Quebec: The Ultimate Winter Playground

Chateau Frontenac in quaint Quebec

Chateau Frontenac in quaint Quebec

Touted as the “snow capital of the world,” Quebec receives an average snowfall of more than 13 feet per year, and the magical winter wonderland has an outdoorsy culture forged by centuries of winter sport. A host of activities including skiing, skating, toboggan sledding, snowshoeing, and tubing are easily accessible in and around the quaint and charming capital of Quebec City and also further north in the beautiful Saguenay/Lac Saint-Jean region.

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Flying to Québec, Walking Into Paris

A view of Québec

A view of Quebec

I don’t usually need a special reason to travel to Québec City, but this time there was one. This time, Canada’s little Paris outdid itself with a major exhibition, “Paris en Scène 1889-1914,” at the Musée de la civilization.

That was the reason my husband and I landed in Jean Lesage Airport a day before the show opening and comfortably situated ourselves in the grand Hôtel Château Laurier Québec.

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Bonjour Bonhomme, Bonne Fete Quebec!

At dawn at SFO we were waiting to board Air Canada to Quebec

A [married] bonne femme in search of Bonhomme, I arrived at the Carnaval de Quebec, the largest winter festival in the world, during an unexpected heat wave – only minus seven degrees Celsius! A California poppy for so many years, I usually shy away from cold. How soon we forget…

On our way from Jean-Lesage International Airport, the softly falling snow, gray against the white sky, reminded me of what real winter is about. Salvatore Adamo’s “Tombe la neige” started playing in my head.

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Drink, Eat, and Stay Fit in Quebec

Quebec City center

There are a few places on Earth where I want to return time and again. One of them is Quebec, where they speak, eat, and drink French but greet visitors (even those who "ne parle pas Français") with purely American hospitality. Quebec specialties like foie gras, maple syrup, and ice wine are not the only agricultural marvels here; it’s especially enticing to visit in the fall, when local farmers celebrate harvest time.

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La Belle Nouvelle-France: Quebec

Waterfalls near Quebec

When a comely passport control officer at Jean-Lesage International airport greeted us with "bonjour," my flight fatigue just melted away. Everything sounds so much better in French, and the population of ancient Quebec is 95% francophone! I felt like looking at illuminated city sites and listening to music. The night was young, in San Francisco, but it approached the wee hours on the Atlantic coast of Canada. We had to delay sightseeing and nightlife until tomorrow. Hotel Manoir Victoria, in the northern part of Vieux-Quebec, became our home away from home. Neat and clean, with period furnishing and unmistakable French charm, it occupies a late 1800s building, steps from the main drag, Rue Saint-Jean.

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