Quebec City is a romantic, beautiful old city with cobblestone streets and the Chateau Frontenac sitting like a castle next to a wide boardwalk overlooking the St. Laurent River. Horse-drawn carriages ply streets lined with stone inns and houses with shuttered windows and flowerboxes. Surrounded by high stone walls and ringed by cannons, the city has seen many battles; it was conquered by the British in the Seven Years' War, but successfully repelled American forces during the War of 1812.
Quebec’s old city is divided into an upper and lower section. The upper part has the fort, an extensive park with botanical gardens, the boardwalk and Chateau Frontenac, some very elaborate government buildings, a number of museums, and numerous shops and restaurants. It is also connected to the large ‘new city’ where most residential areas and businesses are located as well as big international hotels.
If you descend hundreds of steps down (or take the funicular), you reach the lower and oldest quarter of the city. This port area has become one of the nicest parts of the city and is teeming with antique shops, restaurants, boutiques and posh art galleries. The streets are narrow and many are for pedestrians only; it is a perfect spot to spend an afternoon. This are also contains the Musee de Civilization, a large market, and one of North America’s best looking train stations.
There are many accommodation choices down near the docks – small boutique hotels have taken over some of the old stone buildings. One of them is Auberge St. Pierre where we stayed – it was a small inn with a fantastic staff. Our room was a quiet oasis with a comfy bed and sofa, rustic furnishings and all the modern accoutrements. From a Jacuzzi tub to a coffee maker our needs were taken care of. Each day we started with a full breakfast (included) from the many selections at their café. There were some small imperfections at the place like a light that wouldn’t work and a broken ironing board, but generally it was very good. The best part was the location and the staff which were excellent.
The restaurants in Quebec are some of the best on this continent. I love La Cremaillere (73 Sainte-Anne St, (418) 692-2216) and go there on every visit. If you’re looking for classic French duck dishes I’m not sure if you can find better than Le Canard Huppe on Isle d’Orleans (2198 Chemin Royal, Saint-Laurent, 418-828-2292). One of the most atmospheric bars is in the Chateau Frontenac, St Laurent Bar & Lounge (1 rue des Carrières, (418) 266-3919). It is in a large, round turret overlooking the boardwalk, furnished with leather chairs and finely upholstered sofas clustered around crackling fireplaces.