After four rather large nights in Montreal we boarded a train to Quebec City for a bit of downtime. Travelling by train was excellent. We bought business class tickets and were one of only two pairs in the whole cabin and were attended to like pharaohs. The 3-hour train trip gave us the chance to soak up the beautiful Quebec region landscape and arrive ready for action in the afternoon. Our itinerary was full for the whole 3 days we stayed in Quebec City so we’ve decided to pull out our highlights and suggest our perfect weekend in the city.
We suggest starting your weekend off in the city. To make things simple the city can be separated into two parts, within the walls (Old Quebec) and outside the walls. Inside the walls is far more touristy but very beautiful and home to the city’s most famous hotel, Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac. No trip to Quebec City can be without a stroll through the Old Quebec, there’s so much history to soak in. Be sure to catch the view from either the top or the bottom, or both because they are equally as impressive.
We decided to eat outside the walls because it felt a bit like a tourist trap even though we were assured it wasn’t (however there was a noticeable difference!). Head to Rue Saint Jean and follow it out of the Old Quebec and into the locals part of town where can visit clothing boutiques as well as Quebec city icons including J.A. Moisan the oldest grocery store in the region and Erico a fine chocolatier where we spent a bit of money!
We opted to have dinner in the university district of downtown where arts students and digital creatives eat and play. We ate at two seriously good restaurants not too far from one another, Le Cercle and Table (which resides at the bottom of the groovy TRYP Hotel). On both occasions we drank tasty local craft beers at the nearby brewery La Korrigane before dinner.
Le Cercle treated us to the best meal of trip. We started with red tuna and pesto with truffle oil, hazelnut and cauliflower followed by an apricot stuffed rabbit and gnocchi dish served with Fois Gras, bacon, Chantal mushrooms and horseradish chips paired with a phenomenal Chilean wine – an absolutely mind-blowing concoction!
Table is another cracking restaurant; chic and minimalist with a heavy emphasis on tapas style dishes and great cocktails. Again we ate some standout dishes including a polenta croquette that was so good we ordered seconds. Le Cercle offers delicious home style cooking whilst Table gets the nod for the added wow factor.
We couldn’t go past recommending a trip to the Montmorency Falls, which is a 15min drive from the city centre. We happened to score one of the best days of weather the Falls had seen all year and were treated to the Via Ferrata expedition, which is an activity that combines hiking and rock climbing. The circuits are set up on a rock face equipped with cables, beams, and a variety of bridges. It sounds rather tame but it really gets the heart racing on the vertical rock face while looking down at the thundering waterfall!
Even if the Via Ferrata isn’t your thing lunch at the Montmorency Manoir’s restaurant, which overlooks the falls from its outdoor terrace, is a great addition to your visit and the perfect stomach filler before heading across the bridge to the Île d’Orléans for the afternoon and evening.
Next time I visit Quebec City I will spend a night on the picturesque Île d’Orléans, it really is quite special. We were lucky enough to be driven around for the afternoon and sampled the island’s famous ice cider and wine and visited Cassis Monna & Filles run by two very attractive ladies who took over the business from their father and now produce some of the finest blueberry products in the world.
Ideally you’d pick a nice B&B on the island, spend the afternoon getting liquored up on ice cider and cassis, then go for a stroll with your lady friend and take in the natural beauty of the island before retreating to an open fire and hearty meal to end the day.
A relaxing lie in followed by breakfast, preferably by a window looking across the river to Quebec City, would be the perfect way to start your Sunday before hoping in the car and heading back into the city. A walk or drive through Battlefields Park is a nice way to take in the Plains of Abraham, the manicured Joan of Arc Garden and the epic real estate that borders the park. We actually rode bicycles through the park and around the city’s extensive bike tracks that run along the river’s edge, perfect for covering ground and observing the whole city.
After exerting energy riding, a solid lunch is in order. We were lucky enough to enjoy lunch at the newly refurbished Chez Boulay bistro boreal. As soon as we walked in we knew we were going to have a good lunch, the restaurant is very inviting with a combination of funky upscale décor and a great vibe. The adventurous French menu was on par with the great service and we couldn’t recommend it enough – definitely a spot for The Versatile Gent.
We’d like to thank the Canadian Tourism Commission and Tourism Quebec for hosting us on an unforgettable trip.