Christmas Village Fantasy: Part 2
Revisit Lower Quebec City, the second of a three-part travel log of a December holiday visit to Canada. The four-day trip north of the border was my husband’s and my Christmas gift to each other.
Over the holidays I shared a Christmas Card from Old Quebec City, which featured an enchanting evening stroll in the magical glow of twinkling lights.
In part two of the travel log, I’ll show you the cobblestone streets of Lower Quebec City during the day, where we stayed and ate, and then take a scenic ride on the funicular to the upper plateau.
Part three will explore the Upper City, Christmas markets, the toboggan run, outdoor ice skating, and more restaurants. Continue there in, Embrace the Season in Upper Quebec City.
Bundle up before we venture out!
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Staying in the Heart of the Old Port Area
There are many wonderful places to stay in Quebec City, Canada, including Le Château Frontenac, supposedly the most photographed hotel in the world. The hotel sits on the plateau overlooking the Old Port and St. Lawrence River in the Upper or Old City. Chateau Frontenac is massive, with something like 900 rooms. We will visit the hotel in the next post.
For the holiday season, we wanted a more intimate hotel, situated within Christmas-postcard Lower Quebec City, and an easy walk to certain popular restaurants. That led us to historic Auberge Saint-Antoine, a luxury Relais & Châteaux boutique hotel, located in the heart of the Old Port area.
Because it was right before Christmas week, we got a decent rate for the hotel’s base Queen Comfort room. Although it didn’t have any kind of view (which we didn’t care about this time of year), the room was very well appointed and spacious. And, did I mention the heated floors in the spa-like bathroom? We were very, very happy with our choice both accommodation and location-wise.
For our first night, we ate dinner at the hotel’s top notch Chez Muffy restaurant. They describe the restaurant;
menu as a twist on classical French and Canadian cuisine focusing on savory flavors and ingredients plucked from the hotel’s own farm
We didn’t even have to walk outside! The setting and food were both the perfect ending to our first day.
Lots and Lots of Snow!
Our room wasn’t ready when we first arrived so we headed out for a late lunch. We were anxious to start exploring and enjoyed the walk. Everything around us was under a fresh blanket of 18-inch deep snow. Apparently, it was an usually early and heavy snowfall for Lower Quebec City in mid December.
Fortunately for us, it had stopped snowing 12 hours before our arrival, so flights and transportation weren’t impacted. Quebec has a surprisingly large, modern airport. They had just opened a brand new terminal days before we arrived.
I was glad I wore my Uggs on the plane and had my fuzzy après ski boots too. In fact, the boots were all I wore on my feet for our entire visit. The shoes stayed in my luggage.
A Foodie Paradise
We headed to St. Malo, which was recommended by our concierge. Seeing the blue and white decorations (colors of Quebec’s flag), told us we had found the spot.
A very cozy, intimate atmosphere greeted us as we were led to a table right in front of the fireplace. All the other diners chatted happily in French and appeared to be local. My high school French left me with a passable accent and some polite phrases, but that’s it. Fortunately, all the menus in the Lower Quebec City restaurants we visited had English translations. Even so, our waiter had to help us understand the daily specials with pantomime and laughter.
We had a delicious meal, and I suspect St. Malo is also an excellent choice for dinner.
On the way back towards the hotel, we passed the restaurant Toast where we already had made dinner reservations for our last night in Quebec. We had booked it ahead of time because all the travel guides and web sites said it was one of the best. I can attest that it was absolutely fabulous, a not-to-miss experience. The atmosphere, the service, and the food! I’m glad we saved it for our last night.
Toast was located right around the corner from our hotel. That worked out really well on a cold last night in Quebec, after first enjoying walking the cobblestone streets soaking up the Christmas atmosphere. We also stopped at Pub L’Oncle Antoine for a drink to warm up. The bar is known for its stone cave cellar and great drafts. Really atmospheric and fun.
Walking the Old Port Streets of Lower Quebec City
After checking into our room, we quickly changed and ventured out to explore the Old Port area or Lower Quebec City.
Every business, shop, hotel and restaurant was decked out for the season.
These shops were located in a square across from Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church, where a large Christmas tree stands in the center.
Everything oozes history, charm and Christmas!
I took this picture looking back at the square as we headed next to Sous-le-Fort. That’s the wall of the church on the right.
Now we are walking up Sous-le-Fort towards the funicular, looking back down towards the St. Lawrence River below. It was pretty overcast and late in the afternoon during our first exploration of Lower Quebec City, and the Christmas lights had just come on.
Lots of places had really adorable signage like this one. As you come to a ‘T’ at the funicular, going left takes you down the picturesque Rue du Petit-Champlain.
We stopped into a number of the enticing shops – sometimes to defrost a little! Fortunately, there were a number of fires going along the way. This one was strategically located right next to the jolly old elf himself.
Not sure how Pere Noel stayed so holly jolly…and warm?
There were so many beautiful architectural details everywhere, including murals painted on the side of buildings at each end of the street.
Look closely and you’ll see that those windows and other features are actually paintings.
Take a Ride on the Funicular
The funicular is an easy way to travel between Upper and Lower Quebec City. On our second and third days, it was bright and clear, affording wonderful views to the St. Lawrence River.
There are plenty of steps and winding streets, but not so charming when the high is 20 degrees!
Even if the weather is nice and warm, riding the Funicular provides for a great views of the Old Port. Here you can see where the cruise ships come in during the fall foliage season. A time of year we want to return to Quebec.
This last photo gives you an idea of how steep the hillside, cliff is that separates the Lower and Upper parts of Quebec City.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the tour! In the final installment we’ll explore the Upper City and Christmas markets. Continue to Embrace the Season in Upper Quebec City
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