By Stephen Johnson
Sometimes, it is important to spoil yourself. With winter weather making an early appearance it was time for our family to take a trip. We decided upon a visit to Quebec City and the Chateau Frontenac.
Driving into Vieux Quebec, it felt like we were entering into a different century. We encountered two horse-drawn carriages giving tourists a unique guided tour before we reached the Chateau Frontenac.
Checking in, our old-world feel continued. The lobby could be a film set from the 1920’s. Gorgeous wood panelling, ornate chandeliers and detailed carpeting added to the ambiance. Not surprisingly, the hotel has been featured in a number of movies including Alfred Hitchcock’s I Confess.
We did not find any movie stars as we settled into our room. We did find spectacular views of Vieux Quebec. One thing Quebec City does in a big way is Christmas. Festive lights adorned many of the local businesses.
After spending five hours in a car, we were looking to relax. A visit to the indoor pool and hot tub was the perfect solution. The pool area was decorated in a classy art deco style. Even though it was snowing outside, the hot tub made us feel like we could be on a Caribbean beach. My son, David and wife, Sandy, switched to the pool where they had a contest to see who was the faster swimmer. Of course, David was the winner.
The next morning, I was eager to try out the breakfast buffet. On the way to breakfast, we discovered a mini-museum in the hallway leading to the restaurant. Since the Chateau was built in 1893, it has been home to many famous guests and events. Guests have included Queen Elizabeth II, Grace Kelly of Monaco and heads of state too numerous to mention. The Chateau also hosted the Quebec Conferences during World War II where President Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Prime Minister Mackenzie King plotted strategy.
David is an amateur historian and soaked up all the information found in the displays.
We were seated for breakfast and enjoyed all the small luxuries like the cloth table napkins. We also had an excellent view overlooking the Terrase Dufferin and the Saint Lawrence River.
Of course, the food was the true highlight of the experience. David loved the eggs benedict while I eyed the charcuterie and Sandy savored the french crepes. It was a welcome break from my normal routine of toast and coffee.
Once we were done breakfast, we set off exploring Vieux Quebec. Walking the cobblestone streets is an experience unlike any other in North America. Most of the restaurants and coffee shops are not chain stores. We ambled along the side streets enjoying the European vibe and decorative Christmas lights.
Our ultimate destination was the Museum of Civilization. The museum had a number of fascinating exhibitions including one called Curiosities of the World. The exhibition featured displays from the Natural History Museum of London. My favorite was the skeleton of a saber-tooth tiger.
David loved the special exhibit about poison, Venenum. The exhibit traced the history of poison and had on display some of nature’s most venomous animals including snakes and tarantulas.
Our final activity of the day was to take the fifteen-minute ferry ride from Vieux Quebec to Levis. Hands down, if you want an award-winning photo of the Chateau Frontenac, the deck of the ferry is the best place to take it. The port area of Levis has also been updated with fountains and park benches installed. Understandably, there was not much going on late afternoon in mid-November but during the summer, it is filled with activity.
After the ferry ride, we made our way back to the Chateau Frontenac. Sadly, it was soon time to leave the Chateau and head back to the real world. At least, we can always return whenever we want.
For ideas about things to do, where to stay, events, etc. in Quebec City, visit, www.quebec-cite.com
For more information about the Chateau Frontenac, visit, www.fairmont.com/frontenac-quebec