Quebec Province- Montreal, Baie-St-Paul, and La Malbaie
Last week, I took a trip to Canada with my husband for our one year wedding anniversary. We booked this trip pretty spur of the moment, but we were excited as neither one of us had been to the French speaking areas of Canada before.
Montreal was our first stop of the trip and even if it was a short visit, we very much enjoyed checking out Old Montreal, shopping, and eating the BEST poutine ever. We rented a car and then headed north to the cool artistic town of Baie-St-Paul and then to La Malbaie, a historic area on the St. Lawerence river.
So when I say Montreal was a quick stop… it was really quick… as in 12 hours long quick. Which in no way does this beautiful city justice! I’d like to head back again soon to really have more time to explore.
We were supposed to have more time here, but our flight was 5-6 hours delayed and so we didn’t land in Montreal until 3 am.
However, it was really interesting to see what the city was like on a Friday at 3 am. It was so alive and full of people! At least this was the case where our hotel was, which is an area called “the plateau”.
All of the bars, late night restaurants, and streets were just full of people! It was kind of like party central.
Anyways, getting in so late got us off to a late start in the morning and all of my detailed plans kind of flew out the window.
Old Montreal and poutine became the two things that I wanted to check off my Montreal visit check list.
So, we headed to Old Montreal just to explore and walk around.
Old Montreal is super romantic. A lot of the buildings are made of stone and have a unique, almost European style.
You could really walk around Old Montreal for hours, because there are lots of little shops and art studios to pop your head into.
I know this might sound cliché, but I really wanted to find maple syrup products.
Maple syrup is one of my favorite all natural sweeteners and one of my go-to’s for Paleo baking.
I wasn’t sure how easy maple syrup products would be to find, but I was happily surprised that it was EVERYWHERE.
I also discovered maple syrup sugar. Have I been living in a cave somewhere because how do I not know about this?!
Expect some maple syrup sugar filled baked goods on the blog soon. 🙂
What struck me the most in Montreal was 1) how green it was and 2) the unique architecture (which I touched upon a bit already)
I mean, there were massive trees everywhere. The air felt so fresh, so I made sure to take big gulps of air whenever I could. 🙂
What I loved most about the architecture in Montreal was the colors!
The color of the stones added an element of history to some buildings, organization to other buildings, and there is often added accents that match the buildings so well.
I personally loved the old historic buildings where the windows were lined in the color maroon, navy blue or dark green. 🙂
A hint of gold, and nearby statues accentuated many beautiful churches and statues, like the Notre-Dame Basilica and the statue of Paul de Chomedey, who founded Montreal.
I also found the color of the old stone buildings compared to some of the modern glass buildings to be really cool.
It was very interesting to see how modern architecture and older historic buildings could coexist. Montreal really pulls that off well.
And my all time personal favorite part of architecture watching in Montreal was looking at the colorful buildings/ houses that people actually live in.
I love seeing where people live in the places that I travel too, and I could not get enough of some of the cool houses around Montreal. All of which had pops of color that always drew my eyes to them.
We didn’t get a chance to try too many restaurants or foods in Montreal, unfortunately( there will be plenty of that in my Quebec City post), but I did do some research and heard that the smoked meat and poutine was supposed to be great in Montreal.
I read loads of good reviews about a poutine restaurant called La Banquise. It’s a funky diner opened 24 hours a day that has SO many poutine options.
I chose to try the classic poutine, which is fries topped in a homemade gravy and cheese curds.
I figured I had to try the classic for my first taste.
My husband got the Asterix poutine which is fries topped in a mushroom gravy, smoked meat, cheese curds, and sour cream.
He LOVED it. And we were able to try smoked meat at the same time… which was a win-win.
Both of these poutine choices were BOMB.
I found that La Banquise had the best poutine that I tasted on my whole trip in Canada! (and I tried quite a few poutines to compare) The reason for this was the gravy. It was so rich, and really reminded me of gravy that you’d have at Thanksgiving.
The poutine was really excellent, though I have to be honest here. I don’t understand the point of cheese curds.
There I said it.
Cheese curds don’t melt onto the fries. They don’t have any flavor. And they have the texture of play dough.
However this is coming from a non-Canadian, soooo maybe I just don’t get it. (And for the record, I did eat it all haha)
Oh, I almost forgot! We had the best organic coca cola-like soda at La Banquise, called Bec Cola. It was sweetened with maple syrup and was so yummy!
As I mentioned, we booked this trip pretty last minute…. one week before the trip to be exact! And because of this we had to be flexible with flights etc. So we booked our flight into Montreal and out of Quebec City. We ended up spending 4 days in Quebec City and 2 days in the Charlevoix region ( Baie- St-Paul, La Malbaie), which is north of Quebec city.
My husband and I rented a car and drove east of Montreal and then North of Quebec City to a town called Baie- St-Paul. The drive was a wee bit scary (for me)… there were many signs that indicated to watch out for moose and lots and lots of fog.
But once the fog cleared up, we arrived at Baie-St-Paul, a charming bohemian small town, full of art galleries and boutiques.
Fun fact: it’s actually the birth place of Cirque de Soleil.
Another fun fact: one of the main streets here has one of the highest concentrations of art galleries in Canada.
My husband and I were really craving espresso and a bit of a pick-me-up, so we were happy to see that there were lots of great coffee shops, candy stores, and bakeries.
We ended up grabbing a really delicious coffee at Cafe Aromes et Saveurs, which conveniently happened to be connected to an old fashioned candy shop.
I got a bit carried away and ended up with a stomach ache after eating too much candy.
But how could I turn away Matcha chocolate?! And I got sucked into the displays, how cute?!
The café also had maple syrup pie. Say what?!
After a much needed espresso, we walked around the town a bit more, soaking in the bohemian vibes, and stretching our legs out.
I almost bought a really cool iron toilet paper roll holder, but since we were traveling with only carry ons, I didn’t.
We then headed even further north to La Malbaie.
So to be perfectly honest, we went to La Malbaie to stay at Le Manoir Richelieu, a 5 star hotel, on the St. Lawerence river, which we were hoping would be the perfect relaxing getaway for our one year anniversary.
We saw the photos online and read all of the fun things we could do there… fishing, bike riding, roasting marshmallows over a fire, going on nice walks, horse carriage rides, swimming, going to the spa.
My husband and I tend to always be “go, go go” when we vacation, so we wanted to change it up and just stay put in one place and relax.
For full disclosure, we were dissapointed because we were expecting 5 star service and accommodations. I don’t want to put a negative spin on this travel post, but I’ll just simply say this place is not what most would consider to be 5 stars.
Side note: I do realize that the star system can be different in different countries and I’ve found that this can be misleading because I’ve stayed at amazing blow-your-socks-off 2 star places and horrible falling apart 4 star places in my travels abroad.
Despite this, I am still happy that we scoped out this part of the world, and our view from our hotel room was really nice to wake up to. 🙂
It was really interesting to check out the local restaurants, neighboring villages, and to observe the coastline in the Malbaie area.
There are rolling green hills, and tiny towns full of flowers.
It felt really desolate at the same time as feeling warm. It’s kind of hard to explain.
For our anniversary, we had an absolutely amazing meal at Chez Truchon Bistro Auberge.
Everything in this restaurant is locally sourced and we decided to choose a “menu” that included a liver paté mousse type appetizer, a delicious bison steak with duck fat fries, and a cake with fruit for dessert.
I repeat. Duck fat fries.
If you haven’t tried this, you must! Basically the fries are fried in duck fat and the result is a ridiculously decadent, crispy flavorful fry.
We really loved this restaurant because everything was so fresh and the staff was so friendly. It was the perfect anniversary spot. 🙂
The next morning we had yummy croissants at a local bakery called Pains D’exclamations!
It had a funky yet classical vibe all at the same time and had lots of great looking pastry choices.
I very much enjoyed my croissant.
We ended up leaving our hotel in La Malbaie early. Long story short, the things we were looking forward to doing on their brochure– fishing, bike riding, roasting marshmallows over a fire etc… didn’t seem to exist or were just not available during our stay.
So we ended spending more time in Quebec City, which we absolutely loved and which will be the focus of my next travel post! Stay tuned!
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