48 hours in Quebec City
Last month Hubby and I took a 3 night trip to Quebec City, Canada in order to stay one night in the ice hotel just outside the city. The other two nights we stayed deep in the heart of Old Quebec at the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac. It’s easy to see why Old Quebec City is a UNESCO world heritage site complete with city walls, a citadel, and a funicular.
Staying at the Chateau Frontenac makes everything quite convenient. We bundled up and set off on foot to wander around the town. First stop, the Basilica-Cathedral Notre-Dame de Québec. This imposing structure is the crown jewel of a small square and sits across from the town hall. It seemed rather small for a basilica from the outside. A major ceiling restoration was underway during our visit, however, we were still able to enter and get a fantastic view of the main altar. I’m not normally that into visiting churches, but, WOW! The altar area was one to remember. Not a long visit, but worth the stop.
After that we wandered closer to the St. Lawrence river and found the La Petit Champlain area. It may be a tourist trap, but we thought it was wonderful. It’s a few clustered blocks of small pedestrian walkways with shops and restaurants throughout. It seems that the area doesn’t start to get busy until around lunch time, so as we wandered through the are before lunch, we almost had the streets to ourselves. One little square area still had a Christmas tree up in the center. Seeking warmth, we happened upon a store that had some incredible chocolat chaud (hot chocolate). I speak enough french to order food, get direction and apologize, so it was fun to try it out. Most everyone speaks english too, but don’t mind if you try fumbling with French intermittently.
One souvenir I knew I wanted to go home with was maple syrup. Over 80% of the worlds maple syrup comes from this area of Canada. Since we were the only ones inside the little maple syrup shop the sales girl gave us a great education in the harvest season, maple syrup varieties and other maple products. Anyone interested in maple butter, maple caramel or maple taffy? Yum. Another great shop had sculptures made from local Quebec stones. As we wandered around the shops a light snow started to fall and it was truly magical.
In case you didn’t know, the people of Quebec eat rabbit. It could be the French influence, I have no idea. Lapin Saute is a small charming restaurant that sits in the middle of La Petit Champlain. Lapin means rabbit in french. We were seated at a cozy table for two right in front of the fireplace after they placed our heavy winter coats away in the back hallway. At the recommendation of the waiter we had some great local beers. For lunch I had a twist on the traditional sheperd’s pie made with rabbit and bacon. When Hubby saw his salmon dish (yes, he ordered fish at a rabbit restaurant…wierd) he was feeling a little order envy. While his food was excellent, he was glad the sheperd’s pie was large enough to share.
Speaking of food, we decided to take a food tour on our last afternoon in Canada. Be smarter than we were and always try to do a food tour on the first day of your trip. You’ll have lots of restaurants, food and drinks you can try out during the rest of your stay. Our food tour guide was a lovely lady named Jacqueline and there were only 2 other people on the tour. Most food tours include a little bit of history and architecture as you are walking from one restaurant or shop to the next, and this tour was no different. I like to think that you are getting 2 tours for the price of one.
We had 7 different stops and lots of cuisine that was unique to Quebec or Canada. Having been on a few food tours before, this one had more walking. It made me really feel like she was taking us to the best spots, not just ones that were convenient. Some of the things we tried… Poutine is french fries with gravy and cheese curds. I hate gravy, but I loved poutine. Caribou is a red liquor made of whiskey, red wine and other spirits. It tasted a little like Sangria, but you can’t get Caribou in the states. Black pudding is sheep’s blood sausage and actually wan’t all bad. We had some of the thinest crepes I’ve ever eaten. There was a maple syrup store visit and we had the opportunity to try a lot of different things.
One of the most interesting things on the tour was the explanation of Quebec and it’s involvement in assisting the bee population. Almost every hotel in town has a bee hive on it’s roof, along with gardens in order to be as farm to table as they can. Quebec City was one of the first places to ban pesticide use of any kind. We tasted some honey right off the comb that had hints of lavender due to being close to that herb on the rooftop. I’m not usually a big fan of the honey that comes in the bear at my local grocery store, but the tastes we had in Quebec City were excellent.
Our food tour had us walking around Quebec City for about 3 hours. We were done by about 6pm and so full, there was no way we were going to have dinner. Add to that, the fact that we had slept in an ice hotel the night before, we were done for the day. We enjoyed the Fairmont hotel and all it had to offer before traveling home the next day. Quebec City was a fabulous place that made me feel like we were somewhere in Europe. Although we had to make 2 connections in order to get there. We definitely want to visit Quebec City again, maybe even with our kids in tow.
Note: This post was not sponsored in any way, although we used all kinds of points and miles to make the trip affordable. I’ve shared those methods here. As always, all opinions are my own.