A Winter Wonderland (Spotlight on Quebec City, Quebec, Canada)
Neither my hubby nor I are big celebrators of the holidays. It may have something to do with needing to push back on societal pressures to do more, buy, be more. More, more, more. Now forget what Christmas is supposed to mean, let’s talk about what Christmas looks like. Snow. A snow blanket decorating the city. NYC hasn’t seen a pillow-like snow in years.
So, yes, we’ve become the Grinch and his companion Max and we had every intention of spending Christmas 2018 in our undecorated cave on Mount Crumpet, ahem…I mean in Manhattan.
Then I saw a photo of Quebec City, Canada in Winter. The old town was a Winter Wonderland. All that was missing was good old Saint Nick and his sleigh.
Even better, Quebec City is an 8-hour drive or 1hr 45 min by plane from Whoville, I mean, New York City. This is the perfect winter getaway for those of us stuck in the Northeast with no snow.
Quebec City is a Canadian town that is known for its European architecture and old world charm with its stone buildings, Rose-Aimee Belange bronze sculptures, and window shopping through the narrow cobblestone streets around The Petit Champlain.
Everyone you speak to will tell you about the 20 minute Battle of the Plains of Abraham where the French lost to the British in 1759. Then most will expound on their efforts to this day to keep their French Heritage alive. They don't speak much about the times before that but the information is there. Visit the Museum of Civilization for the Aboriginal history of Quebec. The Citadelle and the Parliament Building are also interesting historical and architectural places to see. You can also have lunch with a view at the top of the Parliament building.
The Brits may have won but the French has keep it’s culture intact at least in this area of Canada.
We wanted snow and cold and that is what we got. When it’s time to get out into the cold and snow and have some fun, there is no need to get out of town. There is tobogganing outside the Chateau Frontenac. It was some of the most pure youthfully joyous fun I‘ve had in a long time. The slopes are not always open so when they are, the lines can be long.
Plains of Abraham. At the plains you can ice skate, snowshoe and cross country ski. The plains are large and there are several trails to follow.
Ferry to Levis and back. The ice, the views, the price. The ferry is the most underrated activity in the city. it is amazing to see and HEAR the boat cut through the thick chunks of ice as it crosses the Saint Lawrence River. It takes 12 minutes and costs $3.50CAD one way to cut through the ice. On other side grab a beer at La Corsaire, it has great views and a friendly staff.
If you get the chance to see a team of people ice canoeing (there are competitive ice canoe races in February) go for it. It is hilarious to watch them cut through the ice and when they can’t they step onto the ice and carry the canoe over it until they can put it back in the water. (link to a video). Who knew people did this?!
15 minutes outside of town is Montmorency Falls. You can rent a car, take a public bus or hop on a half day tour. Although it is taller than Niagra Falls, they are less grand. In the winter however half frozen falls are absolutely gorgeous. In February, you can watch people ice climb the falls.
There is so much we did not do from dog sledding to sleeping in a yurt. Next time…
A few things to note.
When you travel over a major holiday you have to remember that many activities will be on a shortened schedule or unavailable altogether.
In Quebec City in December, the sun sets between 4:00 and 4:30pm. It can really throw off your sense of time.
Many restaurant are closed in the middle of the day.
Many restaurants require a reservation. If the timing is right you can still get a table but why risk it if you really want to go.