Well, it didn’t take us long. Only two days into our journey to be exact. That’s how long it took for us to arrive somewhere that we wish we could stay longer and explore more. The history, the European feel, and the food. Those are just a few of the reasons that we almost both fell in love with Quebec City. The city – specifically Old Quebec is perfect. We loved everything about the city, aside from one cramped parking garage. More on that later.
We left just after 9a from our campground at Riverside RV in Edmundston. Our destination was Domaine de la Chute outside of Quebec City. The route had us planned for just over 3 hours of driving. We knew from the day before that Google maps doesn’t give you accurate readings for travelling with a fifth wheel. So we estimated that we would arrive at between 1 & 2p. We did pretty well to arrive just after 2p.
The drive for Kate was much easier than day 1. The road was still quite hilly in spots but there was little to no wind. It’s amazing how much of a difference this made. It was windy the day before but it wasn’t like hurricane winds. It’s kind of shocking how much just a little bit of wind can slow down your travels.
While driving in northern New Brunswick, we hit our first steep downgrade. It was incredible to see and listen to how the truck’s Tow/Haul mode protects the engine’s transmission during these declines.
The drive was a nice one. Thick trees lined the rolling hillside as we drove from New Brunswick into Quebec. At times, we were also driving alongside the St. Lawrence River. It was quite a welcomed sight after driving through trees for the majority of our trek to this point.
First Impressions of Quebec City
Driving from west of the city, we crossed the St. Lawrence River via the Pierre Laporte Bridge. The massive structure is nothing short of impressive. The bridge is the longest suspension bridge in Canada at almost 2200 feet in length. The bridge is also the longest non-tolled suspension bridge in the world. It also sits right beside the smaller but still impressive, Quebec Bridge.
Image By Punkzealot via WikiMedia Commons
10-minutes after crossing the bridge, you arrive into Old Quebec. Right away, you feel like you’re taken back in time. More specifically, it feels like you’re taken back in time somewhere in Europe. Neither Kate nor I have been to most of Europe but parts of Old Quebec reminded us of Dublin and Edinburgh. The narrow and winding streets were one of the main reasons for this.
Quebec City is over 400 years old. A lot of the buildings are hundreds of years old and still maintain a lot of their original look. The businesses in the area have done a fabulous job at maintaining the look and feel of a mature city. We later learned that businesses are required through a city by-law to keep their buildings presented as if they were a couple centuries old. Even McDonalds in Old Quebec had a storefront that was more representative of earlier times rather than the illuminated golden arches you’re used to.
As we were driving around, I was getting a touch anxious. I wanted to get the truck parked and get on foot to begin exploring.
Kate was driving, so I can’t speak for her, but driving into and around the city seemed straightforward for a larger city. You do have to watch for some aggressive drivers at times that weave in and out of traffic like maniacs.
Driving around Old Quebec is oddly quite easy. There’s a surprising lack of street lights. Rather, there are stop signs which allowed us to navigate around the winding roads. Traffic was also quite light. It may have been because we were driving around at 7 in the evening. I assume it’s much quieter at night than the middle of the day. Regardless, it was comfortable navigating around.
Parking, unfortunately, was not as comfortable as the drive was. We drove around Old Quebec trying to locate a place to park. We noticed signs for parking and then drove into a garage close to the main attractions.
Because it was the evening when we arrived, we were easily able to locate a spot to park. Yet, we did remark that the spots seemed awfully tight. Thankfully, there weren’t many cars in the garage at the time or else it could have been interesting.
In the end, it was still more than interesting. After exploring Old Quebec throughout the evening, we were ready for bed. Once we located and started up our truck, we drove around a bit looking for the exit. Little did we know that we were in for a bit of excitement before leaving the garage.
To leave this specific parking garage, you had to exit via a gate a couple of levels up from where we parked. No big deal, right? Not so fast! Kate drove us up a ramp to the next level. We both noticed that the clearance was low but we still made it. Then came the ramp to take us to the next level.
Kate stopped the truck and we both looked at each other as we read the sign marked, “2 Meters Clearance.” How big is our truck exactly? Well, we didn’t have that answer. We wondered how the heck we would get out if our truck was larger than 2 meters.
It was time. Time to find out if we would clear the ramp allowing us our exit. To make sure we wouldn’t damage the truck, I got out. I wanted to eyeball the distance between the truck and the unforgiving cement ceiling. As Kate approached the ramp with the truck, I walked beside it.
The front wheels of the truck then hit the ramp and Kate pressed on the gas moving the truck forward. Immediately, I noticed that the antenna was not going to clear the ceiling. I grabbed it and pushed it forward just enough so that it wouldn’t bend and snap under the force. The next issue was whether the ceiling was going to turn our truck into an unwanted convertible.
Kate continued giving the truck gas pushing it further along the ramp. It was then that I took a deep breath followed by a sigh of relief. Barely did the truck clear the ceiling. If our truck was just another two inches taller we’d still be in the parking garage trying to figure out a way out.
Thankfully, we were able to escape with the truck intact. A valuable new lesson was learned in the experience. Stay the hell away from parking garages when driving the truck.
Because I knew we had another day to enjoy in Quebec City, I needed to figure out where we going to park the next day. I tried researching online for ideas but came up empty. I then remembered that I had a contact at Tourisme Quebec who had been helpful in the past. I shot him off an email explaining our issue with the parking garage. I then asked if there were any alternative parking areas in the city that would not leave us needing to change our underwear when trying to leave.
Early the next morning, my contact responded and told us that we should have no problem parking at the Marché du Vieux-Port de Québec. Sure enough, he was right. Parking at the market is open air, easy to navigate, and had plenty of open spots. What a relief it was to have a comfortable parking spot. If you’re travelling to Quebec City in a large truck, stay away from parking garages and try and find open air lots like the farmers market. If you’re in an RV you could even squeeze in. We saw a Class C motorhome in the parking lot when we left later in the day.
Pub St. Patrick
Not long after parking the truck in the parking garage we were on the patio of Pub St. Patrick on Rue St. Jean. It was busy, but we were fortunate to be able to nab a table, especially on the sidewalk patio. Sitting on the patio was perfect. It allowed us to enjoy the surroundings of Old Quebec and wind down a bit after a day of travel. I wound down with my friend Jameson’s mixed with some ginger ale.
The menu at Pub St. Patrick had plenty of options. Because we were eating at an Irish pub, it seemed necessary to munch on something traditionally Irish. Bangers and Mash it was. That turned out to be a solid choice. The dish featured two different types of bangers – one sweet while the other was spicy. Both were tasty.
Kate ordered a crab burger with cheese. She remarked that it was f*%king delightful. I had a bite and had to agree. It was quite wonderful. The food and the setting of Pub St. Patrick was a perfect start to our evening in Old Quebec.
We definitely have a problem. We are addicted to ice cream. Aside from future cases of diabetes, it’s a delightful addiction. After striking out in Edmundston, Quebec City was the perfect spot to kickstart our Ice Cream Tour of Canada.
Stop 1 found us enjoying Italian style ice cream aka gelato. A quick Google search of “best ice cream Quebec City” pointed us towards Tutto Gelato on Rue St. Jean. It was a lengthy walk from Pub St. Patrick. We figured that we would be justified in getting ice cream once we arrived from the walk. It was also a great opportunity to enjoy the nighttime lights and sights.
Upon arriving in Tutto Gelato, your eyes snap towards the glass freezers filled with what looks like giant cloud puffs of gelato. It looked soooo good! Kate and I both got a double scoop, trying four different flavours in the process. We enjoyed our gelato and it was definitely worth the hike.
A Nighttime Walk
Quebec City at night is a real treat. The old, narrow streets are pleasantly lit. The streets invite you to meander through them exploring the open air restaurants and various businesses along the way. I couldn’t help but break out my tripod to take some long exposure snaps around Old Quebec. From the old cobblestone streets to the ramparts to the Chateau Frontenac – it was a pleasure to capture the historic city with my camera.
Old Quebec feels like it would be a fabulous place to enjoy as a local during the evening. As we walked through the streets, you could see locals enjoy a cocktail on the many street patios. There were also plenty of people enjoying the warm evening on their apartment patios.
As impressive as Chateau Frontenac is during the day, it’s equally, if not more impressive during the evening. The bonus of visiting at night? There’s a lot fewer tourists surrounding it. At night, you can take in the massive hotel from just about anywhere on the La Promenade de Gouverneurs. For a few minutes, we stood on the Promenade, with the Chateau behind us, and enjoyed the peaceful nightscape across the river.
Our prior evening in the city was so satisfying (minus the parking garage incident) that we couldn’t wait to return the next day. The weather, however, was not cooperative. We woke to rain around 7. Upon checking the forecast, it showed rain in the city until early afternoon. Instead of getting drenched while walking around the city, we decided to be productive and catch up on some work.
Around noon, the skies around our campground started to clear allowing us to head back into the city for some afternoon fun.
Marche du Vieux-Port de Quebec
Our afternoon started at the location recommended by Tourisme Quebec for us to park our truck. As we arrived, we were happy to see the open air parking lot with many spots. This brought relief after the incident the prior evening.
The Marche du Vieux is a large indoor, year-round farmers market. The market features everything you expect to see at a farmers market such as produce and meats. It also included many local favourites such as a fromagerie. The market seemed like an obvious choice for us to get a bite to eat to hold us over before dinner.
I grabbed a tasty chorizo sausage from one of the vendors. The nice lady behind the counter asked if I wanted sauerkraut with my sausage to which I declined. Yet, I ended up with sauerkraut on my sausage. I had never tried sauerkraut before. It just never appealed to me. I’ve heard others rave about how good it is but I’ve always let others enjoy it rather than myself. I’m open to trying new things so this seemed like a perfect time to give it a whirl. I took a mouthful of my sausage with some sauerkraut. My impression – not great, not bad but probably wouldn’t order it again.
Kate decided to fill up with an interesting combination of treats from various vendors. She snacked on a croissant, homemade marshmallows, and (because we were in Quebec City) cheese curds.
The market is also a great place to get your maple syrup or maple flavoured treats. There are a few of the vendors that offer maple products that had us drooling.
When we visit a city for a short period of time, the one thing we like to do is buy passes for a hop-on-hop-off bus tour. We like them because you get a quick introduction to all the main points-of-interest in a city. The bus also serves as a great way of getting around as an alternative to public transportation or taxis.
In Quebec City, Bus Rogue is the way to go. It’s the perfect way to see the city as you can enjoy the views from double decker buses. Bus Rouge features 12 stops around Quebec City. These stops include main highlights like Observatoir de la Capitale, Plaines d’Abraham, Citadelle de Quebec and more. We figured this was a must to help acquaint us with Quebec City.
You can also purchases passes for the Blue and Green loops. These routes take you to attractions outside of the main part of the city. For $60, you can tour all three loops for two days which is a pretty great deal to me.
At the main tourist office located on Rue St. Anne, we gathered our passes before hopping onboard the bus. You get a pair of earbuds as soon as you enter the bus. These allow you to listen to the tour in many different languages. We plugged in and off we went.
Observatoir de la Capitale
The first location that we hopped off of the Bus Rouge was at the Observatoir de la Capitale. This was a spot that we wanted to get to because it offers a 360-degree view of the city. To us, that sounded pretty great.
We took the elevator up to the 31st floor. From 725 feet in the air, we now had a spectacular 360-degree view of the city, the St. Lawrence River and the mountains off in the distance. At this point in the day, it was a bit overcast but the view was still pleasing. As you walk around, you can also take in an interactive tour about the history of the city.
One thing to note about the Observatoir is that it is completely indoors. Unlike some other observatories that allow you outdoors, you are always inside. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You can be certain that you won’t be freezing up at the top like you are at other observatories.
Our Ice Cream Tour of Canada continued at Chocolats Favoris which was about a ten-minute walk from the Observatoir. When I did a Google search for “best ice cream Quebec City” this place was second on the list after Tutto Gelato. I clicked on the link that took me to their website and instantly, I knew that we had to go there. I figured that it would be heaven for Kate as she is a chocolate addict.
The small chain of chocolate shops opened as a small family operation in 1979. In 1996, they started serving their signature product – ice cream dipped in real chocolate. The Chocolats Favoris now offers at least 12 different varieties of chocolate fondue to have your ice cream dipped in. It’s quite an impressive operation.
Both Kate and I gawked over the varieties of fondue trying to decide which we would try. I’ve been on a sea salt kick lately so that’s what I went with. Kate went with the simple, original milk chocolate. We watched and drooled as the server dipped Kate’s cone and drizzled fondue over my cup of ice cream.
So, how was it? Good but not great. We both found that our fondues were quite rich. It’s awesome at first, but it did become a touch overwhelming after a while. Even still, I’m sure that if we were locals, we would be frequenting Chocolats Favoris.
We toured around on the Bus Rouge for a bit longer after enjoying our ice cream before making our stop for dinner. Yes – we had dessert before dinner. That’s just who we are. Au Parmesan was a recommendation from a friend and it didn’t take much to convince us. I mean, the restaurant is named Parmesan. It had to be amazing.
The restaurant has been a staple of Old Quebec for 40 years now, serving authentic Italian dishes. When you enter, your eyes are overwhelmed by the busy décor. It seemed like every inch of the place is covered in something whether it was bottles of alcohol, decanters, pictures, or even soccer balls.
We were seated and almost right away brought a sliced baguette. We’re suckers for bread and gobbled it up while reading over the extensive menu. The menu featured dishes that you would expect to find at an Italian restaurant and at a fair price. If you’re a wine lover, you’ll enjoy Au Parmesan as they have a lengthy list of wines to pair up with your meal.
Kate order a tasty manicotti while I had a cannelloni. We were both more than satisfied with our meals which we had smothered in parmesan by the waiter. We did remark how we wished they had plated more food for us. That’s not because the portions aren’t generous, it’s just how much we loved our dishes. During our meal, La Dolce Vita walks about playing some pleasant music on the accordion.
Final Thoughts on Quebec City
What a city. Old Quebec is marvelous. Although neither of us speaks French, we both kind of felt like we would enjoy living in the area. That would mean ditching our RV of course, so maybe sometime down the line. It is a fabulous city and we wished we had more time to enjoy some more of the main attractions and museums. We’ll be back to the city someday and recommend you put it on your list of Canadian cities to visit. I still have yet to see many of the major cities in Canada, but as of now, Quebec City is one of my favourite cities I’ve visited in Canada – if not the world.
Departure Time/Location: 9.30a Riverside RV Park Edmundston, NB
Arrival Time/Location: 2p Edmundston
Total Distance: 342km
Next Stop: Saint-Mathieu du Boloeil/Camping Alouette