Temps are finally dropping (everywhere except Miami) and in anticipation of the Winter season I want to share my visit to Quebec City with you. I saw snow for the very first time this year! This was a huge deal for me and I was so excited. We chose Quebec City for it’s European charm and guaranteed blankets of clean, white snow. Quebec City is an old town with a romantic soul. Its historic cobblestone streets and 400-year old buildings welcomed us just as it has others for centuries. We visited on Valentine’s Day weekend so we were ready for a romantic weekend of adventure, R&R, and winter carnival festivities.
Where we stayed
Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac is absolutely fantastic. It is a luxurious historic hotel that is actually the most photographed hotel in the world and it’s easy to see why. It is a beautiful castle that reminds me of those I saw in France and as a self-proclaimed Francophile, I was in heaven! Our room was a spacious and beautifully appointed guest room situated at the very top of one of the towers overlooking the St. Lawrence River. It was a perfect blend of modern luxury and old world class.
There are so many things to do in Quebec City that visiting only for a weekend just wasn’t enough time. We went for a long weekend. Lucky for us it’s just a short flight away so we plan to visit again for the Winter Carnival but also in the summer for their summer festival, Festival d’été.
Friday: The day after we arrived we set off to go dogsledding and snowmobiling. The Concierge set up our itinerary with Expedition Mi-Loup. Our driver was ready for us at the lobby at promptly 12pm and we actually enjoyed the 45 minute drive because it was just so pretty outside. When we arrived we were greeted and offered all the equipment we could possibly need. We came prepared with hand warmers and appropriate clothing but took up their offer for helmets because you can never be too safe!
Snowmobiling was our first adventure. We got a quick tutorial and we were off! Usually, the snowmobiling is done in a large group but lucky for us we got a private tour (maybe it was a slow day). It was so cool to be riding down the snowy roads lined by tall trees. It was a total change of scenery for me and we stopped to take some pictures then headed back to the camp.
After warming up with some chocolate chaud
we were ready for dogsledding. The dogs are well taken care of and are so ready to run! The way it works is, one person sits low to
the ground holding the reins and the other is standing behind managing the brake. The dogs were so strong that my entire body weight on the brake wouldn’t even slow them down so I was officially in charge of the reins. It was so cold that day! I really recommend wearing mittens and not gloves since your hands can retain body heat more easily that way.
Saturday: We took a day to enjoy the Chateau and booked a couples’ massage at the spa. The city is bursting with character and it’s so nice to just walk around and take it all in. The Terrasse Dufferin just outside the Chateau is a beautiful lookout point to see the St. Lawrence River but it was just too cold for this Miami girl to stay out in the snow for too long… We had so much fun tobogganing outside. Next time we hope to explore a bit more and take in more sights and history.
Sunday: Quebec City’s Winter Carnival is the largest winter carnival in the world. The entire city participates in Le Monde de Bonhomme. Everyone is cheerful and so many ice sculptures line the streets. We were lucky enough to be there during it’s 60th anniversary! There was a beautiful ice palace that we toured in front of Parliament and there were fully stocked “ice bars” everywhere. At the actual carnival location, there were huge ice sculptures waiting to be judged, dog races, and delicious maple taffy Québécois style.
- This year the Carnival will be going on from 1/29/2016 – 2/14/2016.
Where we ate
The moment we walked into Panache we immediately knew that we were in for a treat. The ambiance was perfect and the service was first class. We only ordered from the specials that were offered that night which included a scallops appetizer (so tasty we ordered seconds), venison, veal sweetbreads, and a chocolate cherry sorbet. We enjoyed a bottle of Graffinga Malbec throughout the meal and ended it with a delicious glass of Grand Marnier. Hands down, my meal at Panache was the BEST meal I’ve ever had in my life…
Dinner and service at Café St Malo is wonderful. We enjoyed the best seat in the house right next to the fireplace. We ordered French onion soup, steak frites, duck confit, a bottle of red wine, and finished it off with some crème brulee and two glasses of Boulard.
The day we went to the Carnival was a sugar rush. We ate maple taffy (x’s 2), beaver tails (x’s 2), and cookies for breakfast but I wouldn’t have changed a thing. It was an amazingly fun day and we were able to relax and be like kids for a few hours.
What we missed
- Nordic Spa
- Ice fishing
- Valcartier Winter Playground
- Montmorency Falls
- MORE PANACHE…
Quebec City is a place I see us returning to again and again. It offers fun and adventure as well as the option for a little R&R. I highly recommend our itinerary as a great starting point for a long weekend. I know there’s a lot that we missed and I’d love to hear if you’ve been to Quebec City in the comments below!