We’re spending time exploring Upper Quebec City in this third post on a December holiday vacation to Canada.In part one, a Christmas Card from Old Quebec City, I shared the magic of the Old Port area during a nighttime walk.
Then, in Stroll Lower Quebec City During the Holidays, I provided background on the boutique hotel and restaurants we enjoyed, along with pictures of the area under a heavy blanket of snow. We also took a ride up the funicular to the plateau above.
Upper Quebec City is the area we explore in this post, which includes riding a thrilling toboggan run, ice skating outdoors to French holiday music, walking the streets in and outside the walled city, and visiting the Christmas markets.
My travel log hasn’t been in chronological order, rather concentrating on the two main areas of Quebec City over our four-day visit.
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Visiting Chateau Frontenac
As we step out of the warm funicular in Upper Quebec City, we are deposited on the plateau right in front of the fairytale-like Chateau Frontenac.
The massive hotel is a destination in itself and worth a visit inside. Near the main entrance we chatted with these friendly ladies. Even for the locals, it was pretty cold! That’s probably why there were no takers for a ride early in the morning.
After having walked from our hotel to the funicular, and then across the windy plateau, we decided it was a good time to check out the hotel lobby. Chateau Frontenac is built like a castle or fortress. To access the lobby you first enter an inner courtyard.
A Fairmont property, Chateau Frontenac has a large collection of Christmas trees as part of an annual fund-raising effort. This cute tree with skis was our favorite.
There are also some lovely shops, including one with handcrafted elves and Santa’s that were just too big to take home. I settled for a picture with Santa. As you can see below, I am bundled up against the elements!
Next, we headed back outdoors to the European Christmas market. Here’s the view outside from the opposite side of the Chateau Frontenac.
German Christmas Market
I thought it was odd that in French Quebec, they had a German Christmas market? it was really a European style market with timber kiosks, but local French Canadian crafts and foods. Not a nutcracker in sight! There was also a large outdoor beer garden with local drafts, but no takers when we arrived shorted after it had just opened.
This hearty soul was selling the most wonderful breads and desserts. What I would have given to take home a few loaves and cakes for Christmas!
The Upper Quebec City market was celebrating its 10th year and actually is set up in two distinct areas, several blocks apart.
These two figures made of evergreen branches and lights appeared to be snow bowling in front of the town hall. I didn’t even know that was a sport!
The bowlers were across from another square where the second or extension of the European Christmas market was located.
On the other side of the market was the cathedral, which we also visited. Outside the church was a beautiful nativity scene.
What appeared to be a huge advent wreath, provided another place to warm your hands. The candles each had a fire burning inside. There was also a covered area to enjoy something warm to eat or drink.
Take A Ride on the Wild Side
It was getting late in the afternoon when we decided to brave the toboggan ride in the Upper City before heading back to our hotel in the Old Port area.
That’s my husband, preparing to pull the toboggan up the hill behind him. It was getting pretty overcast and a little dark by that time of day.
We’re about to climb the steep section along the toboggan tracks. If you’re thinking the drop isn’t too high, you’d be wrong!
The higher we climbed the more we were sure it was a crazy idea for people our age to be doing. Life in the fast lane!
The three-lane toboggan run is located at the base of the Chateau, right along the edge of the cliff overlooking the Lower City and St. Lawrence River. We were already dressed for the elements, so we couldn’t use that excuse not to make the plunge.
It was a blast! I laughed and screamed the entire way. Our only regret afterwards is that we didn’t take a video of the ride. What a thrilling, fun thing to do! They run toboggans at night, and it must be fun to race others down the track simultaneously too. There are plenty of online videos you can view.
Start Each Day with a Warm Breakfast
Before we head back to Upper Quebec on another day, I wanted to share a few great places for breakfast or brunch in the Old Port.
We elected not to have breakfast included in our hotel package because we wanted ample opportunity to explore Quebec’s many, many dining options. One place not to be missed for weekend brunch is Lapin Saute. It was packed with locals, so make sure you have a reservation. My understanding is that’s it’s also excellent for lunch or dinner. Very small and intimate and oh so French!
Check out all the details on the outside of the building, like the garden tools and clay pots covered in snow. Lapin means rabbit in French – do you see the rabbit crossing sign?
Another great option is Le Cochon Dingue. I think cochon means pig? It opened early and had an extensive menu. We enjoyed the restaurant so much we went there twice.
Ice Skate Outdoors in Upper Quebec City
It was a warmer, sunnier day when we returned to Upper Quebec to go ice skating the following day.
Glide across a refrigerated rink amid the ambiance of Old Québec, just across from Porte Saint-Jean and Capitole de Québec. In the pictures, you can catch a glimpse of the old walls. The setting is spectacular at night.
They offer skate rentals, a locker room, rest rooms and a place to eat. Hubby and I hadn’t skated for years and were surprised how relatively quickly we got the hang of it. What do you think of my form? And, I loved skating to the sounds of Christmas carols in French while holding hands.
Afterwards we found this neat restaurant, called Boulay for the best bowl of French onion soup I’ve ever had! I wish I had taken a picture, because the presentation was unique and special. The atmosphere in the restaurant was hip lodge, if that’s such a thing?
Visit the Old Port Christmas Market
After a late lunch in Upper Quebec City, we took a scenic walk down to the Le Marché de Noël, or Old Port Christmas Market. Outside was a lot selling Christmas trees, but the rest of the market was under roof.
The market claims to have over 1,000 local agri-products and handicrafts under roof. Apples were big in Quebec, with a wide range of varieties.
I was swooning over these sumptuous bake goods! Boy, I would have loved to purchase one for dessert on Christmas Eve and Day.
If you need any more convincing to visit Quebec City (anytime of year) read the CNN feature, Most European City in North America.
I know we plan to return.
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What an absolutely fun time you must have had. I remember having THE BEST Quiche at a little roadside cafe there. We loved hearing all the French spoken around us and we too ducked into the hotel to check it out. Thanks so much for sharing your trip with us at the Happy Holiday Link Party.. We won’t be posting about our featured favorites for several weeks yet but this trip will definitely be included in mine!! Pinned.
Great post! I was in Quebec with my family as a child, and I remember loving the city and wanting to go back! Your post has reminded me to try to get there!
Jeanne, what a great family trip! Was it for the holidays? We are empty nesters, and for my husband and I it was both magical and very romantic. I’d like to return in the fall sometime.
Aww, loved this post! It made me so nostalgic :). I moved to montreal to go to university and we’d do weekend trips to Quebec City. It’s been years since I’ve visited and your post has me wanting to go back.
So glad you enjoyed the virtual holiday trip! Such a fabulous place to visit.
Wow! Incredible! I’d love to go there for the holidays.
Amy, even in early December it’s the most magical setting. Hard not to get in the holiday and make merry there! Just bundle up!