Hello friends and a very happy weekend to you! Today we’re going on a field trip. Out of the country. Yep. We’re headed to Old Quebec City in Canada. You in?
Jon and I went last weekend, had a great time and I want to tell you all about it. Old Quebec City is steeped in history and was a fantastic way to spend a long weekend. It’s the closest thing to Europe without hopping a plane.
A different culture, cobbled streets, pastry shops, bon jour and au revoir. While much of the U.S. is basking in spring sunshine right now, Jon and I are just thawing out from our tundra trip north.
I’m not kidding. Lucky for us Old Quebec City is only five and a half hours north. But the temperature was SO much colder. Thankfully we’d checked the weather and were prepared for the frigid. So hey, let’s go!
We drove in on a Thursday evening, arrived at dusk. They’d just had a fresh snow fall of nearly a foot, making the narrow streets that much narrower! We had mucho trouble parking at our B & B (read: Jon had to grab a shovel and clear out a parking space. Apparently all hands on deck!) Snow was everywhere, and we saw (and heard) snow removal trucks working all over the city. We quickly realized the easiest way to get around is on foot, especially with the tight parking situation. Fortunately we didn’t experience any falling ice!
That first night we happened on an authentic creperie not far from where we stayed. Ham, asparagus and swiss cheese crepes! Delish.
The next day we explored the old walled city. Pictured above is the Basilica de Notre Dame.
This imposing building is the Seminary of Quebec.
I seriously can’t believe how steep the hills were in Old Quebec City. Oh my word. We must have climbed a billion and a half stairs just to get to the base of Chateau de Frontenac, the premier hotel of the city.
Chateau de Frontenac originally opened in 1893 and is built above the wall overlooking the St. Lawrence River.
Here’s the view just in front of Chateau de Frontenac looking out.
Jon spied this sign for toboggan rides. Asked me if I wanted to go. I used my manners, said no thank you. Then changed my mind after seeing his crestfallen face. 🙂
See that hill? We climbed it, pulled our toboggan to get to the top. Truth: I only climbed. Jon pulled the toboggan.
And here’s the view from the top of the slide! There were brakes underneath the floor of the slide holding the toboggans in place. We somehow managed to get our rope stuck around the brake underneath and had to get off and untangle it. Leave it to us. Ha ha. The toboggan went 40 mph going down and I was terrified. Sort of. It felt just like a rollercoaster. Of course Jon was thrilled. (He loves rollercoasters.) Me, not so much. The view helped. Chateau de Frontenac towered on the left and the mostly frozen St. Lawrence River to the right.
We skipped the stairs on the way down, took the Funiculaire, an enclosed outdoor glass elevator instead. This was our incredible view through the window going down.
And here’s the view looking back up. It was super steep.
So why did we take a ferry to cross the St. Lawrence River? To get to the other side of course. (Also a famous chocolate shop.) 🙂
The ferry pushed through snow and ice on the St. Lawrence River and we had a great view of Chateau de Frontenac from the top deck.
Then we climbed another billion and a half stairs up the bank on the other side to Chocolats Favoris, where all the locals apparently stock up on gourmet chocolate! Score.
Every chocolate known to man (woman and child) underneath that immaculate glass case!
And every kind of fondue imaginable, from cookies & cream to dulce de leche.
Thankfully they sold the fondue in cans so we could bring some home “for the boys.” Ha ha. For us too. You actually boil it in water on the stovetop (in the sealed can) for twenty minutes, then serve it over ice cream or dip fruit in it, etc. We got both the milk chocolate and the dulche de leche. Amazing stuff.
We did more sightseeing in the old city.
I loved this steeple glinting in the sun.
So many boulangeries!!! We picked up a few snacks here.
We shopped in this Parisian section on Avenue Cartier in an artsy part of the city. The unusual overhanging street lamps were recently installed by local artists.
Our last stop as we headed out of the city towards home was the Parc de la Chute-Montmorency containing an 83 meter high waterfall that’s 30 meters higher than Niagara Falls. Yeah. See the faint rainbow in front of the falls? Also the foot bridge spanning the falls. There’s a cable car ride and also a zip-line. That, I would not do. Maybe the cable car. But NEVER the zip line. My children need me. (Or I like to think so.)
Here I am on the footpath, smiling because I am far far away from the footbridge and zip-line!
We took a quick selfie in front of the falls before heading out, facing the sun. Can you see my eyes are totally shut? So funny. I didn’t think they’d show up behind the shades in the picture, but they sure did. Caught.
We had a truly magical weekend away. A few friends asked why Quebec and why in winter. And here’s the truth. We’ve always wanted to do Europe and it hasn’t happened yet. Old Quebec City is like a little Europe. The exchange rate is awesome right now.
It’s also the off season. Gas prices are cheap. It was definitely the right time to go for us. Honestly, we could’ve cared less the destination. The beautiful thing, and the only thing that really mattered, was that we got away. Together.
Made precious memories. Listened to an audio book coming and going. Savored the quiet. No catastrophes at home with the kids. Just getting away for a few days was like pushing a re-set button. A gift.
So grateful for all who helped out on the home front so we could go. Thank you.
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What a gorgeous trip ! C’est très bien de faire une escapade en amoureux de temps à autre, n’est pas. Les photos sont très bien et ça donne envie de visiter cette ville magnifique. Je ne sais pas si j’aurais eu le courage de me lancer par le toboggan mais il a l’air très chouette. J’adore aussi le château magnifique! Je te souhaite une très belle weekend mon amie xoxo
Merci beaucoup mon ami. Vous avez une si belle ville de Bordeaux et une partie de la ville et des bâtiments m’a définitivement rappelé certaines de vos photos magnifiques. Ce fut un grand voyage et je suis si heureux que nous sommes partis! Thanks for dropping by! XO
So glad you got to get away! Thanks for sharing your trip with the us! Loved all the pictures!!
Thanks Ellen, hope you make it to Quebec City someday. I think you would absolutely love it.
nancy mcmahan says
Thanks for the cool trip on my birthday from the warmth of my bed. Incredible buildings.
P. S. Zip lines are fun but not so much rollercoasters.
That was such a fun way to visit Quebec City, in your jammies from home. Certainly a warmer one. I hope you had a fabulous birthday and a wonderful year ahead.
What a beautiful city! So close, yet like a different world! the crepes…the chocolate! YUM…the sites, the thrilling ride, but I’m sure the best memory was just time alone with your man. What a gift this little trip was for you. So deserved, my friend!
Thank you SO much Kellie. It was totally like a different world. We really really loved it, bet you and Lars would too. Thanks for sharing our joy, friend!
Denise Q. says
Thank you for sharing! It brought back great memories. Doug and I were there 17 years ago. Time flies but Old Quebec City looks the same. I remember all the stairs and how I loved it when we saw the funicular! Now I’ll be singing the Funicular song all day.
Hi Denise, I don’t know that Funiculaire song. You will have to teach it to me. Glad to hear you and D have been. It is quite a memorable destination!
Thanks Allie for sharing…tu me donnes envie de partir en amoureux. Not sure when this is going to happen:)
Passe un bon week-end, daniella
Merci beaucoup mon ami. Je pensais que vous aviez déjà été à la ville de Québec . En fait , était- ce pas toi qui m’a dit tout cela ? Je suis vraiment pensé à vous pendant que j’y étais . Vous et moi , nous avons besoin de se réunir très prochainement. Je pense une belle promenade de printemps. Qu’est-ce que tu penses? Je serai en contact bientôt . Je devais écrire ce en français parce que je savais que ce serait vous faire sourire. XO
Linda Jenkins says
Loved revisiting Quebec through your pictures. It was several years ago that I had the luxury of touring the city. I was there during the summer. It is just as beautiful and European as I remember it being. I love it so much more than Montreal. Had the opportunity to watch an equestrian show while I was there, and I enjoyed the best French food within the walled city. I would go back in a heartbeat. So happy that you and Jon had this time to get away and recharge. You are so right. It is probably the closest I will ever get to Europe, but who cares. Quebec is gorgeous at any time of the year.
Oh I’m so glad you got to go Linda. It is just magnificent. I would love to go in summer or fall too. So much history and such a great city!
Will be staying at the Chateau de Frontenae in May, you will have to give me tips before we go….40 years, would love to hit a nice restaurant on our anniversary.
Yes, we will definitely chat about your trip Sandi. We ate at Bistro Sous le Fort for our nice meal out. http://www.bistrosouslefort.com/en/ We had a great experience. Glad you can go in May and escape the frigid. The Chateau will be wonderful!!!!
Barbara Child says
Such a lovely trip! Bur brr-rr it was COLD! Glad you had the opportunity–you deserve it!
Awww….thanks Barbara. It was so nice to get away, a little oasis in the craziness!
Hi Allie. This was such a fun post to read. The pictures are beautiful. Your toboggan story made me laugh – I didn’t appreciate the height of it until you showed us the picture of the view from the top. I love dulce de leche, and we make it ourselves every now and then (In fact we just finished a batch of it!). It’s such a treat. How wonderful that you had a chance to get away like that, and to such a romantic city as Quebec (and a fresh snow fall, too. Perfect!). I have to admit that, being from Winnipeg, -15c seems like a pretty comfortable temperature, as far as ‘cold’ weather goes! Though we’ve gotten quite lucky this year and spring seems to be arriving early. 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend, Allie. Xo
Dear Carina, thank you so much. It was so fun to be in Canada and I did think of you several times. How far is Winnipeg from Quebec City? You don’t have to answer, I’ll look it up. You’re right. Quebec City is a very romantic city! And we were glad about the snow. Everything just sparkled. So you make dulche de leche? Oh my. I’ve never done that. Yet. But of course now I want to. So don’t be surprised if you see a recipe show up here. 🙂 It was actually -15° F , is that colder or warmer than C? Again, I will look it up friend. Thank goodness for Google. So many answers at our fingertips. It’s nice spring is arriving early. We’ll take it. Have a wonderful week, friend! xo
A place I’m sure I’d love!
Carrie, you would LOVE it and so would Russ. There’s the history and the beauty. Now I’m wondering how far you are from Quebec City…
I too loved visiting Quebec through you. Beautiful old charm. I’ve been anxiously waiting to hear all about it. It was a wonderful trip and get away for you two. I’m so glad it worked out minus the parking and the cooooold!!!! I just love the pictures! Yes, you are smart about your choices in activities. Play it safe in Canada. Take it from me, wink, wink. Thank you for sharing! Au revoir!
Thanks Tracy, yes “charm” is the perfect word for Quebec City. Wish I’d used it in my post. I didn’t think about your recent Canadian experience when I decided to go down that slide…..I probably should’ve. I hope you have opportunity to go someday, I think you would love it mon amie.
Carolyn V says
Allie, thank you for the memories you brought back of our visit there with Don & my mom as part of our Canada cruise 🙂 a few yrs back. But there was one thing I could not understand … MILK CHOCOLATE ??!!? No dark chocolate? You need to go back & get the good stuff 🙂
Carolyn, I so laughed out loud at this. I had the dark chocolate fondue w/nuts when we were in the shop, on a little cup of their homemade ice cream. Jonathan and I are the dark chocolate fans in the house and everyone else likes milk chocolate. So you know it was not ME who picked out the milk chocolate. Ha ha. Blame Jon. I only went along with it because it was 4 to 2, and not in my favor. Maybe you and I should go back to Quebec City and stock up on the dark chocolate fondue. And we won’t share. So glad you’ve had the opportunity to go to Quebec too and make some great memories there. xo
thank you so much for sharing the lovely photos!!! So glad you and your sweetie had some time together—so very important 🙂
Hi Jeannine, thanks so much for dropping by, it was great to hear from you. You’re so right, time together is essential. We have four boys and our youngest has Down syndrome. Hudson has a lot of special needs and we spend a lot of time care-giving. So getting away like this feel extra special for us. Have a great week!
Thanks to Wendi and our friend Michele I was able to visit there and stay at Frontenac. What a beauty Old Quebec is! I must say I could not have endured -15 thought. You are a trooper! Glad you had a fantastic time.
Hi Leslie, I’m so glad you got to go and stay at the Chateau. (poet: me) Ha. Thanks so much friend, it was fun while it lasted. 🙂
barbara beaudry says
We just loved the exquisite pictures of the old city!!!! It has been over 56 years ago since our last trip there, four girls staying at The Chateau de Frontenac (all sleeping in separate beds facing door when suddenly, outside door was opened and several people stood there looking at the sleeping beauties, at 6:30 AM. Quite a wakeup call but after the shock they took off with haste, apologies accepted, blushing -faces!!!! It truly is a beautiful city, exotic stores etc. We had gone there previously with parents and always enjoyed our trip there!!! So happy you and Jon had a chance to slip away and experience a new adventure. Wish there was still a LIFE MAGAZINE, your scenes would have been selected in a heartbeat, displayed throughout by ALLIE – famous PHOTOGRAPHER OF RENOUN RESIDING IN NEW ENGLAND………
Oh thank you so much Barbara, it was so nice to hear from you. I’m not sure that I’m quite a photographer of renown….ha ha…but it’s something to aim for, for sure. Funny to hear of your experience there over 56 years ago. Now that, was a wake-up call! Yikes. So glad you stayed at the Chateau. I want to someday. I bet the city looks much the same as it did then, and many thanks for coming along on this virtual field trip with me. I’m sure it brought back wonderful memories of wonderful times with your parents and girlfriends there. XO
Susie Mandel says
We can’t wait to go! I think I can justify the chocolates after the climb uphill. 😉
Yes, the chocolates are a must. I hope you and Jac get to go, my friend. You will love it.
Susan Giordano says
Thanks for bringing back some fond memories…miss those crepes!
You are very welcome Susan. I had meant to touch base with you before our trip to see if there was anything we should be sure not to miss, and then time got away from me. Wendi said you gave her some great tips before they went. I really want to go back, and I’d very much like to stay at the Chateau. 🙂
Christy Smith says
I love going in field trips with you! Delightful on every way! All my senses were woken up just reading your description. Thank you!
Oh thank you so much Christy, this was SUCH a fun field trip! Hope you get to Quebec City someday. I can’t imagine it’s terribly far from Danville. I’ll have to look it up and see.
Cheyanne @ No Spoon Necessary says
Oh wow, looks like you guys had an amazing time! I’ve never been to Old Quebec City, but after this post I’m putting it on my list of places I must visit! It looks so beautiful there!! Love that you said it’s “the closest thing to Europe without hopping a plane.” Ha! I’ll take the cheap route to Europe thank you very much! I’m glad your hubs convinced you to go on that toboggan ride, because that looked amazing… but I’m a roller-coaster junkie… sooo. 😉 Thanks for sharing your trip, Allie!! Cheers, sweets! xoxo
Oh I hope you and Boy can go someday Cheyanne. It was truly magical. You would absolutely love that toboggan ride if you are a rollercoaster fan. I definitely felt that “drop” feeling about 2/3 of the way down. Have a great week friend!
Karen Espalin says
Yes, that darn hill upon which Quebec sits. During the French and Indian war, British officer James Wolfe was unable to take Quebec (three sides of the hill were impossible to ascend ) Wolfe was able to defeat the French commander Montcalm but both were mortally wounded.
We are studying American History again.
So glad you had that time away together. Is is important and beneficial.
Hey Karen, thanks for the history! I’m sure I learned that as a kid, but was reminded again when we were there. So much history in Quebec City. I wanted to write about the history of Chateau de Frontenac and so many other things in the city, but I had to stop somewhere! So many words, so little time. Ha. If you haven’t gotten there yet, wow, this would be such a great place to take your boys!!! They’d really love it. As would you and Michael. XO
Christina @ Christina's Cucina says
Oh you brave souls! It looks soooo cold! However, I must say, what a great time you had and I am now wanting to visit more than ever! I would have loved the toboggan ride, that looks brilliant! So happy you got a nice getaway; lovely photos of your trip!
Thank you so much Christina, I felt brave! We really only felt the cold cold on the first day and night, and then it slowly got a little warmer each day. Trust me, anything feels warm after -15° F. Ha.
mandi Korn says
I am sooooooo jealous, all your images make me want to jump in the car and make the same trip.
Mandi, you would absolutely love Quebec City. It is the perfect place for you to take a million awesome photos. You would love meandering here with your family.