Winter Charms of Old Quebec City

QUEBEC CITY, Canada — Quebec City is a kind of Paris-in-miniature, set on a beautiful spot on the Saint Lawrence River and full of old-world charm. At Christmas it really shines.

Maple Syrup Taffy Lollipops being made in Quebec City's Rue du Petit-Champlain at night at Christmas
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Filed Under: Canada

If you were to build a model of a winter wonderland town at Christmas, it would probably look quite a bit like Quebec City’s old town.

Towering over the town, on a cliff overlooking the Saint Lawrence River, is the grand Fairmont hotel Le Chateau Frontenac, a fairytale castle in every way (and it knows it–there’s a shop in the hotel catering specifically to little princesses and princes (or at least there was when I was there)).

It was here that Churchill and Roosevelt met in 1943 to strategize about World War II. For Churchill, getting there wasn’t easy. It involved a daring and highly secretive dash by ship across the Atlantic, dodging German U-boats. And at the atmospheric old bar buried deep in the hotel with views out over the Saint Lawrence, you can sip classic cocktails named after these famous while sitting in old leather couches and being treated to some top-notch waiter service.

The old town certainly dresses up for the season, with lights reflecting off the snow, Christmas trees and garlands at every turn, people enjoying the outdoor skating rinks, horse-drawn carriages clopping along the cobblestone streets, and a deep-seated Frenchness. It makes for a sugary tourist treat but somehow avoids the crass kitsch of places like Colonial Williamsburg.

And it all makes the biting cold worth it.

Photos of Quebec City

Ice skating in Quebec City in front of the Palais Montcalm
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Horse-drawn Carriage in front of Chateau Frontenac Quebec City
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Quebec City's Rue St-Pierre at night at Christmas
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Quebec City's Rue du Petit-Champlain at night at Christmas
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Auberge du Trésor Quebec City in snow
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Christmas lights at Chateau Frontenac Quebec City
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Mural in Quebec City
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Quebec City's Rue du Petit-Champlain at night at Christmas
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Town Square in front of Eglise Notre-Dame des Victoires, Quebec City
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Funicular in Quebec City
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Winter in Quebec City Canada
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Lights of Quebec City's Rue du Petit-Champlain at night at Christmas
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Auberge du Trésor at night at Christmas
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Intersection in Old Town Quebec City at night
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel

What to Know Before You Go

The center of the old town is quite cramped, making parking a hassle. The good news is that it’s all within a very walkable little area. You’ll need to navigate hills and cobblestones (and snow and ice in winter).

Map

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David Coleman / Photographer

David Coleman

I'm a freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my gear reviews and tips here. More »