We left Paris in the second half of March to spend some time in the province of Québec, in Canada. We spent most of our time in Montréal, where my brother lives, but we took a few days to travel to Québec city. The capital of Quebec is a beautiful city – easily reachable from Montréal by bus – with tons of things to do, even at that time of year. Are you wondering what was the weather like in Québec city when we were there? It went from a few degrees under 0°C to a handful of degrees above, accompanied by a beautiful sunny sky! As long as you have a good coat, a beanie, good shoes, and everything is sealed in, you’re good!
How to go from Montréal to Québec?
Bus from Montréal to Québec : Orléans Express
When we decided we would go to Québec city from Montréal, we first hesitated between train and bus. Train is usually more comfortable, and bus cheaper. But my brother strongly recommended we take the Orléans Express bus – saying it was faster, cheaper, and comfortable. Since he’s been doing the trip a few times already, we thought it safe to follow his advice!
We took the bus at the Montréal Coach Terminal located on 1717 Berri Street. We took the metro to Berry UQAM, and from there everything is marked with arrows and everything, so no worries. The station in itself is pretty nice: there’s a coffee place and a convenience store, toilets, screens indicating the bus destinations and times of departure. We bought breakfast and went to queue in line for our Orléans Express bus to Québec. When the driver arrived, he scanned our tickets, took our luggages, and let us in with a smile.
The bus was great. It was clean, with plastic bags at every row to put garbage in if necessary. There were USB and electrical plugs, as well as free wifi. With the wifi you can also check some of the free magazines put at the traveler’s disposal.
The way to Québec went smoothly, revealing beautiful landscapes. As you will read later on, Québec city has this thing that makes you feel like you’re in some kind of winter wonderland, and maybe it started with this drive for me. You see a lot of snow, a lot of places where I would have loved to stop and explore, small rivers with big chunks of ice at the surface… It was a sort of little trip in the trip!
Between the landscape and the wifi, the 3+ hours of bus went pretty quickly and before we knew it, we were in Québec city! Actually, we even arrived ahead of time!
Once you get off the coach, be sure to have the exact change to take the bus around the city. It will cost you 3.5$* for a bus ticket. There is no métro in Québec city but a nice network of buses, and there’s a stop really close to the station.
And from Québec city to Montréal?
The way back from Québec to Montréal by bus with Orléans Express went as smoothly, despite the fact that this time the bus was full. It honestly didn’t matter and the services were as good as they were on the way in.
Actually, with all the long distance coaches we’ve taken around the USA and Europe, it’s safe to say that the coach drivers we’ve had for this roundtrip Montreal-Quebec were the nicest ones! The colder the place the warmer the people?
• What’s the distance between Montreal and Quebec? roughly 230 km (145 miles).
• How long does it take by bus? About +/- 3 hours.
• How: Reach the Montréal Coach Terminal by going to the Berry UQAM metro station and following the signs to the bus station. Reach the Québec coach terminal (450 rue de la Gare du Palais) by taking the bus to the « Gare du Palais » stop.
• How much: The price for a roundtrip ticket Montreal-Quebec starts at 50$* when you book in advance. We were lucky to be invited by Orléans Express for this trip and travel with complimentary tickets.
• Good to know: The coaches have working toilets in them, with a hand sanitizer dispenser. In both Montréal coach terminal and Québec city coach terminal you will find lockers to put your luggage in if necessary. We didn’t check the Montréal ones, but in Québec city you have to get your things out of the locker by the time the station closes at night. It costs 4$.
Thanks to Orléans Express for hosting us for this trip!
*all the prices in this post are in Canadian Dollars.
Places to visit in Québec
There’s a lot of things to see in Québec city, even in the end of March, in-between seasons. We didn’t have the time to do everything there is to do in Québec city, but here’s the best of what you can’t miss!
Get on the elevator to the 31st floor and admire the incredible 360° view (the highest in the city!). At the end of March, Québec city is still a winter wonderland – my breath was taken away by the sheer beauty of it. It was definitely a great idea to go to the Québec Observatory first thing!
It’s going to be hard to take your eyes off the windows, but Québec Observatory gives really interesting informations and facts about the city and the region, so do turn your back on the view from time to time to read the panels.
The two immersive experiences (you will go through them on your journey, don’t worry) are extremely well-done. The immersion part – with hand-picked images and sounds – of the experience turns out to work really well, and you will be thrown into a timeless place, and a boundless one.
Tell us which one you preferred!
I really enjoyed the interactive screens as well, as they provide a quick and easy understanding of the city’s buildings and places of interest – and their history.
• Where : Marie-Guyart building, 1037 De La Chevrotière
• How: If you’re taking the bus, get off at the stop « Colline Parlementaire« . Opening hours and days change depending on the season so check out their website.
• How much: Free under 12, 11.50$ for student and 65+, 14.75$ for adults.
Thanks to QuebecRegion for hosting us during this breathtaking experience!
• You might like it too: Ciel – a restaurant / bar that rotates so you can have a 360° view of the city.
Quebec city is one of the oldest cities in Quebec province, so we were pretty excited to see the cutest and most famous part of the city: Old Québec. It’s possible you’ve seen Instagram feeds with magical pictures of le Petit Champlain district and the Château Frontenac that fit right into this winter wonderland atmosphere. We did enjoy Old Québec, but know it’s a rather small part of town and it’s not where we’ve spent the most of our time. However it’s a total must and you cannot forego spending some time over there!
The streets – the Petit Champlain district, Place Royale…
These streets are cute, there’s no denying it. You feel like you’ve been dumped in a Christmas movie or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or something…. The place is full of colors, and feels really dreamy. If you need to buy any gifts or souvenirs, this is the place where you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for. Most – if not all – the shops there are for touristic purposes.
On the Place Royale – where Samuel de Champlain built the first dwelling in the province of Québec in 1608 – you will find the oldest stone church in North America: Notre-Dame-des-Victoires church. The construction was started in 1687 and finished in 1723.
If you’re wondering why the district is called « Petit Champlain », it’s because Samuel de Champlain was the French explorer and diplomat who founded the city in 1608.
Old Québec Funicular
Once you have thoroughly explored the little streets right out from a historical postcard on the lowest level, you’ll have to go up if you want to see the rest of what Old Québec has to offer.
You have two options to get up there: either take the funicular, or take L’Escalier « casse-cou » (the Breakneck stairs, built in 1635 and very steep). We did both and recommend the funicular to bask in the pretty view of the city and the Saint-Lawrence River, and to save your legs so climbing.
• Where: You’ll have to get inside the House Louis Jolliet (a tradesman, cartographer and hydrographer who discovered the Mississippi River), 16 rue Petit-Champlain
• How: By walking around the little street of Petit Champlain district. You’ll find it, it’s very close to the stairs and hard to miss.
• How much: free for children under 1.17m (46 inches) and for people in a wheelchair between May 1st to Oct 31st (the wheelchair is closed the rest of the year), 3$ otherwise.
• When: Admission times vary depending on the season, so check out the website before you go! Other than that: perfect timing is when you’re tired or lazy.
Thanks to QuebecRegion for offering us this experience and saving my tired legs!
• Otherwise: take the stairs.
1884 Toboggan slides
I was so excited by this, we absolutely had to do it!
Basically the 1884 Toboggan is a huge slide on the place in front of Château Frontenac, on which you can go down on a sled. How cool is that?! You can be up to two people (plus a small child) on the sled (it’s better to be only one person on the sled when the snow has melted a bit), and three sleds can go side by side. You’ll have to take your own sled to the top of the slide (honestly, it was fun and it’s part of the game).
It’s better when there’s a lot of snow, but it was still pretty fun at the end of March, when it had melted a bit. The person taking care of it was really nice and welcoming, we loved having a chat with him. The toboggan slides have been there since 1884 – before the Château was even erected – and it can go pretty fast (up to 70 km/h!) so you’ll definitely feel your heart beat!
• Where: On the Dufferin Terrace, just by the Château Frontenac.
• How: You will see the toboggan slides it right away if you come from the funicular or the stairs. If you come from the other side of the Château, go around and voilà!
• How much: 3$ for a single ride (SO worth it!!), 10$ for 4 slides. It was discounted to 2.50$ because the snow was not as good as during the season. We thought that was a pretty fair gesture!
• When: Depends on the weather, but usually from mid-December to mid-March. It was still on when we went on the 21st of March! Check their Facebook page to make sure.
• Otherwise: We saw a guy descending one of the hills of the city on a snowdeck (or a snowskate, not an expert). It looked pretty fun!
Fairmont Le Château Frontenac
Quick question: do you think the Château used to be a castle now operated as a hotel?
WRONG! (You’re not alone, that’s also what I thought)
The Château Frontenac has always been a hotel, but was designed to look like a castle for luxury tourism. Not a bad idea. It was named after the Count of Frontenac (Louis de Buade), who began the construction of the Citadelle in the late 17th century.
Fun fact: the Château is one of the filming locations of the Korean drama Goblin: The Lonely and Great God. Simone and I wondered why some Korean youngsters were taking pictures laughing in front of what we thought were random doors. Well, looks like they were not random doors!
Rue St Jean between the Porte Saint-Jean (one of the gates) and the Place de l’Hôtel de ville (city hall)
Saint-Jean street is a very long street, but its portion situated between the Porte Saint-Jean and the Place de l’Hôtel de ville (City Hall) is a really nice shopping street, with lots of little shops, cafés and bars.
If you’re looking for some delicious – and sometimes surprising – tea, make a stop at DavidsTea (1049 rue Saint-Jean) and if you’re looking for a winter/sports apparel bargain try one of the shops down the road!
La Source, the electronic goods shop we’ll refer to below is right after the Porte Saint-Jean (1000 rue Saint-Jean).
Québec city – Lévis Ferry: the crossing
We knew we were not going to explore Lévis for lack of time, but we wanted to cross so we could experience being on the water while the Saint-Lawrence River was still full of big chunks of ice floating on the surface. It felt like we were in an ice-breaker, the sounds of the ice against the hull of the boat were fascinating, and the cold air refreshing.
Even if it was just crossing and back, we really enjoyed the ride and the beautiful views of Québec city at the end of the day. It didn’t take as long as we thought either (it takes around 12min to cross the 1km distance), and the way back towards Québec city with the sun low in the sky and the Château standing proud was kind of breathtaking too.
• Where: Québec City Ferry Terminal: 10 Des Traversiers Street. Lévis Ferry Terminal: 6001 Laurier St.
• How: If you’re not already in Old Québec and want to take the bus, stop at « Gare Fluviale »
• How much: Free under 5, then from 2.40$ to 3.60$ depending on the age of the passenger. They have bike racks and electric vehicles go free. You can check all the prices including vehicle prices on the website.
• When : All year round. Approximatively every 20 to 40 minutes. Check the complete schedule online.
• Also: If you want to explore Lévis but don’t want to take the ferry, two bridges connect the two cities: the Quebec bridge, and the Pierre Laporte.
Montmorency Waterfall and National Park
There was absolutely no question about going or not to Montmorency Falls (called this way because the waterfall sits on the Montmorency River) during our stay in Québec city. We couldn’t miss it for the world! It’s not too far from the city center (around 13km) as a bus was taking us there without having to change lines. We just had to sit in there and wait to arrive.
When we got to the last bus stop, we felt a little bit lost. There wasn’t a huge sign saying « HERE! This is it! This is the Montmorency Falls Park! » but Simone spotted a sign that said basically we were getting in at our own risks. Not scary at all, nope! We perilously walked in the snow, trying not to slip and break our leg or another limb. The place was practically deserted, which was nice. We went down to a point of view to see the fall from closer.
No matter how many falls you’ve seen before, it always feels impressive when you get close. The power of the water just throwing itself down, the whiteness of it, the snow covered bottom of the fall… It’s hard to not get this funny feeling of being so small in such a big world. Funny how nature’s biggest creations can put everything into place….
We could see the zipline that people use to cross and knew that we’ll have to come back during the warmer months and try that one! After all, Montmorency Falls is 83m high (which is 30m higher than the Niagara Falls!) and that has to be an incredible sight to encourage you to do some via ferrata and hiking on a cliff, right?!
Then we went back up and crossed the suspension bridge to admire the breathtaking view some more. After that we walked a bit in the snow (to practice our balance), crossed a small slippery bridge and had a little fun in the snow before leaving.
I was a bit disappointed that we couldn’t do a trail with snowshoes or something, but at that time of year it was not possible to rent any equipment on site during the week, maybe in the weekend. Be sure to check on the website what’s open and what’s not before you go.
We also forgot (the beauty of the landscape’s fault, most probably) to go down to see the foot of the fall. Don’t miss it and tell us all about it!
• Where: 5300 Boulevard Sainte-Anne for the Falls or 2490 avenue Royale (zipline & via ferrata)
• How: We took the bus 800 to the Des Rapides stop.
• How much: It’s free to check out the waterfall, cross the bridge, etc. If you want to buy bus tickets, parking spots, or want to do some zipline, use the cable car, do via ferrata or rent some equipment, check the prices on the website.
• When: The opening hours and days of the services change depending on the season. Check the website.
Where to eat in Québec city when you’re vegan
Burgers: Chez Victor
There are a bunch of Chez Victor restaurants around, so we went twice, at two different locations. The places had both their own particular decor and atmosphere, and we really liked them and the food (of course). Chez Victor has two vegan burgers (L’Indien and the Veganator) which are delicious and HUGE (I know because I tasted both!). They have vegan cheese and veganaise, perfect to satisfy the worst burger needs! The staff was nice at both locations, so we really enjoyed our time there.
For our first meal in Québec city we went at the restaurant on rue Saint-Jean, and the last at the Saint-Paul location, which is two minutes away from the coach/train station. You should definitely consider stopping there on your way to/from the terminal!
Pizza: Nina Pizza Napolitaine
In Paris, it’s not easy to find pizza places where they do vegan pizza, even the simplest Italian delicacy: the marinara. But at Nina Pizza Napolitaine they had the marinara AND two other vegan pizza with more stuff on it (but don’t make any mistake, it’s not because the Marinara doesn’t have fancy stuff on that it’s not coma-inducingly delicious). We ordered a marinara and the Piena di Verdure vegan pizza with its mushroom bacon (hm, yes please!) and shared. They were both to die for.
At least take Simone’s opinion seriously: he said the crust was yummy, and it really was. Run over there! You’ll find the restaurant at 410 rue Saint-Anselme.
Japanese food: Tora-Ya Ramen
What’s harder to find than vegan pizza in Paris? Vegan ramen in any Japanese restaurant around the world.
But not in Québec! Tora-Ya Ramen have vegan ramen that are made in miso broth, with veggies and no eggs or anything. It was delicious and so filling Simone had to finish my bowl. That might be because I ate most of the side of Agedashi tofu (super yummy fried tofu) we had ordered, because #sorrynotsorry it was sooooooo good!!
Tora-Ya Ramen is pretty close to Nina Pizza, at 75 rue Saint-Joseph Est.
Where to stay in Québec city
Hôtel Château Laurier
We made a full review about our stay in the beautiful La Luxueuse room at Hôtel Château Laurier: we had a beautiful time. It’s outside of Old Québec – not far from the ramparts of the Citadelle – but for us it was actually better: more practical, less people, less noise.
The hotel – beside great rooms – has an indoor saltwater pool, finnish saunas, spa, and electronic wine bars (why yes, you read that right)!
Winter sports in Québec: watch out for any competition
Big Air World Cup in Québec city
We were so lucky that the Big Air WorldCup was starting on our last day in Québec city! We spent an hour watching in awe the contestants doing their flips for the qualifications!
That did not set high expectations for our ski day AT ALL!!!
More seriously, always check out if something is going on when you’re coming to Québec because it’d be so sad to miss something like that!
Good to know
Where to find SD cards for your camera
We ran out of space on our SD card thanks to our new amazing camera making huge pictures. We were in the middle of Old Québec when it happened and believe us when we say that we went to E V E R Y souvenir shops and none on them sold SD cards. We found that pretty surprising, but mostly problematic.
Someone suggested we went to La Source, the electronics shop on rue Saint-Jean (1000 rue Saint-Jean – just by the Porte Saint-Jean, you can’t miss it) so we gave up after checking out honestly every shop in the area and went back there to buy a card. They had extensive choice about everything electronic so don’t freak out if you forget your charger or run out of SD card space like us!
Quebec city public transportation
As said earlier, be sure to have some (exact) change when you arrive in Québec city to buy a bus ticket, unless you really want to walk. Once you get to the RTC office, you can choose between tickets, day passes, etc. We decided to go with day passes since they’re not that expensive and we expected to take the bus a lot.
Warm thanks to Orléans Express and QuebecRegion for hosting us during this trip. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed on this post are completely our own.