I did plenty of research before heading over to this most-French of all North American cities but there were still some things that we weren’t quite prepared for. Below are four surprises we encountered in Quebec City. Consider yourself forewarned!
1. Quebec City is hilly. VERY HILLY.
It is not a good city for the mobility impaired as many streets are steep and quite a lot of the city is connected by staircases. Sometimes, very long staircases. I counted the stairs from the river to the Plains of Abraham and got to 356 which was about halfway up, before we veered onto a side path.
Despite this, you can still rent bikes and have a good time biking the river pathways or taking the ferry to Levis (the little town across the way) and biking along the river there. The hills aren’t everywhere; but they are almost everywhere.
2. You Need More Than Two Days Here
A lot of what I read made it sound like you could see the city in two days. But even with a packed itinerary, there is no way you can do the city justice in that amount of time.
For one, you can NOT come to Quebec City and not visit Ile d’Orleans and that is a full day in and of itself. The island is a 15 minute drive from the city but counts as a “day trip” because there is so much to see and do there.
We stayed for five full days and that felt like enough. Four days could have done in a pinch, but we needed extra time to eat all the food.
Also, when you’re in Canada it’s mandatory to eat poutine at least once. We had this ubiquitous late night food made up of potatoes, gravy, and cheese curds at the aptly named chain restaurant, Poutineville.
3. French is the Default Language, But Nearly Everyone Speaks Some Amount of English
I didn’t realize how bilingual it was and thought that I would have more opportunity to practice my French. Lucky for us everyone speaks pretty decent English because my French is way rustier than I thought.
4. Last But Not Least: In Quebec City, Jams Count as a Liquid!
We tried to take back an unopened jar of strawberry preserves that we bought on Ile D’Orleans but it was confiscated and thrown away by airport security. They consider that jams and jellies are liquids and there is a 100ml limit. So if you’re not checking a bag, just open the jam and enjoy it while you’re there.
There you have it – a few things that I wish I’d known in advance. Hopefully my list will help you plan a better trip to this interesting, bilingual, glute-busting city!
Did I miss anything? Tell me in your comments!