Travel

Winter Travel Guide to Quebec City, Montreal, and Mont Tremblant

So I just got back from a winter wonderland experience and I got a lot of requests for my itinerary. So that is how I decided to structure my blog this time — kinda a day by day guide to give you the best idea how to maximize your time and see the best of all three cities. These cities are completely different in summer and in winter so this guide is primarily focused on winter activities and holiday fun.

What to pack

DISCLAIMER: We went during an extremely cold storm and the average temperature during our stay was -10 degrees fahrenheit. For an example, I just looked up the temperature today in Quebec and it is 16 degrees fahrenheit. (we got back 4 days ago) But still I would over prepare regardless.

So the goal is to always look fabulous but you want be able to stand the subzero climate. Thank goodness for my girlfriend, Ellese, coaching me along the way because I was very naive to just how cold it was going to be. When I was looking at the forecast and saw negative temperatures I didn’t really know what that translated to clothes-wise. First lets start with shoes, I thought pink combat boots would be enough, NO NO NO. I swear some days my toes were going to freeze off. Make sure to get waterproof and insulated boots, (trust me there are still cute furry ones out there.) Also a MUST, toe warmers. I used 4 a day, so buy accordingly. I used two for my toes and two on my heels (one for each foot, duh). Then pack a thin pair of socks to wear first and stick the warmers to that pair and then wear a thick pair over the warmers. Next, lets go over layering. I wore thick wool leggings under my jeans on my legs and this was enough. However, on the day of snowboarding I added another layer on my legs. Make sure to pack jeans that are slightly bigger on you so you can fit layers underneath. For tops, I wore three layers under my turtleneck sweaters sounds like overkill now that I’m typing this up but trust me you will need it. Now for jackets, I packed three jackets. My snowboarding jacket, a puffy fur-lined jacket, and a fur jacket. Again I was VERY naive about jackets. I was picking ones out that were fur but thin, just say NO, no matter how cute it is. Also, you want your jackets to be as long as possible. My girlfriend found her fur jacket at a thrift store and I would totally recommend to start looking early for the fur as this will be your ticket to looking cute AF but more importantly warm AF. Now for accessories, I brought 2 beanies (bigger the pom pom the better, obvie), 2 scarfs (the huge woven ones look so warm but this is a LIE, the bitter cold wind comes straight through those ones so make sure to bring two with no leakage points!) and lastly earmuffs! Now for your hands, you need warmers for your gloves too! Now don’t even waste your time with cute fluffy gloves, your going to be wearing your ski gloves the whole trip!

TIP: the brand of warmers matter! We went to Costco and got Little Hotties…. WASTE OF TIME and pounds in your luggage! They are small and barely heat up. Our friends luckily went to Walmart and got Hot Hands. These are huge and got 10x as hot and lasted for twice the amount of time.

Where to stay

Typically I give a lot of different options as I usually do a lot of research before I book a trip. But we actually tagged along this time on our friends trip. Tyler and I love having alone time but we actually prefer to travel with friends and this trip wouldn’t have been nearly as enjoyable without our best friends there. I highly recommend this trip to be a group trip because the days are short and you retreat to your cabin early. The sun sets around 4:30pm in the winter so you have a lot of hours inside. We brought Catan with us and we probably no joke played for four hours a night. (I know we are also nerds). So why am I talking about group travel under “where to stay” because renting a cabin with Airbnb is the only choice. With a cabin you can split it between friends and have so much space to enjoy the indoors too! The Airbnb that we rented in Quebec is called La Maison du some de la chute with Marie and Eric. They were wonderful hosts, super affordable, and had a open concept which I loved for cooking. We never actually stayed in Montreal as we only used it as a spot to break up the drive from Mont Tremblant to Quebec City. Then in Mont Tremblant we stayed at an adorable Bed and Breakfast, Auberge Sauvignon. We didn’t do Airbnb in Mont Tremblant because all the available cabins were for big groups with 5-6 rooms and just too expensive to split with just one other couple. Plus Auberge Sauvignon was just too good of a deal to pass up. Mont Tremblant is known for being super expensive and the nightly rate at the bed and breakfast was a little under a hundred dollars a night. (remember when booking everything is in Canadian and the exchange rate varies from 1: 1.25 to 1:1.5) Request room #102 and #101, they are right next to each other with no one else sharing walls with you. The owners are super nice and even gave us a bottle of champagne to enjoy in their jacuzzi! Plus it is only a 3 minute drive to the village and ski resort. Each morning they have breakfast awaiting with an array of fruits, yogurts, breads, and cereals.

Transportation

No questions asked you have to rent a car, and by car I mean BIG car. You will have a lot of big bags and will need the space. We looked at renting an SUV but the price was a lot more than the minivan option. So we opted for the soccer mom car and let me tell you BEST decision ever. There was so much space and we liked having space between the two chairs in the back to put all our layers while we were in the car. We used Enterprise and had zero issues with them.

Language

The predominant language is French but don’t fret everyone speaks English too. Even most of the menus had an English line for translation.

Quebec City

Quebec City Airport is super small so odds are you have a connection in Toronto. With that being said weather delays are common in the winter due to snow and ice. I would recommend flying in the morning so if you are delayed and miss your connection there are a few more options that day to get there. We left Atlanta in the evening and was delayed 6 hours obviously missing our connection and couldn’t get on another flight until 2pm the next day. Kinda a bummer we lost a whole day and had to pay for a hotel room by the Toronto airport.

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So by the time we got to Quebec City the sun had already set and we didn’t want to loose out on anymore time so we decided to head straight to Old Quebec to see it light up in holiday cheer. There is something so enchanting about Quartier Petit-Champlain when it is covered in snow and light up for Christmas.

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All the buildings are festive in lights and the store fronts take their door decor very seriously. Grab your camera and take a stroll around Old Quebec for a magical experience.

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We didn’t waste anytime the next morning I was determined to find the old toboggan slide in town. Head down all the stairs in old Quebec toward the river and you won’t miss it. The toboggan run is one of the oldest attractions in town. There are three icy runs and each toboggan can hold four people.

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Each ride is $2 Canadian per person per ride. The views of the city are great from the top of the run. The ride stays open from mid-December to mid-March

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The historic neighborhood of Quebec City is comprised of an Upper Town and Lower Town, both a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wander around Lower Town to see the frozen over river.

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The snow is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before in my life. The snowflakes actually come down like the emoji snowflake. I think this entertained me for like half the trip. I remember learning about snowflakes as a kid in school and how each one is different but I always assumed it was at a microscopic level because the snow I always see just looks like balls of snow not emoji looking flakes.

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I knew you wouldn’t believe me so here is the proof!

 

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Canadians love their maple syrup so naturally in winter they freeze it to make a maple toffee on a stick!

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Throughout your trip you will see little stations set up. For $2 Canadian you can roll your own!

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The next day we woke up and walked to Montmorency Falls. If you stay at the airbnb we did its a 2 minute walk. If you stay closer to Old Quebec it is a 15 minute drive. There is a long bridge spanning the top of the falls you can walk across. There are a few different stairs you can take to different viewpoints of the falls depending on the weather conditions.

TIP: see the scarf I’m wearing above this the kind I advised earlier to NOT wear. Notice I’m wearing two scarfs (thank goodness for my husband and he let me have his). The wind just wipes right through the woven holes. Every time I see this picture it makes me laugh so hard we totally look like the Michelin Man in FUR.

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Next we drove to Hotel de Glace. It is 30 minutes from Old Quebec but totally worth the trip. This hotel is the only one of its kind in all of North America. It operates 45 rooms, an Ice Bar, Grand Hall and Chapel all completely made out of ice and snow. Every winter, this unique hotel is completely redesigned and rebuilt to offer an unforgettable experience. Even though we did not stay there as I didn’t know I how felt about sleeping on ice. The experience alone was probably one the highlights of my trip.

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The hotel is truly a work of art. All the walls have chiseled out art sculptures. The bar even has a light up ice chandelier to dance under.

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The chapel was breathtaking. If your super into winter and snow you can even get married there. There are different packages you can go with. I’m kinda bummed we didn’t take the tour because I overheard the guide a few times and it was really interesting to hear all the fun facts. The hotel is open from 10am to midnight and after 8pm a cocktail is included in your admission (but your paying more of course). We went around 4pm and I think this was the perfect time. We got to see it both during daylight and night time and there wasn’t herds of people. We decided to go WITHOUT the cocktail package and just buy a cocktail when you got to the bar because it was cheaper. They said you just don’t get to keep the cup. WELL its made out of ice so unless your gonna hold your glass out the window the whole way back its gonna melt anyway! DUMMIES!

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So I haven’t talked too much about food even though I’m a “food blogger” and thats because Canada LOVES cheese, poutine, and more cheese. The other couple that went with us is also “vegan”. I put quotes around vegan because we try hard to not eat meat and diary but we will eat it on special occasions. Most dinners we ate in while we were in Quebec City because we had a huge kitchen and we could still eat vegan. With all that said, you MUST eat at Le Saint Maro Cafe. (5 stars!!!!) We went there for lunch and all the entrees are about half off during the day. Even if you don’t like french onion soup you have to order it here, its about 1/3 cheese, 1/3 bread, 1/3 broth. We prob had a three hour lunch, in Canada meal time is an event and they never pressure you to get up and leave. Even when you think you’ve over stayed your welcome they offer you coffee and dessert. This little cafe is so cute and cozy. There is a fireplace and about 7 tables. The service was impeccable and I enjoyed the eggplant parmigiana for my main dish.

TIP: find out where you want to eat and always make reservations WAY ahead of time. All the cafes are pretty small and there are no waitlists. If there aren’t any tables, they merely tell you they are full for the day rather than tell you to come back in an hour or so.

Montreal Part One

Montreal from Quebec is about a 3 hour drive. So once we got there we were ready to eat. Luckily Montreal has a TON of vegan options unlike Quebec City. We decided to grab a quick bite so we opted for Copper Branch (causal, order at the counter type of place.) We ordered the veggie burger, Copper branch bowl, asian bowl, and the greek bowl. I think the greek bowl was my favorite but they were all very yummy and had great sauces!

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Other vegan options in Montreal:

  1. LOV– see Montreal part two for pictures
  2. Lola Rosa
  3. Aux Vivres
  4. Vegano
  5. Mandy’s – not strictly vegan but can make any of the salads vegan if you wanted; try and sit in the pink booth its cute AF
  6. Kiffin
  7. La Panthere Verte
  8. GUSTA
  9. Sushi Momo— the vegan sushi looked UNREAL when I was researching
  10. ChuChai- vegan Thai
  11. Belem Cafe and Yoga- smoothie bowls
  12. Petit Marche Vege- vegan Vietnamese
  13. Antidote— we actually went here but they were closed. HUGE bummer because the ambience was amazing.
  14. La Lumiere du Mile End
  15. Leaves Cafe

** Bold are top picks

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The first stop for any tourist should be Place D’Armes in Old Montreal. It’s very much like any central square you’ll find in many European cities. The main feature of the square is the Basilique Notre Dame de Montreal. To me it looked just like the Norte Dame in Paris.

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Wander along Rue Saint Paul to Place Jacques Cartier. Rue Saint Paul is a cute cobblestone street (even though I didn’t see too much of it as it was covered in snow.)

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The architecture transported me right back to Paris. The Euro vibes were giving me all the feels.

Mont Tremblant

After spending a few hours in Montreal we continued our journey to Mont Tremblant (1.5 more hours.) Be aware of driving in snowy conditions at night. All the tires on the rental cars are snow tires so you don’t have to worry about chains or anything but visibility is the real issue. The winds pick up the snow as it falls and it can be a complete white out.

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The only wildlife we saw on our trip were deer but they did like to wander around our bed and breakfast. The owner gave us apples to feed them!

 

 

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Okay, lets talk about how adorable the village of Mont Tremblant is! The entire village is ski in ski out. There are multiple hotel options in the village but we decided to support the locals and opted for a bed and breakfast. I highly suggest buying your lift tickets ahead of time. The earlier you buy them and for the more days in a row you buy them the cheaper they are. If you decide to rent make sure you get there at 7:30am when the rentals open. If you are even ten minutes late the line is out of control.

TIP: If renting ski equipment go after 3pm the day before to get your rentals. There is no line and then the morning of you can just hit the slopes!

The first ski lift opens at 8:00am. Again, get there early. The line at the bottom of the south side of the mountain has a 45 minute wait time at all times of the day. There are two sides of the mountain, the south side which is the main “bottom” and the north side with the casino but this is actually not really the bottom.

TIP: I would ski the north side of the mountain as the wind is behind you pushing you down the hill versus blowing in your face. For whatever reason the north side is also less crowded. But remember when your done for the day you still got one LONG run in front of you because you have to go all the way up the hill to get to the south parking lot and main village.

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So I’ll be real honest and say I’m not the best snowboarder. I can carve but prefer to stay on green slopes with an occasional blue mixed in. I am a fair weathered skier, especially the fact I’m from California can tell you what type of skier I am. I won’t hit the slopes unless the sun is out and I can board in a sweatshirt.  So what I’m about to say you can take with a grain of salt based on my skill level. But this mountain was hardest time I’ve ever had snowboarding. If your going make sure and buy high visibility (yellow) snowboarding lenses. This will help you SEE in low visibility. Second, make sure you have warmers in your gloves and boots. Third, make sure your ENTIRE face is covered. Frostbite is a REAL thing. I had just gotten off the gondola and was strapping myself in when a ski patrol came up to me and told me to cover my nose as it was completely WHITE. This is the first stage of frostbite. You can have irreversible damage in just 30 minutes of frostbite. Both guys on our trip got it the worst. One of them got it on the tip of their nose and my husband had red burns in the shape of goggles around his eyes from windburn. Lastly, if your not a die hard skier or snowboarder I would recommend buying your tickets the day of to see what the weather is like. One day it was totally bearable and I boarded the entire day but the second day we went was an entirely different story. This was the day the guys got burned. We made it to the top of the mountain first thing and I was mentally prepared to have the best day yet. But as soon as we got up there the winds were 40-50mph and -19.6 degrees fahrenheit. I literally saw little kids being blown over while just standing at the top. So we proceeded to have some really expensive beers up top at the lodge for two hours and watch people eat shit outside. I finally made it down my only run for the day and ate shit myself. Okay thats it for the negativity, only positive vibes from here on out, but I wanted to be real with you from my experience.

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After a long ski day with sore muscles it a necessity to stay at a place with a hot tub. At our place we never had an issue with other people using the hot tub when we got back from the slopes. MAJOR plus.

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Be aware that there is a tax when you eat inside the village. They add on an additional 10% tax on top of the usual tax. I know I said no more negativity but this place deserves the bad review. Do NOT eat at O Wok. The service was terrible, the food took an hour to get out (people your in a ski resort and during lunch people want to be on the mountain not waiting for food), and they were extremely racist because we were Americans. The service they provided to the people speaking french and us were night and day. The food wasn’t terrible but wasn’t worth the other BS. I have never not left a tip in my life, but this time that biatch deserved nothing. Then she had the nerve to ask if we were leaving a cash tip because gratuity was not included as we were walking out. AWKWARD. Our good friend Dave just looked back at her and said, “nope.”

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The only place worth eating at in the village is La Savoie (5 stars). I should say its a MUST. It will be the best fondue you will ever have. Promise. For four people you can’t go wrong with Raclette for two people and broth fondue for two people. The Raclette is simple white cheese from France that has been soaked in salted white wine for three months. They bring out a wheel of this cheese with a heater over it to slowly melt and bubble the cheese onto an array of bread, vegetables and cut meats. (It usually comes out with a board of different cut meats) we asked if they could give us more vegetables instead of meat, I think it was perfect that way. The broth comes with scallops, shrimp, vegetables, and filet. The different courses come with bread, salad, rice, potatoes and a ton of sauces. We were starving when we got there and asked if that was enough food for us or if we should order more and our waitress said we would roll out of there by the end. And we did just that. The dessert fondue looked amazing but we didn’t have any room for it. Make sure you get a reservation a week in advance at least. I will add that even though my stomach usually gets very upset after eating any kind of diary, my entire trip I didn’t suffer from bloating or well you know. I wonder if how they process their cheese is different than in the states? or if the damn subzero climate was an anti-inflammatory? Idk.

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One of the coolest experiences ever!!! Dogsledding, when it comes to this activity there were a lot of different options but we choose the diablo adventure. Still not sure how this was different from the others but after doing it I would totally recommend it. We went through Tremblant Activity Centre. No complaints, except for the fact that I thought the  dogs smelled pretty bad. Not sure if thats a normal thing or they didn’t get bathed enough. They did mention that the dogs were in heat and were peeing all over the trees where they lined up. In terms of animal safety and misuse of the dogs. I didn’t feel like the company was abusing the dogs in any way. The dogs genuinely were very eager to run and they never had to push them to run. When they retired the dogs they actually kept them inside and cared for them as house pets.

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The dogs were very playful and loved giving kisses.

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The dogs are alaskan huskies for the most part. There were a few random breeds of dogs though. The sleds were pretty authentic to me (not that I really know what authentic sleds look like but I imagined them to look like that, I guess I should say they weren’t cheesy.)

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You stop half way through the hour of dog sledding to warm up with hot chocolate and cookies in a heated tent.

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The coolest thing about this company was the fact that you got to drive your own sleds. I imagined that we were just going to ride in the sled as a tour guide drove it for us. But this was truly the dog sledding experience. Before booking make sure your company allows you to drive as well. Don’t worry driving it is very easy!

TIP: make sure to wear snow clothes that day and bring ski googles! And book way in advance!

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When eating in Mont Tremblant we tried to not eat at all the tourist spots. So we ended up driving about 15 minutes each night to the small city of Saint-Jovite.

Restaurants in Saint-Jovite:

  1. Couler Cafe– great lunch spot pictured above and below
  2. Mille Pates– best homemade pasta!!! The vegetarian lasagna was AMAZING!! make a  reservation!
  3. Taco Lito- a vegetarian mexican spot with healthy sides. The MARGARITAS were yum!
  4. Sushi Shack- not the best sushi I’ve ever had but it did the trick. They even got creative with their menu, they had sushi burritos and pizzas. Plus it was BYOB. Its a order at the counter type of place but still cute.

** bold are top picks. There aren’t a lot of options in Mont Tremblant so again if you can get a cabin and cook yourself I would recommend that.

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I have to give Couler Cafe kuddos for presentation. We ordered the trio that comes with a sandwich, soup or salad, and veggie crudités. The thai soup and veggie sandwich was my favorite.

Montreal Part Two

So it was cheaper to fly in and out of Quebec City rather than in to Quebec and out of Montreal. So on our way back to Quebec we did another stop over in Montreal to break up the drive. Since we had just snowboarded for two days our muscles could use some soaking and we decided to spend the day at a Scandinavian spa.

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I did a lot of research into Scandinavian spas and by far the best one I found was Bota Bota. Its a “floating” spa, its not really motoring while you are on it. It’s parked the whole time so guest can go and come as they please. But it was very luxurious. They offer various different treatments and services. I personally could spend days on this boat between the water circuit, massages, facials, body treatments, mani/pedis, yoga-pilates, and onboard restaurant. Because it was just a stop over for us we opted for just the water circuit. If you come between 10am its only $50 Canadian for 3 hours. If you come any other time its $60 and if you want to stay all day its $70. They have a whole area for you to shower and get ready after soaking for hours. They even had hair straighteners plugged in and ready to use! I’ve never seen that before. And if you decide to eat they will give you an additional hour to spend on the boat for the 3 hour price. I was a little worried by the amount of people I saw in line but there are four floors of dry saunas, steam saunas, cold baths, and hot tubs that people are constantly rotating through that no matter where you are you don’t feel crowded.

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Reservations are not required for the water circuit. To fully enjoy the benefits of thermal therapy, you must follow the circuits steps. First you must start for 10-15 minutes in either the dry or steam sauna. Pour the water over the heated rocks, it will smell very therapeutic. This will raise your body temperature, dilate your poor and flush out toxins.

TIP: The circuit provides a robe, towel and locker with a key-bracelet. But you MUST bring flip-flops. We didn’t think to pack these and some of the decks you must go outside and downstairs and around corners. HUGE regret because our feet were freezing to the point it felt like daggers with each step.

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Next, take a courageous dip into one of the cold baths to get your heart pumping and close your pores. Your supposed to stay in for 1 minute. I think I lasted 10 seconds (basically long either to get this picture!)

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The final step in the Nordic bath circuit involves stretching out in one of the many relaxation areas or whirlpools. These hanging hammocks were so relaxing. Bring a book and chill for 20 minutes as your heart rate returns to normal.

 

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Repeat these steps three to four times. I laugh when I remember my husband saying the minute we got into the first whirlpool, “I wonder what we are going to do for three hours.” 10 minutes into it he had his timers set for each rotation and he took it very seriously. He literally napped for 20 minutes on the bean bags each time. He was zen AF and I can safely say he will be wanting to join me on the next spa day.

TIP: They take the no talking rule VERY seriously. You sign a waver at the beginning and I thought they were like half kidding. Of course after being there for not even 5 minutes Ellese and I got talked to about how loud we were. Keep in mind you can talk in the gardens AND thats where we were. But when they say you can talk they mean you can whisper. (if you know Ellese and I, we tend to yell when we talk so needless to say this was very difficult for us.) Then when you are on the main boat they literally mean NO talking. Ellese and I were legit whispering in each others ears and another guy immediately came and talked to us AGAIN. So basically learn sign language in the meantime.

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After three hours of soaking we were starving and leave it to me to find a super cute vegan cafe. LOV had great service, ambience and I totally recommend anything on their menu.

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We got the breakfast scramble, avocado toast, and black bean burger to share. Their cocktails were amazing. The miso one was my favorite.

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And if you were wondering who my super hot friend is. Go follow her on instagram @ellesez. She isn’t a blogger but she travels even more than I do and takes amazing pictures. Next month she will be traveling around Tulum for a few weeks, you won’t want to miss it.

Please comment if you enjoyed my post and please leave me any recommendations for future posts.

xoxo

 

 

2 thoughts on “Winter Travel Guide to Quebec City, Montreal, and Mont Tremblant

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