It’s hard not to get swept up into the beauty and romance of Quebec City.
Pedestrian reserved cobblestone streets run through the old city, weaving in and out of centuries old alleyways and around small stone shops and houses.
Eager to explore what the City had to offer, we researched a few walking tours and then decided to head out on our
own free version. If you hope to do the same walk, here’s a little map to help you out. The pink line is our hotel, and the red is our walking tour, guaranteed to hit all the major highlights!
Me, in my proper winter footwear..and Cole, in his dress shoes. Which he’ll admit, were pretty demolished at the end of our 4 days.
Our tour started at the Chateau Frontenac, one of the most photographed buildings in North America (or so I overheard from another conversation).
To get there, we had to trek our way up around the old city, and climb ourselves up a giant set of stairs.
^ I won’t even pretend that I didn’t need to take breaks.
We began by walking along the Promenade des Gouverneurs, a boardwalk that surrounds the Chateau and leads towards the Plains of Abraham. Overlooking the lower city and out onto the river, it was easy to imagine it jam packed with tourists during the summer.
Spotted along the walkway were giant verandas covered in a green and white décor.
With their vintage appearance, we started picturing what the boardwalk looked like many years ago, with gentleman in suits and top hats, and ladies in their best pastel-coloured dresses.
Below the boardwalk were the remains of the old city wall and a recently updated funicular for those wanting to avoid the hike.
The boardwalk has exceptional panoramic views of the St. Lawrence River as you watch the ferry make its way to Levis or tanker ships cruise by towards their next destination.
After huffing and puffing through a few more flights of stairs, we reached the top of the boardwalk sitting above the Citadel and just beside the Plains of Abraham. If you’re a history buff, this place is your jam.
But for me, wandering around fields of snow and mud wasn’t my ideal way to spend the afternoon…
We walked along the fortifications, peeking into the army base and avoiding as many puddles as possible before heading onwards.
As you exit the old city, you cross through remnants of the city wall and head into the touristy Grand Allee district.
Greeted by a massive parliament building, complete with round staircase, fountain, and mandatory sculptures.
Having been over 8 years ago (and in the summer), I can attest that it’s a pretty gorgeous spot when the grass is green and the water is flowing.
By now we had worked up a bit of appetite after climbing stair after stair, so we stopped at a patio for a few drinks to enjoy the sun and warm weather. By the time we were done, there wasn’t an empty table left! Clearly Quebeckers and tourists alike can appreciate a good sunny day in early April.
Grand Allee is where you will find the majority of Quebec nightlife, lined with boutique restaurants, Brazilian steakhouses, coffee shops, and of course, nightclubs.
Eager to have my first Pain au Chocolat, I pulled up a list of the best Quebec pastry shops and plotted the locations of a few nearby spots. The closest being Boderon et fils on Avenue Cartier. Living up to the hype, the pastry was flaky and light, stuffed with a soft milk chocolate.
It’s a bit of a walk, but if you want to see where the locals hang out, you have to make the trip. Avenue Cartier reminded me a lot of Calgary’s 17th Ave – absolutely packed with people bustling along a strip of restaurants and trendy shops.
The one thing I noticed was that EVERYONE was eating these incredible looking chocolate (or caramel) dipped ice cream cones.
We tried to navigate our way to the source, but by the time I had enough courage to ask some high-school girls where it was, we were too far to go back. So, if you like ice cream, here’s the scoop. Check out Mon Chocolat favoris. It’s my only regret.
Avenue Cartier intersects with Rue St. Jean which will lead you through another local hot spot (with much more affordable meal prices) and down around and back to the old City. If you need nourishment along the way, stop in for some excellent, soft gelato at Tutto Gelato (the Bacio and Stracciatella are both amazing) or Paillard for another pastry.
It’s a great way to see some cool sh*t and get a feel for the Quebec lifestyle.
If you’re wondering where we finally gorged our appetites – head on over to Restaurant L’Initiale. It’s super pricey but the food is excellent. If you read my post on the Post (hah!), you’ll recognize the company.
I had the Halibut and it was deadly. One of the best fish I’ve had and super filling. And for dessert, I had a white chocolate ball stuffed with maple syrup, paired with a freshly baked madeline (drooooool) and fruit.
Cole had the 5 course tasting menu which was pretty awesome too. If you’re a foodie, this spot is your safe haven.
If you need more ideas, check out my post on Things to do in Quebec City