Scene From the 2008 Winter Carnival!
The city’s name “kebec” means in the First Nation Algonquin language “where the river narrows,” referring to where the icy serpentine that is the Saint Lawrence River narrows at a cliff. This striking, colonial city along the mighty St. Lawrence Rivers knows how to party in the winter, and if you decide to stay past the holidays or wish to return, Winter Carnival, is held every February and is one of the most widely-attended events. Canadian hospitality is everywhere, from cafes with a warm fire going in the fireplace to drivers offering carriage rides throughout historic downtown.
Where to Stay: Built by American architect Bruce Price as one of a series of palatial for the Canadian Pacific Railway, Chateau Frontenac opened in 1893 as a luxury destination. More than a century later it continues to delight guests from around the world. The amenities are superb, including the lovely sixth floor swimming pool that offers great views of the city skyline and of the Laurentian Mountains. We stayed for four nights, and would highly recommend this hotel since it is centrally located and just a wonderful experience in and of itself.
Main Attractions: No revels in winter quite like Quebec City. Through December and January, visitors can enjoy QuebecAdabra, citywide celebration inspired by Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The city features three Christmas settings, a past, a present and a future, with hundreds of colored lights sparkling into the night. During the evenings comes “Fantasmagorie,” a massive architectural projection where the city’s historic buildings come to life. Quartier Petit Champlain offers French-Canadian colonial charm, shopping and local cuisine. The city also hosts several concerts throughout the downtown area and along the riverfront during December. Both Quebec City and Quebec Province is a winter lover’s playground; for the adventurous sort, not too far from Quebec City by car is Paraski Aventure, which offers guests the chance to paraski across frozen lakes in Quebec Province. Participants use a traction kite and skis or a snowboard and must have their own boots, skis or snowboard. Equipment can be rented, however restrictions apply. All participants must also attend a mandatory snowkiting introductory course. From February 1-17, 2013, Quebec City hosts its internationally renowned Winter Carnival. Dating back to colonial times and becoming a more formalized event in 1894, Winter Carnival is two weeks of culture, sports, floats, music, art, food, fireworks and fun, and continues to grow with each passing year.
Where to Eat: Start the day off right, but one cautionary note: the Quebecois breakfast or “le petit dejeuner” is not at all petit and consists of petit: beans, toast, eggs, sausage, and pork pie. You won’t feel hungry for lunch until about 3 pm. For dinner, classic Canadian cuisine is offered at Aux Anciens Canadiens, where the menu looked more like a guide to a zoo. Here is where you get your game on, literally. Aux Anciens Canadiens is one of the oldest restaurants in town–it opened in 1675—and serves waipiti–a cousin to the elk and moose—elk, moose, pheasant, rabbit, bison and just about any other creature roaming the chilly forests of the north as well as creatures swimming in the sea, like salmon. If you’re not up for game, try the decadent maple fondue at Le Petit Chateau right next to Chateau Frontenac. Or walk down to Quaterier Petit Champlain, a stretch of 18th century buildings home to 21st century shops. Here you’ll find Le Couchon Dingue, a great restaurant that serves the traditional Canadian dish—poutine—topped with duck confit—as well as Madame Gigi’s Confiserie, where the macaroons come in every color, from flamingo pink to pina colada yellow.