Quebec Part Two

The second part of my trip to Quebec was as equally memorable and beautiful as the first. We left the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac very early in the morning and drove back to Montmorency Falls to catch a train to Charlevoix. The Charlevoix region is located North East of Quebec City, along the St. Lawrence River, and is known for rolling hills, agriculture and scenic views. This renowned region has also been declared a UNESCO World Biosphere, an internationally recognized area of ecological importance. During our one hour train ride, we passed centuries old, quaint villages along the river from Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre to Baie-Saint-Paul where the train dropped us off directly at our hotel at the Baie-Saint-Paul station. Our stay for this night was at the Le Germain Charlevoix Hotel and Spa. This 4-star hotel is set on a working farm, complete with grazing cows and sheep, and was once home to a large wooden barn complex. When an accident caused the barns to burn down in 2007, the hotel was constructed on its footprint and the result is one of historic rustic elegance with chic modern amenities. Looking out the window of my room onto the farm and hills, I was captivated by the beauty of the Canadian countryside and could easily imagine being in France. Baie-Saint-Paul is a small charming 16th Century village and after lunch at Le Mouton Noir, we wandered the afternoon away through it’s narrow streets, browsing the shops and many art galleries. Returning to the hotel, we all enjoyed the pool, jacuzzi and steam room before dinner. This was exactly what was needed after an early morning train ride and a full afternoon of exploring. Dinner was at the hotel, at Les Labours Restaurant. Being on location at a farm, you can just imagine how fresh and seasonal the food was. Our dining experience was unique in that the kitchen was open on all four sides, so the food was truly the star of the show. I enjoyed a glass of red wine, a vegetarian Beet Foie Gras and Magdalen Island’s Scallops. After a long and happy day, I welcomed the luxurious comforts of my room that made it easy to unwind and refresh for our next day of adventure.

Train De Charlevoix

Train De Charlevoix

Train De Charlevoix and Le Germain Charlevox in the background

Train De Charlevoix and Le Germain Charlevox in the background

The livestock farm at Le Germain Charlevoix

The livestock farm at Le Germain Charlevoix

Le Mouton Noir

Le Mouton Noir

Fairmont Le Chateau Richelieu

Fairmont Le Chateau Richelieu

The view from my hotel room at the Fairmont Le Chateau Richelieu

The view from my hotel room at the Fairmont Le Chateau Richelieu

Day 4 started with a sumptuous breakfast before we headed to our final destination of La Malbaie and the Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu. Only 90 minutes from Quebec City, this stunning 5-star hotel sits above the St. Lawrence River and was built in 1929 to resemble a French castle. In part because of its natural beauty, it was most recently the host of the newsworthy 44th G7 Summit this past June. Area activities include snowshoeing, dog sledding and skiing in the winter and golf, hiking and whale watching in the summer. For our last night in Canada we had dinner outside on the patio at Le Table Terroir. Most memorable was my perfectly grilled steak and the variety of amazing caramels and chocolates we enjoyed at the end of the meal. On our final day, we drove back to Quebec City in a luxury bus and headed to the airport (and back to reality). My trip was just outstanding, went by far too quickly and I was sorry to see it end. Our days were filled with local food and drink, art, architecture, history and culture, amazing scenery, outdoor activities and superb accommodations. Quebec is such an easy flight from New York but mentally it’s a world away, so there’s no excuse to not visit again (and again). I can’t thank Quebec Tourism enough for the opportunity to experience this very historic and beautiful Canadian province and the for the lasting memories that it brought.  It was a great, great trip.

La Malbaie, Quebec

La Malbaie, Quebec

Quebec City

Last month I had the pleasure of traveling with a small group of writers and bloggers to Quebec City with Quebec Tourism. Quebec City is located on the Saint Lawerence River, in the predominantly French speaking province of Quebec. My accommodations three nights were at the Fairmont Frontenac, an historic and elegant hotel that just celebrated it’s 125 anniversary in June. This landmark hotel has hosted many world leaders and celebrities, including Charlie Chaplin, FDR, Winston Churchill, Alfred Hitchcock, Paul McCartney and Celine Dion.

Outside Le Chateau Frontnec

Outside Le Chateau Frontnec

The lobby of Le Chateau Frontnec

The lobby of Le Chateau Frontnec

This first night in the city started with dinner at the exceptional Restaurant Louis-Hebert in Old Quebec City.  I thoroughly enjoyed the succulent veal, a local "ambre" beer and for dessert the insanely delicious “Opera” cake. After dinner, we headed to the Festival d-ete de Quebec, the largest music festival in Canada. I was fortunate (and thrilled) to see the Foo Fighters live in concert at the Plaines d’Abraham venue and on this night it was filled with over 200,000 people. It was awesome to be immersed in the culture with everyone around me speaking French. The Foo Fighters are legendary and they put on an amazing performance. 

Foo Fighters concert

Foo Fighters concert

Opera Cake

Opera Cake

 

The next day we continued to explore the incredibly beautiful and charming Old Quebec. This part of the city seemed untouched by modern times and the architecture, gardens and cobblestone streets were something out of a storybook. I was also impressed by all the different types of roofs and original antique doors. Later, on our walk to dinner, we explored Place-Royale, an area settled in 1608 by the French explorer Samuel de Champlain that is also the home of Norte-Dame-des Victoires, the oldest stone church in North America. We stopped for a beer at La Cour Arriere du Festibiere, a micro brew pub on the St. Laurence River overlooking the Port of Quebec. This seasonal pop-up bar is unique in that it offers seating in a large wading pool, making it a perfect place to cool off on a summers evening. Dinner was at Chez Muffy, located in an historic shipping warehouse dating to the 1600’s and part of the new Auberge Saint-Antoine hotel. This restaurant focused on local seasonal flavors, and shared plates. Everything was farm to table sourced from the hotel’s own farm so the food was fresh and delicious. I started with an appetizer of asparagus and herring, continued with the rigatoni pasta course and ended with a perfectly grilled steak  For dessert, the chocolate soufflé with fresh mint ice cream satisfied my sweet tooth. The food, setting and company made this a memorable night! One of the more interesting things about the Auberge Saint-Antoine is the number of French and English artifacts found during an archaeological dig on the property before the hotel was built in 1992. Hundreds of items from a canon to personal belongings were unearthed and are now on display throughout the public areas and private rooms. The Port of Quebec was once North America’s busiest port and it certainly has the history to prove it. 

Downtown Quebec City

Downtown Quebec City

Downtown Quebec City

Downtown Quebec City

Place Royal, Quebec

Place Royal, Quebec

Day 3 highlights of touring Quebec City included visiting The Ursulines Museum. This is a museum of priceless artifacts  and works of art located on a former convent of the Ursuline order of Catholic nuns. The original nuns arrived from France in 1639 with a specific job to educate girls, making it the oldest girls school in North America. The convent, including a chapel and garden has been rebuilt and renovated several times and was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1972. We also got a chance to visit Montmorency Falls, just a short drive from Quebec City. This spectacular waterfall, at 276 feet is 99 feet taller than Niagara Falls and drops from a cliff of the Montmorency River into the Saint Laurence River at it’s base.  There’s a suspension bridge across the top of the Falls and a tram that takes visitors from the base to the top and a series of 487 steps should you want to climb up. But I chose to see Montmorency Falls from a zip line! Outfitted in the proper gear, I zipped across the front of the falls in 15 seconds of pure adrenaline. It was an awesome ride and I highly recommend this approach for an unconventional and exhilarating memory of Quebec.  

Montmorency Falls

Montmorency Falls