Dust off your elementary French and head north of the border for a holiday full of Christmas magic!
There is something magical about cold, snowy Christmases to me. With little chance of that here this year, my heart yearned for the holiday memories of youth — snowflakes, hot chocolate, ice skating. All this (and more) is available in quaint, charming Quebec City where the buildings wear their festive best and Christmas spirit abounds. So off we were, prepared for new holiday memories French Canadian style. Read on to discover more for your next visit north!
Soupe a l’oignon
We wouldn’t visit French Canada without eating onion soup! Although widely available, our favorite was at Bistro Le Sam located in Le Château Frontenac, the most photographed hotel in the world. The upscale locale provides outstanding service and views overlooking the Saint Lawrence river. What really distinguishes Le Sam’s is the perfectly complementary topping of 1608 cheese, produced by Laiterie Charlevoix about 90 minutes north of Quebec City. We couldn’t locate it in the nearby grocery, so another trip may be necessary just to buy this cheese!
Toboggan Slide Au 1884
This attraction towers near Château Frontenac on Dufferin Terrace. The traditional toboggan dates to 1884 and operates daily during the winter season, weather permitting with holiday exceptions. You can buy tickets, hot chocolate and sandwiches at the nearby café. Up to four can ride one toboggan, and the heavier the load, the faster you go! Ice tracks keep you on course, and the rubber mat at the bottom stops you. Grab the mittens and a sled!
Marché de Noël allemand and Quartier Petit Champlain
Quebec City hosts a German-style Christmas market from late November until just before Christmas . Expect to find local drink and noshes such as hot tomato wine and wild boar and buffalo sausages (highly recommended!). Hungry? There are wursts, gingerbreads and a heated tent to warm up while chowing down. Local artisans showcase high-quality gifts and one-of-a-kind souvenirs.
In the fortified area below Château Frontenac lies Quartier Petit Champlain, lined with beautifully decorated historic buildings housing restaurants and artisan shops. The center boasts a large tree perfect for holiday pictures, and each end displays large murals to admire. Active travelers can climb up and down the stairs and hills between upper and lower towns, while tired legs can transition quickly and affordably with the Funiculaire.
Speaking of hot chocolate….
The BEST is Bar Artefact’s, served handmade by the pitcher. One pitcher serves four with butter cookies coated in pearl sugar. The modern atmosphere displays locally discovered artefacts in lighted recesses with cozy seating. Artefact also offers a great selection of nearby craft brews. You can see the Gros Pin (Big Pine) Irish Red with its unique artwork.
There are plenty of public rinks to get your skate on, including Place D’Youville. The surrounding buildings are lit festively, the rates are affordable (they rent skates), and hot chocolate and heaters nearby warm frozen fingers. The theatre behind contributes ambiance with a carol-singing chorus and live webcam so far away friends and family can check your skills. Or lack thereof, in our case!
Hotel Palace Royal centre-ville Quebec
We REALLY enjoyed this hotel! We used our Expedia rewards, but you can book directly with the Jaro chain here. Normally, corner rooms are delightful, but… interior rooms offered private balconies overlooking the pool area (hello, envy!) We experienced unavailable menu items with onsite dining , but walkability to other options made this a non-issue . A small refrigerator, microwave, and coffee maker with coffee and tea were supplied. The grocery store was nearby, and the tabagerie on the bottom floor offers beer, wine, sandwiches, and necessities. Check-in time (4:00 PM, 16:00) was quite busy with a wait for the lobby elevators. The amenities were least crowded between 11:00 (checkout time) and dinner.