The Charm of Quebec City. Like Europe, but closer

April 23, 2017 |  Category:   travels

Quebec City has always been one of the places from my road trip travels during college days that I’ve always wanted to return to. It was just a short visit the last time I was there – a pit stop on our way towards a much longer camping trip somewhere in the woods along the Saint Lawrence River in Quebec, but what I do remember was that the city totally charmed me.

The weather during our stay was cold and wet; old snow was still shoveled into piles along the sidewalk. It was a pretty shocking change to go back to winter weather from the previous day when we drove through Vermont in near 80 degree temperature. But there’s something undeniably romantic about a charming city like this in the rain – all the more reasons to duck into cafes and stores along those narrow, cobblestoned streets.

We happened to know quite a few families who were taking their Spring Break vacations in Europe, so I couldn’t help but compare the photos coming through my social media feeds with what we were seeing on our walks through the city. I’m not sure when we’ll ever make it to Europe with the kids – financially, that is not in the cards for us right now – but walking those ridiculously charming streets in Quebec felt an awful lot like Paris. While most people in the city switched comfortably to English once they realized that we were tourists, I noticed that we were always approached with French first. Every meal we had in Quebec City was exceptionally good – even quick bites that were unassuming and the tea that was served each afternoon at our hotel. We also had our first Poutine! We’ve always been curious about it and while we can get it in NY, we wanted to have our first poutine in Canada. I would suggest researching places first because as we found out, good poutine is excellent, but mediocre poutine is a bit disappointing.

Quebec City is a fairly small city and you can see most everything in just a couple of days. We planned our Spring Break road trip in 6 days total with just 3-4 hours of driving each day and stayed in 4 different hotels which I booked using credit card points. Our stops were Vermont, Quebec City, Mont Tremblant, Sainte Anne-de Bellevue in Montreal, and Saratoga Springs, NY. We had a strict budget that we stuck to, but the dollar is strong in Canada so that really helped. All of our hotels, except for one, came with breakfast (the Embassy Suites in Saratoga Springs has an amazing free cook-to-order breakfast if you’re ever in need of a hotel in that area), and we made a lunch at home before we left our first morning to eat in Vermont, so that helped with costs as well.

Here are some places of note on our trip:
Hotel des Coutellier, Quebec City (they hang a delicious continental breakfast by your door each morning!)
Chez Victor – our first Poutine, and it was excellent. They make their own gravy which makes all the difference, I think.
Épicerie J.A. Moisan – a multi room gourmet food store that we happened to stumble upon while trying to escape the cold and rain. But what a find! So fun to browse through.
Cafe St-Malo – we had dinner here on our last night – great food in a cozy setting.
Café Félin Ma Langue Aux Chats – a cat cafe!

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  • Kathleen April 23, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    I love this post! We are going to Quebec City in October, partly because it’s closer and less expensive than Europe!

    • Jenna April 24, 2017 at 3:44 pm

      Oh! It should be so beautiful in the Fall. As much as we had a good time, it would be so much better if we could sit outside in one of those cafe chairs!

  • MichelleV April 23, 2017 at 9:07 pm

    Thanks Jenna – just what I was looking forward to – we may attempt this August.

    • Jenna April 24, 2017 at 4:40 pm

      August would be lovely in Quebec City, I think!

  • christine April 24, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    This has been on our list of places to see, so maybe this summer. I love your pictures!

    • Jenna April 24, 2017 at 4:41 pm

      Thanks Christine. It’s totally worth a trip. It’s such a beautiful city.

  • Jen April 24, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    It was very hard for me to see all the spring break pictures from Europe too. I don’t tend to get envious but that hurt! I can do Quebec City though and smart to use your points!

    • Jenna April 24, 2017 at 4:56 pm

      Yeah, I do have trip envy sometimes! But Quebec is such an easy trip from the NE and the exchange rate right now is so good. You really do feel like you’re in another country!

  • Melissa@Julia's Bookbag April 25, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    Years and years ago, I was in Montreal and I was so struck by how reminiscent of Europe it was! What a fun trip for you all. My bucket list Canadian destination is Price Edward Island, so I can bask in all things Anne of Green Gables related 🙂

  • Lakshmi April 25, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    It feels so different from the rest of Canada. We drove to Quebec City, then did an additional drive to Tadoussac for whale watching.

    Would love to go there again.

    • Lakshmi April 25, 2017 at 1:48 pm

      Oops, I meant to say that we went to Montreal, then Quebec City, capping off the trip with whale watching. We drove from Toronto. Oh, it was a LOT of driving.

  • jude mccormick May 8, 2017 at 7:03 am

    Jenna, this is jude, Megan’s mom, and last night I thought, oh, I’ve had a sweet fine day and it reminded me of you and your blog so here I am this morning enjoying every delicious bite of it. Your photos gave my heart a dose of morning joy, a lovely way to start my day. I have a traveler’s heart, and now Quebec City is on my bucket list.

    • Jenna May 10, 2017 at 8:58 am

      Hi Megan’s mom! So nice to hear from you. Yes, Quebec City is definitely worth visiting! Hope you are well, Jude. Thanks so much for your lovely comment.

  • Louise May 25, 2017 at 11:18 pm

    Definitely check out La Banquise in Montreal if you’re ever in the area again – the poutine there is amazing! And of course, Schwartz’s Deli ~