“So Europe … so close.”
Most of us have seen the ads on TV, in local print media or as pop-ups on our frequented social media websites. But for those who haven’t been subjected to onslaught winter tourism marketing by Quebec City to those living in Ottawa, I have to say – you are missing out.
After spending nearly a decade in Ottawa listening to friends rave about the romantic vibe and delicious food Quebec City has to offer, my husband-to-be and I made the journey late January to check it out for ourselves. We decided to go pre-Carnaval and post-snowfall to make the most of a winter wonderland atmosphere on a tight budget. Upon reflection, I would certainly suggest that others do the same. The city was busy, but not unmanageable, and we were treated to a look at what Carnaval would have in store for visitors.
We decided to give Airbnb a try, as we had success with it about a year ago on a weekend trip to Halifax. This was a pleasant surprise; we wound up staying in the neighbourhood of Saint-Roch, which the New York Times had recently suggested was an up and coming hotspot in the city. We were sure to take in all that the neighbourhood had to offer us – including some of the best poutine and craft beer in the city – before venturing onto more tourist-y destinations.
Because we are nerds, we also visited some museums which had exhibits on the War of 1812. One had a neat, interactive exhibit which went through the major milestones in the battle. Because it was a mid-week trip, we ended up being the only ones there for the demonstration, which served as an unintentionally private history lesson.
Like most of my vacations, the part I was looking forward to most was the food. I was not disappointed. We had some great meals (foie gras was a focal point), and even better craft beer (perhaps too much) along the way. My top recommendations would be Chez Gaston for their incredible poutine or Le Moine Echanson for pretty much anything but specifically their Bone Marrow with root vegetables, gruyere and morels. When it comes to beer, definitely consider checking out craft brewpub La Barberie or Brasserie Artisanale La Korrigane.
We had a great time and would definitely consider going back; maybe even in time for Carnaval, should budgets permit. If you can brave an Ottawa winter, it is definitely worth making the trip a little further East to Quebec City for a weekend getaway or downtime with the family. Great food, nice people and wonderful views and history await.
“Vive le Québec libre.“