There is something really magical about Old Quebec City. The city jettisons you into streets lined in cobblestones, old fortified walls, complete with European charm. Everyone whom I’ve spoken to about Québec City always has the same reaction about how blown away they were by its charm and total surprise of the authentic French feel. For the longest time I have been wanting to come here, but Europe was always trumping it. So this was the perfect solution for my boyfriend and I for a quick European trip, minus the flight and actual Europe. This was a 10 hours drive from NYC we left in the wee hours of the morning to miss the rush hour traffic, honestly it wasn’t a bad drive going or leaving. I know people who fly, but I never seem to have luck flying to Canada, a story for another time.
Old Québec or Vieux-Québec is an UNESCO World Heritage Site itself is comprised of Upper and Lower Town. In 17th century it was lost from the French to the British in the Anglo-French War, the Québécois have strong held onto its French roots since then, for a bit of history. This is why everyone speaks French, the signs are French, but the attitude is thankfully less Parisian.
We lucked out and stayed right in Vieux-Québec, I’ll link our AIRBNB. It came with a parking spot for our car which was amazing, so a lot of the stuff I talk about here are all walking distance from our Airbnb, we did not Uber or take any transportation besides the Funicular, because stairs guys.
Like I said above Vieux-Québec is comprised of Upper and Lower Town, so because of this there are a TON of stairs, and I mean a ton. Our full first day we walked 8 miles and took 71 flights of stairs via my FitBit. We opted to tour around the city ourselves, although we saw a TON of tours, but we both really wanted this vacation to be at our own pace and do what we want to do. The day we explored the city was a Wednesday in the summer, I will say, if you do decided to venture around on a weekend, prepare for a ton of crowds! We started out pretty early around 8:30 and hit the quintessential Petit-Champlain + Place Royale so we could get in all of the pictures minus the tourists. This street and all streets around are every Instgrammers dream. My suggestion go early, by mid-morning this place was swarming.
On the Petit-Champlain is the Funicular which connects you to Upper and Lower Town by 210ft, originally it opened in 1879 and has since celebrated being open for more than 125 years! Its $3.50 CAD per person for a one way ride. I admit besides being a great way to see the views it was also a much more desirable alternative to climbing up and down multiple times throughout the day like we did. The Funicular brings you right to Promenade des Gouverneurs, which is this giant boardwalk right in front of Château Frontenac. The Château Frontenac which boasts as the Most Photographed Hotel in the World can be viewed right off the boardwalk, there are plenty of things going on during the day such as live music and street performers which only grows at night. Inside the Château I know you can opt for tours but basically it’s a great place for free clean public bathrooms and uber expensive nightly stays.
We got lost around the Upper Town, here there are a ton of things to do here from cafes, historical landmarks, and shopping! We made sure to hit a few, we walked on the city wall, which by more stairs leads you to a fortified path of the city wall and it branched off into opposing directions around Vieux-Québec. The Notre Dome church was unfortunately closed and under construction, right next to it is the Art Street called Rue du Tresor. If you read some of my other posts I love collecting local street art everywhere I go. I bought three paintings from local artist Robert Charron, we ended up having a lovely conversation with him, and got some matching t-shirts for myself and Z. I am always so happy to support artists like these!
Afterwards we ventured over to Rue Saint Louis which leads to the City Wall as well as some great restaurants. We picked up a smoothie from Peppe and continued onwards. I read that a business government building had an observation floor for tourists to come view in the Marie-Guyart Building, called Observatoire de la Capitale. It went up to the 31st floor, which was pretty funny to me coming from working in NYC and my office building being on the 37th, but yes I know I’m spoiled. Either way it was highly educating and a great break from heat and stairs, I believe it was $12.00 CAD per person to do the whole thing.
Plains of Abraham is a short walk from the Observatoire which we managed to somehow go in the opposite direction, but led us too a beautiful Québécois deli where we got fresh bread, cheeses, wine, etc. but hey that’s part of getting lost! From there we walked over to the park. Plains of Abraham is a historical battlefield turned park facing the St Lawrence River. We found a beautiful little park within the huge park called Jardin Jeanne-D’Arc and settled in to enjoy all of our locally purchased assortments for lunch. It really was a perfect, cheap and great way to do as the locals do!
Old Québec has nothing short of good food options, our second night we went to the sugar shack restaurant called La Buche. This was featured on an episode of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown on his visit to this city. I so highly recommend it was our ‘expensive dinner’ and we ordered two drinks each, Z also got a meal that is originally for two people and we got an appetizer, which all came out to $180.00. The great thing about that is the US Dollar is actually stronger can the Canadian so my credit card only showed $130.00 woo! Another great dining place we went to was right on Petit-Champlain called Q-de-Sac Resto-Pub, this is right on the street with all of the umbrellas, Z’s favorite meal was there which was Braised Beef Cheek, just trust me.
My favorite meal was breakfast on our last day we didn’t really have anything planned except wander around the city. We again went to the Petit-Champlain where we stopped at Le Lapin Sauté and had Québec breakfast for two. The drinks and the meals were great we again sat outside and just had a nice leisurely brunch people watching while I sipped on cider and cognac. I’ll list all of the other places we ate, Buffet des Antiquaires for breakfast is a must, and Chic Shack for poutine! Really anywhere you go its going to be great we didn’t have one bad meal.
There is really a ton of stuff to do in this Old City, but I think the best thing about it was wandering around the beautifully preserved streets and just people watching. Normally my vacations to cities are jammed packed with museums and ruins and while that’s fun and educating this was a nice change. If you do want to visit museums which oddly enough the most famous one was down the block from our AIRBNB I’d suggest going on the city website. I did prior to my vacation and it gave a ton of informational guides for us to do based on the amount of days you were there!
|Café La Maison Smith Notre-Dame||Le Repaire||Q-de-Sac Resto-Pub|
|23 Rue Notre-Dame, Québec, QC G1K 4E9, Canada||4 Rue du Petit Champlain, Québec, QC G1K 4H4, Canada||10 Rue du Cul-de-Sac, Québec, QC G1K 4E8, Canada|
|Buffet des Antiquaires||Peppe -smoothies cafes||Chic Shack-poutine|
|95 Rue Saint-Paul, Québec, QC G1K 3V8, Canada||47 Rue Saint Louis, G1R 3Z2||15 Fort St, Quebec City, QC G1R 3Z8, Canada|
|Le Lapin Sauté||Bistro St-Malo||Restaurant La Buche|
|52 Rue du Petit Champlain, Québec, QC G1K 4H4, Canada||75 Rue Saint-Paul, Québec, QC G1K 3V8, Canada||49 Rue Saint Louis, Québec, QC G1R 3Z2, Canada|