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.
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.
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.
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.