Quebec! Wow! Great city! I got a Priceline.com price for a room at the Le Chateau Frontenac, the world’s most photographed hotel. Le Chateau Frontenac is the iconic image of Quebec. If you see a photo of Quebec, it won’t be a skyscraper or a cathedral or a stadium. It will be Le Chateau Frontenac. Pay extra to stay there. It’s worth it. For three nights and three days I lived in the center of Quebec. For me, that means walking, food, music, scenery, and history.
Somewhere I read that Quebec was voted to be something like the 6th most popular tourist destination in the world, and second in North America. I wonder about those numbers, but I give it my full support as a fine tourist destination.
On my first night in Quebec, I ordered a cheese plate in the hotel bar, and that was adequate for me, overlooking the St. Lawrence River, one of the world’s most historic and important sites. Most residents of the USA don’t know this history because Quebec is, after all, in Canada. Founded in 1608 where the St. Lawrence River narrows, well, you can look it up… Trust me, a lot of battles were fought here. It may not be Gibraltar, but you get the idea.
They speak French in Quebec and I am always very pleased to begin conversations in my distinctive Southern French accent (Bon jour, ya’ll) until they stop me and say, desperately, “I can speak English.”
The best way to tour most cities, if it is available, is a hop-on, hop-off double-decker bus. I’ve seen Edinburgh, Barcelona, and several other cities this way. Since Quebec is built on a bluff, which means a hill, this option is attractive even to a serious walker.
Best meal was at the Continental. I discovered the Continental on TripAdvisor, of which I am a fan. They were ranked #3 out of 697 restaurants in Quebec City. That ranking has my full support. I ordered a fixed-price meal that included some of the best bread I have ever eaten, including a couple of slices of a cranberry-nut loaf. Then came cream of mushroom soup (not to be confused with anything you ever found in a Campbell’s can) followed by a pear, Gorgonzola and caramelized onion salad. I allowed the waiter to talk me into snow crab legs (claws?) for the main course. Though I am a great fan of crabmeat, I don’t like to deal with cracking crab claws. At any rate, the crabmeat was already removed and smothered in what they called Hollandaise sauce, but I believe it was a thick lobster or crab bisque. The meal was completed with a slice (yes, slice) of Italian ice cream, not gelato, but cassata, served with coffee. The service, of course, was perfection.
Many of the meals at the Continental were assembled and cooked in the dining area, the cuts of beef and the crepes, for example. So, the meal was extravagantly visual as well as tasty.
I sometimes wonder if the restaurant or wait staff resent a person eating alone, and, occasionally, I’m sure they do. Smaller profit with one person at a table instead of two. Smaller tip for one person instead of two. But the Continental was pure class and elegance. They treated me like a Prince. They could clearly see I was not a King. The experience was not cheap, but I wish I had returned the next night instead of trying to save a few bucks at a less distinguished establishment. If you are going to be in Quebec for only two nights, eat at the Continental twice. You won’t regret it.