The Quebec City Guide
It’s tempting to think of Quebec City as a closer France (80 percent of the population considers French their primary language). But the capital of this Canadian province has a culture all its own. If you don’t believe us, we have two words for you: duck poutine.
Set on the banks of the St. Lawrence River, Old Quebec feels like you’ve stepped back in time—a lot of time. The small cobblestoned alleyways and centuries-old stone churches are as charming as can be, but the city still manages to feel alive and buzzing (with modern sites, like the Rem Koolhaas–designed art museum) and utterly peaceful (with a national park full of moose and foxes). And while Quebec City really comes to life in summer, when people spill out of the cafés and bars into the streets for late-night revelry, there’s something magical about winter, too, when the ice-skating rinks open, everything is dusted with snow, and the identity of this city is entirely its own.
Fairmont Le Château Frontenac1 rue des Carrières, Old Quebec | +1.418.692.3861
The fabled château—perched atop a rocky promontory above the St. Lawrence River—is just as much a symbol of Quebec City as a landmark of distinction. Built in the 1900s for the Canadian Pacific Railway, the 611-room hotel has retained and restored many of its original features (crown moldings, wooden paneling, and stenciled ceilings), while a recent $75 million renovation added an up-to-date edge in a seamless blend of old-meets-new.
Auberge Saint-Antoine8 Rue Saint Antoine, Old Quebec | +1.888.692.2211
Once a wharf and artillery battery, the Auberge Saint-Antoine—a trio of stone-and-brick buildings with copper roofs—has a way of being simultaneously regal and down-to-earth. Swathed in soft velvet fabrics and with goose-down duvets on the beds, each of the ninety-nine rooms has its own character, resembling something of an art gallery or an archaeological museum due to a treasure trove of restored artifacts displayed everywhere. The hotel’s bar is a haven for Quebec City’s sophisticated former hipsters and is known for its signature gin and tonic, done with herbs, juniper berries, grapefruit, and cucumber.
Hotel 7171 Rue Saint-Pierre, Old Quebec | +1.418.692.1171
Just minutes from the Old Port, Hotel 71 makes a great base for those looking to explore both the Upper Town and Lower Town of Old Quebec. Once the headquarters for the National Bank of Canada, the nineteenth-century Neoclassical building takes a fast-forward inside to the twenty-first century, with ultrasleek design elements and a socially conscious art collection. Each of the sixty neutral-toned rooms features soaring ceilings and big windows that capture views of the St. Lawrence River and Cap Diamant.
Le Monastère des Augustines77 Rue des Remparts, Old Quebec | +1.844.694.1639
A boutique hotel in a restored cloister, Monastère des Augustines is operated by the Augustinian nuns, who run hospitals throughout the Quebec region. Accented with Hudson Bay blankets and antiques such as racks for nun’s habits, the sixty-four rooms are a tribute to the order’s legacy, offering placid views of an herbal garden and a hushed simplicity that cultivates contemplation. Meditation, concerts, and yoga and qigong classes make up the programming, and an intriguing museum exhibits medical tools and artifacts.