As soon as it hits December 1st, the Christmas music is on in my living room and the tree(s) are decorated. It’s always been my favorite holiday, more so due to the energy in the air leading up versus the actual day itself. Last year, a few friends and I hopped in my car and headed up to Canada to see what Christmas in Quebec City was about. Well, at least that was my motivation behind going..
First off, the city in itself is something straight out of a fairytale. Old Quebec is currently the only walled city north of Mexico. You can walk along the old stone ramparts of the UNESCO world heritage site before heading inwards for some of the cutest buildings.
We didn’t have much trouble finding English speakers here, though many websites warned of the locals only using French. Regardless, it’s nice to learn a few phrases (aka, “do you speak English?” is helpful.) Visit the Quartier Petit-Champlain for restored historical homes and any of your shopping needs. We ended up walking this area pretty quickly, a lot of the stores are often the same. Nonetheless, it’s still pretty to wander through.
Okay, so I lied to all of my friends when we got up that morning. I excitedly let them know we were headed to see a castle, knowing they wouldn’t jump at the chance at seeing “an old hotel.” Once we arrived, I told them Chateau Frontenac is one of the most photographed hotels and an icon in Quebec City history. Yet all I got was a, “Yeah but where’s the castle?”
Even if you don’t opt to stay in Chateau Frontenac, it’s a beaut to look at. The boardwalk, or Terrasse Dufferin, between the hotel and the St. Lawrence river is wide, making it perfect to stroll along. It even has a toboggan ride that’s been whizzing people along for the past century or so.
Quebec City Christmas Market
Here’s where things got good (well, for me.) We found the German Christmas Market after a bit and immediately split up. Ranging from November 24th-27th and December 1-12th, you can grab a drink at the winter bar until 8pm during those days. I absolutely recommend visiting the market at night as I just didn’t feel the same ~magical~ vibe during the daytime. Though I didn’t find the perfect, one-of-a-kind ornament to bring back, a lot of the shops sold beautiful handmade wares.
The highlight of my day was certainly getting a massive Belgian waffle from one of the stands. Just watching them pile the whipped cream and hot fudge on top of it was worth the potential sugar crash. But within seconds of sitting down, I proceeded to drop most of it on my velvet pants and shoes. Not like I wanted any of that delicious whipped cream anyway..
A Grand Tour of Old Quebec
After getting our fill of the Christmas market, we spied a horse-drawn carriage roaming about. Flagging him down, we piled onboard and snuggled under the blankets with the resident terrier, Jack. While he buried his nose beneath the blankets, we trotted along the cobblestone paths. It was nice to talk with our driver who put a name and meaning to the countless historic sites we had walked right by. Apparently, we had the good fortune of being there when the Pope announced the opening of the seven holy doors. One of which apparently included the Notre-Dame Basilica cathedral, conveniently located within old Quebec.
Christmas in Quebec City
Overall, heading north for the holidays has its perks. Christmas in Quebec City will certainly not disappoint if you’re looking for something a little slower of pace and scenic throughout. Steeped in history, it’s hard not to get caught up in wondering what kind of lives these old buildings saw. It’s a great place for couples, solo travelers, or anyone looking to escape the madness for a few days. My only regret is not booking at room at the Chateau Frontenac, and would certainly do so if I venture up again.