There is one city in the world that has intrigued me and caught my attention many years ago when I heard cheese was served at breakfast, lunch and as a dessert. Paris. And while I seem to travel to many other cities, towns and villages, I have yet to board an Air France Boeing 777 to meet with my beloved, desired and romantic city. I watch movies about Paris (most recently Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris…great movie, btw). I own stationary that says “Merci” for my hand written thank you notes. I have purchased alleged French art for my home. I sometimes even throw in the occasional “Bonjour!” into my personal daily dialect. I have envisioned myself gracefully shopping at a local farmer’s market in Paris and…okay, okay. You get the point. I love a city that I have never been to. Yet. So in the meantime…
This past Labor Day weekend, Rick and I boarded the Via Rail from Montreal with our final destination being the beloved, desired, romantic city of Quebec. Quebec City has been on my mind since someone said to me, “it’s like Paris but closer. It feels much like France, the food is French, the streets are small and made of brick and the city is as delightful and European as France, without the Eiffel Tower.” Who needs the Eiffel Tower…sign me up for Quebec City! And that, we did. And my reviews are two thumbs up, 5 stars and if you haven’t been, put it on your travel list and go!
While I am a loyal Starwood Hotel gal for the obvious reasons that both my husband and my paychecks have been written by them for a combined 36 years (Rick has been with the company for 28 years, me approaching 8…and yes, do the math…I was barely a toddler when he started there…awesome), we stayed at Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac. This property is stunning, overlooking the beautiful St. Lawrence River and is deemed to BE the heart of Old Quebec. And we agree. Overwhelmed with beauty and a castle-like posture, it’s a landmark in of itself. I would highly recommend staying here.
Arriving Friday afternoon, we dropped our bags and immediately went for a run along the Plains of Abraham. Rick has a thing where every time he arrives in a new city, he runs it as he feels it gives you a good sense of the local area. Not a bad idea, despite the hills and stairs which kicked my butt 🙂 We explored upper town, the winding brick roads filled with shops and cafe’s and prayed together at the Notre-Dame Cathedral. On Saturday, we spent a few hours exploring Old Quebec and Le Petit Champlain Quarters where you can find art galleries, antique shops, cafe’s and restaurants and an amazing farmer’s market called Marche du Vieux-Port de Quebec. We indulged in an amazing brunch at Le Cochon Dingue (literal translation means ‘the crazy pig’) where I sipped a glass of my favorite New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with duck confit eggs benedict (see pic below) and Rick enjoyed the classic steak frites. Delish, highly recommend. After our afternoon siesta, we enjoyed a beverage on the terrace of the hotel where the sun was setting and the mood was relaxed and joyful. How could it not be? We ventured out around 8pm to a free (yes, free!) Cirque du Soleil outdoor show called Les Chemins Invisibles. This show can be described as, “an out-of-the-ordinary urban cabaret presented outdoors under the Dufferin highway overpass in Quebec City’s lower town district” according to the Cirque website. And that’s exactly what it was. Crazy acrobatics, music, dance, all with the moon smiling down on us. Afterwards, we went to a late dinner at Le Continental, Quebec’s oldest gourmet restaurant with a stellar rating of 3 of 351 on Trip Advisor. They prepared their ceasar salad from scratch in front of us (took lots of notes, can’t wait to do it at home!) and we ordered the Châteaubriand. We ended our evening with a walk along the St. Lawrence River while Rick enjoyed a cigar and I enjoyed working off some of the calories from dinner! It WAS our summer vacation so I had to splurge but filet at 10:30pm?! When in Rome…I mean, when in Quebec City.
Overall, Quebec has a new place in my heart. I was sad to pack my bags and leave this amazing city. But I think when you leave a city feeling a bit of sadness in your heart, you appreciate the experience more and look back with incredible memories and a new culture and passion to share with the world. And because of the love I had immediately when we arrived in Quebec, I felt it warranted my second love note blog. I hope you enjoyed it. Au revoir, Quebec City! And Paris, don’t worry, I know we will meet soon!