by Corinne McDermott, Have Baby Will Travel
Our first trip as a family of four was to beautiful Québec City!
Our new addition is just 10.5 weeks and I didn’t want to go too far; I haven’t sorted out a passport for him yet; at just over 2 months postpartum, I’m not eager to hit a beach; I’ve experienced relatively little of my vast and great country… There were lots of reasons for wanting to visit Québec City with my family, but truthfully the biggest was the fact that I’m jonesing for Europe but that’s just not in the budget right now. I’ve heard that Québec City is the closest you’ll come to Europe without actually crossing the pond. It’s true. I loved it.
The flight is short – only 1.5 hours from Toronto – and a great way to break ourselves into traveling with 2 tots. We flew Porter, and it was a great experience. Seeing that it is mostly a business traveler’s airline, I was delighted by how helpful and accommodating they were with us. We’ll go out of our way to fly with them again.
Québec City is very green and very clean. So many parks and greenspaces to let your little one run wild. Comfortable shoes and a sturdy stroller and/or carrier are musts, as the best way to explore the city is on foot. Prepare to hike some hills but at least you’re working off the tortière or giant poutine (or is that just me?!) Tired of walking? Public transport is efficient and incredibly reasonable. The new ‘Écolobus’ (an adorable electric mini-bus) is free for everyone to ride and they cruise the city all day. A definite highlight for our princess was a horse & carriage ride through town. It was a little pricey but definitely worth it – fittingly, our horse’s name was Prince.
I’ll grant you that meandering along twisty, cobblestone streets is not most toddler’s or pre-schooler’s idea of a good time, but we were able to do just that en route to fun things for her. There is a fantastic playground outside the Musée Nationale des Beaux-Arts, the Musée de la Civilisation’s exhibits are interactive and fun (plus there’s a spot downstairs where tots can dress up and pretend they’re in early New France), bring a ball to the Plains of Abraham and run amok on the miles of green, or rent bikes (including baby seats and/or trailers) and cycle the Promenade Samuel de Champlain along the St. Lawrence. There’s lots of places to stop and have a picnic of baguette, cheese, and fruit – if you add wine to that you’ll have my sole diet while in Paris as a single gal, and I never felt or looked better. Quebec City gives you that same feeling – the joie de vivre that can only come from a culture that enjoys every day full of family and good food.
Much like the Latin countries we’ve visited, family is uber-important to the Québécois – and it showed in how welcome we were with babies in tow. It wasn’t that long ago that the typical Québécois famiy had kids in the double digits, so children are welcome and very much enjoyed. Even the chicest or poshest restaurants accommodate for little ones (if you’d feel comfortable going there!), but expect to fold and store your stroller instead of wheeling to your table. All the restaurants, but most especially in Vieux- Québec (the old city), are just too small to comfortably manoevre your buggy around.
It’s easier to get to Québec City these days… If you think the trip by car or train is just a tad too long, you can fly (usually direct) on Air Canada, WestJet, and now Porter. We stayed at the Delta, which is a good choice for families with no surprises. The Loews Hotel Le Concorde welcomes families with a number of programs featuring products from Fisher Price and Johnson’s & Johnson’s. We loved the idea of a little B&B in the old town, but that’s for a future romantic getaway sans l’enfants!
Corinne McDermott is the founder of Have Baby Will Travel, your online guide for travel with babies and toddlers. For more information please visit www.havebabywilltravel.com or send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org