Quebec – a French Canadian holiday

Genie Davis November 5, 2011 No Comments

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Longing to take a trip to Paris, but not quite up to the air fare? Or simply wondering what it’s like not across the pond, but north of the U.S. border? Quebec, Canada will fill the bill and is a wonderful place to spend the upcoming holiday season. Yes, it will be chilly. But you can bundle up beneath a snuggly blanket and take a carriage ride down cobble stone streets and revel in the capitol of this French Canadian province, it’s historic attractions and its shiny new hotels. You’ll feel like you’ve traveled to the old world without leaving the new, and there are bargains to be had in winter time in this lovely city.

Quebec Candada Historic Buildings

Quebec is a beautiful and historic city we loved exploring even on a chilly winter's day.

Our Accommodations

We found an incredible on line bargain at the sleek Hotel 71. Perched right on a narrow cobblestone artery in the Old Port district, not far from the shores of St. Lawrence River, the exterior of this former bank building is historically delightful with a classical 19th-century feel. Inside, the small property is stylish and friendly; and if the rooms are on the small side, they all have expansive views of the historic district or the river and plenty of natural light. Down blankets kept us cozy despite chilly winter nights. While they’ll allow a third guest in a room designed for two by adding a rollaway bed, families of four or more will need two adjoining rooms. There’s a path along the waterfront just outside the hotel that will make an idea stroll for kids of all ages. The Old Port neighborhood where the hotel is located is a great place for small cafes, and is walk able to most of the city’s historic sites.

Hotel 71 Quebec Room

Attractive and modern inside; families may need two rooms for space.

Should money be no object, you may choose to stay at the ultra luxurious Chateau Frontenac, choice of presidents and celebrities worldwide. It’s a well known landmark and completely worth a visit just to stroll the expansive, ornate lobby no matter where you’re staying. The holiday season will find the hotel beautifully decked out with a massive Christmas tree, carol singers, and afternoon cookies and cocoa.

Museological Complex

Literally right outside the door of Hotel 71, you’ll find the spacious gallery spaces in the Musée de la Civilisation which contains interactive exhibits and historical finds designed to connect past and present history with the future. The museum houses valuable collections linking the past, present and future. My kids loved the Once upon a Time exhibit, a hands on space where costumes, decor, and special effects are combined to let children of any age create their own fairy tales. While small children will be completely enthralled, even older kids will find plenty to do in this interactive exhibit. Who wouldn’t love to wave  a magic wand and light a chandelier, slay a seven headed forest monster, or enter a nighttime world of a magical forest. You could spend hours here, but don’t – there’s a city to explore beyond fairy-tale land.

Shopping District

Also near the hotel you’ll find the Rue St. Paul, a rich shopping district with wonderful stores for browsing antiques and trinkets; kids will love the variety and shop keepers are surprisingly friendly; our kids were handed candies and cookies, and shown antique music boxes. It’s a great street for a stroll, even with a stroller. Le Marché du Vieux-Port is a huge market place in the same general area, with wonderfully aromatic stands featuring everything from fish heads to French cheese – and of course, chocolate croissants. We bought a few for breakfast the next morning. Holiday season makes this a great place to score treats and last minute gifts; whether you’re looking for an ornate antique thimble or an inexpensive but eclectic wooden toy, you’ll find it here.

Quebec Statue

Everywhere you look in Quebec, something will make you feel like you're in France!

Historical Sites we Visted

Adults and kids alike will be captivated by the royal feel of the Petit-Séminaire Chapel, designed to resemble Paris’ famous Trinity Church in Paris, replete with marble altars, and tiled floors. Or, dating from 1608, stop in at the Place Royale, the site of the first French permanent settlement in Canada. This is a must-see for the historically minded. Also located here is Québec’s oldest stone church, which dates from 1688. Most fascinating, there’s a large model boat hanging from the ceiling. Early settlers brought offerings here to ensure the safe journeys of loved ones. Adjoining the church is the Centre d’Interprétation de Place-Royale where a short multi-media exhibit explains the city’s history, a must for older kids and adults; the smallest travelers may not be as historically inclined.

Kids of all ages will enjoy a visit to the military outpost of La Citadelle, where they can watch the colorful changing of the guard. And just next door is Battlefields Park, also called the Plains of Abraham, with a huge grass expanse for running, playing, or possibly, during the holiday travel season, tossing snowballs. You can find more military color and enormous canons to climb at Musee du Fort. This is another stop that you’ll find it hard to tear away from – if your kids are old enough to climb, climb they will, and run they must.

Should the weather allow and you want to fly a kite, head over to the Parc Linéaire, and follow the winding paths along the St. Charles tributary of the St. Lawrence, where your kids can join the local crowd kites aloft. Of course you’ll need to purchase one first, and you’ll find kiosks selling them at the Baie de Beauport, where you can also rent pedal boats to ply the river itself, if you’d like. Holiday season will find the trees strung with lights; and should you finally take that carriage ride, the horses will be decked out in holiday finery too. And you’ll feel positively – Parisian.

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Genie Davis is a multi-published fiction author, screen and TV writer, and travel writer. If it was possible, she'd like to spend every day traveling. www.geniedavis.com

Tags: Travel Excursions

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