Do you want to know why you should visit Québec City?
Bear with me here, as it may take a moment for me to answer.
I just THINK the word, “Québec” and I am immediately flooded with happy feelings.
I may sigh a little and wish that I could hold your hand tightly, hoping that through the force of squeezing your fingers, you would begin to FEEL just how much I love this region in Canada.
Québec City IS MAGICAL!
I can list countless places to see that will take your breath away; hundreds of things to do that will spark your imagination and make you believe in the goodness of people; millions of foods to eat that will make you want to cry because your everyday diet will pale in desperate comparison.
But Québec City is much more than all of that…
Everyone talks about how the region feels European, as if that alone is reason enough for its allure. Visitors say that going to Québec is “like going to Europe without having to fly to get there!”
While true, these kinds of statements don’t do its magnetism or individuality justice.
Yes, there IS an old-world feeling to Québec City and its environs. It is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, rich in an intangible cultural legacy.
The surrounding landscapes are marked with wild beauty and rolling, abundant farms. The Québec province is known for its diverse and exceptional agricultural products. You will be tempted to stock up on its cheeses, wines, breads, and maple syrup.
Colonial French stone architecture and colorful Mansard roofed-homes sit side-by-side with beautifully engineered modern wood, glass, and steel structures. You can see the centuries pass as you walk down any street or visit any farm.
Listen and you will hear a distinct style of French being spoken. Around 50% of Québec’s residents are also bilingual (Frommers, 2018), making it an easy place for visitors from English-speaking countries to navigate.
And with all of that, Québec City is wholly its own; an amalgam of rich First Nation, French, British, & modern influences.
It’s uniqueness has a quality that will affect you entirely; you will feel as if you have come alive again.
Why do we go to Québec City year after year?
The Safety & Comfort
Politeness rules the day in Québec City and across Canada. Canadians are known for their courteousness and congeniality. (There is a legitimate truth behind that oft-characterization.)
The Province of Quebec has the lowest crime rate in all of North America, and is home to one of the safest metropolitan regions in Canada. As family travellers, we feel at ease in the city and in the surrounding countryside. Locals always say, “Bonjour!” and make eye contact in a non-threatening way. It is customary to greet friends with a double air-kiss to the cheeks.
Of course, common sense around safety is always in order. We navigate the region with our cell phones and mobile-based apps. Many US-based unlimited cell phone plans extend into Québec without roaming fees. We have let our teens navigate Québec’s Old City (Vieux Québec) on their own and we stay in touch via IM. Open WiFi networks are everywhere and are the best way to stay connected with your friends and family.
We appreciate the hospitality that extends beyond the hotels and restaurants. We have made friends in the region, as we travel there at least two times per year. The city is easy to navigate by foot, by car, rideshare, or by public transport.
The Food & Culture
At any time of the year, Québec is host to countless music, art, and food festivals. The city is filled with museums, restaurants, and galleries that beckon locals and visitors alike.
Over ONE weekend this past summer, we visited three major events in the city: the KWEI Festival celebrating aboriginal and indigenous people of Canada, the Flip Fabrique Circus just outside of the newly opened Grand Marché, and the Musée des Beaux Arts. The Musée played host to one of the world’s largest shows about Spanish Artist Joan Miró and was not to be missed. Its sister museum, the Musée de la Civilisation featured a spectacular exhibition of previously undiscovered colonial artifacts alongside its permanent collection. We adore the Aquarium du Québec – home to indigenous animals from land and sea, including a very large, whistling Walrus (“le morse” in French) named Boris, and a highly interactive display of sea rays.
Québec’s Carnaval is the highlight of the winter season. The city comes alive with hundreds of snow-centered activities, from axe throwing and log rolling, to maple sugar-on-snow and enormous ice castles. Carnaval is the largest winter festival in the world. The Night Parades alone are worth the trip, and feature the avuncular Bonhomme De Neige snowman, and the circus and acrobatic stylings that Québec province is famous for.
The food of Québec is an attraction in itself. Just 10 minutes from downtown Québec sits the Île d’Orléans, home to some of the region’s best produce, wine, bread, cheese, and maple syrup. Take a drive around the island and stop in for free tastings and tours with the producers.
Learn everything you need to know about where to eat in Québec City, and the stories of the local farmers and chefs on Youtube at Foodie Quebec. Watch as local broadcaster and writer Allison Van Rassel shares her tips about the cuisine of Québec. Her warm manner and journalistic style help showcase the best food stories of the region. Read her weekly roundups at her Foodie Quebec website.
Québec hosts a wide range of accommodations – from small boutique hotels and B&Bs, to AirBnBs apartment rentals, and the world-famous luxury hotel, Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac.
As Québec is an immensely walkable city, and small bakeries, cafés, and grocery stores are around every corner, (even in the Old City), we highly recommend apartment rentals for those travelling with large parties. If you are in the Old City, there is plenty of inexpensive overnight parking, as most AirBnBs do not have parking as part of their fee. Find out more about where you can park here.
AirBnB has a large variety of rentals to choose from at every budget. You can see the listings right on their website. The pricing allows large groups to travel and stay together on a budget, and for you to try your hand at cooking up some of the regional specialties.
For mid-priced hotels, we love the Le Hotel Vieux-Québec (HVQ). Its rooftop gardens and beehives are lovely to see in the summer, and its own produce is used at the in-house restaurant, Bistro Tournebroche. The hotel stay includes a hearty breakfast that comes in a basket delivered to your door. HVQ is centrally located in the Old City and the street outside perfect for people-watching year-round.
We enjoyed Hotel Chateau Laurier, just outside of the walls to the Old City. Walk out of the back doors onto the Plains of Abraham to take in some fresh air, incredible views, and a bit of local history, or make your way into the adjacent tony neighborhood of Montcalm. There you will find museums, local bistros and wine shops that will welcome you like a local.
If you want to splurge, Le Chateau Frontenac is singular and boasts the best view of the Saint Lawrence River AND some of the finest restaurants in the Old City. The rooms are beautifully appointed and the beds are heavenly. Its room service menu is hands-down our family favorite. We still talk about the pasta with cream and local cured ham, and the pizza made from brioche dough and Charlevoix cheeses.
For more information about all-things-Québec, go to the Québec City Website. Not only is it a WEALTH of information, but also serves as a portal to start a live chat with someone who can help you with any questions you may have.
We would love to hear your tips about visiting Québec City and what you have enjoyed in your travels! Bon Vacances!
-Kristin et Famille
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