One of the city's most recognized symbols, it has been welcoming guests with a French flair and "once upon a time" atmosphere since 1893.One of the city's most recognized symbols, it has been welcoming guests with a French flair and "once upon a time" atmosphere since 1893.
Nowhere does Quebec’s old-world charm spring to life more than in its provincial capital, Quebec City, the heart of French Canada. The ancient stone-walled city perched on a dramatic bluff overlooking the St. Lawrence River remains a fascinating enclave with a winding maze of cobblestone streets and a treasure trove of 17th and 18th-century architecture. Four centuries of history can be read in the monuments, stone buildings, and coiled stairways hugging the steep rocky contours of the city.
Proclaimed a World Heritage Treasure by UNESCO in 1985, Quebec City’s colorful past began in 1608 when Frenchman Samuel de Champlain established a settlement beneath the cliffs overlooking the St. Lawrence. Appreciating the strategic importance of the location, the English took the town in 1759 and the mingling of these two cultures dominates the area.
An Historic & Luxurious Property
The perfect choice for the ultimate Quebec family experience is the fabled Fairmont le Chateau Frontenac (800/257-7544 or 418/692-3861) located at 1 rue des Carrieres, Quebec, Canada G1R4P5. It stands sentinel-like above the city. Rising like a fairy tale with its castle-like towers, turrets, copper roof and dormers, this majestic 18-story hotel, one of the first chateau-style hotels built by the Canadian Pacific Railway, dates from 1893. The gracefully furnished lobby with plush sofas and crystal chandeliers lures you right in to its turn-of-the-century elegance, but beyond the sumptuous décor, there are a wealth of modern amenities.
There are 618 generous-sized, luxurious guest rooms including a variety of suite options. Additionally, four Fairmont Gold floors serve as a boutique hotel within the larger hotel. These 46 Gold rooms and suites offer private check-in, personalized concierge service and a private lounge with complimentary continental breakfast and canapés at cocktail time. All accommodations are equipped with direct dial phones, Internet, movies on demand, tea and coffee making facilities.
The dining venues at the Chateau feature culinary delights prepared in their very own individual way. For the family, it’s the casual all-day dining restaurant Le Café de la Terrasse with incredibly lavish buffets and food stations. Even the pickiest of eaters will find something to enjoy here, but just in case they don’t, the wait staff is waiting with a smile to take orders off the menu. Le Café de la Terrasse also doubles as a chic bistro where you can enjoy tea and fine pastries while watching the afternoon strollers on the Dufferin Terrace, the famous promenade in front of the hotel. The lit Promenade des Gouverneurs that leads from Dufferin Terrace to the heights of the National Battlefields Park has been restored in time for the city's upcoming anniversary.
The adults will appreciate the Le Champlain dining room where the waiters in period attire, together with soft harp music, will spirit them back to a more gracious era. Some of the more sumptuous creations served here are the lobster, queen scallop and scampi served with a coffee sabayon, and seaweed and lasagna of sweetbreads and sage.
Grandparents, parents and kids will enjoy the Chateau’s Guided Tour Heritage Program (418/691-2166). General and special Children’s tours are led by costumed guides who help guests explore the hotel’s rich history. Three permanent exhibitions include: "The Quebec Conferences," "The Visit of Charles Lindbergh" and the "300th Anniversary of Quebec." In addition, 17 of the hotel’s most prestigious suites have been named after famous visitors who have stayed there since its opening. Politicians, movie stars and other celebrities including Franklin D. Roosevelt, Charles Lindbergh, Grace Kelly and Queen Elizabeth II — to name a few — are remembered throughout the various suites' décor and memorabilia.
Fun for the Family
Children are most welcome at this castle and their parents will be pleased that kids under 18 stay free in their parent’s room. Additionally, 6 to 12-year-olds receive a 50% discount off meals eaten in the hotel, and those 5 and under eat free. The Frontenac holds a daily drawing contest and kitchen tours, and offers milk and cookies at bedtime, to families.
Club Frontenac features a 55-foot-long indoor swimming pool with outdoor terrace, kid's wading pool, whirlpool, and steam rooms. The adults will appreciate the fully-equipped exercise room with bicycles, Keiser air-powered exercise machines, stairclimbers, treadmills, and cross-trainer weights that are all provided on a complimentary basis. Afterwards they can unwind at the Massage Therapy Salon, indulging in their choice of body massages, body scrubs, hydrating emulsion or a body wrap with violet clay.
On Saturday afternoons at 3pm, children (ages 5-12) are invited to attend Afternoon Tea with Madame Rose in the elegant Le Champlain Restaurant. Here, she instructs and entertains kids about tea place settings, tea etiquette and, with stories and roleplaying, how to behave politely in a social situation.
For the adults there are cooking sessions with Executive Chef Jean Soulard, High Tea, art and antique tours, and a Quebec City History tour with wine tasting. More activities for the whole family include a themed costumed evening; cruises, boat tours and excursions.
Outside the Frontenac’s Doors
Quebec City has two distinct levels. Haute-Ville (Upper Town) is where much of it, including the Frontenac, is located atop the rock called Cap Diamant. Far below, clinging to a long narrow strip alongside the river is Basse-Ville (Lower Town), site of the original settlement. Because the city is best explored by foot, the Frontenac is a great location from which to experience the city, the sites of great natural beauty, and all manner of outdoor activity practiced year round.
The hotel's Dufferin Terrace offers breathtaking views of the Lower Town and the ferries, boats and barges on the busy St. Lawrence River. All year round you will find stalls and tents for artisans, face painters and souvenir vendors, as well as talented street musicians, clowns and mimes. Nearby is rue du Tresor, known for the wide variety of artists who display there. Getting between the two levels is part of the fun, and from here you can board the glass Funicular cable car that carries you between Upper Town and Lower Town.
The whole family will thoroughly enjoy a wonderful afternoon onboard the MV Louis-Jolliet (418/692-2634 or 800/563-4643) of Croisieres AML for a cruise on the St. Lawrence River, and get to relive a page of history aboard the biggest excursion boat in Canada. Hear the story of "La Nouvelle-France" and find out about the origin of some of Quebec's famous landmarks.
In Haute-Ville, set time aside for a visit to The Citadel (418/694-2815) a massive fortress built by the British to protect the city in the 1800s. It is still occupied by Canada’s Royal 22nd Regiment and is the official residence of Governor General of Canada. The Museum displays scenes and weapons from early Quebec and a brilliant array of military costumes.
An unforgettable visit for the whole family is the journey through history on the Plains of Abraham (418/648-4071), where British General James Wolfe and the French Marquis de Montcalm were killed in the 20-minute momentous battle of 1759. Starting at the gateway to the Plains, enter into the Pavilion building for a scale model view of the park, visit the “Odyssey: A Captivating Virtual Journey through History on the Plains of Abraham,” get your picture taken as Wolfe or Montcalm, and then hop on Abraham’s Bus for an incredible re-enactment with ‘good old Abraham’ in full attire, who tells you, with a tinge of humor, of the park’s well kept secrets, artillery artifacts and passageways, and takes you to the beautiful Joan of Arc Garden.
In Basse-Ville, the Quartier Petit–Champlain (418/692-2613 or 877/692-2613) is North America’s oldest shopping street. It is lined with lively boutiques, galleries and bistros, tucked quaintly at the foot of the cliff beneath the Frontenac. At Place Royale, where Samuel de Champlian constructed the first permanent settlement in New France, step inside Notre Dame des Victoires which dates from 1687 and is the oldest stone church and chapel in North America. Nearby, the Fresque des Quebecois (Mural of Quebecers) will amaze everyone. Depicting 400 years of Quebec’s history, the magnificent trompe l’oeil panel gives you the impression that you can walk right through it. This a great place for picture taking. Everyone will enjoy the Musee de la Civilization (85 rue Dalhousie, 418/643-2158), a popular thematic museum that focuses on participation, and is a place of amusement and reflection. There are multimedia shows, exhibitions, costumes, workshops and guided visits. Old Port (150 Dalhousie Street, 418/648-6340) is the place to take a relaxing stroll at the water’s edge or a leisurely cruise boat to look back at the original French settlement regally sculptured into the cliffs.
For the past 10 years, the SAQ New France Festival has been celebrated each summer in early August. Festivities revolve around a theme and feature 17th and 18th-century historical reconstructions, theatrical performances, concerts, costume parades, public markets and auctions. The year 2008 will mark Quebec City’s 400th Anniversary. A huge all-out celebration is in the midst of being planned showcasing the city’s history, so you'll have to book soon.
Air Canada and its regional carrier, Jazz, have non-stop service and a large route network between the United States and Canada. Brand new planes featuring personal seatback entertainment and spacious comfort are perfect for family travel. The airline continues to serve New York, Chicago, Boston, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Dallas and Houston and has added Denver, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and San Diego.
Air Canada is extremely solicitous of handicapped passengers. Their network is very well connected, and as soon as your flight lands, attendants and assistants are waiting with wheelchairs to whiz you through customs and onto connecting flights. For reservations and information phone: 888/247-2262. You can also elevate your travel as a Maple Leaf Lounge member, and enjoy an array of amenities while you await your flight. For further information on Quebec visit Quebec City and Area Tourism ( 800/363-7777)
Photos by Mel Greenberg
Resort Report Card
|Name:||Fairmont le Chateau Frontenac|
1 rue des Carrières
|Seasonal Rates:||$$$ – $$$$$|
|Choice of Activities:||A|
|Quality of Amenities:||A|
|Bonus:||The fun continues along the Dufferin Terrace promenade, a no-cost place to entertain kids.|
|Note:||In winter, tobaggan slides, ice skating and the grandfather of all winter festivals, Carnaval de Quebec are available steps from the hotel.|
This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question, and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.