Holidays season is a good period to travel and discover new cultures. If you are looking for a typical and traditional ambiance in North America, Quebec city is definitively the ideal destination. Québec City is located about 3 hours drive from Montréal, there is also an airport there.
A bit of history…
Québec region was first discovered by Jacques Cartier, sent by the King of France, François 1st in the 16th century. The exploration of new territories for land expansion, business exchanges are ways to compete among powerful countries in Europe such as Great Britain and Holland.
In 1608, the french navigator Samuel de Champlain established Québec City. From then on, Louis XIV began to send french people to occupy the new land « Nouvelle France».
In the XIXth century, the British architect Durnford built the city as a fortress against the enemies.
Capital of Québec region, it is the oldest town of North America. It is also located on the St Laurent River, ideally surrounded by national natural parks and mountains. Its climate is influenced by the ocean, with violent wind and high humidity. Winter is caracterised by snow storms from end of November to mid April.
I studied at Université Laval for almost 2 years there, I can tell that we had sunny days with very low temperature minus 30 degrees (that could be felt -40 degrees due to strong winds). Streets and parkings are efficiently rid of snow several times even at night time. As a Parisian, useless to wear fashionable clothes, except «ski » gear !
What to do
The local people enjoy outdoor activities every season. In winter time, you can find many « ice rings » in town, or even natural ones in the suburbs. People from Québec also practice cross-country ski, snowshoeing, fishing on icy lakes, and sled / sled dog and many more… All these winter activities constitute the famous Québec Carnaval, which takes place end of January and lasts 3 weeks.
During Christmas season, the picturesque old city is itself a magical setting . Feel free to visit the narrow streets and indoor markets with local goods ( Maple sirup, iced apple cider, ice wine, etc).
The must taste is the « tire d’érable » which consists in pouring the hot maple caramel on the snow and roll it like a lollipop.
Like in Europe, you can find a German Christmas market selling perfect gifts.
If you also want to live a special experience, have a good brunch at « Ciel » the highest bistro for a panoramic view over the white city.
There are many good French restaurants at Québec, such as « Le Lapin Sauté » situated at the famous street « le petit champelain ».
If you feel like living the real canadian experience, visit « la cabane à sucre » , a maple farm where you can really taste local dishes and feel the friendly ambiance.
Canadian people like the nordics, they enjoy relaxing at the Spa. You can find renting places with nice Spa and feel the nature around Québec.
As a touristic city, you can find many nice hotels but the most interesting experience for North American people is to stay at Château de Frontenac built end of XIXth century, inspired by French style. It is the landmark of Québec City.
Another unique experience is to stay at the Hotel de Glace, staying there 1 night is enough if you are adventurous and not chilly. It has all the standard amenities of a hotel, a restaurant, a nice bar, entertainments, except TV and doors. Each room is nicely carved in the ice . To enjoy your experience at the most, your luggages and mobile phones are securely kept by the staff.
A must see is the Montmorency falls, just 20 mn away from Québec. They are impressively as high as 83 m, higher than 30 m from the Niagara Falls. In winter, the water is icy ; you can actually walk near to the base of the fall …