This may be Cape Breton's most remarkable attraction. After the French were forced out of mainland Nova Scotia in 1713, they established their headquarters here in a walled, fortified town on a low point of land at the mouth of Louisbourg Harbour. The fortress was captured twice (once by New Englanders in 1745, once by the British in 1758), and after the second attack the formidable military complex was razed. Its demise was critical in ending France's dream of a North
American empire, but in the 1960s, archaeologists took up where the imperialists left off, rebuilding a fifth of the fortress to look just as it did before the initial siege. From June through mid-October, costumed interpreters convincingly re-create the activities of the original inhabitants, so you can watch a military drill, see nails and lace being made, or dine in the town's three inns on food prepared from 18th-century recipes. Free guided tours are given in high season and events available at extra cost—including themed dinner theaters (C$48), a Murder Mystery Tour (C$27), and archeological programs—make a visit here even more memorable. On the other hand, an off-season visit, without all these activities, can paint a more compelling picture of life in the fort 300 years ago. Plan on spending most or all of a day here, and bring a warm sweater or jacket—Louisbourg tends to be chilly at any time of year.