Quebec City and Travel Recommendations

November 10, 2019

So a bit of a last minute decision, very long story, but we have decided to go to Quebec City at the end of Nov/beginning December. We are planning to drive (we are outside of Philadelphia )- and of course would like your suggestions for possible places to stop along the way. We will likely split the drive over 2 days so a good place to stop and stay overnight?

Also of course, any highly recommended things to see do eat once there. Yes I check tripadvisor and all, but just thought I would ask here for additional expertise.

Thank you

Comments (33)

  • dedtired

    No advice about Quebec except bring a warm coat. and check the driving conditions before you go. I was in Montreal in spring and it was cold. We must be neighbors because I live outside of Philadelphia, too. There seem to be a lot o Philadelphians on this forum.

    salonva thanked dedtired
  • maire_cate

    Another 'just outside Philly' person and we've driven to Quebec a few times but never in the winter. We always changed the route so that we could visit different areas - Finger Lakes, Saratoga Springs, Thousand Islands, Burlington Vermont.

    It's been quite a few years so I can't really recommend any specific place - except we have stayed at the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec.

    salonva thanked maire_cate
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  • salonva

    Thanks for the Philadelphia crew chiming in.:) We are new to the area, moved about a year ago.

    Yes, definitely aware of the weather being a factor, but I figure since we are driving we can adjust if weather becomes an issue.

    I have never been there or along that route so it's all new to me. DH has been there as a child- and to Saratoga Springs as well. Of course the only other issue (negative) is i am not really sure how much will be doable in the off season but I am sure it will be a nice change of scenery and leisurely drive. Thought about flying and or even amtrak but I think driving will give us a lot more flexibility.

    As you know nowadays, getting to the airport, and all of that plus getting from the airport , even when relatively close, is either a bit of an expense and a definite time issue. We are under an hour from Phil airport, but with all said and done, we would probably still have to leave our house at a minimum 3 hours prior to flight.... so driving seems like the option.

    I have to check but I think my parents stayed at Chateau Frontenac on their honeymoon. It does look lovely. That's really the only name I know.:)

    DH has been talking about Quebec City for some time now. I think , to be honest, that I was confusing it with Montreal. Well, whatever.

  • localeater

    It will be slightly longer, but you might be interested in going via Portland ME. From Portland you will get to Quebec via the Kennebec Chaudiere Heritage Corridor. It is a beautiful drive.

  • maire_cate

    Salonva- welcome to Philadelphia! We stayed at the Frontenac twice, it's inside the walls of the Old City so it's in a convenient location to walk around. There are a lot of shops, boutiques museums etc. in the area and great restaurants. We toured The Citadel, the Falls of Montmorency, took a cruise along the St. Lawrence and DH hired a fishing guide and spent the day on the river. My son and daughter-in-law were there a few years ago in the winter and took a day trip to a rustic lodge where they spent a few hours dog sledding. They also went skiing at Mont-Sainte-Anne.

  • tartanmeup

    I love Quebec City! One of the prettiest cities I've ever seen (not that I've traveled extensively but still). We live in Montreal and visit every couple of years but never in the winter. Another vote for Montmorency falls and the Citadel. I don't need to do much in Qc City besides walk around the old city and take pictures.

  • dedtired

    If you decide to fly, you should fly out of the Newark airport. It’s much faster and much less expensive. Any flights out of PHL will take you through Toronto and be a long flight. It’s easy to drive and park at Newark. I would so love to see Quebec City.

  • salonva

    Wow such great info everyone! thank you1 Ded, we flew out of Newark in May when we went to Europe- it was about $400 cheaper per person...but it is a much longer drive. We moved from NJ so at least it's all familiar.

    I really appreciate the comments. They are generally the things I found or read about, but to hear that you recommend them makes it better (sometimes the "hyped" stuff isn't really worth it). You have me all excited.

  • Lyban zone 4

    I have not been to Quebec City in over 20 years but I did find this info on chowhound that might be helpful to you.

    Before I went to Quebec for the winter carnival last week, I did some hunting around Chowhound, which has always served me well when I travel. This time, there was relatively scant information, so though I'm not a trip log kind of girl, this might be helpful to some people. We thought about going to the super-expensive classic tasting menu type places like Initiale or Legende, and would actually have liked to go to iX Bistro, but we didn't feel like spending that type of money (and didn't get a reservation at iX). Overall, we were really impressed with the vibe in the city with young entrepreneurial chefs producing stand-out food.

    Day 1: Snack and drinks - Aux Anciennes Canadiens - really just a poutine stop. It was okay: flavorful gravy but greasy fries and the cheese curds were really large so the ratio of cheese to fry was way off.

    Dinner - L'Affaire est Ketchup - did not know this was Quebecois slang (but now I do) for "it's all good", and it was. Chalkboard menu, delightfully explained by waiter - everything was "very juicy, very tender, very flavorful" but it was. We had the Rabbit (though the scallops sounded damn good too) and a cut of pork known as "spiderweb" which was amazing. They also don't give you a wine list, they just ask what kind of wine you like and bring you something that fits the description.

    Day 2 - Lunch - Paillard - this cafeteria style restaurant was very busy with school groups but still had quick service. The pastries looked beautiful, but we had soup and sandwiches. The sandwiches were fine, nondescript, although the bread was very good. The mushroom soup was excellent. Good for when you want a quick bite and don't want to mess with table service.

    Dinner - Le Renard et la Chouette - Excellent. You order at the counter, and a lot of the seating is family style. Menu in French only, and changes every day. The server was terrific - not fantastic with English, but earnest and generally conveyed everything we needed to know. Since many of the dish names are humorous, I had a little trouble with the idiomatic French, but she was good at explaining. We had a wonderful charcuterie to begin with (the same people own the Pied Bleu, a charcuterie in and of itself) which had three pates and three cheeses, all really nice. This was followed by a salad with really good (but a little too much) dressing and smoked duck and dried nicoise olives that were *amazing*. Finally we had a dish to share that was a comfort food delight of potatoes, cheese, caramelized onions, and bacon which we tried really hard to finish but couldn't.

    Day 3 - Lunch - Bistro Sous la Forte. French onion soup for the husband was fine; wild boar and mushroom egg rolls were delicious. I had the Elk burger which I thought was really good. Husband had smoked meat sandwich that was essentially a pile of Canadian bacon on a roll. What could be bad?

    Dinner - Chez Jules. I needed someplace I could easily make reservations on Open Table for latish because we were going to the parade and wanted to eat after. That being said, we were pretty tired (we normally retire early) and probably didn't get as much out of the meal as we might have. The foie gras was pressed and kind of came across as liverwurst, so pretty disappointing, and not enough bread to spread it on. The coquille St. Jacques was pretty good. The sole meuniere was actually very good, but by then, I was falling asleep in my meal. Overall an expensive but fairly classic French meal that doesn't really stand out.

    Day 4 - Lunch - Le Petit Chateau - worst meal we had. Onion soup was almost entirely bread. Crepe was thick and tasteless. Poutine had flavorless greasy gravy and some weird kind of cheese (maybe swiss?) that was dropped all over the top in chunks and eventually melted in but not good.

    Afternoon snack - Chez Ashton - after the bad lunch poutine, we had to have another go. This was definitely the best in class - fast food joint with crispy fries, appropriate amount of gravy and lots of medium to small cheese curds so that you get all three ingredients in every bite. Also best value by a long shot.

    Dinner - Le Moine Echanson - another great chalkboard menu meal. The premise of this restaurant is that the owner/chef sources a bunch of organic wines and then creates a menu to complement them. They bring a choice of wines to the table and have you taste two or three before you commit. We had foie gras (also pressed but NOTHING like liverwurst) and cod fritters for starters. Both were excellent. I had mussels in this amazing cheese fondue that was incredibly rich and such a good idea. Husband had Alsatian tarte, also excellent. Too full for dessert, unfortunately, but they looked amazing.

    Both Le Renard et la Chouette and Le Moine Echanson were recommended by one of the owners at L'affaire est Ketchup. There were about 5 other suggestions on his list. We will have to go back.

    salonva thanked Lyban zone 4
  • salonva

    Wow Lyban- will read and re-read this. Thank you so much for sharing this as we LOVE to eat but we are NOT foodies lol.

    We actually just booked the hotel 2 nights ago (Frontenac was actually not available, but it also seemed way pricier than when I had first looked. Will definitely go there to check it out anyway and maybe have drinks or a meal there). I am really looking forward.

  • tartanmeup

    Thanks for this Chowhound list, Lyban. You reminded me about Le Petit Chateau. Yes, it's very picturesque (nestled in the Chateau Frontenac) but it's overpriced for very mediocre food. I was really disappointed by the experience. Skip that one. Good to know about Chez Ashton because it's a chain. There's one on Grande Allée.

    If you're not foodies, salonva, you should be quite pleased with most restaurants in Quebec City. Btw, you shouldn't have any difficulty communicating with anyone in English. Tourism is the city's main trade and hotel and shop staff are bilingual. Everyone is very welcoming and helpful.

    salonva thanked tartanmeup
  • patriceny

    I have never in my life been as cold as I was in Quebec City. I'm from Central NY so thought I knew cold. Ha! I went in February years ago and thought I might drop dead outside. LOL.

    Absolutely beautiful city. Well, what I could see of it behind all the snow piles. My overwhelming sense was towers, mountains, and tunnels of snow - and a cold that almost killed me. It had a European flair to me, but that memory may have been impaired by my brain cells dying from the cold. I've always wanted to go back in a non-snow season....

    Take lots of layers. :)

    salonva thanked patriceny
  • salonva

    Re the coldness.........yeah, we had meant to go earlier in the year but between procrastination, and other valid reasons, it didn't happen. I am just going to bring tons of sweaters and warm clothing and try to deal with it. I keep saying since we are retired, we don't need to stress out about the travel. We will just be even more leisurely about it.

    (but I 'd be lying if I told you that the cold doesn't bother me

    ....well it won't be permanently frigid and we will be indoors a LOT.).

    Definitely sounds like Chez Ashton is in our future. (but still will maybe just have coffee or drinks at Frontenac. I am very big on soaking up lobbies!!)

  • tartanmeup

    If you don't have any thermal underwear, get some! Honestly, the city is PRETTY and walking around is a true pleasure if you enjoy architecture. You don't want to miss out on a leisurely walk because you're underdressed for the cold. We stay at the Concorde on Grande-Allée and walking down to the Chateau Frontenac in the Old City is only 15 mins. The problem is that walk is straight toward the water and I imagine it must be windy in the winter. Also, the city is hilly so bring good grippy boots.

    salonva thanked tartanmeup
  • hhireno

    I highly recommend adhesive toe warmers, that you can buy at places like Home Depot and Costco. They keep my feet warm and functioning on the coldest days. I don’t get too warm when wearing them indoors, but I’m always cold and welcome any heat. They are disposable so they create trash, if that’s an environmental issue to you. In that case, I recommend wearing two pair of thin wool socks, layers give warmth without bulk, so they should fit comfortably in your shoes and boots. Have fun.

    salonva thanked hhireno
  • tartanmeup

    Salonva, I recently bought "Old Quebec - City of Snow" to appreciate the city in winter months since we've never been. It looks fairylike and beyond romantic. I'll add a few pictures from the book to whet your appetite. Feel free to let me know if you'd rather I delete them.

    salonva thanked tartanmeup
  • patriceny

    It was the tents over driveways that surprised me. I am very used to snow. I am not at all used to so much snow that it's necessary to place a tent over one's driveway, because otherwise there is too much snow with no where to put it. So it created a snow tunnel-like effect going into garages.

    That, and the wind. Soooo cold.

    Absolutely beautiful city though.

    salonva thanked patriceny
  • salonva

    Looks beautiful and yes to the architecture and walking. Most definitely going to look into the toe warmers mentioned as my feet are always cold anyway and I have been meaning to try them out. (wool socks help, but I think the toe warmers will be great). And since I have you making suggestions, what kind of hat do you wear?

  • tartanmeup

    Une tuque! :) (Tuque hair, don't care.) Btw, Simons, the store I linked to is quintessential Québec via Scotland.

    ETA: Forgot to mention the resto Cochon Dingue! We go for breakfast at least once during our stay. (The apple butter is always scrumptious but once it was positively divine and I still regret not buying it to take home.)

    salonva thanked tartanmeup
  • salonva

    Got my toe warmers! Studying this thread. Again thanks everyone for all your suggestions. Going next week so will let you know how it goes. In the meantime any other ideas- post away!!

  • tartanmeup

    Next week? Nice! Doubt it will be freeze-your-brain cold next week. Still, you might appreciate your toe warmers. In any case, whatever extra layers, hats or mitts you might need in Quebec City, you can easily find once there. :)

    Thought of another place you might enjoy visiting: Morrin Center, Quebec City's first English library. The building served as the city's prison when it was first built and you can tour the old prison today and get a glimpse of a convict's day to day back then.

    salonva thanked tartanmeup
  • salonva

    Thanks! And thank you for relieving me about the cold ( I did look at weather forecast and it looks cold but tolerable!!). I appreciate all the recommendations.

    Curious if you would recommend 2 or 3 museums or specific places to see, which ones would you suggest? I get varying feedback when I research. Even if it's just for a great location that would be worth it. (Beaux Artes? Civilisation? etc etc) .

  • tartanmeup

    Those two museums are still on my list to visit so can't comment. I do recommend the Morrin Center though. Surprisingly entertaining. The Citadelle is worth a visit but I'm not enough of a history buff to want a second visit. Montmorency Falls as mentioned upthread (it's a 10 min drive from the city, if memory serves). How long are you staying? The city is not huge - you can easily walk around and see the Old City in a day.

  • salonva

    We will have 3 full days Get in Wednesday afternoon, then Thursday - Friday - Saturday - leave Sunday morning. I think it will be awesome. Definitely Montmorency Falls and probably Citadelle . Morrin Center sounds good (there is something in Philly kind of similar I think? Eastern State Penitentiary. We went a few months ago and it was very interesting). Thankfully won't be freezing so walking around wont be brutal! and we can be leisurely

  • jill302

    Can not offer any advice on the drive but we were in Quebec City last month, it was our first visit and we just loved it. Such a beautiful city. We stayed at a charming small hotel Manoir Morgan just across from the Le Chateau Frontenac, we would stay there again. We were there for only two nights, at the end of a cruise. The first day was rainy and we did the hop-on hop-off bus. We were able to learn a lot about the history of the city and get a a feeling for where we wanted to walk the next day. The next day walked through most of walled city, enjoyed the parks and shops. Rode the funicular. We had planned to take in a museum but they were closed. Very relaxed time for us. Overall the food was okay, I was fighting a cold and just was not that interested in going out of my way for meals so we ended up with mediocre tourist food. We plan to return and next time I will research restaurants and make dinner reservations ahead of our trip.

  • tartanmeup

    You'll have time to see plenty, I'm sure. And you're right, it won't be freezing. I mean, it will but still tolerable. Won't be the minus 30s of January. :)

  • salonva

    Will be staying at Manoir D'auteuil. It looks lovely as well. yes for walking around which is my favorite thing to do as long as it's not torrential rain or bitter cold. I think it will be wonderful. Editing to add that it is apparently 1/10 of a mile to Morin Centre.:)

  • tartanmeup

    That looks lovely, salonva. I hope you love it. You're within walking distance to everything!

  • salonva

    Hello everyone-just got back today and wanted to update and thank you all for your outstanding recommendations. We were very fortunate that the weather was just cold- minimal snow so walking around was not a problem at all. And, there is lots of truth about dressing for the weather. It works!

    The hotel we stayed at was wonderful. It was at the edge of the walls of the city but still well within everything. It included a terrific breakfast each morning, and they also had coffee and tea available throughout the day/evening with a bit of a bar so there was always an easy place to sit and restore. Location was fabulous, the staff was outstanding. Le Manoir D'Auteuil.

    We signed up for a walking tour the first day, ToursVoir Quebec as recommended by the hotel was very good and thorough. They book a maximum of 12 or 14 and then just start a new group. It was a 2 hour walking tour with a very knowledgeable guide. It is rain or shine, and I guess 2 hours is really a good time frame when it's freezing. It was still ok (from someone who doesn't do great in the cold).

    We spent time at the Frontenac of course, and plenty of time walking around and around. What a beautiful city.

    We also took a carriage ride (they had a heavy blanket so it was tolerable) which also took us just outside of the old city, and was really very good as well. Surprisingly because I thought it would just be kind of redundant to the walking tour; again the guide was quite good.

    We also went to the Morrin Centre which was a very well done tour. After the tour we were able to revisit the areas we wanted , which for me was the library. Thank you @tartanmeup for mentioning this. I might not have really stumbled on it but it was very worthwhile. (fyi- there were quite a few people on our tour as well.). Had lots of great meals, and just enjoyed the visit so much.

    We split up the drive both ways and last night was NOT fun driving in the snow- but we got out today and made it home so all's well! Thank you again. Highly recommend!!!!

  • maire_cate

    It sounds like you had a great visit - it really is a beautiful city. I'm glad the weather wasn't bad. Thanks for checking back with the update and with the hotel recommendation. I'm bookmarking this thread in the hope that we make a return visit soon. DH and I were talking about it last night and I realized that it's been at least 10 years since our last visit - too long. I'd love to do a fall foliage tour through that area.

  • OutsidePlaying

    I too add thanks for your report and hotel recommendation. I am saving this for future reference and will add to our list of places to visit. It sounds like a nice visit, even in the cold.

  • tartanmeup

    Thank you for this report, salonva! So glad you had a great time and it wasn't too cold for you. Next time we go, I'll insist we do the walking tour. I like learning about a place. Oh, did you make it out to Montmorency Falls?

  • salonva

    Oh and feel free for lots more specifics if you want. I didn't want to overload everyone!

    Tartan-Yes we did go to Montmorency Falls ( thought I included that) which really was a short drive. There are 1/2 day bus tours as well out of the city if you prefer to not drive or don't come with a vehicle, but we used our car for this. It was beautiful and cold but well maintained and not icey so very walkable. I mean it was freezing so we probably only stayed about an hour. They do have an inn or hotel there that is open with a gift shop and most importantly ,toilets. They had restaurants there but not sure if they were fully operational this time of year.

    Again, I think it would be best to visit Quebec in milder weather, but to my delight it was fine this time of year. I forgot to mention they also have a Christmas Market (outdoors with fire pits and such) which just opened so no shortage of outdoor happenings.

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