Old Quebec City is magical. Especially in the winter when it turns into the perfect winter wonderland. This is also a city in which I have deep family ties. Being born in Quebec and spending most Christmases in this city has me gushing with excitement to share with you my favorite things to do while in the old city. Follow this quick guide while in Quebec to experience some of the best this quaint city has to offer.
Getting to and from Quebec City can be tricky. Most flights into Quebec tend to be either pricy or you will probably have to take a lay-over flight. I hate lay-overs. The best thing to do is to fly into Montreal and take the train into Old Town Quebec. The VIA Rail is 100% better than being stuck on another plane. We paid a little extra money and got the business class seats which included booze, a meal, coffee and tables for us to work on. The service was phenomenal and the snowy sights made us so excited to be in Canada.
Stay at the Hotel Le Priori in the heart of the very walk-able Petit Champlain district. A tasty breakfast is included as well as coffee and free bottles of water all day in the lobby (which is difficult to come by these days). I cannot say enough positive words about the staff here. I am truly impressed by the hospitality of this little boutique hotel in the center of it all.
Once you are all settled, ride the Funiculaire, a rail-elevator that will take you from the base of the mountain up to the deck of Chateau Frontenac. It costs just a couple dollars and is worth skipping the icy stairs. To top it off, the view is fantastic!
The Chateau Frontenac is said to be the most photographed hotel in the world. Many people think this beautiful landmark once was a real castle. Truth is, this hotel was originally built in the late 19th century to accommodate the popularity of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Since then, there have been many expansions to create this large Canadian gem. Today, it is managed by Fairmont and rooms can be booked starting at around $200 a night.
While you are at the top of the hill, enjoy sights of the St. Lawrence River and some great boutique shopping in. There is also an endless amount of dining and drinking along the cobble stone streets. I just love how easy it is to get around here.
La Pizz is just steps away from your hotel, Le Priori. A great spot to stop in for lunch and grab a pizza for two. The pizzas are wonderfully crafted, thin and warm after a day walking around in the snow. Grab a tall beer or a home made tiramisu to warm up before heading out for more winter fun.
Pub des Borgia sits at the base of the funiculaire. Due to it's central location this is quite a touristy pub however, this cave-like tavern is a perfect place to stop in and sit by the fire. Enjoy a beautifully toasted "Soup a l'ongion" or french onion soup. They also have a great selection of local beers on tap as well as "vin chaud" or hot wine to warm your bones.
Another warm and cozy pub is just a short walk up the hill. Stop in and have a car bomb at Pub St. Patrick , for an authentic Irish feel. Fun fact, 15% of Canadians come from an Irish decent, making an Irish pub in Canada quite common. The St. Patrick menu is packed with some serious gastro-pub eats including salmon tartar and a burger topped high with brie and cranberries.
Cochon Dingue is the perfect spot from sun up to sun down. With a fairly extensive menu you can stick to something you know or try some Parisian bistro traditions. The original Cochon Dingue is located right in the Petit Champlain district has been around since 1979. We had the Duck Poutine and the traditional french style Croque-Monsieur. If you have a sweet tooth, they also make some incredible treats including the Quebecois classic, a Maple Sugar Pie served with vanilla ice cream.
You'll be surprised at how many incredible historic sites you will cross on your way around town. One of the most special things we did while we were in Quebec City was to experience a Roman Catholic mass in one of the oldest churches in North America. Originally built in 1687, this small church is adorned with some of the most beautiful gold architecture I have ever seen. Notre Dame Des Victoires is a must-see.
Another unique thing to experience in Historic Old Quebec is to hop on a horse-drawn carriage. They will provide plenty of blankets to keep you warm and take you on the quaintest tour of any city you've ever seen.
Are you heading to Quebec soon? Email me at email@example.com and I'd be happy to answer any questions or give any kind of advice. The possibilities are endless in Old Quebec!
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