For my first ever Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, the boyfriend and I headed off to see Quebec City!
Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day is a Quebec statutory holiday and has a history of political significance. A short interesting read can be found on the Wiki page for it! It definitely seemed fitting to visit the capital of Quebec during this long weekend.
We left the morning of Saturday and came back to Montreal on Monday night. Overall, we had about two and a half days in Quebec City. I felt that was plenty of time, and we got to do everything we had wanted to. But of course, keep in mind that we didn’t have a car, so we mainly did stick to downtown Quebec City! What are the must-do tourist attractions in Quebec?
1. Montmorency Falls
This is the furthest outside Quebec City that we went during our entire weekend there. The good thing is that there’s a bus that takes you really close to the falls and bus fare is only like $3 if you’ve got an Opus Card. They use the same Opus Card as Montreal does, but you’ll need to purchase tickets from a convenience store. We bought 4 trips (they only sell them in sets of twos) each for our entire weekend.
Montmorency Falls is actually taller than Niagara Falls! That was pretty surprising to me since having seen Niagara Falls up close, I thought it was a true giant. The 800 bus took us to a bus stop that was about a 10 minutes walk to the falls itself. There is a suspension bridge that allows you to look down the entire length of the falls! You can also choose to make the hike down on a set of staircase that you’ll see when you’re on the suspension bridge. It was a super hot day when we were there, and while hiking down was no issue, hiking back up would leave us a little gross for the rest of our day in Quebec, so we opted to just enjoy the view from the bridge!
While we were there, there was also an antique car show going on in the park near the falls. It was super cool seeing all these old school cars around the park! You could see how much care each of the collectors put in keeping their cars in tiptop shape and how proud they were to show it off to the world! Really impressive!
2. Old Quebec
You’ll no doubt pass by Old Quebec if this is your first time in Quebec City. It’s a vibrant and quaint area that’s filled with amazing restaurants and there’s plenty of shopping you can do as well.
If you’re coming from the west side of the city towards Old Quebec, you’ll walk through the fortified gates that surround the area.
3. Musées de la civilization
Quite literally doing what its name suggests, this museum documents civilization. It was interesting to learn about the divide of Quebec from the rest of the country, and why this divide came about. This province has a rich history that’s unique to itself, and I understand the want to protect it. That being said, they have more modern exhibits that encompass more of other cultures outside of the Quebecois one, that shows that while they fiercely defend their culture, they are getting more open to welcoming others as well into their continual development.
During our time there, they had a special Ici Londres exhibit which you paid a bit more for if you wanted to get in. Heads up, if you’re 18-30 years old, you pay a discounted rate! Not just for this new exhibit, but for the whole museum in general.
The Ici Londres exhibit was a bit small in my opinion, and not super interesting. I was hoping for a bit more pop culture features since it seemed to be what their gift shop outside heavily suggested. But there was a lot of British fashion, history, and stories to explore.
But nothing beats the More than Meets the Eye exhibit in this museum! It was so cool! All the sections in this exhibit were interactive. There was one where you’re submerged in complete darkness to simulate being blind, and you’ll notice how much more your other senses perk up. There was an area where you could lie on astroturf and look up to learn about the night sky. You could also visit a forest of mirrors, and there are optical illusion displays. I’m not sure if this is a permanent exhibit there or not, but I really hope it is!
4. Petit Champlain
If you venture off from the promenade, you’ll find yourself at Petit Champlain. Here you’ll find the Funicular that can take you up and down for $3.50 each way. Or you can take the “breakneck steps”, which I’m sure it’s no problem for most people. But after climbing up once, I insisted on taking the Funicular back up for the other times :’D
Petit Champlain is the epitome of a picturesque little town! The whole place feels like a village, and you’ll find souvenir shops, restaurants, and artisanal stores. Also, there are some excellent picture opportunities like this umbrella alley!
If you’re going by Château Frontenac (a.k.a the most photographed hotel in the world) at all, to the side of the hotel is the promenade!
You’ll get spectacular views of the St. Lawrence River, and along the promenade are ice cream stores and cafes. In winter, there’s also a toboggan slide!
At night (and probably throughout the day), we once went by after dinner and there was a street performer who really was quite great to watch! He did the whole thing with the giant hula hoop, and also did a handstand on a very long pole with the help of the audience.
6. Chocolate Museum
Érico is a chocolate shop that also has half its store converted into a chocolate museum. Heads up, the “museum” is tiny, but it is free. My three pictures above basically completely covers what there is to see. But there are cool tidbits of information you can learn, and some interactive displays that may be attractive for younger kids.
You can also purchase different types of chocolate with varying percentages of cacao. But to me, the real gem was the actual chocolate shop itself! I’m not a huge fan of chocolate. I get random cravings for it about 4-5 times a year, but otherwise, I’m indifferent. But man, the hot chocolate (I got one named after their shop) and cake I had here were amazing! Please get the Chocoholic cake. It’s seriously so great. Also, I really wanted orange chocolate, so I got one of their candied orange chocolates! If I had more friends/family/coworkers who enjoyed chocolate more, I would’ve gotten a gift box to go. They have a wide selection to choose from!
Where I stayed:
Hotel Pur — Well priced, and about a 20 minute walk to Old Quebec. However, there is a bus that takes you right there only half a block away from the hotel! They also have a wine vending machine!
Where I ate (open photo captions for names + comments):
Overall, the weekend felt like it was enough time to see Quebec City, but also allowed us to be fairly relaxed in terms of our schedule. If you’re in Montreal, it’s definitely worth a 2-3 day visit up to Quebec City!