As the summer of 2016 dwindled down, I took some much-needed time off in the capital of la belle province, Québec City.
Old Québec City is beautiful, complete with a decedent European charm. From the cobblestone streets, to the roadside vendors, it won’t be long before you forget you’re even in Canada and try asking when the next train leaves for Paris.
$$$ : A real splurge.
$$ : A reasonable endeavor.
$ : Affordable.
☆☆☆☆ : A must-go destination.
☆☆☆ : A great experience.
☆☆ : Not worth it. Overpriced or overrated (or both)
☆ : Avoid. In fact, cross the street if you even happen to walk by.
Hotel Port Royal
Hotel Port Royal offers reasonably priced rooms (especially when they go on special discounts) within walking distance from the old Quebec City.
The rooms have a particular aesthetic to them. Laden with bricks, hardwood floors and visible pipes in the ceiling, it almost feels like you’re in a Brooklyn, New York studio apartment. It can be a hit or a miss for some guests, though I enjoyed it thoroughly.
Topping it off, customer service was top notch. The concierge was friendly and helpful, offering no shortage of touristic time-fillers.
The only caveat with this place was the mattress — hence the 3/4 — it felt like sleeping on a water bed, and the morning after had me pondering the possibility of just sleeping on the floor the next night.
My second day in Quebec’s capital city was dedicated to one noble task. Finding the best croissant in the city. After trying a few different places, I stumbled upon Paillard.
One bite out of the butter croissant and you knew exactly why this place had won an award for their baking. In fact, the almond croissant was so good, I’d happily wait in Venezuela’s Bolshevik bread-line for it.
Situated between (conveniently in the middle!) the three-hour drive separating Montreal and Quebec-City is a quaint town called Trois-Rivieres. Here, you’ll find a French sandwich shop serving up French-style baguette paninis so satisfying, you’ll almost forget you were on your way to Quebec City.
In hindsight, I probably should have known better than to wander the streets of French Quebec City in search of an Italian desert.
Alas, it was a warm summer night and I was craving gelato. Walking by “Nym Gelato” I was immediately drawn in by the display of delicious-looking gelatos visible through the window.
My flavor of choice, pistachio, was unfortunately unavailable (disappointment #1). So, I opted for mango and hazelnut.
My next disappointment (#2) came upon the first spoonful of the Italian desert. The gelato was bland, watered down and would likely have Gordon Ramsay burn the place down in a fit of rage.
In Quebec City, you’ll find a bevy of memorable, delicious foods. Italian gelato simply isn’t one of them. Stick to the croissants!
Cafe Saint Malo
It’s a rare thing for me to visit the same restaurant twice on the same trip. Especially in a city as rich in vibrant eateries as Quebec City.
Cafe Saint Malo, however, proved to be an exception. A restaurant that truly exudes sentiment, this old-fashioned restaurant is guaranteed to have you forget you’re in Canada (even before the bottle of wine you just ordered arrives at your table!) as you peer out the window looking to see the Eiffel Tower on the horizon.
The cuisine is a classic French palette of flavors encompassing a duck confit, beef tartare, and rabbit stew, just to name a few.
The dining experience at Saint Malo delivers rustic charm in spades. Upon seeing the large hearty bowl of rabbit stew placed before you, you’ll swear your French grandmother is really in the kitchen, cooking your meal.
Topping things off, desert was exquisite. A rich, creamy creme brulee and decadent French cheese cake.
Words really don’t do this place justice. If you ever have the pleasure of finding yourself in Quebec City do yourself a favor and dine at Saint Malo. You won’t soon forget it.