Quebec City Winter Couples Getaway
Day One (Thursday or Friday)
Before you head out for your Quebec City Winter Couples getaway, check the weekend weather forecast. Pack your warmest winter clothes, then depart for Quebec City in time to arrive in the mid- to late-afternoon. If you’re driving from New York, or New England, and arriving in Quebec via Autoroute 20, the South Shore Route, we strongly recommend that you bypass the standard over land route into the City (via Autoroute 73 and the Pierre Laporte Bridge), continue on the South Shore Autoroute, and drive directly to the South Shore Ferry terminal in Levis, Quebec. GPS: 5995 Rue Saint-Laurent, Lévis, QC.
From Levis, take the Quebec City ferry (a 15-minute ride across the St. Lawrence River, departing every 30 minutes) to the Ferry Terminal at the base of Cap Diamant and the Chateau Frontenac. You’ll have plenty of time to leave your car and enjoy the ride through the ice flows from the upper-level decks or the heated main cabin. This will be especially fun if you’re staying at the Chateau Frontenac which will loom larger and larger on the horizon as you cross the St. Lawrence.
On arrival at your hotel, park your car, check in and freshen up, then dress for the weather and an evening that you’ll be talking about for years.
Starting your getaway
If you’re staying in the Lower City, Basse Ville (at the Auberge St. Antoine for example), depending on your arrival time, you may want to take a short walk into the Quartier Petit Champlain. Or take in a preview of Quebec City’s quaint shopping district, or a shorter walk, directly across the street, to the Musee de la Civilisation, then walk back to dinner at Chez Muffy, one of three spectacular, not-to-be-missed, Quebec City restaurants.
If you’re staying at the Chateau Frontenac, or the Hotel Clarendon, or the Hotel Vieux Quebec or at the Hotel Chateau Laurier on the Grande Allee we have sopme recommendation. Our editors recommend dinner at Ciel, the revolving rooftop restaurant atop the Hotel le Concorde (the second of Quebec’s three not-to-be-missed restaurants). In any case, you should dine there while overlooking the Plains of Abraham and the St. Lawrence River to the South and West, or the Grande Allee and the Walled City below, and the Laurentian Mountains in the distance to the North and East, on either your first night or last night in Quebec
After dinner at Ciel, it’s a 20-minute walk (or a two-minute taxi ride), or a quick trip from the lower City on the Funiculaire, to Quebec City’s world-famous toboggan slide perched 300 feet above the St-Lawrence River, on the Terrasse Dufferin outside the Chateau Frontenac. One evening on “La Luge” may not be enough, but if you wait until your last evening in Quebec City, you won’t have that option.
Day Two (Friday or Saturday)
If you’re staying in the Lower City (like the Auberge St. Antoine), or in the Upper City (at or near the Chateau Frontenac) or where you might be tempted to stay for breakfast. (the Chateau Frontenac’s breakfast buffet is legendary). Save the hotel breakfast for your last morning. Instead, we recommend starting your middle day in the picturesque Quartier Petit Champlain with an early, casual breakfast at Le Cochon Dingue (the Crazy Pig). You may also consider a french canadian breakfast at “La Buche” on St. Louis street.
After breakfast, explore in the Quartier Petit Champlain for some souvenir- and gift-shopping, but don’t stay too long, because there is much more to see and do, and you can come back on your last morning.
Return to the Upper on the funiculaire, the outdoor elevator that connects Basse Ville and Haute Ville, the Lower and Upper Cities), and walk easily to the stunningly restored Monastere des Augustines. cloistered nuns who lived there several centuries ago.
You should make a brief stop enroute, near the top of the funiculaire. Here the Musée du Fort is where you learn about the key battles between the French, British and American (yes, American) were fought on the hallowed ground you’ve been walking on.(check to see if has reopened before going). The multi-media presentation will end with a highly engaging depiction of the decisive Battle of the Plains of Abraham fought in Quebec City in the fall of 1759. GPS: 10, rue Sainte-Anne, Quebec City.
Upon arrival at the le Monastere des Augustines (restored at a cost of $80 million in municipal, provincial and federal funds), you can learn, in a serene and historic setting, about the evolution of medical practices in North America, developed by the cloistered nuns who lived there three centuries ago. The Augustinian Nuns, indeed, developed the template for modern medicine as it is practiced in the 21st Century.
Time for lunch. You’re just steps away from rue St-Jean, the Latin Quarter, formerly known as the gathering place for Quebec City’s students and artists, but now a colorful shopping and dining district popular among local residents and visitors alike. We recommend the trendy, but casual les Trois Garcons (1084 rue Saint-Jean) for breakfast, lunch or dinner, in fact, or Café-Boulangerie Paillard across the street (1097, rue Saint-Jean) for an inexpensive, but nicely crafted sandwich and European pastries.
If you’re in the mood for a cozy and warm fondue head for le Petit Chateau on St. Louis street. Try a traditional swiss style fondues a nice, warm hearty meal for a winter day.
After lunch, you’ll have three distinctly different but equally appealing options … maybe you should plan to stay a fourth day.
Drive to Quebec City’s world-famous Ice Hotel (Hotel de Glace), in rural Val Cartier. It’s about a 40-minute drive and you’ll need a GPS, of course, but it’s more than unique. The Ice hotel is on the grounds of Village Vacances, by the way, the largest winter sports park in Canada, and there’s something here for virtually anybody. GPS 2280 Bd Valcartier, Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier.
Take a taxi/uber to Musée Nationale des beaux Arts de Quebec is Quebec’s Provincial Art Museum and the home of a wonderful collection of Quebec historic art, from which much has been learned about the life of Quebec’s original “habitants” who settled the province four centuries ago. The Museum is located directly on the Plains of Abraham, which you learned about this morning if you visited the Musee du Fort.
Depart on a scheduled, half-day, escorted sightseeing trip (by motorcoach or minibus) to 270-foot-high Montmorency Falls (half again higher than Niagara Falls). You can walk across a suspension bridge (visible in the upper left corner of the image at right) that passes directly over the top; you’ll have a bird’s-eye view of “the Sugarloaf”, the 100-foot high cone of snow at the bottom of the falls that builds up from the frozen spray from the falls during the winter. GPS 2490 Ave Royale, Québec City, Quebec
Your tour will also include a visit to the Ste-Anne-de-Beaupre Basilica, which will add about two hours to a trip to the falls alone. You can do easily enough in your own car. It’s no more than a 10-to-15-minute drive.
GPS: 2490 Ave Royale, Québec City, Quebec.
If you’ve taken our advice, you’ve already dined at one of three restaurants, the stunning Champlain Restaurant at the Chateau Frontenac, Chez Muffy (don’t let the casual name fool you) at the Auberge St. Antoine, or Ciel, the revolving rooftop restaurant atop the Hotel le Concorde. We feel Ciel is one of the “top” places we can think of to end your last full day in Quebec. If you’re returning to the Chateau Frontenac after dinner, you might want to extend your last evening with a nightcap at the 1608 Bar, just outside the dining room door.
Day Three (Saturday or Sunday)
Begin your last day in Quebec City with breakfast in the hotel, but dress for the winter weather that may be waiting outside the hotel entrance. The breakfast buffet at the Chateau Frontenac is spectacular, with lots of Quebec Province delicacies not typically found at a breakfast buffet in the United States. And, the buffet breakfast at the Hotel Clarendon is well-known among the locals and not for no reason. If you loved the ambiance at the Cochon Dingue (if you took our advice and started your day there yesterday) it’s a quick ride on the funiculaire to the second level entrance on rue Petit Champlain.
After breakfast, before you pack your bags, you may want to visit the Lower City for some last-minute gift and souvenir shopping in the Quartier Petit Champlain. If you opted for breakfast at le Cochon Dingue, you’re already there, and if you’ve had breakfast in the upper city, it’s a quick ride down the Funiculaire into the heart of the Lower City from the boardwalk outside the Chateau.
If Day Three is a Sunday, Catholics may want to attend mass at ornately decorated Notre Dame de Quebec Cathedral a few steps from the Chateau Frontenac and the Hotel Clarendon, and a two-minute walk from the Hotel du Vieux Quebec.
In any case, you are very likely to return to the Boardwalk for one or two last runs on the toboggan slide beside the Chateau Frontenac, 300 feet above the frozen St. Lawrence River, then return to your hotel to change into your traveling attire and check out.
Finally, if you’re returning to New England or New York City, and you did not take the ferry into Quebec, we heartily recommend that you depart Quebec City on the Ferry to Levis (above left). The ferry terminal is easy to find, and it’s easy to drive on and drive off. This option may add a half hour to your road trip if you just miss the every-30-minute departures, but it will be a wonderful photo opportunity as the Quebec City skyline recedes on the horizon.
Au revoir, Quebec.