Quebec City is a picturesque city with a European Feel. The cobblestone streets and french architecture give it an old time romantic feel. Quebec City is easily accessible from New England, and offers a cultural experience different than what exists within the walls of the US of A. It was great for a quick fall baecation, but would really be great for anyone to visit.
Time of Visit: Early October 2018. We spent roughly 3 days, and 3 nights, which was a great amount of time. Enough to cover a lot of things, and want to return for more, but not too much time. We went as part of an overall trip itinerary consisting of :
Quebec–> Montreal –> Burlington VT
- Monday – Day 1:
- Early Morning
- Leave Boston Area – Drive to Quebec City
- Arrive in Quebec City – Took around 6 or 7 hours to drive.
- Went straight to Montmorency Falls
- Checked into Air BnB, Walked around Found somewhere for a Cheese Plate & a Drink
- Dinner @Simple Snack Sympathique
- Early Morning
- Tuesday Day 2:
- Breakfast @ La Maison Smith
- Musee de la Civilisation
- Walked around – Had a Snack and a Drink
- Drink @ Artefact
- Late Afternoon/Evening
- Food tour
- Wednesday Day 3 :
- Pictures @ The Frontenac
- LL’Orleans Tour
- Dinner @ Lapin Saute
- Thursday Day 4:
- Depart for Montreal
Montmorency Falls – Definitely something to check out. This is a waterfall that is even higher than Niagara Falls. We parked at the nearby McDonalds and pretty much breezed in and breezed out. There are hiking/waking trails, biking, and a zipline so you could definitely spend a good amount of time here if desired. The pictures above don’t really do it justice in terms of size. There is a draw bridge at the top of the waterfall, which is where we walked on and where the photos are from.
Musee de la civilisation– Good place to kill some time during an afternoon. It is basically a collection of miscellaneous interesting cultural objects. The items consisted of everything from old school IMacs to old household appliances to clothing from movies or tv shows. While we were there they had a big exhibit on London, and a big exhibit on Canadian Native Tribes, both of which were cool.
Evening Food Tour: Often as I’m traveling, and go on tours, I find myself amongst a squad of retirees. This tour was no different. Food/walking tours are a great and fun way to see cities and eat local cuisine. This one was definitely worth it. Each spot included a glass of wine and a partial meal, and capped off with dessert. The local tour guides were great and each place was ready for us when we got there so there was not waiting. They give a good amount to eat so it’s enough for dinner. If you are a vegetarian like me you can get slightly gipped in comparison to the meat eater meals, but it was still great! The specific tour we took was the Evening Gourmet Food Tour through HQ Tourism Services.
- Sapristi – Italian place, wish we got back here for a full meal
- Tournebroche – Cool locally sourced place w/ a beehive
- Chez Muffy – Really cool loft interior, high end farm to table
- Le Continental – French cuisine where they cook the meals right in front of you
- Cafe La Maison Smith – Brownie and Coffee Drink for Dessert
Ile d’Orléans: LL’Orleans is an island a couple of miles from Quebec City. It was an interesting place – fairly insular and rural feeling, a lot of farms. There is one road that goes around the entire island, which spans a total of 73 square miles. We did a tour of it, which was worth doing to check it out and get out of town. A lot of old style English and French houses that were cool to look at and painted bold colors, but it was hard to get pictures of them from the bus. It wasn’t totally one of the tours when they drop you off to different places to buy things, but it kind of was. The tour stops were all good, and pretty quick. Mainly a get in and get out situation. A lot of beautiful autumn scenery. There were a couple of people on the tour who were from the South and were totally electrified by the foliage. They took a million pictures and even took some leaves to bring home with them. Highlights from the tour were trying the Ice Wine and Ice Cider for the first time and the Black Currant place.
- Chocolate Place
- Ice Wine Sampling
- Ice Cider Sampling
- Taffy Sample
- Black Currant Wine Vineyard
Old Quebec/Le Petit Champlain: Walk around and see the many shops and restaurants
Break Neck Stairs: These separate the lower town from the upper town. There are a couple of ways to get up there, using the Funicular, or walking up the hill.
Frontenac: The Frontenac is kind of the Pinnacle Image of Quebec City. It is a historic hotel. The area in front of it has a lot of tour bus activity. You can go inside the lobby of the hotel but that’s about it.
So many good things to eat and drink were had, so I could mention many more. Here are the one’s that really stood out. One thing I noticed when eating in Quebec City is that the portion sizes seemed smaller than in the U.S. we never ended up disgustingly full.
Artefact: Cool spot for a drink – there are window cases in the walls that display literal “artifacts”
Lapin Saute: The specialty of this place was rabbit, which as a pescetarian, I do NOT endorse. However, they had a great menu and other options, and the meal was delicious.
La Maison Smith: Basically a nice cafe chain. This place offered us reliable and good breakfast service. We ended up going here a couple of times out of convenience in the morning for a quick bite on the way to things.
Must Try Foods/Drinks
Poutine: Pretty obvious – Canadians love poutine. French fries covered in gravy and cheese curds. We didn’t go too crazy with getting poutine and the ones we had didn’t change my life, but a must do while in Canada.
Black Currant Wine: On one of the stops on the LL’Orleans tour there was a winery that made wine out of Black Currants. SO GOOD. Pretty sweet and smooth.
Iced Wine and Iced Cider: Wine or Cider that is made with frozen grapes or apples. Taste is very sweet – pretty similar to Mead.
Honorable Mention: Goes to “Bloody Cesars” – which were often on the menus instead of Blood Mary’s. Pretty similar but I think the distinction is that Bloody Cesars have clamato juice.
Location: We stayed in an AirBNB on Rue du Sault-au-Matelot which was a good location in the lower part of town near old Quebec. There was more action in terms of restaurants/bars up the hill to the upper part of town which was kind of a pain to walk up, but it wasn’t far. If I had to do it over again, I might consider staying in the upper part of town near Rue Saint Jean, but either location works just fine.
Getting In: It was like completing a maze to find this place, and then get in. The streets are narrow and cobblestone pedestrian streets, so it didn’t seem like we should even be driving on the street this was on. We drove by once or twice looking for the parking spot as it didn’t seem there was anywhere on the street to park. About the third time through after checking the pictures, there was an archway in one of the buildings that we drove through to get to the narrow parking area in the back – pics above.
Pros/Cons: Super modern, well designed and clean, and had an excellent shower. Floors had Radiant Heat which was also awesome. *Petty Note: it grinds my gears when there is no generic shampoo or conditioner in the shower @AirBnBs. 5 times out of 10 I forget to bring my own so its just always annoying to have to make an extra trip to the store. .
Miscellaneous Things to Know:
Language: Quebec City is a French speaking area, so obviously there was a lot of French speaking, but everyone spoke english as well.
No ATMS: I took 0 cash out, which wasn’t an issue mostly. The only time we needed it was when attempting to go up the Funicular (a short ride that takes you from the lower part of the city up to the Frontenac), as they only took cash. There are basically NO ATMS to be found. We googled for an ATM and there were none even a half mile from where we were, and we were in the middle of Quebec City. We asked around at different local stores and had basically no luck so we gave up. If we walked further we could have gotten to one, but it just wasn’t worth the effort.
Canadian Holidays: The day before we left we realized day one of the trip was Canadian Thanksgiving. Didn’t turn out to be a big deal as we got there a little later in the afternoon, and most things were still open. But still, Canadian holidays are something to keep in mind.
Weather: Weather was not great when we were there. It rained pretty much every day. Some days the temperature was alright, but it was mostly chilly and a little windy. Fall in general seems like a good time to visit, while the foliage is still in action, and before it gets freezing out. Seemed like it was hitting the downtime in terms of tourist season. There were plenty of people around but no big crowds.
Tipping: A pal recently asked about tipping customs in Quebec city, and I honestly can’t even remember but I don’t recall tipping anything significantly different than in the U.S. This was contrary to what I believed about French Canadian tipping practices as I worked in a restaurant in NH a couple of summers and a lot of French Canadians would visit and they often barely tipped. As a general practice I will ask a tour guide or a bartender or similar to confirm the tipping practices when I go somewhere.
On the cost spectrum I would rate this trip as not bad at all. Especially since we drove, there were no big plane ticket or transportation expense. The exchange rate worked in our favor, the AirBnB was reasonable and we didn’t do any bank breaking activities. The most expensive thing was the Food Tour which was around $115 a person. Obviously drinking and eating out for every meal can add up, but what we ended up spending seemed reasonable and cheaper for what the same thing would have been in Boston.
- Lodging: 3 Nights of AirBnB @ $175 = $525
- Activities : $363
- Dinner Food Tour: $115 X 2 + Tip = $250
- LL’Orleans Tour: $35 X 2 + Tip = $90
- Musee de la civilisation: $11.50 X 2 = $23
- Food/Restaurants/Drinks: $635.00
- Shopping (Snacks, Wine, etc) : $20
- Total: $1523 for 3 days, 3 Nights w/ 2 people. So about $750 per person which doesn’t seem bad
Was it Worth It? Absolutely! Great experience, I would recommend going when in the market for a European like adventure, and some French vibes.