After a somewhat lacklustre time in Ottawa, my Mum and I were ready for something different. Thankfully, Quebec City did not disappoint.
Yes, it was cold. Yes, it was hilly. And yes, it was worth it.
By the time we got to Quebec City and into our (gorgeous) apartment, the sun was going down, so exploring was not at the forefront of our minds. Instead, of course, was food. We stayed in Old Quebec City, on Rue St Jean; the perfect location for exploring, and a short walk to a variety of options for rumbling stomachs.
After less than a minutes walk, we were inside a bar, drinking beer (recommended by the amazing waiter), ordering food and listening to an absolutely first class playlist (Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, The Lumineers, First Aid Kit, Kacey Musgraves – my personal favourites. It was as though they’d plugged my phone in. Or listened to our Spotify playlist! ((https://l.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fopen.spotify.com%2Fuser%2F112265950%2Fplaylist%2F1BrMyYMyXXkv1AqF53pnub&h=KAQH80t3W))
Once our stomachs were full, we braved the 30 second walk through the cold back to our apartment and settled in, ready for an early morning rise in order to join a walking tour.
The Grand Tour
After piling on all of the jumpers and warm clothing I had (it was April, by the way. I’m not just being dramatic; it was genuinely very cold), we left for a walking tour we’d prebooked online. We did ‘The Grand Tour‘ which is organised by ‘Tours Voir Quebec’. It costs about $23 (CAD) and lasts about two hours, which is excellent value.
I’ll admit that I knew very little about the history of Quebec, and in all honesty, Canada, but in two hours I had my eyes opened. The guide knew a heck of a lot, and was ready and excited to answer questions on any subject related to Quebec/Canadian History. She talked us through streets, buildings, restaurants, wars…
I learnt a hell of a lot. Not just on Quebec, either. The people on the tour enlightened us on their lives too. I didn’t need to know all of it, such as the detailed description of where a lady buys her purses with cats on, but you know – you win some, you lose some.
As always I won’t ruin a potential trip there for you by giving out the information they provided on the walking tour; you can go there and hear it for yourself! I will however, mention perhaps my favourite bit of the tour… Aldo the Donkey, who lives at the Cathedral.
There are plenty of amazing things to see in Quebec City; beautiful churches, the Capitol, chateau frontenac, parliament… Definitely stop by all of those, but stop by Aldo on the way too. He lives in a little walled garden, and gets a lot of attention.
I’d definitely recommend this tour, but prepare yourself for how cold it’s going to be if you go at that time of year. The good thing about off season travel is that its much quieter and cheaper; they said that in summer thousands of people get off cruise ships and fill the tiny, cobbled streets, which sounds a lot less pleasant than our experience. All great, aside from the fact that its much colder off season. It’s up to you which you’d prefer!
After the tour, we were hungry yet again, so went into a little tea shop to warm up, and indulge in Chai Tea Lattes, and macaroons, which my Mum realised she’d somehow never had before!
It was getting on in the day by the time we plucked up the courage to venture outside again; honest to god, it was like walking around in a freezer – a week before this I’d been in shorts and my body was not prepared. So we decided to have a wander around some streets we hadn’t explored during the tour (Around Rue Notre Dame); Quebec City is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve been to – it’s like walking around in history. We then meandered back to our apartment to get ready for dinner.
We only had two nights in Quebec City, so like Ottawa couldn’t visit every single attraction, but I feel like we saw a lot on the walking tour and did manage to get to the heart of the city, which is full of history, culture and acceptance.
It was just the right amount of time, and left us with more to explore on our next visit. If you’re planning a trip, I would definitely stay in the Old Town, and start with a walking tour. Then, if you have time, there are a lot more options of things to do; The Citadel and Montmorency Falls are top of my list.
Our next stop… Montreal!