C’est Tres Belle: Our Love Affair with Quebec City

November 2009

hotelQuebec City has everything a woman wants in a travel destination – good food, good times and very cute guys with sexy French accents. Throw in a castle that calls itself a hotel, some très chic shopping and, did I already mention the sexy men? What a perfect spot for a girl’s getaway – c’est magnifique!

We flew into Quebec City from Toronto Ontario via Porter Airlines. I had heard good things about this airline and was looking forward to finally experiencing some flying time with Porter. You know how people talk wistfully about the ‘good old days’ of flying when airline customers were treated with love and attention? Well no one has told Porter that those days are gone. We arrived at the small airport terminal on Toronto Islands and after a quick check-in we were immediately whisked into the passenger lounge. Oh, oh, I thought, there’s been a mistake and we have accidentally been shown into the first class lounge. But no, I slowly realized with amazement that this lounge was open to all. We had access to complimentary coffee, beverages, snacks, newspapers, and computer workstations. It ended up that our flight to Quebec City was slightly delayed but guess what, we really weren’t too upset – it meant that we could treat ourselves to a couple more lattes!

Our Hotel hotelinteriorWe opted to stay at the Chateau Frontenac, a Fairmont hotel which is situated at the heart of old Quebec and inside the walls of the original settlement. As we approached the hotel I was feeling a little disappointed, I had heard so many wonderful things about Chateau Frontenac and it wasn’t living up to what I had imagined. In the taxi all we could see were orange brick walls, miles and miles of orange brick walls but slowly as we turned the corner towards the main entrance, we gazed into the inner courtyard of this magnificent castle and suddenly we were entranced – it was magically, deliciously, gorgeous.

This is a grand hotel in every sense of the word – it exudes elegance from its green copper turrets glowing in the setting sun to the antique filled grand interior reception hall. We were greeted upon arrival by attendants dressed in bright red livery outfits and with majestic French flare the doors were swept open for our first look inside the chateau. The interior of the hotel was reminiscent of nineteenth century France, complete with shining brass, wood panelled walls, elegant furnishings and wall hangings. This hotel is what my grandmother would have called well appointed.

Once we settled into our rooms we made our way back to the lobby to meet with the hotel’s concierge. She was gracious and extremely patient with the many questions we had about what to see and where to go in the city and we also got to visit with the Chateau’s resident dog Santol, a lovely elderly Labrador(?) who resides on a doggie bed next to the concierge desk. After saying goodbye to Santol, who slept through our squeals of “what a sweet dog”, we stumbled out to the city for our first taste of Old Quebec.

lepetitquartier We found our way to the Funicular which is a cable-car ride that connects the Terrasse Dufferin with le Quartier du Petit Champlain. We took this method to Lower Town only once; it was a lovely view but not really worth repeating. For the remainder of our stay we opted to climb the well named Break Neck Stairs up and down as we were convinced that this would help us burn some of the extra calories we so enjoyed consuming during our visit in Quebec. We explored le Quartier du Petit Champlain – a lovely intimate area filled with quaint boutiques, galleries and restaurants. There was plenty of local arts and crafts on display as well as some great looking clothing stores.

Most of our visit was spent inside the walls of Old Quebec, if we had more than a weekend stay we may have ventured further but we kept ourselves busy with our explorations of the architecture and sights of Upper and Lower Town.

It took us a little while to figure out our bearings in old Quebec with its twisty turny streets and small laneways but thankfully it is a small area and once you orient yourself it is relatively easy to find your way around on foot. The city is enchanting and has a very European feel to it; you can’t help but gaze in awe at it’s beautifully preserved buildings and cobblestone streets. I kept feeling as if I had stepped into a Christmas card, with snow softly falling, and horse driven carriages prancing up and down les rues anciennes. Quebec City is regularly voted one of the top 10 tourist locations by Condé Nast magazine and we agree – c’est une très belle ville!

Here are some girl’s getaway travel tips for Quebec City:

Best café/restaurants visited during our trip


Chez Temporal

25 Rue Couillard

You must try their cafe crème and amazing croissants. We had breakfast here twice and loved this place. Very cute, tiny café, it’s a place you’d want to hang out in all morning with une boule de café au lait and a newspaper. It makes the best almond croissant that I have every tasted and I know my croissants!

Chez Victor

145 rue St-Jean, St-Jean-Baptiste +1 418 529 7702

Visiting this restaurant was the only time we ventured outside the walls of Old Quebec, and it was well worth the 20-minute walk from our hotel. Chez Victor has been touted as having the best burgers in Quebec, I can’t imagine a better burger and how awesome it is to dip your fries in a choice of regular, curry and pesto mayo! One word of advice – either get there early or book a reservation, this place fills up fast!

City Favorites Quartier du Petit Champlain The Quartier du Petit Champlain was our favourite area in Quebec City with its beautifully restored collection of ancient buildings, antique shops and galleries, you can easily spend an entire day in this lovely spot. Its cobblestone streets and narrow laneways give this area a very European old world feel. Be warned though there are some really nasty tourist stores but they are far outnumbered by boutiques offering wonderful handmade local crafts.

Chateau Frontenac Guided Tour Le Chateau Frontenac at 1, rue des Carrieres, Quebec (Quebec) G1R 4P5 Tel: (418) 692-3861 Fax: (418) 691-2143

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