Quebec City had been on my bucket list for a long time. It always seemed a little exotic (if you could call Canada exotic) being French-speaking and having its own chateau. I was, therefore, excited when we found out we would be living within a half-day’s drive of it. We spent last Labor Day weekend there. I was super pregnant and really just wanted to eat my way through the city. Lucky for me, it is an extremely foodie friendly town. Unfortunately for you, I ate most everything too quickly to take photos, so you’ll have to trust me on this. Quebec City has something to offer everyone, it seems. History, culture, gorgeous scenery, places to enjoy the great outdoors and indoors.
The city itself is as old as it gets in North America. You can explore within the confines of the old walled city; wandering through shops and stopping for chocolate croissants and coffee. You can browse through books in an old church-turned-used bookstore. You can pretend you are a princess and stroll through (or stay in!) a castle. You can even practice your French on the friendly Quebecois, who happily switch to English when they realize you are in fact, inept, at communicating in their native tongue.
We stayed: at Hotel le Concord. The hotel has a revolving restaurant on the top floor. These always seem a little gimmicky, but at the same time, hold a some magic, so we went up for a night cap our first night. They had a variety of virgin specialty cocktails on the menu for my pregnant self, which I very much appreciated. Our room had a view of Old Town, the river, and the Chateau Frontenac. My husband enthusiastically exclaimed “why stay in a chateau if you can look at one!” Bless his heart. No complaints from me though, it was very nice.
We ate: A supper of stuffed quail and buffalo steak outdoors on the patio at Restaurant Louis-Hebert. A delicious brunch at Cochon Dingue. They had maple sugar for your coffee, so quintessentially Canadian. A mid-afternoon coffee and pain au chocolate at Chez Temporel. These incredibly indulgent Royal Sundaes from Chocolato. Poutine, naturally, at fast food poutine restaurant (what!?!) Lemix. Don’t worry, we walked it all off, read on. No bite was a disappointment.
We did: Take an evening stroll through Old Town and the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac, so gorgeous lit up at night. A morning run/walk (waddle, lets be honest) around the Plains of Abraham park and battlefield. Then a big walking loop around the Citadel to the promenade along the Saint Lawrence. We took the Funicular from the Chateau to Lower Town, where we brunched, poked through shops, a very old church, and otherwise played tourist. We kept walking (maybe this is why labor was so quick and on the early side?) and came to the cruise ship port. Stopped to rehydrate/log beers into Untapped at this tiki-vibe bar, with dozens of colorful Adirondack chairs sitting in a wading pool that looked like it would be fun to chill in on a warmer day. Because why experience local culture when you can pretend you’re in the Caribbean? After this, we stumbled upon Museé de la Civilisation. We went in and discovered a wide variety of exhibits and gained a greater understanding of the history of the area from many different perspectives. I’m not big on museums, I’d rather experience something hands-on, or read about it in a book, but even this one held my interest. We slowly wandered back up from Old Town towards our hotel. One place I had been told I must check out was this big old church turned used book store. It happened to be right across the street from Hotel Le Concord. All books were in french, but for a small english section. I could have wandered for hours.
This in itself was enough for a full and exciting weekend. But, being the adventure seekers that we are, we decided to take long way home…
Moi et Max
Lower Old Town and Rue du Petit Champlain
Notre Dame Des Victoires Church, one of the oldest in N. America, built in the late 1600s.
Old Town Quebec City is the only walled city in N. America
The boundary between Old Quebec and new, marked by the wall
I like Poutine. But I don’t looooooove it. Call me crazy.
I’m not sure this place even has a name, but if you’re looking for it, it’s in a big old church just across the street from Hotel le Concord.
The Return Trip-Within-a-Trip
We ended up making a day of the return trip. While I was initially reluctant to give up any time in Quebec City, I’m really glad we did. We drove back down through the pretty Quebec countryside, to the Canadian border with Vermont. There wasn’t a speck of English to be found until we crossed back in to the U.S. The border crossing had a surprisingly long line for being so seemingly remote. We were feeling a little bit of a time crunch, because we were planning to take the ferry from Burlington, across Lake Champlain, back in to New York and our departure time was looming. We eventually made it to the front of the line, cleared customs and then lickety-split hit up the specialty beer/cheese/wine store that had the extra special brew my husband was in search of, which can only be purchased in this area of Vermont. We made it to the ferry dock with just enough time and conveniently parked in the ferry line next to an ice cream stand. Heyo! As if an ice cream cone wasn’t enough, we had picked up some Vermont Cheddar cheese, crackers and sausage for a boat snack. The crossing took a little over an hour. It was gorgeous with mountains as far as you could see on both sides of the lake. I’m sure on a clear day it’s even better.
We stopped for dinner at Lisa G’s, one of our favorite restaurants in Lake Placid. We ate out on the back deck, next to a little river, with late summer sun streaming down, making for an idyllic scene. After dinner, we drove the rest of the way home through the Adirondacks at that golden hour before sunset. Mountain views are good anytime, but they’re especially sweet at sunset.
Ok, your turn! What are you favorite Quebec City things to do? See? Eat? Whats one way you’ve made the journey part of the adventure? Let me know in the comments!
If you are planning a trip and would like more information, or have questions, want to bounce ideas off me, anything, I’d love to hear from you! Shoot me an email and I’ll be in touch.
Explore with me! @exploremore.co