A weekend getaway to one of this continent’s oldest settlements, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the closest you can get to France without leaving North America.
For our one year anniversary, Kyle and I knew that we wanted to spend a relaxing weekend together just reconnecting in the middle of my busy season. It needed to be a quick trip to a very walkable location that was affordable. I also knew that I selfishly wanted it to be very Instagrammable and that’s how we ended up in Québec! I knew that the old part of the city, situation right along the Saint Lawrence River, was absolutely stunning.
I once read Québec City described as “the France you can drive to”. This cracks me up but it’s also so, so true. French is the spoken language and there is a strong French First policy for everything in the city including signage. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a European time warp.
In full disclosure, I took 6 years of French in high school and college so I’m comfortable starting a conversation in French, asking for/giving basic directions, greetings and pleasantries and then that’s about it. The moment the chit chat transitions into something more… I’m instantly done. It’s almost embarrassing. You do not need to speak any French to go to Québec!
I refer to this trip lovingly as our “cheese tour”. You’re going to feel like this itinerary is telling you to sit down at one restaurant and have some wine and order the cheese board then get up and move to the restaurant next door and do the same darn thing. BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT WE DID. I was smiling for every second of this weekend.
One more warning before I share our deliciously decadent 48 hours in Canada with you: Québec is one gigantic hill. Seriously there are so many damn steps. We did 20,000 steps and 30+ flights of steps each day. Plus, you’ll need to do a lot of walking around to make room for more charcuterie. You may want to pace yourself and separate your day into sections depending on the part of town that you’re in elevation wise.
WHEN: August 24 - 26
HOW MUCH: $1,550 (including flights, hotel, Ubers to the airport and back, food, alcohol and activities)
DAY 1 (half day):
Arrive at Aéroport International Jean-Lesage de Québec (YQB), a short flight north from most East Coast locations, at lunchtime.
Take an Uber or a taxi to the Hotel Clarendon, a cozy and updated hotel with a killer location and super friendly staff (or mega splurge and book your room at Fairmont Le Château Frontenac just so say you did).
Check in or just drop off your bags and then head over to D'Orsay, just a block over, for drinks and lunch. If you can, grab a booth with the windows that open up onto the sidewalk. The Québécois love their outdoor dining!
After you’ve eaten, take a nice long walk around the upper part of town. Walk up Rue Saint-Jean to explore the Parliament building and gardens, Fortifications of Québec national historic site and the Plains of Abraham. After that, you’ll be ready for another drink.
As tempting as it is, stay on the upper part of town for now or you’ll regret it later when you have to do the flights of stairs 10 times before dinner. Head back towards your hotel and have a few drinks on the patio at Pub St. Patrick.
Before you crash after dinner, pop over to L'Oncle Antoine for a few more drinks.
Fair warning, this itinerary will have you eating and drinking all day long. There won’t be many structured meals but if you want to sit down for dinner and you’re not already so full of cheese that you want to burst, check out Le Lapin Sauté.
Start your day off by getting up early or waiting in line at Le Casse-Crêpe Breton, a tiny little restaurant specializing in the best damn crêpes that you’ve ever had. We were lucky enough to beat the line of crowds but trust us, even if you have to wait, it’s worth it. We sat at the counter and loved watching the chefs cook.
When you’re finished breakfast, walk out of the restaurant and turn left. Make another left onto Côte du Palais and walk until you hit Rue des Remparts. You’ll want to walk off your breakfast so take a stroll along the old city wall. There are some fabulous overlook points where you can see the Old City below with the Saint Lawrence flowing behind it. Walk Rue des Remparts and take in the city until you reach Fairmont Le Château Frontenac.
Pop inside Fairmont Le Château Frontenac for a quick visit to this massive, 18-floor hotel. Optionally, you can take a tour of it as well!
Walk the length of Terrasse Dufferin, the boardwalk just outside of the hotel and then sit on the patio of 1640 Bistro and order a few drinks and the 1640 Discovery charcuterie Plank.
Explore the Royal Battery, go in the tiny shops and walk until you need another snack and drink break. Visit Cochon Dingue Champlain for a bite to eat and some cold beer.
To get the best view of Québec, you have to leave Québec. Take the ferry across the river to Lévis and back! It’s cheap and worth it. You’ll enjoy the views and the breeze.
If you’re not already exhausted, Le Festibière is a cool bar towards the Old Port section of the city where you can drink with your feet in their knee deep pools! *They’re only open during the summer months!
Hit a few more pubs in the lower part of town and then before you walk back to crash at your hotel, visit Parc du Bastion-de-la-Reine up on the hill to get one of the best views of the city.
Day 3 (half day):
You’re going to get up really, really early. Trust me. If you’re a photographer or just want amazing Instagram pictures to remember your trip by, get up super early with the sunrise and head down to the lowest part of town. You’ll want to visit Place Royal, the Breakneck steps, Rue Saint-Pierre and Rue du Petit Champlain at the very least. If you’re lucky, it will be incredibly quiet with not a soul in sight. Take as many pictures as you can before people start emerging from their slumber!
Grab a pastry for breakfast from Café La Maison Smith (the chocolate croissants are to die for!!!) and then walk through the grounds of Séminaire De Québec.
Check out of your hotel and grab an Uber or taxi to the airport. Au revoir!