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Friday, 20 November 2009

Quebec City: a Romantic Escape

Written by Christina Kay Bolton
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Quebec City: a Romantic Escape, romantic escapes canada, travel quebec, Chateau Frontenac, boardwalk overlooking the St. Laurent River, Auberge St. Pierre, La Cremaillere, St Laurent Bar & Lounge, Le Canard Huppe, Isle d’Orleans, Quebec Winter Carnival, Christina Kay BoltonQuebec 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 City: a Romantic Escape, romantic escapes canada, travel quebec, Chateau Frontenac, boardwalk overlooking the St. Laurent River, Auberge St. Pierre, La Cremaillere, St Laurent Bar & Lounge, Le Canard Huppe, Isle d’Orleans, Quebec Winter Carnival, Christina Kay BoltonQuebec’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.

Quebec City: a Romantic Escape, romantic escapes canada, travel quebec, Chateau Frontenac, boardwalk overlooking the St. Laurent River, Auberge St. Pierre, La Cremaillere, St Laurent Bar & Lounge, Le Canard Huppe, Isle d’Orleans, Quebec Winter Carnival, Christina Kay BoltonThere 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.


Quebec has many festivals, the most famous being the Quebec Winter Carnival featuring toboggan rides on the boardwalk and massive ice sculptures. The festival includes every kind of winter sport imaginable, including an event where some fearless (or crazy) souls brave sub-zero temperatures in swimsuits. This is quite a feat considering the wind chill can often be 60 below zero. Despite Quebec's frigid winters, it is the perfect destination Quebec City: a Romantic Escape, romantic escapes canada, travel quebec, Chateau Frontenac, boardwalk overlooking the St. Laurent River, Auberge St. Pierre, La Cremaillere, St Laurent Bar & Lounge, Le Canard Huppe, Isle d’Orleans, Quebec Winter Carnival, Christina Kay Boltonfor a romantic interlude; imagine taking a horse and carriage ride snuggled up to your loved one under piles of blankets, or ducking into a café and sipping hot chocolate by the fireplace. Winter is perhaps the most romantic time to experience all that Quebec has to offer, but there are many special trips you can take in the summer as well.

Summer is a great time to take a day trip to Isle d’Orleans (the Martha’s Vineyard of Quebec) where you can pick strawberries, go wine-tasting or biking, or stop at the best bakery in the area, La Boulange (2001 Chemin Royal, Saint-Jean, 418-829-3162). The island has an atmosphere and culture all of its own, and there is a bridge connection so it’s only a short drive from the city. You can stay at the many B & B’s and there are plenty of good restaurants – although they’re dispersed around the fairly large island, so you’ll need a car or bike.

 

Quebec City: a Romantic Escape, romantic escapes canada, travel quebec, Chateau Frontenac, boardwalk overlooking the St. Laurent River, Auberge St. Pierre, La Cremaillere, St Laurent Bar & Lounge, Le Canard Huppe, Isle d’Orleans, Quebec Winter Carnival, Christina Kay BoltonQuebec is a great alternative to a trip to Europe, as it is closer, much less expensive, and still steeped with history and charm. Also, the people of Quebec are very friendly and always trying to help, even if you don’t speak French (many of them put their Parisian counterparts to shame).  For those living in the northeastern US you can drive to Quebec – it is a six and a half hour journey from Boston.

©Christina Kay Bolton

Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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