Nothing beats a break at the start of the year to recharge and refuel with culture and adventure! Which is how I came to spend the first week of February in charmant Québec. With my friend Melly, native to Quebec (we studied together in London) as my guide, I took to the streets of Montreal then spent a magique weekend in sleepy Sutton before venturing out on a day trip to Quebec City itself.
Even in the depths of winter (temps varied from -5 to -15 over the course of the week) Montreal is a colourful and vibrant city. You won’t see many people out on the streets, but there are dozens of coffee bars, pubs and cultural activities such as galleries, theatres and museums which are still a hive of activity in the colder months. Having said that I walked a great deal and richly rewarded, the street art, particularly in the Mont Royal neighbourhood was truly eye-popping, I’ve never seen a city so brightly decorated! A visual clue to the sort of artistic souls that reside here. In a similar vein to London, down come the old neighbourhoods and up go the steel and glass tower blocks, and much of Montreal is a mish-mash of old and new, creativity and industry.
Just over an hour outside Montreal, Sutton is like a town straight from a Christmas card. Little painted wooden houses, snow covered forests, and a majestic mountain with some sublime ski runs, speeding down through the trees. Just add the two bottles of red wine we drank, and what more could you ask for from a weekend?
Quebec City was simply charmant, a heady mix of European colonial architecture and French-Canadian crafts and cuisine. Beaver tails, what an invention! And little stalls selling maple syrup flavoured everything. In -15 with a strong wind blowing in from the ocean, walking across the Plains of Abraham was like walking through Siberia! So the maple whiskey was especially welcome for warming up.
One day I would like to return to Canada in the Summer and see some more of the wild country, but for now I am charmed by this snowy province.