Monday Miam-Miam: Croissants in Quebec City

Quebec has been, for years, our family quick escape to a world where most people spend also their lives between English and French. Even though French is one of the two official languages of Canada, it is clear that Quebec remains the #1 French-speaking region of the country.

And Quebec City (only called Québec in Quebec) is the #1 Canadian city where French is widely spoken.

Courtesy Evelyne’s Husband

On our very first family trip to Quebec, in the early 2000s, we drove from central Maine to Quebec City, a short four-hour drive.

The city immediately reminded me of the French walled city of Saint-Malo, quite close to where I grew up.

Morning walk on the Promenade des Gouverneurs. Which stretches along the citadel with the fortification wall on one side, and a stunning view of the Saint Lawrence River on the other. You’ll climb a whole bunch of uphill staircases and over 300 steps to get to the top. Worth the effort. I promise.

With four kids in tow we didn’t explore much, back then. We had splurged and stayed at the stunning Château Frontenac. The highlight of this visit was the formal afternoon high tea. My then five-year-old son still remembers of the delish tiny sandwiches. He behaved so well that our waiter brought him a few extras.

Courtesy Evelyne’s Husband

 

Courtesy Evelyne’s Husband

Since this first trip, we’ve returned many times to Quebec, preferring vibrant, diverse Montreal, more appealing to teenagers than quiet, historic Quebec City.

Early summer, however, sans kids, my husband and I decided to return to Quebec City for a couple of days.

Sometimes, returning to a place is a bad idea.

Sometimes, it is au contraire as perfect as these flowers seen in a neigborhood park in Quebec City.

Courtesy Evelyne’s Husband

Courtesy Evelyne’s Husband

You know what they say in real estate? Location. Location.

The same applies to hotels. Staying at the right place when traveling transforms the experience and makes it unforgettable.

We wanted a location that would allow us to leave our car and just walk. We were also a little tired of the predictibility of the big hotel brands. Reassuring but not too personal.

Based on our dream-list and the stellar reviews, my husband selected the Auberge Aux Deux Lions, situated in the heart of the Montcalm neighborhood, the artsy part of the city.

An “auberge” in French is an inn. The difference between an Inn and a Bed and Breakfast is subtle. Usually, it’s based on the number of rooms and also the possibility to have dinner on site.

Aux Deux Lions is an inn since thirteen rooms are available but a B&B since only breakfast is available on site. Although the rooms come with a fridge, a coffee maker, and access to a full, modern communal kitchen is granted to all guests.

Courtesy Aux Deux Lions

I can’t possibly rank the reasons why I want to return to the auberge. They rank ex aequo. Which means equally placed in French. So with absolutely no order, here is why I wanted to stray away from my typical Monday Miam-Miam and introduce you to a place where I found myself at home for the time of our visit:

  • Perfect location
  • Warmth of the owners and staff
  • Gorgeous old house updated to modern comfort with a purposeful attention to detail

Courtesy Aux Deux Lions

Courtesy Aux Deux Lions

  • Unique rooms decorated with impeccable taste to accommodate different needs and budget
  • Full breakfast including croissants baked from scratch every morning on site (the buttery smell was so mouth-watering I could barely wait for the seven o’clock opening)
  • Did I say Location? Within walking distance from the Old City, the Montcalm neighborhood is not touristy at all. So, you get a true local experience as you see people going to work, out for dinner, running errands, and just going their own business. No car is needed, unless you want to explore the surroundings, which we will do when we return.

Courtesy Evelyne’s Husband

  • Did I say Uniqueness? Our stay was a last minute decision and we were very lucky to get a room since Aux Deux Lions can be fully booked for weeks in advance. However, my husband scored the loveliest room for us.

Courtesy Aux Deux Lions

  • Did I say Croissants? Wow! Full disclosure: I rarely ate croissants for breakfast when I lived in France. When I was a kid, my bought them on Sundays, and only when we took our annual three-week summer vacation. Croissants remain a treat in my native land. Otherwise, all French people would be fat 🙂 But staying in a lovely city, in a gorgeous auberge, in a stunning room, calls for exception. And these homemade croissants? Irresistible. My compliments to the baker.

Courtesy Evelyne’s Husband, right before Evelyne devoured this croissant. Please, click twice on the photo to see what I’m talking about 🙂

  • Although I’m not a huge breakfast person I never skip breakfast. And I like to enjoy this first meal of the day in a nice setting when away from my own cozy kitchen. Breakfast at the auberge is served in a warmly, elegantly decorated room. I loved the red mugs, which were such a happy splashing note against the white table clothes. Coffee, tea, and a smile welcome you as soon as you enter. Then, you can help yourself to the buffet, where in addition to the four-star croissants you’ll find ham, cheese, hardboiled eggs, fresh fruit, various yogurts, banana bread, bagels and bread, mixed cereals, butter, assorted jams, and of course Canadian maple syrup. Ambiance and setting are a nice break from the more rambunctious typical hotel dining rooms. A lovely pause in our busy noisy lives.

Courtesy Aux Deux Lions

  • Did I say Warmth? The hosts are here for You. Any request, any question, any tip to make your stay better is fulfilled, answered, and suggested.
  • Two gardens, one on the side of the building and the other at the top, are open for the guests’ enjoyment.

Courtesy Aux Deux Lions

  • Lucky us, we had our own terrace, accessible from an adorable nook off the bedroom. Showers punctuated our stay. So, I wasn’t able to write or read outside. See? I must go back.

Evelyne’s little corner

Evelyne’s little corner for next time

Aux Deux Lions has a fabulous website and I borrowed some of their photos since mine wouldn’t give full credit to one of the most charming places I’ve ever stayed in North America. And beyond.

This visit to Quebec City was too short, yet long enough for two additional blog posts.

So, as they say in Quebec, “Goodbye, au revoir.”

As always, “Thank you, Merci, for reading!”

 

 

 

Comments

  1. It sounds absolutely marvelous to me, Evelyne. And I could smell that mouth-watering croissant! –Curt

  2. I would agree, you must go back.

  3. This seemed so lovely. Perhaps I will get there someday. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Haven’t been back in years. Love it here!

    • You travel quite extensively, Kimberly. So I can understand that it’s hard de go back everywhere. For me, being in the US, it’s a real treat to enjoy the mix of languages in Quebec.

  5. Yes, you must go back and balcony 🙂
    I, too, love the red cups in the photo — small details like those are so endearing. I was in Quebec mid-90s and now regret I was not a camera person at the time. I’m always telling The Mister we must go again.
    Thanks for the tour of Aux Deux Lions.

    • Funny what you mention about photos. I traveled much more in my 20s than now. And although the memories are intact I barely took pictures. I cannot even brag about those trips 🙂
      Seeing your photos and your taste for unique shops yes, you should go back to Quebec City where most shops and restaurants are not big brands.
      And this place was fabulous for a short stay. These guys have made a home for visitors. Also they are both from France, so it made it more special for us. But most of their clientele is made of Americans looking for small distinct places.

  6. Quebec to me will always be the shortest route to Europe without flying overseas. I haven’t been there in many years, but it is so NOT American, so deliciously European in all the ways that count. I wish I’d had a camera when I was there, but that was before I even owned one.

    • You’re so right. This is what I love there. And like Joey, above, I notice your remark about cameras. So many people now take photos while we used to enjoy scenery and experiences with our own eyes and mind and soul. I regret not having too many photos from some of my trips. Particularly Africa and the USSR. Way less visited in the 80s. But I still remember every minute of these trips.
      Now I have my husband who takes most of the nicest pics for me 🙂

  7. I’ve just discovered your blog. I’m enjoying the articles and as a person learning French, I’m so impressed with your command of the English language (I believe French is your first language). I hope to one day be 1/2 as fluent in French.

    • Oh, thank you so much, Suz. Your kind words mean a lot to me. Yes, French is my first language and since I took German in school for many years than English, I learned most of my skills living here in the US. The most difficult part is to jump in when we are not mastering a language. Immersion, though, is the best way. So, for you, spending enough time in France or with French speakers would be very helpful. If you look for bilingual posts and wish to learn something, I participate to the A to Z challenge every April. You can search my blog for French idioms and expressions. The last ones was about French authors and I wrote each post in French and English. Hope to see you again soon.

      • De rien. I’m hoping this blog with serve as an learning aide. I’m learning new words and using them etc…

        I’m also searching for and reading all the blogs I can find related to France.

        J’adore France et the U.S.

        Merci beaucoup. A bientot!

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