Can’t make it to France in January or February? Then head to Quebec City in the province of Quebec in Canada and get immersed in Quebecois culture and the fun of Quebec City’s Winter Carnival, which takes place every year for two to three weeks in January and February. This year’s event takes place February 7-16. I hopped on a plane and in just over an hour arrived in Quebec City for a long weekend stay. I got a taste of France without travelling overseas.
[Updated January 18, 2020]
I was prepared for the cold (-24 degrees Celsius) and dressed accordingly. Fortunately, the sun was out all day on Saturday and Sunday. On Friday, when I arrived it snow but it was mild out. I actually didn’t need to wear my down-filled mitts or wear my dorky-looking hat (my niece said it looked cool).
I stayed at the iconic Chateau Frontenac Hotel on the top floor, overlooking Terrace Dufferin (boardwalk) and the St. Lawrence River and according to Wikipedia, the hotel is the most photographed hotel in the world. Who can argue with Wikipedia! It first opened in 1893 and in the past few years, they have renovated many of the rooms.
Here are some highlights:
Le Chateau Frontenac
Afternoon Tea (Saturdays only)
1608 Wine and Cheese Bar
staff really know their wines and cheeses.
Winter Carnival (Carnaval de Quebec)
On the opening day at 8:00 pm the opening ceremonies were held with a fireworks display.To attend all the events and see all the snow sculptures and shows, one must purchase an Effigy, a battery-operated pin that glows at night. It is well worth the $15. The event is very family-oriented; however, Carnival is great for adults too with DJ nights and bars serving liquor in glasses made of ice.
Winter Carnival with Le Bonhomme:
at the Plains of Abraham, which is a large park area and famous for the battle of 1759 between the French and English
Ice Hotel (“Hotel de Glace”)
The hotel is open from early January to late March and while you can stay the night you can also visit it for a couple of hours and have a cocktail. I had a Crème d’erable (Maple Cream liqueur) in a glass made of ice. Sorry for the pun, but it was cool.
I was very impressed with the hotel due to the numerous themed rooms which had unique sculptures such as the hockey room, or the disco room. After climbing the ice staircase, you took a slide down to the bottom. It was fun being a kid again.
Getting there: took a shuttle from the Chateau Frontenac. Much cheaper than taking a cab. Cost: $20 return
I love architecture so I loved the buildings in Quebec City, particularly in Old Quebec. Lots of cute shops and restaurants reminiscent of France and old Europe. Aux Anciens Canadiens restaurant is the oldest house in Quebec (1675).
If you go, try to speak French. If you just can’t manage, don’t worry, everyone speaks English too. I found the people in Quebec City extremely friendly. I felt like I was back in France….a cold France! If you can’t fight the cold, join in! Try tobogganing alongside the Terrace Dufferin!
Looking for more unique experiences outside of France? Check out these posts: