If you are contemplating getting away for a few days, consider Quebec City as your destination. My husband and I have had the pleasure of visiting Quebec City, for our March break the past few years. As well, we just recently returned from Quebec City, as we decided we wanted to experience summer in what has become one of our favorite cities. My husband is fluent in french, and he loves being able to speak the french language, while we are there. I know enough french to get by, and the residents of Quebec really appreciate it when an effort is made to speak their language. As well as being helpful, it is fun to brush up on the french language before a visit, and surprisingly it is not all that difficult to learn a few words.
As you initially enter Quebec City, you are immediately taken back in history. You can not help but focus your attention on the stone walls, that were created so many years ago, to protect the residents from being attacked. Seeing the wall fortification is fascinating, and especially considering it is the only such baricade remaining in North America. The walls are just the beginning of the various sites to see in the city itself. There are numerous reminders of important historical events, scattered throughout the city. Quebec City looks remarkably European, with it's narrow streets, cobble stone sidewalks and old stone buildings, churches and shops one after the other, all in very close proximity to each other. There are boutiques, cafe's and Parisian type bistros lining the streets, several of which have little tables and umbrellas set out in front, while still others have tables set under large wide open old sash windows. It is a charming, mesmerizing and welcoming site. The St. Lawrence River and the Laurentian Mountains, provide the backdrop to this gorgeous setting. Each photograph taken of incredible Quebec City, looks like a picture perfect postcard!
If you have an interest in architecture you will not be disappointed, as practically every neighbourhood has something unique to offer. Commencing with the Chateau Frontenac, which is the most recognizable building in all of Quebec City. This enchanting, castle like structure has a commanding presence, and it is said to be one of the most photographed hotels in the world. It is interesting to see the complexion of Quebec City's historic architecture, combined with the growth and construction of the more recent contemporary buildings. A perfect illustration is the manner in which the century old Chateau Frontenac can coexist in the same city, with modern homes, hotels, malls and even a structure like the Ice Hotel. The Frontenac gives a visual of the designs taken from the Renaissance period with it's arches, towers, turrets and pediments and the other forms used to make up this amazing structure. The mixture of the period buildings, with the modern up to date dwellings, have merged together like pieces of a puzzle. The end result is a perfect fit. Quebec City's Ice Hotel, which is included in this scene, is one of the most fascinating architectural structures, completely unique to any city. The hotel, the bar, and the art gallery are all constructed entirely of ice. As well as the beds, the art work and pretty much everything else on site. This is a bona fide hotel where accomondations are available, during the winter months. The popularity of this hotel, continues to grow with each passing year. The fact that every winter the design of the hotel is different from the previous year, will keep it an especially intriguing attraction to visit.
The combination of the architecture, history and the many attractions in Quebec City make it a very appealing location to visit. There are several museums, art galleries and countless other attractions that add to the ambience of the area. On our most recent trip to Quebec City, we visited the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, for the first time. We were fortunate to tour the Clarence Gagnon special exhibit, being shown there presently., which we very much enjoyed. The museum itself is very well kept and has so much character.
There are also, many beautiful churches including the near by Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre, which is a world famous basilica. There are so many churches in and around the area of Quebec City, that visiting churches only, could keep you very busy. They range from very simple, to elaborate structures.
This region also has it's share of natural resources including Montmorency Falls, an amazing waterfall in one of the provincial parks. This waterfall which was named by the explorer Samuel de Champlain is actually higher than Niagara Falls. You can view it from a cable car, a bridge or a number of other possibilities. We viewed the Falls from the bridge, and it really is a spectacular site. I have recently learned that whale watching is another very popular activity that is available to take part in, while visiting the Quebec City area. There is a wide range of whale watching cruises offered by several operators. Depending on how long you wish to be gone and what it is you wish to accomplish, the choice will be yours on which cruise to book.
As mentioned above, there is a nice variety of attractions to keep you busy while in Quebec City. If you want a change of pace, a nice way to spend a day is to go antiquing. There are many very fine antique stores in Quebec City. Several of them are located on Rue St. Pierre and St.Paul. A great place to stay if you want to walk out of your hotel and be amongst all the antique shops and art galleries is the Hotel Dominion 1912. As well in the same vicinity, there is the St. Paul Hotel, the Priori, and one street over is the Auberge St. Antoine. The Hotel Dominion 1912 is very chic and relaxing, the winner of many international awards. The rooms are very lovely and the beds are a dream. Speaking of their beds, you can actually purchase their beds if you wish, as we did, as they really are the most comfortable beds. We enjoyed the Dominion's delicious breakfast (free of charge) every morning in their cozy lobby. We were quite surprised the first time we stayed there, at just how many choices there were at the breakfast buffet. Staying at the Hotel Dominion 1912, really made us feel like we were on vacation.
There are various other inviting hotels, inns and bed and breakfasts to choose from, situated in all parts of this terrific city, far too many to name each one. The month of February, during the Quebec Winter Carnival and the summer months of June, July and August usually are the busiest times of the year in Quebec City. If you are thinking of visiting during any of these time frames, I would suggest making reservations a few months before your trip, to ensure getting the hotel of your choice and one that best suits your needs. In my opinion, a hotel can either make or break a vacation. The more time spent beforehand checking into possible accomondations, the greater the chance that the hotel eventually chosen, will be exactly what you want as oppossed to arriving there and finding one surprise after the other. I have found the Trip Advisor site extremely beneficial, and it is actually where we first learned of the Hotel Dominion 1912.
As far as restaurants, it is very impressive to see the multitude of restaurants sprinkled in every corner of Quebec City. Many of the restaurants have patios, where still others have tables set in front of wide-open old fashioned type windows. You will have your choice of restaurants to choose from, some more expensive than others, as well as some more formal than others. The residents of Quebec City take enormous pride in serving you the most delightful meal, whether it be as simple as a sandwich or an elaborate gourmet dinner. Every type of food is available, from the obvious French Canadian cooking to a variety of other imaginable flavors. If you are in Quebec City during their peak season I would highly recommend dinner reservations. Usually your hotel concierge can help with this. As well, the concierge at your hotel can give you advice on restaurants that are within walking distance, of where you are staying. Many hotels have menus at their front desk from restuarants around the city, which we found to be very helpful. You can not venture too far without coming across a cafe or informal restaurant of some kind, if you wish to eat on the fly. I can say with all honesty that I have never had a meal in Quebec City that I did not enjoy. To finish up my thoughts on the restaurants in Quebec City, there are so many with such diverse menus, even the most skilled food expert will be inspired. There are enough restaurants in the city, someone could spend their entire vacation just investigating one restaurant after the other. I must make mention of Panache. It is a fabulous restaurant in every way, and I am still thinking about the amazing meal we had there a few weeks ago!
Shopping is another way to occupy an afternoon or day while in Quebec City, and is by no means limited to the antique stores that I have mentioned earlier. I have found Quebec City to be a terrific place to shop. I love shopping for clothes, jewelry and accessories in the many fine boutiques. The fashions are very chic, and it is great to pick up a few items that no one else will have back home. If you are looking for furniture there are a variety of shops to choose from. Depending on your taste and budget, they range from the typical every day type of decor, to high end merchandise. We usually set a budget that will allow us to bring home (or ship, depending on size) at least one distinctive piece of furniture, as well as a few other unusual smaller objects. I particularily enjoy shopping in Quebec City due to the outstanding artisans in the area, and their special talents never cease to amaze me. Quite a few of the boutique type stores sell articles made by local craftsmen and artists. At these particular stores you will discover everything from jewelry, artwork, clothing, glass items, woolens and numerous other choices, all made in or around the Quebec City area. I truly admire the workmanship and great attention to detail the local artists put into their creations. I always look forward to bringing home a few whimsical items I find with each visit. I would also recommed picking up a favorite piece of original artwork, from one of the many talented painters in the area.
In keeping with the theme of shopping, one of the most wonderful areas to shop in Quebec City is the Rue de Petit Champlain. Apparently, it is one of the oldest shopping districts in North America. I love this little street and I can not imagine a visit to Quebec City without at least an afternoon spent strolling along this lovely area. There is an interesting mix of boutiques that sell jewelry (some of it from France), glass and crystal, artwork, scarves, chocolate, maple syrup, soap and so much more. The street itself has a real European flare to it. There is also a little park in the middle of the street, if you wish to sit and relax for a moment. Additionally, there are several malls in the Quebec City area if you are looking for something to do on a rainy day. The malls are very bright, clean and have a combination of the regular stores you find in malls, plus a few stores that are unique to Quebec. One afternoon we spent a few hours shopping, and in that time span we went to three different malls, as they are all right next to one another.
I would like to briefly mention a few other highlites from our recent trip. Visitng Sillery, Ile d'Orleans, J.A. Moisan (oldest grocery store in North America, it was fabulous!), Le Crac (amazing health food store), and shopping on St. Joseph Street.
There is a great deal more to experience in this wonderful city. This review has given you a few of my favorites in the city, and I am quite certain if you travel to this location you will have your own favorites.
Until my next visit, I will think back to one of the prettiest and most memorable views....gazing at the twinkling lights of the magical Chateau Frontenac, in the evening sky.
Thank you for reading my review on Quebec City!!