This month is dedicated to Quebec City. Former HI-Toronto assistant manager and Quebec City newbie Rebecca has written the following blog which we hope will get you in the mood for a mini-break in this beautiful city:
Have you ever been given the advice to travel like a local? As a fellow adventurer, I know it’s a lot of fun to venture off the beaten path – but often that’s easier said than done. How do you know where the locals go, if you’re not a local yourself?
But don’t worry because when planning your trip to Quebec City, I am here to help! I just moved to Quebec City, from Toronto last summer. The very first place I stayed was HI-Quebec. The location is unbeatable, right in the centre of Old Quebec and everything you want to see and do. They also have an extra-large communal kitchen to cook dinner in and chat with other travellers. But the friendly staff and delicious breakfast they prepared are why I still miss the place half a year later!
So I’m still a newbie but have been here long enough to get the scoop on local secrets and tips too. And after seven months of exploring inside and outside the walls, here are my “look like a local but have fun like a backpacker” travel tips for Quebec City in March:
The best view of Quebec is from across the river, in the city of Lévis. Hop on the ferry and keep your camera ready because this is where you will capture your postcard shots. At sunset it looks particularly beautiful but during the winter months it’s even better—the massive chunks of ice being crushed by the ferry’s bow makes you feel like you’re on an arctic expedition!
HI-Quebec is smack-dab in the middle of city’s cultural and historical sites (hey--it too used to be a convent). The big draw is of course the Chateau Frontenac but before you get there, right around the corner from the hostel there is a small but very cool photo-op on rue St-Louis. Down by your feet, at the base of the large tree is a cannonball firmly wedged its roots. Pretty cool. They say it’s been there since the Battle of Quebec in 1759!
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from living here through three seasons, the city is even more fun when there’s snow on the ground. This is good news, because the snow normally lasts right through March. My favourite place to go is Village Vacances Valcartier. This is North America’s largest winter sledding playground and it’s such a blast! You can reach face-melting speeds of 80 km/h on your tube. The best time to visit is in the evening, when all the school groups have gone home and the line-ups are almost non-existent which means more tubing time!
I can’t even guess how many pubs, clubs, and bars there are in this city but here are two of my stand-outs:
Bateau de Nuit: If it wasn’t for my Québécois friend, I probably would’ve never found this bar. There’s no sign outside and it feels like you’re walking into someone’s house, but yep, sure enough at the top of a mysterious staircase is a great little bar serving cold pints from local microbreweries. On a packed Friday night, the lone bartender is a tap-pulling, pint glass-balancing machine!
Taverne Jos Dion: The Nordiques left Quebec City in 1995 but the love of hockey will never die here. The locals now cheer for the province’s only NHL team, the Montreal Canadians. And the best place to catch a Habs game is at Jos Dion. Ohhhh, if the walls of this place could talk, they’d probably give an epic rambling account just like your grandfather because this place is probably even older than him. It’s been around since 1933 and women have actually only been able to drink here since the 1980s. But nowadays, everyone is allowed in and on hockey night, especially, you will see this is true. Feel free to help yourself to the popcorn machine!
A night out is not complete before a quick poutine stop before heading back to the hostel (I’m told it helps prevent hangovers). There are many options in Quebec City, but the king of course is Chez Ashton: In the last seven months, I have admittedly eaten way too much poutine from here. Feel like you need more than cheese, fries and gravy? You can also add sausage, ground beef or even both! And even if you are really hungry, stick with the mini or bébé sizes because, trust me, they are still huge. Tired of walking up all the hills here? The walk back up to the hostel after a night out, feels even more rewarding once you’ve had a poutine.
And if you’re still up for more you should also try the poutine from Snack Bar Saint-Jean or LeChic Shack…orboth.