- When: May 25 – May 28, 2018
- Where: Airbnb
- Transportation: 6.5-7hr car ride from Boston
- Must see/do: Ile d’Orleans, Vignoble Ste-Petronille, Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre, Montmorency Falls, Siberia spa, Morrin Centre
- Food/drinks: Bistro B, La Champagnerie, Cafe Les Cousins, Chocolaterie Ile d’Orleans, La Boulange, Le Mitan Microbraserie, Les Sales Gosses, Cochon Dingue, Legende, Le Cafe Kriegof, Cafe du Monde
This is our third annual and fifth total road trip to Quebec! It became a tradition to spend Memorial Day weekend in Canada and we are looking forward to this trip each year. Even though it feels like home as soon as we arrive, we are determined to find new things to do, restaurants to try, sights to see every time. The city itself is vibrant and just a short drive away you can find a totally peaceful countryside- the possibilities are endless for every mood you are in.
We arrived Friday evening, had amazing dinner and went dancing. Saturday we explored Ile d’Orleans- beautiful island near Quebec filled with wineries, art galleries and sweeping landscapes. Sunday was for shopping and relaxation at the Nordic spa- Siberia (we always go there, regardless that it’s not a new adventure). Monday was rainy, so we went to Morrin Centre- museum- formerly jail and now a beautiful library, did more shopping and eating and drove back to Boston. I will go over the activities, sights and incredible food we had in more detail.
Day trip to Ile d’Orleans
As we’ve been to Quebec so many times, we wanted to explore the area around it and just so happens that Ile d’Orleans is conveniently located about 15 min drive away from the city center! Don’t let the short drive fool you- the scenery, the atmosphere, the pace- all of that changes as soon as you cross the bridge. Actually, just upon crossing the bridge and arriving into the island there is a visitor center- stop there and get a map. Even though there is only one road around the island (approximately 60km long), the map conveniently outlines the points of interest that otherwise might be easy to miss.
We took our time and slowly drove around with stops along the way. There is a lot to see and do, so you can either spend the whole day, an afternoon or quickly go around and be done in less than two hours.
A stop at the winery on the beautiful sunny day felt like a must on my priorities list. The views are amazing and even if you don’t like wine I’d say it’s worth a visit.
If you are like me and enjoy a good glass of wine here and there- the place is perfect for a little wine tasting. For $5 Canadian dollars you will get to try five kinds of wine (they actually let me try all six that they had available at the moment).
I loved the white wine and the white with a black currant syrup mixed in for sweetness and extra flavor. All of their wines sell quick during the busy season, but as the summer has not started yet, I had no problem picking up a couple of bottles of my favorite ones.
After the tasting and having a glass on the porch, we walked all the way to the end of the road, until we reached the sign “Privé”- meaning private property, but before walking back we took a couple of pics of the views of the Montmorency Falls in the far distance.
Vignoble Ste-Petronille is a lovely place for a relaxing afternoon or a little picnic- we saw a family spreading a blanket down and enjoying the view/having snacks right on the soft grass.
Chocolaterie Isle d’Orleans
Our next stop as we continued against the clock around the island was the most incredible ice cream/chocolate shop that you simply cannot miss. We did not even get any chocolate, but went straight for the soft serve ice cream cones. Normally I don’t like soft serve, but what made these so different was that they were dipped!
We tried the maple and the salted chocolate dips- OH EM GEE- they were a total delight! Pictured one is a size small. I cannot even imagine getting a large- it was amazing, but definitely plenty.
It’s time for some lunch, so we stopped at this artisan bakery as we’ve heard they carry incredible croissants.
We ended up getting a few to go and ate pizzas and soup while there- all of the sudden it got a bit chilly and we wanted something warm and comforting in our bellies.
Across the street there is a beautiful church, old cemetery and you can step right near the river’s edge.
Near the bakery there is a cute shop for souvenirs or just window shopping.
As you drive around take in the scenery. It’s green, peaceful and makes you feel like the city life is far away. The island is very clean and seems to be well taken care of.
Le Mitan Microbraserie
Our last stop on the island, as everything was closing at 5pm, was the microbrewery. It has a restaurant, so we got spicy cheese sticks for a snack (we were still full from the pizza and ice cream) and a flight of different beers brewed right there.
Both the beer, the snack and the view were great- same as before- even if you don’t drink beer, it’s worth a visit.
Even though I wrote about the falls in my first blog post about Quebec, I want to mention it here again. The main reason is that the falls are literally right off the highway on the way back from Ile d’Orleans. You can see them while driving back to the city, but to get the best view, drive up, get out of the car and walk a few steps until you reach the observation deck and the bridge over the falls.
For more fun seekers there is a zip-lining activity, which we did not do, but maybe next time! Fun fact- Montmorency Falls are taller than Niagara and by far! Montmorency measures 84m (276ft) while Niagara is “only” 51m (167ft).
Basilica of Saint Anne-de-Beaupre
This beautiful church is just about 20 minutes drive from the Falls and in my opinion is a hidden gem. It was still open even though we came around 6pm (check the time before going just in case, we did not expect to be able to get in).
This majestic work of art is worth a bit of the drive. Best part- there was nobody around, we had the whole place to ourselves.
Yes, I have written about the amazing oasis just 15 min drive away from the city previously, but I have to write about it again as well. Just because it is as amazing as always and we never get disappointed spending a few hours there. Let all your worries melt away as you enjoy an hour massage, get rid of all your toxins by spending some time in a sauna or a steam room, jump into a cold waterfall or switch to the hot tub.
Maybe read a book in a hammock or take a nap in one of the comfortably shaped lounge chairs by the fireplace outside? When you get hungry- grab their grilled cheese and tomato soup and don’t forget the apple crumble for dessert! Siberia spa is a perfect escape from the busy city life. I only wish we had something similar near Boston!
On a rainy Monday we did not want to spend much time outside, so we decided to check out this former jail- turned university-turned library. Located in the Old Town of Quebec City is easy to find and absolutely worth the visit. To get the actual hours and tour times I would either call or stop by while walking around the Old Town. Initially, by looking on Google, we thought that the place is not open on Mondays. We tried to go there on Sunday, but the English tour had already started, so we bought the tickets for a Monday one instead. The helpful staff explained that their hours are different than those for the library, which was closed on Monday for public, but you get to visit it during the tour. It was 45 minutes, very informative and visual.
We even agreed to be locked into one of the former jail cells for a few minutes. It was scary- dark, small- I cannot imagine spending a day there, mind you some prisoners had been locked up there for months. Jail later on was turned into a university, so the tour continued there.
It was not open for a very long time, but it was important part of Quebec City history. However, my favorite part was the library!
I could spend hours there just sitting and reading. It’s simply magical.
Dancing! We don’t do it as much as we used to, but going to Quebec means a night out at least once per weekend. Sadly the club Maurice we used to go to was closed down, so we took the advice from the restaurant staff that we had dinner at and went to La Champagnerie. It’s not a club per se- more like a restaurant in the evening that turns into some dancing/DJ music at night. There is not a lot of space to move, but we had a great time and would certainly return again.
I cannot talk about Quebec and not mention food. We made a point to eat at ALL new places this time. Not the newly opened, but the places that we have not been yet during the previous Canada trips. We had three nights there, which means three different breakfast options!
Cafe Les Cousins
This artsy cafe was about 5 min walk from where we were staying, right on Avenue Cartier and was recommended to us by our AirBnb host. It had great reviews online, which made it an easy decision to begin our Saturday there. Great food, nice decor, good atmosphere-perfect start of the day!
We each had a croissant with ham and cheese, followed by croissants with jam and a good coffee! No dieting while in Quebec 🙂 !
Breakfast on Sunday was at this lovely establishment- again right near our apartment. This is a chain restaurant, but was great nonetheless. When we got there around 10 am it was a short line, which moved quick and only when we entered the place we saw how huge it is! There are tables outside facing the street, big area inside AND a large covered back patio! Food was excellent- we got the “old fashioned” hot chocolate- thick, yummy bowl of happiness to start.
Then I chose Crepe “Au Gratin” and Sean got the French Toast- we shared the meals and it was a perfect combination of savory and sweet.
Le Cafe Kriegof
On our last day in Quebec we went to yet another place close by recommended by our AirBnb host. I was not so sure about it at first, because it’s at the hotel and I thought it will have some generic Continental breakfast. I was way off. It’s basically it’s own restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating and a full menu. Egg Benedict and French Toast shared was a great choice. We both left very full and happy.
I don’t have much to say about lunch, because all of the above breakfast places serve brunch and lunch as well. Also, we ate at several places mentioned earlier while in Ile d’Orleans on Saturday and at the Siberia spa cafe on Sunday. Monday, however, we went to a very nice spot right before we started our drive back to Boston. It’s worth mentioning as it could also be a great place for dinner.
Cafe du Monde
This place was recommended to us by several people and initially we were planning on going there for dinner. We changed our minds once we saw that the location is right on the water and it seemed better to be able to enjoy the views in the daylight. I think you can’t really go wrong either way.
The lunch was amazing, service great and the view even on a rainy day was nice. I got a salad that came with duck confit, strawberries and blackberries and some juicy berries on top- it was nothing that I have ever had before and really really good! Sean went for a burger and also liked it. I would be happy to come back and try dinner there.
This is the spot we started our weekend with. Located right on Cartier Avenue (again close to our AirBnb) this French spot was a happiness at every bite. We made reservations for dinner a couple of days before the arrival and were happy we did- at 9pm the place was packed. The menu changes often (they give you an Ipad to look through the choices), so you probably won’t get the same thing as we did. But if you can- try their foie gras and lavender crème brûlée – both were exceptional.
Staff was amazing, gave us advice on where to go dancing, suggested a few other places- super friendly and nice. Great start to our weekend!
Les Sales Gosses
Direct translation of the name of this restaurant is “The Brats” or as our server pointed out – it could also be translated as ‘the dirty balls’…Well, the food was certainly better than the name 🙂 .
If I had to choose- I would say I liked Bistro B better. But Les Sales Gosses had a different vibe and a very interesting (in a good way!) dessert with bacon!
We chose this restaurant for dinner on Sunday and made reservations only a day before. Very much enjoyed the stylish decor and unique dishes. What separates this place from the other Quebec restaurants is that all their food is locally sourced (exception are wines, they have both- Canadian as well as imported ones).
For example- lemons are not growing in Canada and therefore you will not find a dish or even a drink with lemon! Chef is very creative and the dishes not only were presented very well, but also tasted just as amazing! I never thought foie gras would be eaten as a dessert, but as I chose it as one as my dishes, it was presented last and was a bit sweet and amazing. Well, we also got a real dessert too, because why not 🙂 !
As always the trip to our neighboring country was a success. It was nice to visit some old stomping grounds, but what I liked the most was trying out the new places, restaurants and neighborhoods. Hopefully we can keep up this great tradition and visit Quebec next May (if not sooner!).