Friday, September 27, 2013

A visit to Quebec City

I recently spent 5 days in Quebec City, Canada, and wanted to share with you some of that amazing little town. I call it a town for a reason; it's a quaint and charming 'ye olde towne' despite being the capital of Quebec.
Everyone has seen pictures of the famous Hotel, Le Chateau Frontenac, perched high on a cliff overlooking the St Lawrence river. Currently undergoing a massive restoration only half of the hotel is in operation but it remains a great home-base in the city; most evenings were finished in their round bar overlooking the river.
The oldest parts of Quebec City are actually down on the riverfront far below the Frontenac. This area dates to the 17th century and the exteriors have been faithfully maintained (if not the interiors which hold a warren of gimmicky tourist shops).
The city is surrounded by an enormous wall, separating the old town from the modern city. While once it defended the French and British troops, these fortifications are now freely crossed by hoards of tourists.
Definitely take a walk along the top most part of the wall for stunning views of the city.
The terrain is of course challenging, resulting in some cliff-like streets such as Cote de la Montagne see above.
The main street of Rue St Jean is a charming lane full of shops and restaurants.
I stayed at the luxurious Auberge St Antoine, a Relais & Chateaux property located in the heart of the Old Port district. Centrally located, comfortable, and accommodating, I can't recommend this hotel enough!
Much time was spent in the lounge / bar / restaurant relaxing, reading, and snacking.
What is there to do in Quebec City you may ask? Well......
...the answer is probably not much.  If you are looking for a completely charming and beautiful location to relax, Quebec City may be the vacation destination for you!
Other than a handful of beautiful historic churches there isn't much to tour or visit other than walking the streets of the town.
I know because we saw each and every one. Each church was friendly and happy to have visitors tour their beautiful buildings.
I did find one minuscule shop that was definitely worth a visit, the Boutique a la Capucine near my hotel on the Rue St Pierre opposite the Museum of Civilization.
The weather in mid September was comfortable but rather damp with tremendous fog each evening and morning.
Much of the city was viewed through a romantic mist.
The train station is a beautiful Beaux Arts building down near the river that is definitely worth a visit near the entertaining food market.
Quebec is, as you probably already know, a French bastion of culture in Canada. Amazing French restaurants abound and I highly recommend both the Continental for old school HIGH French food, and the Saint Amour for nouvelle French cuisine. The Cafe du Monde down on the river has fantastic views and a wonderful brunch.
Walking around the city is a pleasure, despite any negative feedback you are sensing here. Surprises lurk around every corner, such as this tiny Victorian rowhouse squeezed between 2 much larger buildings.
The perfect length of time to spend in Quebec City is a weekend. This is generally what travelers have as it's a common stop for cruise ships which constantly hover over the lower part of town.
Lastly I have to commend the city for keeping the town immaculately clean with beautiful plantings and street art to be found through the city. Go for the food, go for the views, but just GO!


Karena Albert said...

Stefan this is a wonderful look at Quebec City. It sounds like the kind of relaxation perfect for me. There really does seem like there is a lot to see. Beautiful Architecture for sure!

2013 Designer Series

Pura Vida said...

This looks very quaint...I would love to visit!

deana sidney said...

Most American cities are so dirty and run down, aren't they? I was thinking that the other day as I went down 5th Avenue in NYC and the road was so lousy. Seems like we should be a little better about that (but god forbid we pay a slightly higher tax to spiff up our infrastructure!).

Lovely tour, you brought it all back. Did you enjoy the restaurants there????

Paisley Curtain said...

You have brought out the very romantic side of Quebec City. Wonderful!

Mark D. Ruffner said...

I visited Quebec about 20 years ago, and I must admit, with a little bit of trepidation since my French is minimal. I would advise any tourist to carry a pocket dictionary and make the effort to begin every conversation in French. The people of Quebec seemed to very much appreciate that, quickly reverted to English, were kind, welcoming and hospitable. I fondly remember one gas station attendant who continued to speak entirely in French, then gifted me with a free tank of gas! Wow.

Pigtown*Design said...

I would have recommended Montreal over Quebec. And if you were there for 5 days, I'd have made a day trip to Montreal. It's a fabulous city.