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Quebec City: This Northern American City Feels Like Europe

I’m a bit late on this, but can you believe it’s already 2015? The past few months have been super busy for our household with my returning to work and the endless amount of childcare issues we’ve had. Why didn’t anyone warn me that finding childcare is no joke and no fun?! On top of that, I’ve caught the flu three times and have been sick ever since I returned to work. I really think my body is trying to tell me I need to slow the heck down and just not take on as much as I am. Anyway, as a result, this blog has been neglected.

In an attempt to escape new-mommy-hood for a minute, I wanted to share our holiday trip to Quebec City.

Ever since we went to Germany and France for Christmas, we’ve been dying to go back to Europe during the holidays. We love the holiday spirit, the mulled wine, the Christmas markets, and the beautiful holiday decor there. We originally had a whole itinerary planned for a holiday trip to the U.K. and Copenhagen, but we scrapped it when we learned that babies don’t deal with time zone changes well. Instead, we searched for a vacation spot that still felt “Christmassy” but didn’t require crossing too many time zones, and that’s how we found Quebec City.

Although Quebec City is in Canada, it certainly felt as European as it could get. It’s the only walled city in North America, all the signs are in French, and the little alleyways and cobblestone streets definitely make a visitor feel like they’ve traveled farther than Canada. Plus, during the holidays, the old town knows how to do it up! There are Christmas trees outside of every store and the shops and restaurants are all lit up.  The only other place I’ve ever been to that was this into Christmas decor was Rothenburg, Germany, and Rothenburg is known for feeling like Christmas year round.

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We spent four full days in Quebec City, but it’s possible to see it all in half the time. We spent most of the time just strolling around and taking in the sites. It was too difficult to plan any museum visits with a baby in tow. We walked from the lower part of the town to the upper part to see Hotel Frontenac, took in the views of the lower town and of the river from Terrasse Dufferin, rode the funicular to Petit Champlain, milled around the Christmas market (this market were different from the German Christmas markets; the Quebec City one is more like a farmer’s market that sells traditional Canadian goods at Christmas time), and checked out the gates to the old town. One of the days, we also rented a car to check out Montmorency Falls, which is taller than Niagara but doesn’t have much else going for it besides that claim to fame.

Here are some photos from our trip:

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While we loved the decor, it was friggin’ cold! On the second day, it was -22F with windchill and Traveler #3 went into hibernation mode in those temps. I felt so bad for having her out in the sub-freezing conditions that we sought refuge indoors as much as possible.  Oh, the joys of traveling to a wintry place for the holidays (I had suggested a Caribbean cruise for our holiday, but Mr. T insisted we go somewhere that would feel like Christmas)!

In all, though, Quebec City was a fun place to spend the holidays. The locals are super nice there (they might be the nicest people I’ve come across in all my travels, actually), the old town is walkable, the city is decked out in full holiday spirit, and the food is delicious, too.

If you’re planning to go:

  • If you go during the holidays, make restaurant reservations in advance. We walked into several highly rated restaurants one night and couldn’t get a seat anywhere without an advanced reservation. As a result, we ended up paying for overpriced pizza that wasn’t even good because it was the only place we found that still had empty tables.
  • I recommend staying in the lower town so that you’re close to the city walls and close to the port, which is where the Christmas market is (at other times of the year, it’s just a normal market there). When planning the trip, I was really set on finding a place within the city walls, but after being there, I realized you don’t need to be within the walls at all.  In fact, sometimes when you’re within the walls, you can’t even tell. Plus, if you stay in the lower town, you’ll also be close to some of the best bistros.
  • A lot of hotels don’t have bathtubs. If you need one, pay particular attention when searching for accommodations.
  • Because of the USD to CAD exchange rate, Quebec City is a pretty affordable destination for Americans.
  • The taxi rides to/from the airport to the old town are fixed at approximately 35CAD each way.

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Karisa @ Flirting with the Globe - January 20, 2015 - 3:05 pm

I LOVE Quebec City. I visited for the first time last year in summer – and it’s a gorgeous town in warm weather as well (although, this article makes me want to visit next December)! I love the french food (and champagne), terraces and free cirque shows. Montreal is lovely too! Although, I’m from Atlanta, and I will say (at least when I was there in summer), I found the prices very expensive – not much lower than Paris. (Montreal being quite a bit more reasonable). Sounds like a fantastic trip!

Shannon Kircher - November 29, 2016 - 12:13 pm

Gorgeous! We’re heading to Quebec City this December and can’t wait to explore. Definitely have our eye on a Sugar Shack!

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