Valentine's Day Weekend - February 14 to 16
A flights n bites pilot project
Eat your way through town in this exclusive tour of North America's oldest French-speaking city. Romance along picturesque cobblestone streets lined with bistros and boutiques while sipping on chocolat chaud. It's easy to fall in love (again) with a visit to this dreamy town along the Saint Lawrence River.
*Based on double
Early bird catches the worm as we depart from the Vaughan carpool lot at 5 a.m. this morning aboard a personal shuttle, whisking us away to a winter wonderland weekend (a second pick-up at Yorkdale bus terminal may also be accommodated)!
The first official stop: Montreal's Marche Jean Talon - a large farmer's market open year-round (walls are erected in the winter to to shelter you from winter's chill) with tons to offer to hungry locavores. Here you'll find fresh and locally grown produce as well as small restauranteurs (many of which get discovered at the market before making a large splash onto the culinary scene). It's the perfect kick-off to the ultimate foodie getaway!
We continue the journey to our final destination of Quebec City just in time to check-in to our accommodation for the weekend. Located in the trendy Saint-Roch district, you'll find plenty of boutique shops, show venues, brew pubs and restaurants just steps away from the hotel. With some free time before dinner, link arms with your loved one as you paint the town red, exploring the city's most vibrant neighbourhood.
For our hands-on Valentine's dinner tonight, we head over to an expert as we learn to make our own traditional French meals using Madame Germaine's recipes (techniques and instructions passed on by the grandmother of Chef Anne Rouleau). In this 4-hour cooking workshop we are taken on a journey through Quebec's culinary history while preparing a range of different dishes in a charming home along the St. Lawrence River. Hear stories about Chef Anne's travel adventures around the world; an inspiration to many of her on-site cooking classes. It doesn't get more intimate (or romantic) than this!
Enjoy the morning at leisure before meeting up with the group for lunch at Tournebroche Bistro Restaurant for a taste of sustainable local fare. Focused heavily on eco-responsible farming and organic ingredients, you'll feel good about dining at an establishment that not only grows their own garden but also harvests their own honey from an onsite rooftop apiary. Add in a menu created by the chef of a 5 Diamond AAA-awarded restaurant and you've got yourself a fool-proof experience. A 3-course lunch including appetizer, main and dessert with coffee or tea is included.
After a hearty lunch, what better way to build up an appetite again than to embark on a walking tour of Old Quebec through the eyes of a local? The city's best-kept secrets come alive with stories from a history-savvy comedian as your tour guide. Be led to hidden gems that only a person native to the area would know of! - FREE (a tip is encouraged)
In the evening we continue the festivities at the famous Carnaval de Quebec - the world's largest winter festival! There are tons of outdoor activities and events on the fairgrounds to fill your night including concerts, parades, games, a 1.5 km skating rink, sleigh rides, the Ice Palace where you can find Bonhomme (the official ambassador of Carnaval) and of course lot and lots of food! Nothing says romance more than an enchanting ride on a Ferris wheel among the stars! If you're a fan of mulled wine, make sure to try Quebec's Caribou - available hot or cold. There is something for everyone during this two-week long celebration. It's no wonder up to a million visitors flock to the city every year to attend this event!
Our final morning begins by fueling up at Le Clocher Penche. The menu is focused on fresh ingredients from local sources and cooked with a contemporary twist on traditional methods. At the top of many Quebec foodie lists, their brunch is something you need to cross off your list. This meal will include a gourmet verrine, a choice of brunch plate and 2 espressos or a latte.
With a full stomach we are ready for a visit to the famed Hotel de Glace, also known as the Ice Hotel. Constructed entirely of snow and ice, the hotel is available to visit only three months out of the year. Being the only one of its kind in North America, it's an architectural wonder that's worth a visit! Roam the grounds visiting the hotel's chapel, great hall, ice slide, exhibitions and Ice Bar.
We then start the journey back home, but not before stopping off at our last foodie destination of the weekend - the obligatory pit stop at the renowned Schwartz's Deli. Known for their piled-high smoked meat sandwiches, it's a staple for anyone travelling through this part of town. No trip would be complete without it!
A late night arrival back in Vaughan (or Yorkdale) is expected.
Highlights & Inclusions
Personal shuttle (maximum of 12 passengers)
2 nights accommodation in the modern and newly-renovated Hotel Royal William
A visit to Marche Jean Talon, one of Montreal's oldest public markets
A private 4-hour cooking workshop preparing (and eating!) traditional French fare
3-Course lunch at farm-to-table Tournebroche Bistro Restaurant
Festival tickets to Carnaval de Quebec
Two-course brunch at Le Cloche Pencher in trendy Saint-Roch district
Tickets to the famed Ice Hotel
Obligatory pit-stop at Schwartz's Deli