We were fed up with being stuck in our home and aching to travel again we decided that since the border was still closed to us Snowbirds wanting to travel south and while still waiting for the border to open again, we would be Snowbirds that visit Quebec City in Canada instead.
Here is the tale, much description and photos. We hope you enjoy it!
Why Old Quebec City?
It was our honeymoon destination when we splurged big and spent two nights at the Chateau Frontenac 46 years ago. For the rest of our honeymoon way back then we went camping because of budget issues! Over the decades of our marriage we attempted trips to Quebec City several times and none had come to pass for a variety of reasons. We decided to try again.
Train to Quebec City
But before we get lots more info and see more photos from our trip, how did we get to Old Quebec City? Years back we would have driven ourselves. This time we decided that we should take the train; no parking issues, no traffic woes! At home we booked a taxi the night before to get picked up on time on the day of our trip. Then we, along with one carry on and two suitcases, headed to the local station on time and from there on to Quebec City on the train.
On board we found the seats were somewhat airline like and very comfortable. Leg room was extraordinary (certainly as compared to “modern” airline seating), the seat backs were adjustable and there was lots of room for luggage overhead. We were quite impressed with the amenities we found and the Covid security measure in place at the stations and on board. We remember the train trips from decades ago and this modern train was just fine.
After a brief stop in Montreal where we switched trains and grabbed a sandwich in the Montreal station before boarding for the next leg of our trip to Quebec.
As we approached Quebec we had to cross the St. Charles River to get to the old part of the city. The view below is out of the large and – excellent for siteseeing – windows on the train.
Note: Old Quebec City is almost all “up”!
Arriving in Quebec within a couple minutes of planned (thank you Via) we checked Google Maps for the distance and location of our Hotel Clarendon from the Quebec train station. This station – one of two in Quebec City- is located just outside the old city ramparts and gates into the old town.
It was a cool by now, but since Google Maps showed us only a 10 minute walk of about 850 metres, and after sitting in a train for hours, we thought the walk to the hotel would be good excercise. That it was exercise was no doubt. That it darned near killed me also isn’t in doubt.
All the roads leading to our hotel were up! And not mild grades. On some if I’d let my suitcase go it would have rolled right back down to the nearest cross street below. Some of the roads to the hotel were under construction or had contruction being performed along them as well and we had to very careful of traffic, yet we made it.
Thought… to get to your hotel in old Quebec City from the train station, consider a taxi unless you enjoy a tough walk, one which this senior did not. I sure wish Google Maps could show contours as well as distance.
When looking for a hotel there we kind of recalled where the Chateau Frontenac was in relation to the city, and we used it as our focal point for hotel selection.
Ultimately we settled on and booked the Hotel Clarendon, which has been part of the Quebec City scene since 1870. The sixth floor there was to be our home for the stay. Here’s a peek out of our hotel room window:
The Hotel Clarendon is old and beautiful, much like us!
Our room had been recently rebuilt thanks to a fire in that part of the hotel in 2019. When they rebuilt they kept the ambience of the old hotel and upgraded the modern conveniences which included lovely double beds, credenza, large flat screen TV, internet connectivity, and the bathroom was as clean and modern as any we’ve been in complete complete with stand-up shower.
The Clarendon is a full featured hotel, with a lovely restaurant, valet service, room service, etc. We took the train to Quebec so we didn’t need the valet service, and we simply didn’t use the hotel restaurant at all, though it’s quite well reputed.
The Covid awareness and protocols at the hotel were excellent. We were taken a bit aback by the fact that there would be no in-room service during our stay, this to help protect hotel workers. It really wasn’t a big problem as it turned out. Each day we put used items such as towels, used coffee pods, cups, glasses etc outside the hotel-room-door. Then, when we returned to the hotel later in the day we called reception and within 10-15 minutes there was a knock at the door, and a masked individual would deliver all the replacements we asked for, and often more. An in-room note explaining this to new guests would have been useful.
We were very pleased with the hotel and location. If you have any interest, please check them out:
57 Rue Sainte-Anne,
Québec, QC G1R 3X4
The Old Quebec City Ramparts
The first full day in old Quebec we decided to walk about the entire old city from mid-morning until dusk. We understook that it would be a tough slog. Kudos to my partner for ignoring my all-day-long lament – “Geez, more up!” – usually said in jest but sometimes not – as we trudged along.
We enjoyed a gorgeous fall day in Quebec City. The weather on the first couple of days was quite warm for late October. Locals told us that they often have quite a bit of snow by this time of the year.
When we reached the top of the ramparts nearest the south side of the city – enjoying too many sights alongs the way to mention all – the view was spectacular.
From the top of the Rampart where it reaches the river – where the photo above was taken – to the river-front deck of the Chateau Frontenace is a very pleasant walk on La Promenade des Gouverneurs along the St. Lawrence. There are a lot of stairs (almost all going down as one can see from the photo above) and mostly level walking for the 800 metre or so length heading towards the Chateau Fronenac.
From that promenade visitors can enjoy many beautiful views of the St. Lawrence River, the Quebec City south shore, perhaps a ship or two sailing along the St. Lawrence and almost always walkers can see a couple of ships berthed at the Coast Guard base far below below the promenade on the river.
There are almost no visitors on the deck in this photo as it was getting late in the day, had become much cooler, and it was very, very windy.
Quebec City can be extremely windy!
One thing we did notice was that the closer one got to the St. Lawrence River the windier it got. Not a little wind. Much of the time when walking along the river I had to hold my hat on to keep it flying away. When the sun went behind clouds that wind also made the air feel quite cold.
Once a walker got a few blocks away, the buildings helped reduce the impact of that wind, but it was still there. Care must be taken then, depending on when the city is visited, to wear sufficent outer clothing to keep warm if it is as windy then as we experienced during this visit.
Did I mention eating out in Old Quebec yet?
I did say earlier we didn’t eat in the hotel restaurant. For convenience sake we planned on doing so, not knowing what eating establishments were nearby. We found, as we headed out on almost any street from around our hotel, restaurants abounded. All kinds. Here are a couple of dishes, with the first being a photo of a “diet” breakfast from La Buche restaurant, which was nearby.
Old Quebec City French onion soup!
Time to wind up our virtual visit to Old Quebec City…
Thanks for tuning in. I hope this lengthy page was worth taking time to read and view. I’ll leave you now with two things;
1) we absolutely enjoyed our stay in Old Quebec City and recommend a visit and
2) here are a few more photos of the oldest part of Quebec City and a video of a Funicular ride in Old Quebec.
Here’s a better sense of how much “up” there is from river side to the Chateau Frontenac deck in a brief video taken by Sue as we headed back to our hotel.
One last photo of our Quebec trip for you;
And finally… a bus trip to the Sanctuary of Ste Anne de Beaupre
We knew our last full day in Quebec was supposed to be rainy, and it was. In preparation we signed on for a 5 hour bus tour. The tour bus stop was just down the block from our hotel, and we didn’t have to spend any time in the then light drizzle when we caught the bus mid-morning.
Awe inspiring doesn’t even do the view inside justice. It is incredible. And though there were “official” activities ongoing during our visit, with the appropriate resepect shown, we were able to wander at will throughout this main hall, the basement (lovely in it’s own right with another full church there, and the grounds and outbuilding on the extensive grounds.
The weather, which my now was a windy, rain deluge, didn’t allow us much time to wonder outside, yet we did a bit.
For more information about the sanctuary, here’s their website.
As part of the tour we were then treated to a visit to what turns out to be
Thanks for your time. You are welcome to leave a comment if you wish.