Good food, Great friends, Best destination
We love our kids. Honest. Now, that said, many moons ago we discovered that one of the best way to rejuvenate from the ongoing pull of parenthood is getting together with old friends or going on our own to explore a new city.
We know from heading often to Mount Ste. Anne that nothing quite matches Quebec City in wintertime.
Sure, going during Winter Carnival is an absolute blast. For parents wanting to get away, going outside of Winter Carnival alleviates the crowds and still allows you to experience Quebec City at its finest. It’s a beautiful mix of delicious eats, romantic airs, outdoor adventure and fun. Oh my god. So. Much. Fun.
We get that above everything else as parents, we don’t have time to research.
So to make it easy, here is a simple plan for a 3 day getaway to the heart of Quebec.
1) How To Get There
If you are heading out from Toronto, we LOVE Porter Airlines. We love them so much, I LRV them. Well, I do. Chris digs that they serve free beer and snacks.
For those visiting Canada, quick trips can be arranged to places like New York City, Montreal, Chicago, Mont Tremblant and Quebec City. Porter services them all for usually far cheaper than the big guys. I’ll let you in on a little secret. Sign up for VIPorter and get notified of the killer promo codes that they launch throughout the year. It is not unusual for them to offer 40-50% off flights and when they do, it is pretty easy to score flights for $200-$300. Every single time we compare flights, Porter comes in the most economical and is by far one of our customer service favourites.
2) Where To Stay
Hands down we have to say Hotel Le Germain has it all. Perfectly located, the vibe mixes luxe, modern, inviting and intimate all together for a fantastic boutique hotel experience. You are away from the kids. Treat yourself. The lounging areas on the main floor is the perfect spot for your pre-drinks meet-up before dinner or laughing into the wee hours of the morning. The outside is perfectly set to sit by an open fire, cover yourself up cozy in a blanket and drink a delicious glass of wine mid-afternoon.
3) What To Do
Sleep in! What are you thinking? You don’t have kids with you! The beds are so comfortable they will beg you to stay in. A delicious leisurely breakfast served down in the lobby is a perfect start to the day.
Spend late morning/early afternoon simply wandering through the old town of Quebec City.
Maybe head down to the river and see the ice flow change direction on the St.Lawrence as the tide changes or enjoy the ice carvings created for Carnival that blow your mind from the artistic mastery of it all.
Down by the river, you can stop in for a glass of red and a beef or salmon tartar at Q de Sac. A cozy place, the food is simple and tasty. A perfect spot to get your holiday started.
Shop or meander through the streets and then opt for the Funicular. A cheap, fun ride that gets you up to Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac when you don’t feel like hiking up the hills.
From there, stop by the old wood 1884 toboggan ride. Do it. I dare ya. Perfect for when you want to feel like a kid again.
Stop by for Charcuterie at Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac
If you’re like me and could sincerely live off olives, cured meats and cheese your next stop is 1608 Bar à vin & fromage at the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac for a mid-afternoon charcuterie plate and a cocktail (or two).
From there head back to the hotel for a change from the day. Have a nap (among other things) because you are an away-from-your-children party animal, which means you just GOTTA stay up later than the usual.
Meet down in the lobby of Hotel Le Germain for pre-game by the fire then head out to one of the many amazing restaurants in the area. (We would highly recommend making reservations as it was quite full. The front desk was amazing at helping us out with this).
4) Where To Eat
You really could go anywhere in Old Town, Quebec City and enjoy the meal but one that we experienced that by far exceeded our expectations was Boulay.
Boulay : A Boreal Bistro
We loved Boulay for a number of reasons but most especially, because of the focus on responsible cooking and sourcing locally to create its seasonal menu. This means you will see selections like Arctic Char, Salmon and Venison in the winter season mixed with the likes of elderberry, marinated beets, or kohlrabi. There were a number of vegan options as well which made this our number 1 pick in terms of supporting local, beautiful ambience, incredible wine list and the experience as a whole.
Finish the night off with a drink and a bit of live music. Much like Europe, the fun starts late in Quebec City which means you will most definitely come across live music as you wander down the hill. The options are endless as we saw a fabulous singer-songwriter at Saint Alexandre Pub and a Punk-Celtic Band at St.Patrick Pub. Basically, look for the word pub anywhere and you will have good music to accompany your already good time.
5) Where to Go
We are not necessarily ones for going to the usual attractions but I have to say, the Ice Hotel was a great addition to our trip. Well worth the money to go explore, check out the rooms, have an ice shot, go snow tubing, and enjoy the crunch of frozen maple syrup on a stick that they do on the hotel grounds. It is fascinating how they create this piece of art and maintain throughout winter. A truly Canadian experience.
Total MUST Do
Every time we head to Quebec City, we stop for crepes at Au Petit Coin Breton. Boasting as the oldest creperie in Quebec, they have figured out the recipe for crepe perfection. Whether its on your way out of town or nursing a hangover from too many venues the night before, these COULD be the best crepes of your life.
And of course, you must have Poutine. You wouldn’t be in Quebec if you didn’t stop for poutine. The calories don’t even count when you are in such a beautiful and special part of Canada.
No matter what you do, Quebec City is an opportunity to enjoy a special part of our country. Go. You won’t regret it and honestly, when you take time for yourselves, you will be a better parent when you come home.
Dad Says: Couldn’t agree more, actually. I have always enjoyed Quebec, and Q-city in winter is magical. The old city is amazing. Cold enough to drive you into any number of small restaurants and pubs to warm with some true french onion soup and a local draught, and through the winding streets there is enough of a balance of kitchy knickknacks and art stores to fill your boots.
Hidden pleasure: the Funicular. For like less than 3 bucks a head, you can go from bottom to top in style in a kind of fixed sled gondola. Puts the fun in Funicular, and you can imagine the English soldiers trying to scale the walls to get to the French barricades back in the day…no thanks. We’ll take the elevator.
The Ice Hotel is really a bunch of fun too. I went in thinking hokey, and came out surprisingly satisfied. We wandered around, had a bev, and did a best of 10 on the tube run. Here’s to Marty and Dawn for taking the title, however suspect pushing and cheating is supposed but unproven.
Chris and Jenn are travelling around the world with their 2 children in an effort to teach them global citizenship. They are focused on world schooling their little ones to not only learn essentials like Geography and Science but to also learn the importance of compassion, values and understanding of all cultures from around the world.