(Sponsored article) Though all of Canada is a wonderland of nature and culture during the winter, the cold months in Quebec City are truly awesome. In the center of the province, this historic, French-speaking capital offers unique seasonal and cultural experiences you won’t find anywhere else in North America. Here are 8 reasons you’ll want to go to Quebec City this winter.
Quebec City is North America’s only walled city north of Mexico, and one of the most ancient cities in North America. It’s so historic, it’s on the UNESCO list of world heritage sites to be protected and preserved. The streets are paved in uneven stone, the buildings are in the châteauesque style – you’re literally walking through (and on!) history. French heritage persists, surrounding you in French culture and language. Magical might be the best description for it.
Alright, not to start a contest with Finland, but Christmas holidays in Quebec City are second to none. Consistently named one of the best Christmas destinations in all of North and South America, this place deserves its title!
Imagine yourself taking a long walk down chilly streets, illuminated by the shine of Christmas lights reflecting off the white blanket of snow covering the cobblestones. You stop in some holiday boutiques, then have a rest in a café with some steaming hot chocolate in hand. “And so this is Christmaaaaaas…”
Hibernate from October to May? Puh-lease! Instead of complaining about the cold winter wind, Quebec City locals take advantage of winter’s coldness by celebrating in ways you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
First, there is the Carnaval de Québec, the biggest winter celebration in the world. Events, performances, and winter-themed activities take place for two weeks every February. Make sure not to miss the most famous part, the parade, when hundreds of eager volunteers wind through the city on floats and in costumes.
Ice bars are for amateurs; Quebec City goes big with ice hotels! During the winter, you can stay in a hotel made of ice. But even if you’re too thin-skinned (or maybe it’s your wallet that’s too thin), it’s still worth visiting and admiring!
Quebec City is surrounded by nature: waterfalls, national parks, a river, you name it, they’ve got it! Go to the gigantic Montmorency Falls, it’s jaw-droppingly beautiful to see a 276-foot waterfall frozen solid by the Canadian winter.
Seeing as Americans are go-getters, you’ll want to try out some of the winter sports in the area. Mountain resorts just 30 minutes from Quebec City offer a sporty escape. Skiing, ice fishing, dog sledding, and some sports you’ve never heard of are all there. Try a low-speed adventure by snowshoeing through the Jacques-Cartier National Park, or if you’re feeling adventurous, we’ve got two words for you: ice climbing.
Sometimes, you don’t want to go so far out of the city (hey, Quebec City is awesome!) and that’s fine. There’s plenty of activities right in the city. You can ice skate in the heart of the city at Place d’Youville, or rent skis for cross-country skiing on the Plaines d’Abraham. In the city and for a view, walk along the Rivière Saint-Charles.
Literally translated to “sugar shack,” the Cabane à Sucre is the BEST way to connect with Québécois’ culture. This is where maple syrup is made, a sweet liquid made from the sap of the maple tree. Quebec Province is responsible for 90% of the world’s production of maple syrup. As a part of the culture, people from Quebec celebrate the sap rises in spring when they start to harvest this sugary treasure.
When you go to a Cabane à Sucre, make sure to arrive there with an empty stomach, and wear a traditional checkered shirt. (Okay so it’s not mandatory, but this is about immersion!) When it’s all over, you probably won’t eat again for the next two, because there is a huge meal waiting for you. For starters, you’ll be served a typical French Canadian pea soup. Then come the main (ahem, best) courses: oreilles de crisse (fried, thin pieces of lard), baked beans with lard, omelettes, potatoes, maple-seasoned ham and bacon, and so much more. Save room for dessert, because you’ll have the chance to enjoy a maple taffy tasting (the best part of the activity for sure!).
Real locals are easily spotted at the Cabane à Sucre – they’re the ones dousing their food with maple syrup! (It’s supposed to be maple syrup celebration, right?) Dieters shouldn’t worry, because, afterwards, you’ll burn all the calories you ate with a traditional rigodon dance session. Bon appétit!
In the province of Quebec, Canada, the official language is French. All the signs on the road are written in French, ads are in French, restaurants menus are written in French… everything is in French!
Edu-Inter offers full French immersion trips in Quebec City. The school specializes in French Immersion trips for adults and teenagers all year round, including winter when Quebec City is a chilly wonderland. Students have classes in the morning and get their afternoons to enjoy the city, exploring the places that interest them most. That way, students have the opportunity to put their French to the test with the native French-speakers. Students also have the opportunity to stay with a French-speaking family during the trip, so they can totally immerse themselves in authentic French-Canadian culture.
Let’s just say that Quebec City is the place to be for French immersion this winter!
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