Joyeux Noel in Quebec City

This is the second part of a three-part series about where to go to get into the holiday spirit.  I previously wrote about my adventure in the Bavarian town Leavenworth, Washington. Today, we venture to our northern neighbor, Canada, where we get cooler temperatures and a European experience this side of the Atlantic.  What city am I talking about?  Quebec City!

Quebec City has been on my bucket list for a very long time.  I’d been longing to visit for some time, and honestly as a child, I really enjoyed Epcot where you had a nice view of the Chateau Frontenac. So when it came time to choose a destination that might be ideal to experience holiday activities, we chose Quebec.  We lucked out on flight prices too as at the time, we found some decently priced tickets.

Leading up to the trip, I wondered if I had much too high expectations. People I spoke with who had been to Quebec City said it was lovely, but December isn’t a good time to visit.  It’s better to go in the summer, fall or in February during the big ice festival.  Well, I wasn’t going to let this get the better of me, so I went into the trip eager and excited.  I was not disappointed.

Holiday Activities

So what’s there to do for the holidays?  Well, Quebec City doesn’t have the big festival that Leavenworth has, but they have plenty to do to occupy your time and get you into the holiday spirit.  Honestly, the most charming thing about Quebec City is walking around and looking at all the shop displays and at night seeing the holiday lights shine against the old buildings.  It’s gorgeous.

They had a German Christmas Market not too far from where we were staying. There were many booths set up of gifts and crafts you could buy.  There was gluhwein, gingerbread and sausages.  I liked seeing all the holiday lights. We went twice to just wander around.

Old Port Market or Marche du Vieux-Port also has a Christmas Market. Here you can get many delicious edible items as well as beautiful Christmas ornaments.  I ate the most wonderful warm donuts.  We visited this place a few times – it’s an easy walk from lower town.  Definitely check it out for wine, jams, jellies and a more.

Visit the Lower Town and the Petit Champlain District.  I loved loved loved it down there.  It’s such a charming area of town. Get your photo taken with Santa and wander through all of the shops.  Seeing the lights hanging from the buildings and the wooden reindeer Christmas displays were absolutely charming.

Take a walk through the historic Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac.  When we were there, they had beautifully decorated Christmas trees throughout. It was very festive.

Go ice skating!  The Place D’Youville is light up with lights for the holidays, and don a pair of skates and get out there for a few laps around the rink.

Other Activities

Our main activity was shopping. There were so many great shops. The fudge shop, the shop where you could buy donkey milk soaps, clothing stores, the glass blowing shop, the maple syrup shop, and the Cool as the Moose shop where you can get your photo taken with a big Moose.  The list goes on and on. I got many wonderful Christmas gifts for friends and family there, and I bought some beautiful yet inexpensive art from one of the shops in the Lower Town.

Old Quebec offers so much. Visit Place Royale and the Rue du Petit-Champlain.  This area is so picturesque and is also apparently one of the oldest commercial streets in North America.  We really enjoyed having a hot cocoa to warm up at La Maison Smith.

Take a stroll around the Plains of Abraham.  While the exhibitions weren’t open we were there, it was a nice walk with views of the City.  Also take a walk near Parliament to see the building.

If you are freezing and looking for an indoor activity, visit the Musée de la civilization. The exhibitions are changing, and it’s a nice way to learn more about Quebec’s history.

Pop into some of the art galleries.  They are all over the place and have some interesting pieces.

Mainly, we just loved walking around the city, popping into stores, and taking it all in.  We did SO much walking up and down from the lower and the upper town just exploring rather than visiting sites per say.  I loved it.  But do be aware it can be very cold so bundle up.

Where to Stay

Quebec City has many accommodation options.  You can choose to stay in the Upper or Lower town.  Both have their benefits.  We stayed in the Upper Town.  Interestingly enough, many years ago, I pinned a hotel on one of my Pinterest boards, and came across it again.  It’s called the Place d’ Armes.  It was right across the cobblestone street from the Chateau Frontenac and an easy walking distance to nearly everything.  It came with breakfast at their restaurant Chez Jules. We had an early morning flight, and they actually packed us to go boxes the night before.  Everyone was so friendly, and our room was so cute. It had a historic and romantic feel while still having modern touches. I loved the stone walls.

Where to Eat

So we had a delicious breakfast each morning at our hotel.  We didn’t eat lunch, but usually grabbed a hot chocolate and sweet treat in the afternoon at La Maison Smith.

There are a lot of restaurants in Quebec City, but we chose to not eat traditional French food.  Instead, we visited an Italian restaurant Conti Caffe.  It was OK.  We also visited a pizza place called La Pizzaio.

This was a cute little place near the Old Port with very friendly service.  We had delicious hamburgers at Les Trois Garçon and we visited a pub called Saint Alexandre.

Final Thoughts and More Info

I definitely want to return to Quebec City. There were a few activities that I wanted to do that we didn’t have time for.  This included a visit to the Île d’Orléans. I can only imagine how magical place it is to see all the historical buildings, visit a sugar shack and just take in the culture.  Parc de la Chute-Montmorency also is on my to do list.  The waterfall looks really cool, but we were concerned about the weather in December so didn’t try to do a daytrip out there.  Further out of Quebec City, I’d love to see Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre Shrine and the Charlevoix area.  Sounds like I need to plan another trip!  Do check out the Quebec City Tourism site though for much more information.

Stay tuned for the third and final part of the series – getting into holiday spirit at the happiest place on Earth.

Who knew Epcot would inspire me to want to visit Quebec?!

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