My first time visiting Quebec City was on press trip with Wyndham Hotels. It was one of those odd surreal weekends, which included fun activities like riding around a toy store on a train and getting drunk in a basilica. If I wasnâ€™t going to hell before, I am now.
But on this most recent trip travelling with other bloggers on a much tighter budget, I got to see a bit more of the city on a more realistic level. As realistic as it gets when youâ€™re 26 and broke.
We ended up picking a miserably rainy two days to be there, but Quebec is handsome no matter the weather. North Americaâ€™s only walled city is as close to Europe as you can get without having to shake a baguette in someone’s face.
A few tips pour vous.
1. Be wise with your budget. Quebec is fairly expensiveâ€¦particularly in Vieux-Quebec (the Old Town). The city seems to cater largely to retirees and older tourists — it has dozens of sidewalk cafes and fancy restaurants where they fold the napkins into wine glasses and boutiques with flashy jewelry. The further you get away from here, the cheaper it gets.
Same with accommodations. We stayed at Auberge Maeva Hostel, spending $30 each for a five-person dorm. It wasnâ€™t a terrible hostel, but I paid the same price for other hostels in the province and the quality/service was much, much better. DO YOUR RESEARCH.
2. For nightlife, go to Grand-Allee. You can go on a self-made pub crawl, and itâ€™s where the locals go. We started with beers at Taverne Grande Allee, a dimly-lit chilled out place with great appetizers for cheap prices.
Then we hit up Savini Resto-Bar, where they played killer music and an acrobat jumped onto the bar and then performed from a ring dangling from the ceiling. Folks really take Cirque du Soleil seriously here.
Finally, we wrapped up at Maurice Salon-Bar, an epic multi-leveled club with smoke machines, half-nude 20-somethings, and interesting/weird music choices. Itâ€™s worth a gander.
Seattle and I came to the conclusion here that Quebec has the best looking men in the world. Iâ€™m not kidding, ladies. The man meat is exceptional.
3. Donâ€™t be afraid of a little French. I honestly thought Iâ€™d have to brandish my minimal French skills wherever I went just to get by, but Quebec City is a lot like Montreal with its bilingual abilities. That doesnâ€™t mean you shouldnâ€™t TRY to speak French, but donâ€™t get your panties in a knot over it. My favourite moment was when a server at Savini approached us to clear the table and spoke to us in a long string of French, and Seattle and I (half-dumb from the rum and cokes) just stared at him with eyes wide until he said, â€œOh, English?â€ Yeah, weâ€™re THOSE travellers.
3. Check out the market. MarchÃ© Jean-Talon in Vieux Quebec is small but varied. I recommend picking up a bottle of ice cider for the parentals or loved ones back home â€“ itâ€™s a crisp tipple, and Quebec takes its wine very, very seriously. I bought mine from Bilodeau.
4. Just WANDER! I canâ€™t stress how lovely Vieux-Quebec is. Cobblestone streets, terrasses on the sidewalk, Chateau Frontenacâ€¦itâ€™s a photographerâ€™s dream and a poor writerâ€™s desire. Ride the funiculaire to the bottom and then explore the streets below the Chateau. Pop into shops, buy some moose pajamas and tacky souvenirs, sample croissants from a boulangerie and sip coffee in the streets. Voila, Quebec!
Thanks to Canada Keep Exploring for hosting me on the Cross-Canada Blogger Train to TBEX!