for the well-preserved colonial buildings. This district isn't just for tourists: Some of the hippest and most affluent segments of society call Old Montréal home. A recent influx of excellent bistros, such as Club Chasse et Pêche; cafés like Olive + Gourmando (351 St. Paul St. W.; 514-350-1083; www.oliveetgourmando.com); and boutiques on St. Paul Street cater to this crowd. The city's best hotels, such as the St. James and the Nelligan, are also clustered in the area, lending it a sense of modern cosmopolitanism. Be sure to take the 20-minute tour of the neo-Gothic Basilica of Notre-Dame, whose pews are dappled in a mystical blue light streaming through the extensive stained glass. Call ahead, as visiting hours are subject to change (110 Notre Dame St. West; 514-842-2925; www.basiliquenddm.org).