Conveniently, off the beaten track – Quebec hotel review


Chateau Frontenac

(Not the Auberge Michel Doyon…rather the Chateau Frontenac)

Just a few minute’s bus ride (or a 45-minute walk) from Vieux Quebec (the fortress) and downtown Quebec City is the small hotel Auberge Michel Doyon, located in the quiet neighbourhoods along Chemin Saint-Foy. To give you a sense of how homey this place is, the room keys are actual metal keys.
Rooms range from suites with private baths and kitchenette to smaller rooms with shared bathrooms. My friend and I each stayed in a suite that was large only in the comparative sense. The rooms are not exactly spacious—the only sitting space aside from the bed was a folding chair—but they are clean and well-maintained.
The bathrooms are small, with only room for a shower stall, and in the case of my friend’s room, the bathroom sink was in the bedroom, her bathroom limited to shower and toilet. I was lucky enough to get a full kitchenette that included a microwave, bar fridge and kettle, while my friend only managed the fridge and microwave without cupboards. Unfortunately, the only available dishes were a couple of plastic glasses, so I’m not sure how you were supposed to eat anything you might have cooked.
WiFi is available for $5/day and was reliable and fast. One challenge, however, was the paucity of convenient outlets that weren’t already filled with plugs from lamps, television or air conditioner. For example, I had to unplug the TV to plug in my laptop.
The staff are friendly and helpful, assisting with directions or in getting a taxi to the airport. The hotel offers a 99-cent continental breakfast, which we did not try. And there was no problem getting a late check-out, which was given at no charge.
Although the hotel may at first seem off the beaten path, the location is perfect for those looking to explore more than Vieux Quebec. There are several nearby convenience stores and small diners for breakfast or supplies, and if you have a car (ample parking behind the hotel), you have quick access to nearby highways, putting you within minutes of destinations like the Quebec Aquarium or Montmorency Falls. A weekend pass for the local bus system, meanwhile, is only $15.
While it may seem an odd place to stay while visiting town, Auberge Michel Doyon is a decently priced alternative to the fancier and often cramped B&Bs within the fortress walls.

Step up to a breathtaking view

Montmorency Falls

Taller than Niagara, the Falls carve into the countryside

Less than half an hour from Quebec City by car, Montmorency Falls offers not only a spectacular view of a natural wonder, but several opportunities to actively participate in that wonder.
After paying $12 to park your car (or park outside before the gate and pay nothing), you quickly come face-to-face with the white wall that is the falls, plunging 83 m (272 ft)—higher than Niagara Falls—to join the St. Lawrence River. (Several tour bus lines also visit the falls.)
Upon entering the tram station and gift shop area, you have the option of paying another $12 to take the tram to the top of the escarpment ($14 round-trip) or wandering along a bridge and path to the base of the falls where you are bathed in spray. Here, you are faced with the question of whether you want to climb 487 steps and save yourself some money.
This is not for the weak-of-the-knees, although there are several rest areas along the climb to catch your breath and take photos. To give some sense of the undertaking, I am about 280 lbs but walk quite often, and I was winded and my legs tired upon reaching the summit, but quickly recovered.
Once at the top, you walk along a short trail to reach the bridge that spans the top of the falls with the river on one side and a sheer drop on the other. From here you have a spectacular view of the falls and even Quebec City, and I am happy to report that the bridge is very sturdy, placating those of us who fear heights.
A recent addition to the falls is a dual zipline that allows those brave few to slide right across the face of the cascade. I got nauseous simply watching other people experience the adventure.
And when you get back down to the bottom—my friend and I took the tram down—you can check out the small gift shop and snack counter. Given the stair climb, we think the site is really missing out on an opportunity to market “I survived” t-shirts.
The experience is definitely worth the trip out of town and will give you something to talk about for quite some time (especially if you climbed those ruddy stairs).