“Bonjour! Hello! Hi!” – all acceptable ways to greet someone in Quebec City, as told to us by many, many locals. It’s been a while since I’ve posted, said no blogger ever. Ha! A rainy day off will inspire you…
We wanted to do a weekend trip to Canada while here in Vermont and Quebec won out over Montreal as recommended by others – it just sounded more to our taste: low key, walkable, on the water, historic, nice people who don’t mind if you don’t speak French. It was about a five hour drive from our current home base in Vermont, so I took the afternoon off and we headed north, passports in hand.
Upon arriving at our hotel, the Manoir Victoria we were told they had good news and bad news for us: they had overbooked BUT they were putting us up in the super-fancy imposing landmark Le Chateau Frontenac hotel for the night. Just 1/2 mile or so away, we nonetheless took up their offer of a free cab ride (the cabby laughed at us for not walking) as we had our bags, were tired etc. First, though, we got a recommendation for a nearby parking lot where we could park our very large truck–only about 30 bucks for two nights in the old city, so not bad.
We loved the IDEA of staying in the Frontenac but in the end, it was a bit too crowded, touristy and impersonal for us. We really appreciated our smaller, more personal hotel – and the fact that they more than made good on the overbooking error. We did enjoy taking some pics in front of the Frontenac the next day – tourist style.
As far as itinerary for our one full day, it was pretty simple-eat and walk.
The walking first. There is much to see in the old city, and we were lucky with great weather. Just soaking up the sounds of the French and immersing yourself in hundreds of years of history is a treat. I feel like I finally got an in-your-face explanation of why the French and British hated each other that hitherto I’d only experienced “up close” in the movie Master & Commander (that Ben makes me watch again and again.) We found a couple of good walking routes online (e.g. here), and referred to them occasionally as we just did a loop around the old city.
The loop continued around to the Parliament building, the “Plains of Abraham” – site of THE battle that ended French rule, but not presence! And an effort to do a little antique browsing.
And to the eating…. We had a bit of a time finding a place the first night as by the time we moved hotels it was almost nine. And the first place we sought out (via Yelp) was closed and out of business when we got there. I am torn between making reservations and going with the flow on trips like this, as either can work well or backfire. Our experience the first night led me to make a reservation for night two at Patente et Machin in the St. Roch neighborhood (walkable from Old City, but we took an Uber back.) and I was glad I did as it was a delish meal that got us out of the old city and into an adjacent neighborhood.I found it in NYT 36 hours in Quebec City. We also enjoyed breakfast at Le Cochon Dingue and crispy time at Sapristi, both in the Old City.
Though at times we were literally overrun by crowds of tourists (with selfie sticks, packed together, struggling to keep up with their guides) you couldn’t help but appreciate everyone’s joy to be in this beautiful city. And you hear this all the time, but it bears reinforcing: many locals expressed their appreciation for the fact that we at least tried to speak French. Even if it was just: “Parlez-vous anglais?” There is no excuse with all the apps out there. Bucket list for me: learn another language. It’s like a secret world. Hold me to it please.
Before heading home, we took a quick side trip to Parc de la Chute-Montmorency, less than 10 miles outside of Quebec City. Higher than Niagara! Lovely in the fall…mashed with tourists, so go early in the day. Follow the signs to Manoir Montmorency for parking.
Au revoir, bonsoir, that is all- for now!