Quebec – Canada’s Magical City
After Toronto, next up for Samira and I was Quebec City. Located on the northern bank of the St. Lawrence River Quebec City is about a 2.5-3 hour drive from Montreal (about 4.5-5 hours from Ottawa). Even in the rain, Quebec city proved to be an absolutely enchanting and magical stop on our tour. Rain or shine, prepare to be wrapped up in the atmosphere of cobblestone streets, brightly coloured buildings and the roaming horse and carriages.
As a tourist, it is absolutely best if you can find lodging in Old Quebec, the heart of the cities historic district. Samira and I stayed in Hotel Louisbourg, which was $110/night for a private room with ensuite bathroom, including free wi-fi, taxes and parking. If you won’t have a car with you, deduct $20 per night for parking. The hotel is less than a 5 minute walk from Chateau Frontenac and located on a street lined with shops and restaurants. There is no reception at this hotel, so you have to check in at Hotel Acadia, it’s sister hotel, located just around the corner. You also need to use the phone at the entrance to Hotel Louisbourg to arrange parking (it is valet, so you call when you want your car or when it is ready for drop off, be prepared to wait around 5 minutes). What you need to know about this hotel, that I didn’t notice on Expedia, is that there is no elevator, so if you are staying on the 4th floor (which we were) you will have to carry your bags up four flights of stairs. All in all though, Hotel Louisbourg is in a fantastic location and is affordable for two people to split. Just be aware that there is no front desk and no elevator so this hotel won’t be for everyone. The hotel does have an ice machine, but it is located on the second floor, so be prepared to go up four floors to get your bucket, down two to get ice and back up two to get back to your room. Your legs are in for a workout. Consider yourself warned.
Chateau Frontenac is gorgeous, just like every picture of Old Quebec promises. Spectacular during both day and night.
The Citadelle is worth a visit too. Guided tours take 1 hour and cost $10/person including taxes. This fortress, a world heritage site has had some buildings converted into museums but is also still an active military base. It is also the home of the Vimy Cross that was given to Canada by France.
La Citadelle also offers you wonderful views of Vieux Quebec, Chateau Frontenac and the St. Lawrence River.
The fortifications located here in Old Quebec are the only remaining fortified walls in Canada or the United States.
Old Quebec is flooded with unique boutiques and souvenir shops as well as the odd retail chain you will recognize. Shopping can eat up hours of your day if you let it.
And don’t miss out on the Funiculaire. For $2 each way you can ride down to Rue Champlain from the Chateau Frontenac terrace and enjoy even more shopping and exploring.
If you have an extra hour or two, be sure to make your way to Montmorency Falls. A 15 minute drive from Old Quebec will get you to the park. There is an entrance fee into the park of $10.75/car. Everything around the falls is completely accessible by foot.
There is a very large staircase for those wanting the challenge or you can travel by Gondola (for a fee) from ground level up to the waterfall level. Don’t let pictures on-line fool you, it doesn’t take you as close to the falls as you may originally think. Note my pictures below. For people who have been to Niagara Falls or Iguazu Falls, this will seem tame and perhaps less than impressive. But Montmorency Falls is beautiful in it’s own right and is actually taller than Niagara Falls.
From the waterfall level, you can get right up next to the falls or make your way to the suspension bridge for an elevated view not for the faint of heart.
You will also be able to enjoy a lovely view of the St. Lawrence River from the park…as well as my very fancy Moose Mitts that I purchased.
As wonderful as Old Quebec is, the rest of Quebec City is much like any other Canadian city. You can find shopping centres, movie theatres and everything else you’d expect. Just remember if you are wanting to see a movie in English, it wouldn’t hurt to call ahead and make sure the movie you are wanting to see is actually playing in English… 🙂
With that being said though, I speak hardly any French at all and didn’t find my speaking English to be a roadblock on our visit to Quebec City. Everyone we encountered spoke enough English to help us get by and were helpful in doing so. So don’t let the idea of a language barrier turn you off.
In my opinion, if you’ve never made it to Quebec’s capital city, you should definitely put it on your “To Do” list.
Thanks for reading!