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Europe isn’t the only place to enjoy a winter wonderland in December. Here’s why Quebec City is an equally magical place to visit at Christmas.

It’s common knowledge that cities like Strasbourg, France and Nuremburg, Germany are fantastic places to visit at Christmastime because of the world-renowned Christmas markets they host each year. But what if a trip to Europe during the holiday season isn’t in the cards due to factors like cost and distance? Well, the next best thing (if not better) is staring you straight in the face – at least calling out the words, “look north.” And those words just happen to be Quebec City. Here are five reasons why you should visit Quebec City at Christmastime.


For American travellers, the geographic convenience can’t be beaten

If you’re flying from the East Coast, you can be in Quebec City in mere hours. Or it you find cheaper flights into Montreal, it’s only a three hour drive or express train from Canada’s second largest city.

But the biggest benefit is that coming from a North American city, jet lag would either be minimal or – even better – nonexistent. So once you arrive in the capital city of French-speaking Canada, you’ll be ready to indulge in some poutine and a caribou (a sweet Québécois alcoholic beverage composed of red wine, hard liquor, and maple syrup or sugar).

Most people would agree this is preferable to taking a nap or walking the streets in a catatonic state.


Christmas lights in Quebec City in December


You truly feel as if you’re in Europe

Due to its immense size, Montreal doesn’t feel “overly” European. Even though it’s the largest city in Canada’s only French-speaking province, you’ll still hear English widely spoken. In Quebec City, it’s significantly less.

In fact, since Quebec City’s population is significantly smaller than Montreal’s, walking the streets (or rues as they’re known in French) in the city’s old quarter will truly make you feel as if you’ve been transported to a small French town. You’ll especially think this way the first time you step foot in Place Royal, the site where the city was born back in the early 17th century. During the holidays, it is complete with a beautifully decorated 21st century Christmas tree.

Another plus? Meals will be incredible yet the bill will be a fraction the cost of what you’d pay in France. For American visitors, the United States dollar is stronger than the Canadian dollar.


Houses with Christmas trees in Quebec City

 


The Marché de Noël allemand de Québec

Quebec’s German Christmas Market) will simply delight you. If there’s one thing that the Germans do grand, it’s Christmas markets. And the one hosted in Quebec City each year is no exception.

 

You may be thousands of miles from the Christkindlmarkts of Germany, but right in Vieux Quebec (Old Quebec) there’s still German culinary treats. You’ll find bratwursts, pretzels, and lebkuchen alongside French-inspired treats like cheese fondue served in a hollowed out baguette. Shopping wise, expect everything from products made by local Québécois artisans along with German and European goods. 

And if you’re looking for more of an authentic market experience, then be sure to visit the Farmer’s Market (Marche du Vieux Port). It offers a bevy of shopping options including seasonal produce, gourmet foods, and crafts produced by local artisans. This market is decidedly Québécois, both the vendors and the shoppers.



A winter wonderland 

Provided it’s a nominal amount (because let’s be honest, anything more is just an annoyance), nothing makes Christmastime seem more festive than seeing a fresh coating of snow on the ground.

The ambience in Quebec city’s Old Quarter is a delight but when you pair the cold temperatures with snow, it’s that much more delightful. The temperatures will be undoubtedly cold (it is Canada, after all) but drinking that cup of mulled cider is that much more appropriate when it’s in a winter wonderland setting. Wouldn’t you agree?


 

Christmas chocolates for sale a Christmas market in Quebec city


The Christmas decorations are simply stunning

 

When you’re walking the streets of Quebec City at Christmas, you can’t help but admire the stunning decorations at every turn. It’s almost as if there was a competition in the city as to who has the best holiday décor since every hotel or business is even more elaborate than the last. They’re so beautiful that even an anti-Christmas curmudgeon like Ebenezer Scrooge would be enchanted. And of course this particular activity is completely free. 

Nothing tops walking the city’s most breathtaking street, Rue du Petit-Champlain. Maybe you think Charleston’s Rainbow Row or London’s Portobello Road are the prettiest streets in the world – but then you haven’t visited Rue du Petit-Champlain. Pedestrian-only, it’s one of the oldest commercial streets in North America and is located at the foot of the cliff below the famed Château Frontenac. An added bonus? At the end of the street is the Little Sugar Shack where you can enjoy the famous maple taffy on snow!

Most popular destinations today put on a spectacular show during Christmastime in terms of look and festivities. But often those same popular destinations are extremely large, making it somewhat difficult to obtain an “authentic” local experience. But that’s not the case in Quebec City. If you only have the opportunity to visit one special place during the Christmas season, let it be Quebec City. Anyone who loves this time of year will most definitely agree.