Culture, cuisine and luxury accommodations in Quebec
Explore La Belle Province and discover the unique charm of our neighbour to the east
There’s something special about Québec, and it’s more than a je-ne-sais-quoi quality. Travelling from the GTA to La Belle Province, I was captivated by its culture, luxury accommodations and gourmet meals. With a slogan like “Je me souviens”—“I remember” en anglais—it’s easy to understand Québec’s commitment to honouring its history and maintaining its unique identity for locals and visitors alike.
Day 1: Gatineau
With its picturesque views looking over Parliament Hill, Gatineau, the largest city in Québec’s Outaouais region, possesses its own distinct identity. Built along a historic Indigenous trade route that spans the Ottawa River, Gatineau is also, fittingly, home to the Canadian Museum of History. Here, I stood in awe of Alex Janvier’s masterful painting Morning Star, which embellishes the dome ceiling of the Haida Gwaii Salon, soaring seven stories above the Grand Hall.
After exploring the museum, I departed for a two-night stay at the Hilton Lac-Leamy. The four-star hotel offers spacious rooms and fine dining at its in-house restaurant, Arôme Seafood and Grill, where I began my culinary journey with an order of tender beef tartare. After my decadent appetizer, I headed out to Soif-Bar à vin. Roxanne, the manager and a sommelier, guided me through the wine bar’s highly curated selection of organic Québec and international wines. Thanks to a flight of small-batch Québec wines and scrumptious appetizers, including the surprisingly standout duck hearts, my appetite was more than satisfied for the day.
Day 2: Chelsea
Just north of Gatineau, this picturesque rural town is home to B&Bs, gift shops, art galleries and cosy cafes. Here, I discovered Doozy Candles, where I picked out a handcrafted pine-scented pillar. After browsing the locally made gifts and specialty foods at La Petite Grocerie—think homegrown honey, fruit preserves and rich caramel sauces—it was time for some serious relaxation at Nordik Spa-Nature, the largest spa in North America. Situated in a sprawling forest, the Scandinavian spa is an entire wellness experience, featuring hot and cold pools, saunas and four restaurants. I challenge anyone to take a float in the recently opened salt pool and not find tranquillity amid the softly glowing lights and ambient soundscape.
The day’s cosy theme continued with dinner at Les Fougères, a quaint restaurant with a seasonal menu of artisanal fare. I opted for pasta with ethically sourced fish and a delicious pear tart for dessert.
I finished my evening at Casino Lac-Leamy. Connected to the Hilton, the casino is like an arcade for adults, with 1,800 slot machines, classic table games and an interactive area called The Zone. The theatre hosts international talent and local icons like Roch Voisine.
Day 3: Montreal
After a two-hour train ride east, I arrived in Montréal, where I happily settled into the beautifully appointed Le Germain Hotel Montreal, complete with modernized ’60s decor and a hanging bubble chair. A guided tour of the city took me to Mount Royal Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted of Central Park fame. There I enjoyed a panoramic view of Montréal’s landmarks and neighbourhoods.
Later that evening, I took in the glittering lights of the city from a different vantage point: La Grande Roue (a.k.a. the observation wheel), the tallest ferris wheel in Canada, featuring 42 cabins with floor-to-ceiling tempered glass windows. Then, in Old Montréal, I dined at the charming restaurant Mélisse, where I had the seriously succulent grilled oyster mushrooms.
Day 4: Downtown Montreal
After a delightful continental breakfast at the Le Germain Hotel, I went to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, where I saw Seeing Loud: Basquiat and Music, a multimedia exhibition exploring the role of music in Jean-Michel Basquiat’s artistic career. The exhibit includes 100 works of art, plus sound clips and film footage. Download the custom-designed augmented reality app Basquiat and Music for a truly immersive experience.
For dinner, I sat barside at Nolan and enjoyed craft cocktails with an aromatic plate of halibut, poblano romesco and arugula. Located in Griffintown, which is known for its avant-garde architecture, this thriving eatery offers locally grown produce for true farm-to-table dining.
Day 5: Little Italy
Before returning to Toronto, I explored Jean-Talon Market in the heart of Montréal’s Little Italy. One of the oldest public markets in the city, it boasts more than 50 vendors, so there’s a vast assortment of local produce and gourmet delights to enjoy. Just around the corner, my last stop was Chez Tousignant, known for its top-tier poutine. I couldn’t think of a better adieu to the city, because what’s a trip to Québec without fries, gravy and cheese curds?
For more incredible places to visit in Quebec, visit bonjourquebec.com