Quebec Winter Carnival

It’s really cold and snowing hard, but who cares?  I dash into a corner bar where the windows are steamed up and a friendly game of pool is in progress and muster up my best fourth grade French. Je voudrais un verre de caribou.  I would like a glass of caribou.

Panic sets in.  Did I just order a large, antlered animal companion?  No silly, we just requested the provincial drink of Quebec, a beautiful, French speaking province of Canada just a short one hour plane ride from New York.

An often homemade fiery blend of red wine, vodka, cinnamon sticks and maple syrup, our small shot glass of Caribou gave us the bravado required to brave the howling winds and falling snow as we strolled the streets of the walled city, open to outsiders by three gates which date back four hundred years.

Quebec is a great walking city, even in the cold of winter and has the feel of a village, where streets are narrow but joie de vivre, an enjoyment of life, resonates through both the upper and lower sections of this historic city.

Bonhomme, the Winter Carnival mascot, brings serious delight to those chilly visitors.   Where else in the world can an overweight, middle aged man be greeted with hugs and kisses on both cheeks and achieve rock star status among young and old alike? After learning the Bonhomme song and dance, which could pass for graceful aerobics, we set off to explore.

Our two feet provide the best manner of transport, while strolling on St. Jean street as we window shop for shoes, clothing, leather goods and check out dining opportunities in the many fine restaurants that line the snow covered roads.

Do dress properly, as actual temperatures often hover just above zero.  Proper boots, with waterproof outsides and warm liners are a must, if you want to avoid a chill.  We found that wind pants added an important layer and coat checks will look after your wind pants when you get to well warmed restaurant and meetings often take place in stocking feet as boots are left to dry in office corners.

Looking for serious outdoor fun?  Try Quebec’s Winter Carnival from January 29th through February 14th this year. Held throughout the old city, outdoor festivities include a zip line that will have you flying over the Carnival grounds on the Plains of Abraham, snow rafting in giant tubes, and an International snow sculpting contest.

There’s a dogsled race that starts in front of Le Château Frontenac, the historic old hotel that is the heart of the old city.  There’s a nice package for Winter Carnival that includes one night hotel, admission to the Carnival and buffet breakfast for two for approximately $282/night.

If you go:

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