I didn’t find much that overwhelmed me in Quebec City. Within the old city walls, the area was small and quaint. Yes, everyone was speaking French. We did not find it to be a problem. We made valiant efforts to greet and try to converse in French and almost every local thanked us for our effort and changed the conversation to English. It was very relaxed to walk around old Quebec and the surrounding neighborhoods, it had the feel of Paris wrapped up in village size. There was no need for a vehicle at any point during our time in QC.
We had to visit the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac since it was dubbed the most photographed hotel in the world. The hotel was undergoing a massive renovation, so only 1 of its multiple bars and restaurants were open. I was less than impressed with the hotel and the Le Sam Bar itself, but 2 of the bartenders were awesome. Marie-Alexe and Joanne were fabulous and pepped up our time at the hotel bar. They were cheery and had the most contagious smiles. If it weren’t for them, I doubt I would offer a recommendation to go to Le Sam. But because of them, I recommend everyone, at least, stop in and say Hello to these ladies.
Old Quebec & Basse-Ville
We spent the majority of our time walking around Old Quebec and the surrounding neighborhoods. Although, incredibly packed with tourists I liked the Basse-Ville (Lower Town) because of the colorful walls and windows along the way. Haute-Ville (Upper Town) was just as busy, but much larger allowing more room to walk without feeling crowded. There wasn’t one thing we did, other than eating or drink, and that stood out to me. I was left wondering if Quebec City blooms in the winter rather than in the spring.
My favorite part of Quebec City was the food. We had three terrific meals. My favorite was Thang Long located just outside of the old city wall at 869 Côte d’Abraham. It was a little Asian restaurant, bring your own wine/beer and go early because the locals love it too. We waited for about 20 minutes, and it was worth the wait. I had the garlic shrimp, and Matt had the chicken pad thai. Both were excellent. My shrimp was deep fried which I wasn’t expecting, but no matter because it was delish!
I started looking for a creperie about 10 seconds after we bought our tickets to go to Quebec, and Le Billig didn’t disappoint me. It is situated just outside the city wall on Rue Saint-Jean. The restaurant has an open layout so you could watch the chef craft your meal. There were lots of classic options on the menu filling both the sweet and savory sections with so many options it was hard for me to choose just one; so I didn’t I had one from each. If crepes aren’t your thing, Le Billig has other options on the menu. Heather ordered a crepe as well and she enjoyed hers a lot. If you still aren’t sold on Le Billig. Rue Saint Jean is loaded with restaurants; I am sure you could find something that will fit your fancy.
The Morrin Centre is a cultural centre in Quebec City and is designed to educate the public about the historical contribution and contemporary culture of local English-speakers. It is so much more than that; it is also home to one of my favorite tours in quite some time. The building started as the city jail, then transformed into a college and now is home to the only all English library in the province and the Historical Society of Quebec. Ben expertly led our tour through the remains of the prison while giving details about daily life and conditions. Then onto pieces of the college including the old science room which was most interesting. There he showed us an antique darkroom that was set up in the corner, a crazy periodic table of elements and finally some of the original electronic experiments. We moved on to the last part of our journey the main room of the library. This is one of those “Where’s Waldo” rooms, the more you look around, the more interesting things you will notice. I had a fantastic time at the Morrin Centre and would say it was the most interesting place I saw during our trip to Canada. Check out the Morrin Centre’s website for more information.
*Tip – If you are looking to link your visit to something familiar, and you like, mystery novels read “Bury Your Dead” by Louise Penny before you go.
The Montmorency Falls are a large waterfall on the Montmorency River just outside the city. Our journey there marked the only time we used our car while staying in QC. If you are looking for a nice size waterfall that is close and provides lots of accessible vantage points for viewing, then this one is for you. We walked all around the park that ran along the ridge of the falls and had a very pleasant experience. There is a Via Ferrata course we wish we had known about prior. Check their website for more information.
Just outside the park, we celebrated the conclusion of our QC time with an order of famous poutine. A mouthwatering local favorite of fries, brown gravy, and cheese curds. Yes, it was better than we expected. A perfect end to our time in Quebec City, Canada.
Logistics: Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport, also known as Jean Lesage International Airport (YQB) is situated on the edge of the city and is an easy taxi ride away from your hotel. Bus options exist, but the city isn’t really that large and I think you will find a taxi pretty reasonable. A flat rate exists to the downtown area, so traffic is not an issue if that is your destination.
Lodgings: We chose the Auberge Internationale de Québec hostel and were delighted with our choice. This is a large, well-kept hostel with everything you could be looking for, including a very helpful and friendly staff. We were walking distance from all of the things on our to-do list and were within the old city walls. It met all of our needs very well.
Money: Trade your currency for some loonies, the Canadian one dollar coin. You’ll probably want paper bills, but it’s just fun to say loonies. Exchange rates will apply, and fees can be applied to purchases with Credit and Debit Cards.
Cell Phones: Heads up – US phones will work in Canada, but expect to pay a very high price for service, especially data. Check your phone plans ahead of time and plan accordingly.
Recommendable: If I were to recommend Quebec City I would recommend visiting in the winter. I would love to experience the Hotel de Glace (Hotel made of ice) and the winter activities.
[Matthew: I felt like Canada was on the expensive side as a whole, so I wouldn’t recommend this for someone looking for a cheap vacation, but the people were fantastic, the food was delicious, and the city was safe and clean.]