Here are a few recommendations from a first and fairly short visit to Quebec City before heading south into the countryside for fall foliage.
There are two parts to old Quebec – the lower historic area of the Place Royale, and the upper city 300 feet or so and a steep climb above the lower city. Both the funicular, and the Ecolobus provide an alternative to the Escalier “casse-cou” (literally "neck-breaking" stairs).
Tour the Place Royale and Vieux Quartier early in the morning, before the day tourists arrive and the kitschy souvenir shops open, so you can enjoy the historical architecture and feel.
The fruit, vegetable and food market at the Marché du Vieux Port is fun – try maple sugar candy, ice cider from the Eastern Townships and Canada’s famous icewine.
Jazz night Thursdays at the Relais St Antoine (our hotel and highly recommended)...pretty chanteuse and jazz guitar...drinks, tapas and bar bites.
In the lobby of the St Antoine are three vitrines with scale models of the city in the 1600’s, 1700’s and 1800’s, each showing the city encroaching out into the St Lawrence from the original shoreline.
Cruise the St Lawrence on the Jean Valois, with great views of the city, a close encounter of the Montmorency Falls up the St Lawrence, and Orleans Island across from Quebec, where much of the city’s produce is grown.
One of the many walking tours of the upper old city provides an overview and introduction to the important places such as the Citadelle, Parliament Building, Ursaline Convent, Notre Dame Cathedral and the imposing Chateau Frontenac, where one can end the tour with a beverage in the oak-panelled Bar St Laurent overlooking the river.
Maison historique Chevalier at the entrance to the Place Royale features interior recreation of 1800’s life, and a very interesting multi-media 3D presentation of the history of Quebec.
Musee des Ursulines de Quebec is a great example of monastic architecture, which includes a multi-floor tour of the history and life of nuns in this teaching convent.
Sunset (or sunrise) view of the St Lawrence river from the star-shaped fortified walls of the Citadell de Quebec.
Nuites de Galleries on Saturdays throughout St-Louis and St-Jean streets....plein-air painting, live music, galleries open late and serving wine to viewers, and hundreds of revelers wandering through the festive street-fair feel.
Try Poutine at Chez Ashton, where this Quebecois specialty of french fries covered in cheese curds and brown gravy was invented in 1972. Their inventive winter promotion has the cost of the dish drop one percent with every degree in temperature below freezing.
A Few Restaurants
Panache at the Relais St Antoine
Set in a beautiful 18th warehouse with stone walls, vaulted ceiling supported by hand hewn pine beams and ancient plank floors.
Foie gras served on a foam of Jerusalem artichoke
Veal sweetbreads in a homemade mustard glaze
Tender hand-formed raviolini filled with brocollini
Farm egg yolk on cream of parsnip filling in for the eggwhite, demi glacé and pancetta
Cafe St Malo
A tiny bistro in Rue St Paul with stone walls crammed with eclectic art, low coffered ceiling and very authentic spectacular French food.
Veal tounge with sauce moutarde
A spectacular housemaid pate of five meats...pork liver, wild boar, venison, rabbit,
Calve’s brains in buerre noir and capers
Ris de veaue sauce forestierre
In the trendy hipster St Roche area, a crowded place with brick walls and tall windows in an old bank building – part of the kitchen in the vault. An undulating wood bar with six stools oversees action from open kitchen.
Lunch features classics....choucroute, home made saucisson, epaule de boeuf, duck confit.
Dinner is a bit more nouveaue
Deeply flavored soup of cauliflower and parsnip
Deconstructed Cesar salad with boudin noir
Lapin Pressé with confit of peach in peach mustard
Octopus and calamari braised with vinegar, coriander and peppers