Old Quebec City is a Slice of Europe in Canada

While St. Pierre and Miquelon is the only part of France left in North America; Quebec City is far and away the most European city in North America. Quebec City just oozes France around the magical streets of Vieux Quebec or Old Quebec City. Its charming cobblestone streets snake around hilly curves much like Montmartre in Paris. Pedestrian lanes dotted with cafes and shops are the norm, not the exception, and the French language fills the air in Old Quebec City.
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Old Quebec City is one of three walled cities left in North America and is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site is incredibly well preserved and is a true pleasure to meander around. Everything from the small alleys to the copper roofs is seemingly flawless.
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No matter where you go in Old Quebec City there is one landmark that you cannot escape. This is the Chateau Frontenac Hotel. It is the most photographed hotel in the world and I can surely say one of the most beautiful I have ever seen anywhere in the world.
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What’s amazing about Chateau Frontenac, which is a Fairmont property, is that it is the symbol of the city. It is the most recognizable landmark in the city. When people think of Quebec City, the first thing that comes to mind is Chateau Frontenac. It is that beautiful and that striking. The only other city I can even think of where a hotel is the symbol of the city is Dubai with the Burj Al Arab Hotel. (On a personal note, I consider the Burj Al Arab to be the tackiest hotel I’ve ever seen.)
Old Quebec City, Quebec City, Quebec, Vieux Quebec, Chateau Frontenac, hotel, Fairmont, old city, city, travel, St, Lawrence River, river, walled city, UNESCO, world heritage site
Chateau Frontenac graciously hosted me for four nights during my stay in Quebec City. It is as elegant inside as it is outside. The rooms and common space are a bit dated but maintain their classic appeal. A massive renovation is scheduled to begin later this year to modernize the Chateau but still maintain its classic appeal. This started earlier this winter with a new copper roof.
Old Quebec City, Quebec City, Quebec, Vieux Quebec, Chateau Frontenac, hotel, Fairmont, old city, city, travel, St, Lawrence River, river, walled city, UNESCO, world heritage site
The best thing about the Chateau Frontenac is that it is best viewed and photographed from all over the old city. My favorite spots to photograph it were along the boardwalk on the riverside of the Chateau in front of the American consulate. However, my absolute favorite was from the ferry that crosses the St. Lawrence River.
Old Quebec City, Quebec City, Quebec, Vieux Quebec, Chateau Frontenac, hotel, Fairmont, old city, city, travel, St, Lawrence River, river, walled city, UNESCO, world heritage site
The St. Lawrence is one of the worlds great rivers: grand and historic. There are two ferries that leave simultaneously every 30 minutes from either side of the river. The reason the ferry is so great is not because of what’s on the other side of the river but because of the views it affords of Old Quebec City and Chateau Frontenac. It reminds me of the Manly Ferry in Sydney or the Staten Island Ferry in New York where you ride it for the views as opposed to the destination.

Since I was visiting Quebec City in January, the St. Lawrence was frozen in many parts and the ice in the river really enhanced the experience. Ice can be so hypnotic and the strong current of the St. Lawrence River makes it hard to not fixate on the flowing ice. Coupled with the views of the Chateau, it makes for an awesome experience and one I won’t soon forget.
Old Quebec City, Quebec City, Quebec, Vieux Quebec, Chateau Frontenac, hotel, Fairmont, old city, city, travel, St, Lawrence River, river, walled city, UNESCO, world heritage site
When back on dry, well slushy, land I was sure to try out a bunch of different little cafes and restaurants. There is little I love more than French food! My favorite restaurant I tried in Old Quebec City was Le Lapin Sauté. It is located at the bottom of the funicular to the right and the house specialties are duck and rabbit. So I had a duck foie gras appetizer and rabbit lasagna as my main. Both were stellar and very well presented.
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Some other places I ate at and liked in the old city are Le Cochon Dingue; which is a small chain in Quebec City but has very good steak frites and a cool atmosphere. Also Conti Caffe, D’Orsay and Le Continental all were pretty good and worth a try.
Old Quebec City, Quebec City, Quebec, Vieux Quebec, Chateau Frontenac, hotel, Fairmont, old city, city, travel, St, Lawrence River, river, walled city, UNESCO, world heritage site
My biggest piece of advice about Old Quebec City is to just wander aimlessly. Don’t use a map. Allow yourself to get lost; don’t worry it’s not that big so you will find yourself soon enough. I find that to be the best way to see an old town, much as you would in France itself. You won’t be disappointed. Just make sure you do one thing, especially if you’re in Quebec City in Winter, try the hot chocolate from just about anywhere-it’s amazing!

Comments

  1. Cool video, great photos….love to stay at that hotel

  2. Been to Chateau Frontenac. It’s a great hotel, I think more amazing outside then in but still a great place to experience and stay.

  3. Great photos and nice video, very cool to see that. You should post more videos.

  4. I enjoyed my stay in Canada as well. I think the Atlantic provinces, especially Nova Scotia, are equally interesting but much less visited. Thanks for this post.

  5. That hotel looks incredible

  6. I ave never ventured past Montreal in Quebec but this has sold me, thanks for giving me a new roadtrip this summer from Worcester, Massachusetts!

  7. I love Quebec City. It’s one of my favorite cities anywhere. I haven’t traveled as much as you but I have been around Europe quite a bit and QC definitely is reminiscent of a smaller French city. Great post, thank you.

  8. Oh, Canada! I need to get to Chateau Frontenac…like yesterday.

  9. Janet Heaton @Jkheaton says:

    Great post & photos Lee! Takes me back, stayed there with my family when I was young. My siblings and I had elevator races there 😉

  10. I had no idea Quebec held such a treasure! Thank you for sharing these fantastic pictures. I’ve always wanted to go to Canada, but now I want that even more 🙂

  11. I just came back from Montreal from the Queen Elizabeth Fairmont, where John Lennon and Yoko Ono had their famous bed-in. A bit dated for sure, but a Fairmont nevertheless. Also stayed at the one in San Francisco which I liked the most and the one in Toronto, but I am sure the legendary chateau in Quebec City is truly spectacular to see. Would love to see it up-close sometime soon, looks like all in all it was a great experience!

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