Saturday, October 26, 2019

36 (ish) Hours in Quebec City

We loved Quebec City!  We stayed in Old Quebec, which had a similar vibe to Florence - a small, old, walled city, with cute shops, historic buildings, and cobblestone streets.  Our Airbnb was in a great location and we walked everywhere.

Here are our highlights!

We arrived in town around 5pm - we were literally outrunning daylight as we tried to find our apartment and get settled before sunset.  Everyone was a little stir crazy after a 9 hour road trip, so we got some wiggles out exploring the apartment and settling in.  We had read a recommendation for Restaurant Parmesan and were excited to discover that it was literally a 2 minute walk from our apartment (which became a 10 minute walk when we got turned around on the winding roads.). Unfortunately it was all booked, but the manager sent us two doors down to Polina Pizzeria.  They sat us right away and we had a good meal.  It wasn't anything to write home about, but the kids were happy with pizza and pasta and the vibe was very kid friendly.  

We had a rocky night's sleep, but everyone was still excited to get out on Thursday morning to start exploring.  We knew that we only had one full day in QC and decided to spend the day walking and wandering to see as much of the sights as we could.  

- Breakfast at Paillard.  Voted best croissants in Quebec City!  The treats were yummy, although the atmosphere felt a little sterile - I don't think it's a chain, but it felt very modern and grocery like.  But no one was sad to start the day with chocolate pastries, so it got a thumbs up all around.
- Horse drawn carriage ride!  This was something that Henry had really wanted to do in Florence and we couldn't pull it off, so we promised him we would make it happen in Quebec.  It was awesome!  The driver let all six of us ride in one carriage and bundled us up under warm blankets for a tour of the city.  He took us around Old Quebec as well as parts of the new city.  It was a great way to get our bearings and see a lot of the city, and Zach and I found the driver's narration to be very informative.  The kids loved the ride and were especially excited to feed carrots to the horse at the end.  

- Benjo toy store: The kids had read about the store in the travel books and knew it was enormous and had a special kids-only entrance.  They were sold :) It was kind of off the beaten path, into the new city, but it was a nice walk and not hard to find.  We timed our arrival at the toy store with Zach's work conference call, so he settled into the store's cafe while the kids and I wandered for almost an hour.  They all made some hard decisions about how to allocate their souvenir money, but everyone left with some sort of special treasure (small enough to carry, as was the rule!).
- Crepes for lunch: We were fading a bit and needed an energy boost, so found a sweet little creperie for lunch, called Casse Crepe Breton.  It had an open "kitchen" where we could watch them making the crepes from our table.  We had a combination of sweet and savory crepes and everything was delicious!

- Chateau Frontenac, Terrace Dufferin, funicular ride and Quartier Petit Champlain: After lunch, we wandered over to explore the boardwalk around the Chateau Frontenac.  Zach and I had stayed there when we visited before kids and it made for a lovely, high end potty stop with the kids!  Everyone was wide-eyed about the toboggan slide and begged to return during winter carnival someday.  We rode the funicular down to the Quartier Petit Champlain, which was a short but fun ride with a good view.  We poked in and out of some cute shops, had fun checking out all of the Halloween decorations on the streets, got a maple taffy treat (yum!), and found a gorgeous umbrella installation where we took some pretty photos.  

- Dinner at Cafe du Monde in the Old Port. We went back to our apartment for some down time before heading out again for dinner. We decided to go down to the Old Port, which was one of the only areas of the old city that we hadn't explored yet. It was about a 15 minute walk from our apartment and had great views of the port and its giant cruise ships. Having had Italian for dinner the night before, we wanted something more French bistro and this fit the bill. The restaurant was enormous, had a great kids' menu, and good bistro fare for adults too. Erin and I shared a maple sugar pie for dessert, which was a delicious local treat that we are hoping to replicate at home for Thanksgiving!

Everyone slept much better after Thursday's adventures and we woke up hungry on Friday!  We knew we had to check out of our Airbnb by 11am so we got an early-ish start and headed out for another bakery destination.

- Breakfast at Le Paingruel and coffee at Cantook Micro Torrefaction: WORTH THE WALK!!  Now this was the kind of authentic, local, French bakery we were looking for.  It was about a 15 minute walk from the apartment, outside the walls of the old city, and totally worth it.  The bakery was a tiny little shop with a lovely baker.  We drooled over all the treats before settling on a good variety of choices - and actually went back in for seconds after we polished those off.  Erin got a pear and chocolate pastry that she swears is the best thing she has ever eaten.  We also got coffee across the street at a bustling local shop, which was the perfect complement to our breakfast.  We took a baguette to go and headed back toward the old city.
- Walking the walls of the old city: You can walk all around the old city on top of the city walls, which Zach and the big kids did while Henry and I headed back to the apartment to pack up.  This turned out to be a good decision, as Zach was surprised to find that there are no railings in many spots up on the pretty high old walls!  They walked the walls all the way around to the boardwalk near the Chateau for some great views and sights.

- Montmorency Falls: we packed up and headed out of town around 11am and drove to Montmorency Falls, just outside of Quebec City.  This was super easy to do and worth the stop.  We explored on foot for awhile, and Zach and the big kids walked across the falls on the footbridge while Henry and I found a playground right next to it (another smart decision for the height fearing among us!).  We all took the funicular/tram from the top to the bottom of the falls.  This was a great ride with really good views of a different side of the falls, and the kids liked the little souvenir shop at the bottom.  
We spent about an hour at the falls before hitting the road for Montreal.  Overall, we had a great time in Quebec City and felt like we were able to hit all of the highlights in the time we had.  If we had to do it again, we would have tried to arrive a few hours earlier in the afternoon on Wednesday to give us a little more daylight time to explore upon arrival, but there really isn't anything major that we had hoped to do that we didn't fit in.  It was such a cute, old city with a very European feel, and had plenty of sights and shops for adults to enjoy while simultaneously being very kid-friendly.  

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