A week’s city break across Quebec was the perfect little break for us!! Quebec is just a massive provence, we really only skimmed across the bottom of it spending five nights in Quebec City and then two nights in Montreal.
We had a friend Steph who we had met in NZ many years ago who had just moved back to Quebec City from all of her travels. It could have not been better timing, only a week before we were arriving. So we made the most of the chance to catch up and a place to stay, we spent five nights staying with her in her nice little apartment just outside of the downtown with her amazing dog Loulou.
Loulou deserves a special mention, he is a special kind of breed from the Island of St Martin, a Coconut Retriever…. A lovely mutt. He was a rescue and was riddled with problems when he found Steph and they took him in. After a few trips to the vet and some years later he is now a new arrival all happy and healthy in Quebec. He has a remarkable personality, one that just cannot be explained but he was just lovely and we enjoyed every moment with him 🙂
Our first day arriving into Quebec city was just beautiful, it was a Saturday, the sun was shining, people walking the streets of the downtown and it really felt like summer had arrived! Unfortunately that did only last one day. But it was the perfect arrival none the less.
We arrived just after lunch and waited for Steph to get her afternoon break from work so we took a stroll around the downtown just taking in the beautiful, old city. One of the only walled cities in North America and also home to the most photographed hotel in the world. (Picture to come further in the post).
We stopped in a square in the centre and had a coffee whilst we waited, just listening to the atmosphere surrounding us, buskers playing harps and violins in the streets, some people going in to the central church opposite us for a wedding and watching the sun dance on the cobble streets surrounded by big stone buildings rimmed with flowers and artworks.
I also tried my first Bloody Cesar. This is like a Bloody Mary but made with clamato juice and topped with anything epic. This was rimmed with BBQ spice and topped with squeaky cheese curds and pickled beans. It was delicious and I loved every bit of it!
The next day the morning was overcast and forecast for thunderstorms but the afternoon cleared up beautifully so we made the most of it. We met up with one of Steph’s friends Andrea at her place and we went for a nice walk into the bush behind her house. After our wonderful walk, we went to the shop then back to Andrea’s house to enjoy a lovely afternoon on the balcony in the sunshine with some specialty Quebec beers, cheese, baguettes and meats. The perfect way to spend a beautiful afternoon.
The next day the weather was still not forecast great but we decided to head out to the Aquarium for the morning. It was a good choice, there was a lot to see outside, seals, walrus’, polar bears and more then inside there were two main buildings. One with the more usual things and another which was just awesome, mostly a whole building dedicated to Jelly fish and sea horses. It was my ultimate place. Jelly fish are just incredible to watch and sea horses are just too cool!
After lunch the day cleared up again. We made the most of it, gathering up Steph’s friend Sam and heading out to do some hiking in the Jacques Cartier park, not far from Quebec City.
We walked along one of the trails and we made it to the lookout to enjoy the beautiful view, just as we were leaving the lookout and making our way back the skies opened up and it poured down for at least half and hour and we were all soaked and cold. Fortunately the last of the walk the sun came back out and dried us out a little before we got back to the car. The dramatic weather also gave us some beautiful views up the river, firstly with the heavy clouds hanging over and secondly with all the steam rising after the rains.
We came back to the apartment and enjoyed a delicious dinner of home made Pho and red wine. It was the perfect way to spend a beautiful afternoon in Quebec.
The next day we did some of those fun things that you always need to do while planning on setting back on the road… . Baking a few cakes, as they are something necessary for the road.
For the evening we went to walk around the old city both the upper and lower level eventually ending up at Stehp’s work, Sapritsi, down in the lower part of town facing out to the ferry. We went later in the evening when it was quieter so that Steph could take her break and have dinner with us. Their menu is Italian and all of our food was just delicious. Crispy Calamari with caper aioli, pasta, risotto and delectable desserts.
The next morning we needed to get in a good breakfast before heading out on the road so I made us delicious blueberry pancakes with maple smashed strawberries and smothered in local Quebec maple syrup. The perfect start to any day. Especially the intense one of driving into Montreal on a Thursday before the Grand Prix.
So that was where we went next, we had booked an airBnB place in Montreal which was walking distance to almost everything we needed. We had been warned about the fantastic time we would have driving on the island and had been recommended to park outside the city then take the metro into the city. We decided that we would instead stay for two nights there and have a place where we could just drive into and park our car. Once we got onto the island we were then in traffic for about one hour or longer before reaching our destination.
Once we were there though it was perfect. It was far enough out from town that it was quiet and not caught up in any of the F1 commotion but also close enough that we could then walk everywhere.
The evening we arrived we took a stroll down the street from where we were staying to get some things for dinner, we also passed the first proper fruit and vegetable market I had seen which was very exciting! I went there the next day and got delicious bananas and raspberries and all kind of things it was just great!
On the Friday we got up early and went into the city to explore. We went into the city over Mont-Royal. This has a beautiful view down over the downtown city of Montreal.
We mostly just walked around seeing all the beautiful old buildings such as the Notre-Dame Basilica. Many of the streets were closed up because of the F1 and there were lots of things happening for people to be out and enjoy so we just enjoyed the festivities.
That evening was beautiful and clear so we went to L’Oratoire Saint-Joseph du Mont-Royal. From here there is a beautiful view out of the setting sun. It was the perfect end to the day in the big city.
The next morning we were up early and on our way to avoid the traffic and head out of Quebec into Ontario.