During our 3-day roadtrip in the Quebec region, we were so tired that we had to zap Quebec City. We decided to come back there to attend their Quebec Day on June 24th.
Part 1: Travel Diary Part
2: Practical Tips
Part 1: Travel Diary
Bus tickets being bought online, we leave from the bus station in Montreal and arrive at the (beautiful) train station in Quebec City. For info, we chose the Orleans Express company, on time and comfortable.
Note: the entire region is called Quebec City (e.g. Montreal is part of Quebec). But the city is called Quebec City.
JB chose our Airbnb very well. It is located on a street perpendicular to St. John Street, one of the streets with the most restaurants in the city. It’s central, yet less touristy than the Lower Town, or Old Quebec. We are between 10mn and 20mn walking distance from the main attractions. I highly recommend it!
In this – very long – street, we discover, among other things, a store that sells everything in bulk. This type of store is available all over Canada, I find that they are much more careful to limit their waste than we are. And their sorting system seems more complex as well.
I also recommend a visit to the Chocolate Museum on the same street, they sell Italian ice cream (draped with a layer of chocolate – or not) and desserts to fall. This isn’t the only store, Canadians know how to work with chocolate, sweet tooth will be RIVEN in this country.
At one point, we quickly pass in front of an organic store and my unconscious notices in the window the very specific packaging of the Marseille soap of the Horseshoe brand. Already in France, it’s very hard to find real Marseille soap, so seeing one here is an event for us, ahaha. We still can’t believe that I spot it when I sneak past, behind 2 layers of glass, in the distance. I must have a flair for cosmetics 😉 JB likes soaps from Fer à cheval or Marius Fabre, so we buy two 600 gram soaps which should be a few months old.
Quebec Parliament Building
A 10-minute walk away is the parliament, which is crowded because the tourist coaches dump their loads of customers here. Today, there is a cruise ship that is currently stranded in Quebec City, so there are more people than usual. This building can be visited, but we aren’t particularly motivated.
We continue on foot and try to visit the Citadel of Quebec City. As it is a still active military base, we can’t walk there freely, and paying to go around the fortress with a guide doesn’t enchant us either (16$CA/person), we just turn around and walk along the very touristy and lively street: Rue Saint-Louis.
There are a lot of restaurants, nicely decorated and all of them more badly rated one from the other 😀
Fairmont Le Château Frontenac
At the end of the street is the 5-star hotel that looks like a real fairy-tale castle, at the modest rate of $600 CDN per night.
The Château Frontenac is the first in a long series of Chateau-style hotels built by Canadian railways in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to popularize train travel – these hotels have in fact become national symbols for their elegance and comfort.
Usually, one wouldn’t hesitate to squat the hotel bar – and take the opportunity to visit the interior, but for once, one finds the surroundings more interesting. With street shows, and especially the Dufferin Terrace. At the end of this terrace is Les Glissades de la Terrasse, for sledding in winter.
We have a beautiful view from the Terrace, on the river, but also on the cruise ship and the streets of the Lower Town.
I advise you to walk along the street near the church next door, and the Rue du Trésor, which groups together painters, Montmartre style.
Then go down to the bottom and take the Breakneck Staircase, which leads to another very picturesque street full of pretty stores and restaurants.
If you like my dress, you can find it at Vero Moda. The hat comes from Simons and JB tells me it’s the typical hat of the Roland Garros spectators (oops, I didn’t know that).
As you can see, I am always better dressed in summer than in winter. I only have a small suitcase, I travel around the world with my winter clothes (they are technical clothes, very expensive and durable, difficult to find anywhere see the list here), but summer clothes are often bought locally, and I give them to the needy when I have to go to a colder country.
Going down a little bit, you will find the Umbrella Alley
The store just in front of this street, which is called Queues de Castor sells a kind of super addictive chocolate churros + a hot dog which is very good too.
Continue a little and you will arrive at Quai Chouinard. The view from here to the castle and the colorful houses is very satisfying. You can also see jet-skis and boats of all kinds. It is possible to take a cruise ship or the ferry to go to the other bank…
We walk up the street to get to Place Royale.
it’s a very very nice place, with a beautiful church, gemstone stores, decoration… and a Celine Dion poster for those who wonder where she is 🙂
Here is a giant snow globe, one of the city’s art installations. Moreover, following the sign, you can find others like this one:
This clown’s head is located in the antique district. A quiet area, not too touristy, and very pretty. Aim at the restaurant “buffet de l’antiquaire” to discover the district.
We go up to the funicular to go back up without effort. Before, it was only used to go up to the top of the hill, and it was covered. Then, the fashion of the panoramic funicular made it lose its roof and now we can take it for 3.5$CAD/day/person (payment in cash only).
We end this long walk with a visit of the Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral and a window-shopping session in front of the Zimmermann Jewelry Store… which is unfortunately closed today due to holidays.
What is so special about this store? For those of you who take jewelry classes like me, the videos made by the owner of this store are really precious.
This jeweler, Michel Zimmermann, a graduate of the Louvre school and having worked at Place Vendôme, does everything, absolutely everything, by hand (it’s very very rare nowadays) and shares his love of exceptional work both on YouTube and via his forum Bijoux à la cheville. One of my dreams is to make a custom jewel at his place. This day will come soon I hope 😉 For a few years now, his son has followed in his footsteps and has become a jeweler too.
46 Côte de la Fabrique, Québec, QC G1R 3V7
note: I already told how I learned how to make jewelry / my jewelry classes in Paris here. Feel free to contact my teachers mentioned in the article, they always give the courses regularly. Thierry Grave hates wax as much as I do, and I have made complex jewelry from simple silver planes thanks to him
Quebec Day is June 24th but the big concert takes place the night before. We were able to see Cœur du Pirate on stage. We recognized only her unfortunately, the other Quebec artists being unknown to us. Between the songs there is a bit of fireworks. The atmosphere is very peace & love, it smells a little bit of cannabis here and there (it’s allowed in Canada)… but we feel really safe. The police isn’t very present, everybody seems happy, it’s cool 🙂 It’s a change from Paris where there would be CRS buses everywhere for a similar event.
In short, I have the impression that it’s not in Quebec City that they celebrate Quebec Day the best, we didn’t see a parade for example, but we enjoyed this beautiful city. Everything is done on foot. It is necessary to walk a lot on the other hand (we are at 18 000 steps at the end of the day according to the pedometer of the telephone) but it is super beautiful! It looks like a small village. I recommend to come here by bus or train, the car isn’t necessary.
Part 2: Practical Tips
- Bus Montreal – Quebec – Montreal with Orleans Express: 57$CA/person
- Airbnb : 60$CA/night
- Restaurant: between 22$CA and 35$CA/person (it’s a bit expensive on Saint-Jean Street)
- Public transport: 0, everything is easily done on foot
- Funicular: $3.5 CAD/gate, cash payment only