View of Chateau Frontenac from Petit-Champlain
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Savoir Faire Pocket Guide to Québec City

I am so excited to introduce the Savoir Faire Pocket Guide series, starting with Québec City of course!

As I’ve been doing research for the guidebook I’m writing on Québec City (I’m talking full fledged -way bigger than a 30 page pdf file) I started thinking about writing a pocket guide series highlighting what I think is the best of a city: museums, tours, attractions, dining, sleeping. The trick was deciding what to include, and what to leave out.

The challenge with doing a pocket guide like this is that there is simply not enough space to include everyone, which is why I decided to do two editions for each guide; Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. This way I can change things up according to the season – which is essential for a city like Québec.

While this is a general city pocket guide there are plans for themed pocket guides like Wine & Cheese, Family, Photography, etc.

Pocket Guide to Québec City

Whether you have a day, a weekend, or a week, this guide has been created to highlight some of the best sites and museums to visit, where to enjoy fabulous cuisine (for all budgets), shopping destinations within the city, and where to lay your head at night for the best sleep possible after a full day of exploration and indulgence.

There are several neighbourhoods and streets in Québec, however for the sake of size, this pocket guide only features a handful: Vieux Québec (Old Québec), Petit-Champlain, Place Royale, Vieux Port (Old Port), Saint-Roch, Saint-Jean-Baptiste, Grand Allée, and Avenue Cartier.

Exploration Check-list

Inside the library at the Morrin Centre

Inside the library at the Morrin Centre

There are several museums, activities, tours,and sites in Québec City and for all intents and purposes, most of them are worth a visit. That being said, here are our top choices!

[click on each activity to find out more information!]

Located in Ste-Foy – which is a short car ride from downtown Québec – the Aquarium is home to 10,000 marine animals, including: polar bears, walruses, and seals. The Aquarium is open everyday from 10am to 4pm in winter, and 9am to 5pm everyday from Jun 1st to Sep 1st. Adult admission is $17.50, Seniors $15.75, Children 3-17 $8.75. 
Just a few blocks from the action on Grand Allée, Avenue Cartier has boutiques, bistros, cafés, and a fabulous indoor food market with artisan cheeses, a butcher, fresh fruits and vegetable sellers.  
As the only fortified city in North America (north of Mexico), the citadel is worth a visit. While it’s possible to visit and take a tour during the day, consider doing the Night Tour, complete with a guide in a period costume. Cost is $20 for adults, $16 for 11-17yr olds, children under 11 are free. 
This is the only food tour you should consider doing in Québec. This tour begins in Vieux Québec, then ventures into Saint-Jean-Baptiste, stopping to sample gourmet treats from some of Québec’s best restaurants like Le Patriarche, and Le Moine Échanson. Cost is $42.95 for adults. 
This street just outside the  Vieux Québec walls is filled with bistros, bars, discotheques, and a even a cigar club. 
Housed in a 200 yr old building, the Morrin Centre was once an army barracks, than a prison, a college, and now a library -and the headquarters for the Literary and Historical Society of Québec. Visits to the library are free during business hours. The centre also offers guided tours of the prison (they’ve maintained a couple cells), college, and library, daily in summer in English and French. General admission is $8.75, Students (with ID) $6.50, Children 8 and under are free. 

located in Vieux Port, along rue Saint-Pierre, the Museum of Civilization has over 125,000 artefacts, exhibits on Québec, world exhibits like ‘Master of Olympus’ (until Mar 2015). 

The museum of open 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Sunday in winter, and 9am to 6pm everyday from Jun 23rd to Sep 1st. Adult admission is $15, Seniors $14, Students 18+ $10, Children 13-17 $1, Children under 13 are free.

Located along the Plains of Abraham, the MNBAQ has three pavilions (the 4th will be completed in early 2015) and focuses on all aspects of Québec art. Another must visit in the city. 

The museum is open Tues, Thurs, Fri, and Sat from 10am to 5pm, and on Wed from 10am to 9pm in winter. In summer (Jun 1st to Sep 2nd) the museum is open everyday from 10am to 6pm; except Wed when it is open 10am to 9pm. Adult admission (31+) is $18, Seniors $16, 18 to 31yr olds $10, 12 to 17yr olds $1, Children under 12 are free. *Wed from 5pm to 9pm admission is 50% off. 

Ride the ferry between Québec and Lévis for drop-dead-gorgeous views of the Québec skyline. A one-way ticket on the ferry is $3.35 for 12- 64 yrs old, $3.05 for 65+, $2.30 children 5-11yrs old. 
One of the new ‘hip’ neighbourhoods in Québec, Saint-Roch is about a 15-20 min walk from Old Québec, and well worth the trip. Shop for vintage treasures at De Ja Vue, Le Knock-Out (records and lps), or one of the boutique shops (including John Fluevog shoes) on rue Saint-Joseph. 
Have a car? Take a drive out to Île d’Orleans just 17km from downtown. Buy fresh fruit, visit vineyards, take in the gorgeous scenery, and indulge in buttery croissants and homemade chocolates.
Cicerone offers tours with guides in period costume. The guides are both knowledgeable and entertaining, which helps to make the city’s history come to life. Tours are offered in both French and English, and depart from Hôtel du Vieux Québec. Cost is $21.95. 
Petit-Champlain is the oldest  business district in North America, and was revitalized in the ‘60s along with Place Royale, and Vieux Port when the city decided to restore this area of Québec instead of tearing it down. Today Petit-Champlain and Place Royale are filled with tourist boutiques, local artisan shops, art galleries, and bistros. 

Dining

Prosciutto & Arugula Pizza from Nina Pizza Napolatine

Prosciutto & Arugula Pizza from Nina Pizza Napolatine

There is a food revolution happening in Québec City that is positively out-of-this-world. And while the city is home to several well-seasoned chefs, there is a new generation of chefs taking over, introducing farm to table menus, and making dining out an exciting experience.

Vieux Québec

Aux Anciens Canadiens – This fine dining restaurant is housed in one of the oldest houses in Québec and features a high-end Québécois menu.

 

Chez Boulay – located along rue Saint-Jean, Chez Boulay specializes in nordic boreal cuisine which features wild game like boar, bison, duck, and deer. As well as root vegetables, fresh plants, and berries.

 

Le Chic Shack – Across from Château Frontenac, Le Chic Shack serves some of the best gourmet poutine and burgers you will ever eat – an their homemade ice cream sandwiches are pretty good too.

 

Tournebroche – This new restaurant along rue Saint-Jean is the creation of Chef Stephane Roth and the owners of Le Patriarche. The bistro features rotisserie chicken and guinea fowl, delicious poutine, and a different crème brûlée for each day of the week. All with a gourmet flair.

 

Vieux Port

Matto 71 – This Italian bistro by Rocco Cortina is a little slice of Italy in Vieux Port. The menu features delicious pizza, pasta, and the best meatballs in Québec City. 

 

Panache – The signature restaurant at  Auberge Saint-Antoine in Vieux Port (Old Port in lower town), Panache is the epitome of fine dining. Run by one of the youngest executive chefs in Québec, the food at Panache is fresh, exciting, innovative and utterly delicious.

 

Saint-Jean-Baptiste

J.A. Moisan – The oldest grocery store in Canada, J.A. Moisan has a lunch counter that serves small meals, salads, and sandwiches, all made fresh. It’s affordable, and delicious. And when you’re done you can shop for hard-to-find French ingredients for cooking at home. 

 

Snack-Bar – Located on rue Saint-Jean, this restaurant is nothing like the others listed in this guide, but still worth including. Open 24 hours a day, Snack-Bar is the go-to destination for poutine and cheap late-night greasy eats like gourmet hot dogs and hamburgers. 

 

Le Moine Échanson – Located in Saint-Jean-Baptiste, this small bistro is well known for its eclectic wine cellar and savoury cheese selection.

Avenue Cartier

Picardie Cartier – This French café is a neighbourhood favourite. They serve sandwiches, tarts, and quiche, as well as pastries, desserts, cured meats, and cheese. A fabulous place for lunch, or a quick café and wi-fi break while exploring.

 

Sushi Taxi - One of the funkiest sushi restaurants you will ever eat in!

 

Saint-Roch

Le Cercle – Executive chef, Olivier Godbout is revitalizing the menu at Le Cercle. This restaurant/bar/concert venue/underground music hotspot offers lunch, mid-afternoon, and dinner menus. The Grilled cheese and house-made pastrami sandwich is highly recommended.

 

Le Clocher Penché – This bistro features a $17 prix unique lunch menu which changes every two weeks. Prepared by Chef Mathieu Brisson, the ingredients are locally produced, the portions are generous, and the food is to-die-for. Dinner & brunch also available.

 

Nina Pizza Napolitaine – This pizzeria will transport you to Naples, Italy the moment you take your first bite. Owners Penelope and Lucie apprenticed with one of the best pizzaiolos, Chef Roberto Caporuscio.


Sleeping

A luxe riverfront view room

A luxe riverfront view room at Auberge Saint-Antoine

As a tourist destination, the are plenty of hotels, guesthouses, and hostels to choose from in Québec, and to list them all here would be pure insanity.
Instead I have selected a few properties in a couple different neighbourhoods. Many of which are local/family owned and operated.

Vieux Québec

Au Petit Hotel – A small hidden gem in Vieux Québec, Au Petit Hotel is charming, and budget-friendly.

 

Le Clos Saint-Louis – located on rue Saint-Louis, this is one of the more romantic victorian era hotels in the city. Each room is different, so look through their website before booking.

 

HI Québec – one of two hostels located in Vieux Québec, this HI has several rooms, a large communal dining area, kitchen, laundry, and free wi-fi. 

Hôtel Manoir Victoria – a boutique hotel on Côte du Palais, Hôtel Manoir Victoria is a contemporary hotel with insanely comfortable beds, a pool, spa, and is home to Chez Boulay. 

Vieux Port

Auberge Saint-Antoine – One of the best luxury hotels in Québec, Auberge Saint-Antoine is unique in that artefacts (from 16th, 17th, and 18th century) which were unearthed during construction have been incorporated into the design of the hotel. When not lounging in your room, head down to Café-bar Artefact for cocktails, Panache for dinner, or a treatment at the spa.

 

Le Germain Dominion – The Germain family have hotels in Québec, Montréal, Toronto, and Calgary. The Dominion being the first, and grandest, is another top luxury choice in Vieux Port. *Everything is Québec/Canada made.

 

Saint-Jean-Baptiste

Château des Tourelles – A short walk from Ave Cartier, this 19th century hotel has 10 rooms, a private terrace with stunning views of the city, and a friendly atmosphere.

 

J.A. Moisan – aside from being a small bistro and grocery, J.A. Moisan also offers four beautifully decorated rooms. This auberge is very popular, so plan ahead and book early!

 

Saint-Roch

Auberge L’Autre Jardin – This 28 room hotel believes in sustainability and fair trade. Rooms are comfy, and a healthy breakfast is served each morning. 

 

Hôtel Royal William – This contemporary boutique hotel is close to rue Saint-Joseph, which means trendy shopping, delicious bistros, and funky cafés are all at your finger tips.

 

Avenue Cartier

Petit Hôtel Café Krieghoff B&B – located along the charming Avenue Cartier, this bed and breakfast has 7 rooms, a popular café, and is close to Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec, and the Plains of Abraham.

Saint-Foy / Sillery

While staying close to Vieux Québec is preferable for many, if you have a car or do not mind taking public transportation, staying in Ste-Foy or Sillery is budget-friendly option (plus, that is where the shopping malls are located).

ALT Hotel – This boutique hotel is the budget-friendly brand owned and operated by the Germain family. The beds are insanely comfy, the rooms are colour, and the hotel is across the street from Laurier Mall – which offers a shuttle service to the Aquarium for only $5.

 

Hôtel Quartier – another budget-friendly boutique hotel, Hôtel Quartier has cozy contemporary rooms, an indoor pool, and free parking!

 

Hôtel Sépia – a beautifully decorated contemporary hotel, Hôtel Sépia has 81 rooms, and is close to the highway, and in a fairly quiet area. In summer the hotel has an outdoor pool, and provides a FREE shuttle service to Old Québec.

 


General Information

Wi-Fi

Many cafés, restaurants, and hotels have wi-fi in Québec, which is fantastic. In fact this is probably one of the more wi-fi friendly cities in Canada. 

ZAP Québec 

Finding free wi-fi in Québec City really easy thanks to ZAP Québec (circa 2006), a non profit organization that has almost 200 hotspots through the city of Québec. Using the ZAP wi-fi is easy, simply turn on your wi-fi and look for a ZAP hotspot, login, and enjoy your free wi-fi. Once connected you’ll have 1GB of data usage. If you go over your usage you won’t be able to use that hotspot again for a week, so you’ll need to find another hotspot.

ZAP hotspots can be found in a selection of hotels, hostels, restaurants, museums, attractions, and bibliothéques (libraries). 

Getting Around

For the most part Québec City is a walking city, however there are times when taking the bus or a taxi comes in handy – especially when venturing into some of Québec’s charming neighbourhoods like Limoilou, Ste-Foy, and Sillery. 

Funiculaire

Walking up Côte de la Montagne is slow going as this is one of the steepest hills leading from Lower Town to Upper Town (Old Québec), it’s great exercise, but if you want to give your legs a break, head over to the Funiculaire in Petit-Champlain and ride up to the boardwalk in front of Château Frontenac. 

The Funiculaire operates from 7:30am to 11:00pm and costs $2.25 CAD per person (exact change is recommended). 

Public Transportation 

Taking the bus (RTC) in Québec is fairly easy and recommended if you’re staying near the old city and want to explore some of the neighbourhoods further out, and equally if you’re planning to stay in Ste-Foy or Sillery and want to venture into the old city.

RTC has several fare options: 

  • Regular fare $3.25 (one-way)
  • 7-day Pass $27.50 ($18.50 for students & seniors)
  • 2-day Pass $13
  • 1-day Pass $7.25

Bus passes can be bought in several locations throughout the city [ Find out where to buy your RTC pass]. 

As a pass holder you also receive a couple of discounts in the city (by showing your OPUS card)

  • 10% of non-alcoholic beverages at Café In in Saint-Roch.
  • 20% off regular price adult tickets at Théâtre Périscope (two ticket limit)
  • 10% off tickets at Palais Montcalm (exclusively to regular price tickets to concerts presented by Société du Palais Montcalm)

Écolobus is a small electric bus that runs through Vieux Québec. The fares for this bus are only $2, and transfers are not available.

To find out more information on RTC bus schedules and routes, download the RTC Mobile app for FREE! 

Taxi

While walking around the city, or taking the bus is quite easy, sometimes taking a taxi is preferable – and faster! Taxi fares in Québec start at $3.45, and charge $1.70 per kilometre driven. If you want to know how much the fare will be ahead of time, there is an app called Taxi Fare Finder which is free to download and fairly accurate. 

Taxi Coop Québec • 418.525.5191

Taxi Coop Sainte-Foy • 418.653.7777

Taxi Laurier • 418.651.2727

Getting To/From Québec City

Québec is a relatively easy city to travel to, no matter what your budget may be.

Air 

Jean-Lesage International Airport is located roughly 16 km from downtown, and is a transportation hub for flights throughout Canada, as well as direct flights to a few select destinations in the United States, as well as Paris. 

Air Canada 
Direct flights are available to/from Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal, Gaspé, Sept-ˆIles, Îles-de-la-Madeleine, and Wabush. 
Reservation line: 1.888.247.2262
Flight Info: 1.888.422.7533
Air Inuit 
Direct flights are available to/from Montréal, Schefferville, Sept-Îles, Kuujjuaq, Kangirsuk, Quaqtaq, Kangiqsujuaq, and Salluit. 
Reservation Line: 1.800.361.2965
Air Transat 
Seasonal flights from/to Paris, Fort Lauderdale, and Orlando.
Reservation line: 1.866.391.6654
Flight Info: 1.877.872.6728
Delta Airlines 
Direct flights are available to/from JFK (New York City).
Reservation line: 1.800.872.6728
Porter Airlines 
Direct flights are available to/from Toronto, and non-direct flights from Boston, Chicago, Halifax, Newark, Ottawa, Sault Ste Marie, St. John’s (Newfoundland), Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Timmins, Washington, and Windsor.
Resveration line: 1.888.619.8622
Provincial Airlines 
Direct flights are available to/from Montréal, Toronto, and Wabush (Newfoundland). 
Reservation line: 1.800.563.2800
United Airlines 
Direct flights are available to/from Chicago, and Newark. 
Reservation line: 1.800.864.8331
Flight Info: 1.800.824.6200
US Airways 
Direct flights are available to/from Philadelphia.
Reservation line: 1.800.428.4322
Westjet 
Direct flights are available to/from Toronto, as well as seasonal flights to/from Cancun, and Fort Lauderdale.
Reservation line: 1.877.956.6982

Bus

Travelling by bus to Québec City is relatively easy, and fairly affordable. – everyone gets a 20% discount when booking a return ticket. Orléans Express  is the main bus company serving Montréal to Québec City, Centre-du-Québec, Maurice, Bas St-Laurent, and Gaspesie. 

Here are some sample fares:

Travel to… 
Duration 
Departs 
Cost 

Halifax, NS 
15h, 5m 
daily 
$149.47 
Gaspé, QC 
12h, 5m 
daily 
$119.06 
Montréal, QC 
3h 
daily 
$56.80 
Montréal Aeroport 
3h, 30m 
daily 
$68.30 
St. John, NB 
10h, 40m 
daily 
$134.41 

*prices include taxes and are subject to change.

Discounts: students and seniors (60+), receive a 15% discount, children 5-12 receive a 40% discount on regular priced one-way fares. Children under 5 are free. 

If you’re planning to spend a few months in Québec and wish to make trips between Québec and Montréal, a pass with 5 return tickets costs around $356 CAD.

You can buy your tickets online, or by visiting the main bus terminal:

Gare du Palais Bus Terminal
320, rue Abraham-Martin, Québec
418.525.3000

Travelling by bus from outside the province of Québec to Québec City will require a transfer in Montréal. While Greyhound is an option, there are more comfortable alternatives like MegaBuswhich has comfortable buses with wi-fi from Toronto to Montréal for $44 (6h, 30m). *MegaBus has a free app that you can download for booking tickets and checking schedules. 

Intercar is a bus company that serves areas north of Québec City, as well as the Côte-Nord region. Popular routes are Baie Saint-Paul (1h, 5m), Chicoutimi (2h, 30m), Jonquière (3h), Sept-Îles (11h, 40m), and Tadoussac (3h, 25m), all of which have daily departures.

Tickets can be purchased at Gare du Palais Bus Terminal.  

Car

Renting or driving your own car to Québec City opens up even more possibilities in terms of day trips, and exploring more of the regional highlights like Wendake, and Charlevoix.

Travelling From… 
Distance KM/M 

Boston, MA 
660 / 408 
Halifax, NS 
638 / 397 
Ottawa, ON 
378 / 235 
Montréal, QC 
237 / 147 
New York, NY 
836 / 518 
Toronto, ON 
729 / 453 

*rough estimates

Most rental companies will allow cross-border trips, which is handy if you’re travelling to Canada from the USA. 

The following rental companies can be found in Québec City:

Avis 
Hilton Québec
1100 Boulevard René Lévesque Est
Québec, QC 
418.523.1075
Budget 
1110 Boulevard Wilfrid-Hamel
Québec, QC
418.687.4220
Hertz 
44 Côte du Palais
Québec, QC
418.694.1224

Parking can be found throughout the city, with many streets in Old Québec offering paid parking ($2.50 per 2 hours) which operates Mon-Sat 9:00am to 9:00pm, Sun 10:00am to 9:00am. Parking outside of these hours is free! *Most metres only accept change, not credit cards.

Alternatively, if you do not wish to park on the street and feed a metre every couple hours there are parking lots through-out the city. 

Train

Québec City has been a train destination since the late 19th century – Canadian Pacific Rail is responsible for building the Château Frontenac, which now considered the ‘symbol of Québec City’. These days passengers can travel to Québec with VIA Rail.

Passengers with VIA Rail can travel daily to/from Québec to destinations like Montréal, Ottawa, and Toronto. VIA Rail also has three trains a week to Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Halifax, and Jonquière.

If you’re travelling from the United States, you can book a train ticket with Amtrak  from New York to Montréal for around $70 USD (10h, 51m), Boston to Montréal for around $140 USD (15h, 31m includes a transfer in New York).

Download

As my first in hopefully a long line of city pocket guides, I hope you will let my know what improvements I should make in order to make these guides more helpful and user-friendly. NOTE: This is also available in ePub format if you do not like PDF. Just leave a comment below with your email address and I’ll forward it as I’m still working to get it on to Amazon.

 

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I'm a travel writer and photographer who specializes in bespoke travel experiences. I write about boutique, savvy and cultural travel. My writing has been featured in Outpost Magazine, Travel + Escape, and UP! Magazine.

4 comments

  1. Congratulations, Pamela! I remember we spoke about this in Vancouver, and I’m very happy that this first big step has been accomplished! To many more guides!

  2. Vanessa

    I’ll be in Quebec for a few days in a week or so, this should come in handy!
    On another note do you have any tips for a non-French speaker? I’d like to be polite but I’m just not sure what the protocol is?
    Vanessa

    • Pamela MacNaughtan Post author

      Yay! Québec is fabulous. I treat travel in Québec similar to that of France. I try to speak a little French, which is always appreciated by the locals. You’ll find that many people speak a little English in the old city, Place Royale, Vieux Port, Saint-Roch… okay, most of downtown Québec.

  3. Francesca One Girl: One World

    Wow, your photos are AMAZING! And this review just makes me want to head on the next flight to Quebec! Man oh man!

    Francesca
    http://www.onegirl-oneworld.com

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