Quebec City’s Old Town was definitely my favourite part of our trip. It was similar to Old Montreal with cobblestone streets, pretty buildings, French themed restaurants and plenty of tourists. But it didn’t have a ‘city’ feel to it, the way Montreal did. The pace of life was slower and the people were friendlier and kind. Big brands like McDonalds and Subway were subtly advertised so it felt like we were in the old world. It was all very quaint and pretty and I loved it. If you every have a chance to visit Canada, I highly recommend a visit to Quebec City.
My boyfriend and I caught the 3 hour Via Rail train to Quebec City from Montreal. Although it was expensive, the train was super comfortable with spacious seats, beautiful scenery out the window and free Wi-Fi complete with a movie selection on their website. We also opted to check in our luggage because there was an additional cost to take our bags on the train with us. This was a mistake. One of our suitcases was badly damaged by a fork lift or some kind of machinery back in Montreal when it was being placed on the train. We couldn’t use it again so we had to buy a new suitcase in Quebec City immediately. So next time, we will be taking our bags on the train with us… and recommend you do too!
But of course, we didn’t let this little mishap ruin our trip because travelling is all about the unexpected. (We were sad for an hour. And maybe talked about it again a lot but we’re over it now!)
What to See…
- The Chateau Frontenac. This Chateau Frontenac, built in 1893, is the most photographed hotel in the world. It’s imposing yet grant and beautiful. The hotel was the location for the Quebec Conference in 1943 where Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and William Lyon Mackenzie King discussed strategy for World War II. It was also used as a location for an Alfred Hitchcock film. We actually stayed at the Chateau and the rooms are small, old and not really worth the expensive price, but we did have a beautiful view of the St Lawrence River.
- Wander along the boardwalk at the Chateau in the evening as the sun sets.
- Ride on the Furnicular. This rail system is between the Upper Town to the Lower Town. It’s a great way to avoid the uphill climb from the Lower Town back to Upper Town, especially when you have bought luggage in the Lower Town!
- Wander around Lower Town and the Quartier Petit Champlain and Place Royal. Admire beautiful buildings with the Chateau in the background and browse in souvenir and boutique shops.
- Relax on a cruise on the St Lawrence River. Our cruise was one hour and the guide (dressed in period costume) was actually quite informative as he explained the history of Quebec City in both English and French Canadian.
- Join a History walking tour to learn about the history of Quebec,s and get fit while walking uphill and downhill for around 2.5 hours.
- Walk up the hill to the Citadel – we didn’t make it because it was too late, but were able to get some spectacular shots.
What to Eat…
Authentic Quebecois food, in my opinion, is best eaten in the COLD winter which lasts from March to November. It’s hearty with lots of meat, pastry and potatoes and is filling but not very flavoursome.
- On our second night we ate at La Bouche and tried a filling tasting plate with deep fried meat coated with crumbs, fresh salmon with cream and dill, rabbit wings and venison tartare. I tried the poutine with bacon for my main. Sadly it wasn’t any better than the poutine I tried in Montreal so didn’t touch it after one bite. I helped my boyfriend eat his deconstructed meat pie which is basically meat with mashed potatoes, corn and a tomato salsa.
- The following night we ate at Aux Anciens Canadiens and both tried the (proper) Grandma’s meat pie which came with pork crackling, tomato sauce with a random beetroot, boiled potatoes in gravy and beans in a sweet pastry crust. It was tasty with subtle flavours (especially for me because I have an Asian palette) but it was too much for a summer’s night. I think it would be great on a cold night with snow falling outside. For dessert, we shared a maple pie.
- We shared a beautiful maple cake with pouring cream from a little café in the lower town.
- We treated ourselves to a fine dining experience at the Chateau (because we don’t really go out to dinner at home). My entrée of root vegetable salad which was a large plate of greens was interesting and healthy…. But our lamb and vegetables for the main and the tasting plate for dessert was delicious. The waiter was lovely and took photos for us at the end (we didn’t ask!…). It’s pricey, but worth it.
I can only imagine how beautiful and magical Quebec City would be in the winter with all the snow. But I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to cope with the cold weather, so I’m glad we visited in the summer. It was actually fairly cool compared to Montreal and I wore jeans with a jumper on most days. But it was the perfect weather to walk around this beautiful little town.
Have you been to Quebec City? What did you think?