Old Quebec City

Visiting Old Quebec City in the winter is like living in a snow globe. The beauty and wonder of the city is all around you.  Locals and visitors skate on outdoor ponds and rinks, and children laugh straight from their toes as they slide down a hill on an old-fashioned toboggan.  Snow surrounds you, and the hooves of horses crunch through newly fallen snow on the beautiful cobblestone roads.  You can see your breath in the air as you take in the sights, smells and sounds around you. Life is good!

Visiting the toboggan sled (glissade), located on the Terrasse Dufferin, will be one of the highlights of your trip. There are three lanes of thick, frozen tracks of ice waiting for you.

For $3 per trip, you drag your old-fashioned toboggan up a hill and you and your family/friends start to pile on.  Many sleds look like trains of people laughing it up together. I was seated at the very front and had a size 14 pair of winter boots plopped in my lap.  I held on tight with both hands, not sure how to stop the toboggan.  No worries…. that is taken care of for you.

There is a short track of wood at the end of the slide that slows down most toboggans.  If this doesn’t work, your toboggan slows down as it starts to climb a small mound of snow. Last resort?  You go up and over the snowbank where the toboggan tips you over.  In other words…. get off!  By this time, I was laughing so hard, while family and friends ran to buy more tickets! After an hour of sledding, and wet butts, it was time for a new adventure!

Old Quebec City is filled with small streets that open into big courtyards and new surprises!  It has the familiarity and charm of an old European town, but the vibrancy of an amazing city.

The sides of old buildings have beautiful murals painted on them, some with a social message.  

We witnessed an intimate, outdoor winter wedding which included a small number of invited guests and nosy visitors in the Church Square area! The bride wore a beautiful, winter white gown and faux-fur coat and was serenaded by a traditional Quebec fiddle player!  It doesn’t get more authentic than that! 

Sitting high above Old Quebec City is Le Chateau Frontenac. The hotel was beautifully decorated for the holidays, with parties going on in many rooms and the sights and smells of the holidays in every corner.

Walk up and down the narrow streets and check out the boutique shops to find that special something.  As the main language is French, don’t worry!  Most shop owners and tourists can help you ‘parlez’ to make your purchase or help with directions.  

You must try lunch or dinner at a fondue restaurant. This way of eating is unique and forces you to slow down and enjoy the experience. Most fondue restaurants serve beef and fish as the main course, but cheese and bread are another option with fruit and melted chocolate for desert.  There are no words!  

 Another option is to ask for tourtière at your restaurant of choice. This is a Canadian meat pie dish which originates from Quebec and is usually made with minced pork, veal or beef and potatoes.  If you are lucky enough to drive to Quebec, stock up on this delight and fill your freezer.  You won’t regret it. This won’t help my vegetarian/vegan friends but there are many options to choose from that will make you very happy!

One of my favourite treats is always located within the shopping district.  Find a man dressed in a red and black lumberjacket and a hat with ear flaps and you have hit gold!  He is most likely a maple syrup farmer.  Using (fresh) snow, watch as he drizzles maple syrup on the snow and adds a stick on the end.

In minutes, the maple syrup freezes and you are the owner of an authentic, maple syrup sucker.  So tasty!

Make sure you take a ride on the funiculaire. This is an old railway that climbs at a 45-degree angle for 210 feet and connects the upper village to the lower village.  This saves you a 100-stair climb after a fun-filled day.

If you have never tried ice skating, now is your chance!  Check out Place D’Youville in front of the Palais Montcalm. This is a public square in the heart of the city, which marks the boundary between Parliament Hill and Old Quebec City.  You can rent skates, and lockers are also available both for a nominal cost. Outdoor skating is the way the sport is supposed to be experienced.  Kids and adults of all ages are bundled up in hats, scarves and mittens and big smiles as they skate to the music.  If this is your first time…no worries!  Ask for a skating rack to help keep you up!

There is so much to experience in Old Quebec City. The city itself will make you smile, and you will feel like you have stepped back in time when life was simple and kept a slower pace.  Step into the snow globe and experience all that Old Quebec City has to offer!

Nice to know

Place D’Youville hours:  Mon-Thurs 12pm-10pm and Fri-Sun 10am-10pm.  Free!Skate rental $8, sharpening $7, skating rack $4

Funiculaire de Quèbec: $2.25 per ride (one way) 16 rue du Petit-Champlain

Le Chateau Frontenac1 Rue des Carrières, Quebec City, Quebec

Terrasse Dufferin Slides (Glissade)42 Delorme, Quebec City, Quebec

18 Comments

  1. Angelica March 1, 2019 at 3:20 pm - Reply

    Old Quebec City in the winter sounds like a dream! For the sled, do you need to rent one or bring your own? Thank you!

    • Debbie Preston March 1, 2019 at 4:32 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the question. You have to use their sleds due to the fit/width. The ice lanes were designed for their equipment (of course!)

  2. Anna March 2, 2019 at 8:46 am - Reply

    I would love to visit Quebec one day <3 I did not realise how pretty the old town is nor how many wonderful things there are to do outdoors!

  3. Brenna March 2, 2019 at 2:40 pm - Reply

    Thanks for sharing! I’m hoping to visit Quebec City with my friends this May, but now I wish I was going in the winter!!

    • Debbie Preston March 3, 2019 at 2:17 pm - Reply

      Thank you for the comment. It really is a beautiful city. You will enjoy it!

  4. Sage March 3, 2019 at 9:33 pm - Reply

    Quebec has been on my Canada travel bucket list for some time. While it looks like a winter wonderland out of a storybook, I think I’m going to save myself to experience its beauty in the summer! 🙂 Sage Scott, the Everyday Wanderer

    • Debbie Preston March 3, 2019 at 11:31 pm - Reply

      It is just as beautiful in the summer and the food is just as delicious!

  5. Brandi March 10, 2019 at 8:13 pm - Reply

    This looks absolutely beautiful! I bet this was an amazing trip!!!!

    • Debbie Preston March 10, 2019 at 10:31 pm - Reply

      It really was an amazing time! Hopefully you will see it for yourself one day.

      • Sophia Garner March 20, 2019 at 11:12 am - Reply

        Amazing read, will definitely be adding it to the travel list!

        • Debbie Preston March 20, 2019 at 11:55 am - Reply

          Thanks for the fedback. It truly is a great place any time of year, but that slide is something special!

  6. Abbee March 19, 2019 at 1:14 pm - Reply

    You have me convinced! I’ve visited Montreal and Tremblant but didn’t have time to visit Quebec City. Wish I had now!

    • Debbie Preston March 19, 2019 at 1:53 pm - Reply

      You can always make a return visit! It’s worth the drive/flight/walk….!

  7. Bea March 19, 2019 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    I so want to visit Old Quebec City, especially in wintertime. I’ve been to Montreal a couple times but never made it as far as Quebec City. I especially love the glissade – my son would have the best time there. And you are right – the place does look like a snow globe. Just gorgeous!

  8. Akriti March 19, 2019 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    I’ve always loved Quebec City. Can’t wait to explore it now!! – http://www.itsasweetsweetworld.com

    • Debbie Preston March 19, 2019 at 5:11 pm - Reply

      Thanks for the feedback. It was a time when I felt like a little kid, my pants were soaked and I couldn’t stop laughing. So much fun.

  9. Angela March 20, 2019 at 7:36 pm - Reply

    I can’t ski so this ride down the hill in the toboggan sled sounds really cool for me! Moreover, the city itself seems so cute during winter! Would love to go there one day in the next future. 🙂

    • Debbie Preston March 20, 2019 at 8:21 pm - Reply

      I don’t ski either so this really is perfect….and it’s right next to the frozen St. Lawrence River!

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