Je me souviens. It’s the motto of Québec, translated from French into English as “I remember” — and it would be hard to forget this city’s charming blend of Acadian heritage, impeccably preserved stone walls and friendly people ready to welcome you as you discover this singular enclave of Canada. Journey with us on this new exciting adventure for 2020 and you’ll witness stunning natural wonders like Montmorency Falls, with waterfalls 90 feet taller than those of Niagara. Savor an enriching journey to Île d’Orléans, a pastoral island where it’s truly farm-to-table, and learn about how agricultural products are made while sampling them. Other mouthwatering experiences include a culinary walking tour; visits to a family-owned boulangerie, bread shop; and vineyard; and an authentic sugar shack lunch.
Want to experience a bit of Europe without an international flight, and a pace and duration well suited for no jet lag, relaxation, and immersion in local culture? This is the trip for you. If you’re traveling solo, we’ve also got the best value, with free Single Supplements on each departure.
Whatever you choose, your thirst for Canada will be quenched, all in an enriching small group of just 26 travelers.
Depart home, bound for Québec City, Québec, Canada
Today, you’ll fly to Québec. If you purchased Vantage airfare, you’ll be transferred to your centrally located hotel. This evening, a fun Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant awaits — among the first of many unforgettable culinary specialties.
Canada’s cultural crossroads
Start at the top today — the top of this hilly city offers sweeping panoramas and a plethora of fascinating historical gems. Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you’ll discover its many charms today. Due to the city’s strategic position, what was once the main city of New France had one of the biggest defense networks in North America. Its ramparts are the only remaining fortified city walls in North America north of Mexico, and you’ll be surrounded by history as you stroll on your walking tour.
Feel like you’ve escaped to Europe without leaving North America, and listen to snippets of people speaking French (and try to read the signs!) . . . it’s easy to trace back centuries of lineage that includes the French, English, and Native Peoples. Witness imposing Château Frontenac, a luxury hotel that’s also a National Historic Site. Its grand fortress-tower design commands the skyline; perhaps you’ll return back to have a snack or meal in your free time. Check out the promenade of Terrasse Dufferin not far from here, overlooking the St. Lawrence River. Perhaps you’ll also stroll by City Hall, whose historic property was once a Jesuit college. Today the flags of its sister cities fly triumphantly and there are lovely seasonal fountains and a garden.
Lunch is on your own and you’ll have some time to rest up before the afternoon’s activities.
Cultural Discovery: This afternoon, prepare to be enthralled with unique insights courtesy of a member of the Canadian militia, who will lead your tour of the Plains of Abraham. This pivotal site is part of Battlefields Park, and had a unique role in the French and Indian War. The Battle of the Plains of Abraham actually ceded control of Québec City to the British, just one part of a fascinating cultural and historical tapestry. Learn about military history and admire treasures from the on-site museum’s artifacts collection.
Savor a dinner tonight at a local restaurant with fellow travelers.
Fall for a private island tour . . .
Today you’ll fall for a true adventure — Montmorency Falls Park awaits. These spectacular cataracts are taller than Niagara Falls. You’ll take a cable car up to the top of the cliff here to start your panoramic walking tour. While you may see some daredevils zip-lining over the rushing waters, or hiking up cantilevered staircases, your journey today will be of a more reserved pace (although flat shoes with good tread are encouraged!). Take pictures before the waterfalls that appear frequently here, before heading off for another enriching journey a bit further outside the city: Île d'Orléans.
Cultural Discovery: Widely considered the “birthplace of French America,” since it was among the first parts of the province to be colonized, Île d'Orléans is renowned for its agricultural products that make farm-to-table dining common in Québec. You’ll have the chance to sample some — including delicious wines — today and during the rest of your tour. Sample fine local vintages when you visit a traditional French-style cellar this afternoon — red, white, and rosé will be yours to swish and swirl!
Cultural Discovery: Follow up your wine tasting with a true Québec specialty — lunch at a sugar shack. While meals vary depending on season, maple anything is almost always on the docket, along with tortiere, a French-Canadian meat pie with flaky crusts.
This afternoon, you’ll head to Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, a small town with a population of just 2,800 people with a very large Canadian icon: a towering basilica credited with miracles of curing the ill and disabled. Pillars in the front entryway are covered in crutches from the faithful who say that their ills disappeared after visiting this sacred space. Witness the splendor of the light shining through the 240 stained-glass windows here.
On the ride back to your hotel, a delicious snack is yours to try: fresh-baked bread. At Chez Marie boulangerie (French bread shop) it’s been made by the same family for three generations. Sample a regional specialty slathered on top — maple butter — and perhaps even buy some to take home as a souvenir.
This evening’s dinner is on your own.
A real taste of history
Today is a feast for the senses. Cultural Discovery: Indulge your passion for history and culture when you visit La Citadelle de Québec, the oldest military building in Canada and part of the city’s ramparts. You’ll witness more than three centuries of tradition and pageantry when you see the Changing of the Guard (including a unique mascot of a golden-horned goat on summer departures!).
Afterwards, get ready to sample and savor local culinary delicacies. Depending on what’s fresh and in-season, your local guide will bring you to restaurants, bistros and bars to bite into Québécois poutine (crunchy French fries covered with cheese curds and thick gravy); decadent smoked-meat sandwiches; and sucre à la crème (maple candy made with cream, butter, and salt). In between bites, you’ll also enjoy some food for thought with stops at historical landmarks, with expert commentary.
This afternoon and evening are at your leisure.
From captivity to cultured
Your final full day in Québec is sure to be an enriching one. Your morning tour of the Morrin Cultural Centre — a former prison and college — is now a large learning institution of another kind. This beautiful library is a national historic site promoting cultural understanding and English-language books. Due to the city’s rule under both French and British forces, most people are bilingual and can trace their lineage back to both the U.K. and France. Then, enjoy an independent lunch.
Cultural Discovery: This afternoon, you’ll head to the Musée des Ursulines de Québec, where your guide will show you the four separate museum exhibits that tell the story of the Ursuline nuns and their influence on the founding and thriving of the society in the 17th and 18th centuries. Learn about the former convent school here and marvel at the expert handiwork — the Ursuline nuns are renowned for their handiwork, and you’ll get to meet and interact with some of them.
Tonight’s Farewell Dinner is in a local restaurant.
Depart for home
Today, you’ll transfer to the airport for your flights back home.
Important Notice: The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Tour Director or local representatives at the destination.
Please Note: The hotels listed are preliminary and subject to change. Although we contract our hotels a year in advance, unforeseen situations do occasionally occur. Should it be necessary to change a hotel, one of equal quality and value will be substituted. You will receive verified hotel information with your final itinerary.
Note: That hotel ratings are based on the hotel and a leading travel industry authority on hotels throughout the world.