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NOTE: This is an archive Quebec City article. For an updated and expanded article click DailyXtraTravel
With its narrow cobblestone streets, old city walls, and friendly gay scene, Quebec City conjures the magic.
As soon as you arrive in the charming area known as "Old Quebec," you'll realize this is like no place in North America. Of course locals speak predominantly French, and join them if you can, but they are happy to converse
in English, too. You don't really need an excuse to drink in the ambiance here, but Quebec City hosts frequent special events. These include the Festival d'Etï¿½ de Quï¿½bec summertime festival, this year July 8-18, 2010, and the even more amazing Carnaval de Quebec winter festival, next up from January 28 through February 13, 2011.
GLBT Quebec will present Altern'Art, a festival of art and sexual diversity May 4-17 2010, and Fï¿½te Arc-en-ciel, the Gay Pride Rainbow Festival, in September 2010. Check out Sortie Magazine, published by GLBT Quebec, for details and updates.
You'll find the city's gay scene along portions of quaint rue St-Jean, a street full of various bars, cafes and boutiques just outside the walls of the Old City.
Most notable is Le Drague (815 rue St-Augustin at St-Joachim) cabaret and dance club, especially during terrace-sitting warm season. Their weekly line-up includes Monday Country dancing, women's Tuesdays, Wednesday karaoke, Latino Fridays, drag acts Thursdays and Fridays with amateur shows on Sundays, plus quiz games, and weekend disco dancing. Check their website for more Sunday shows.
Mixed but gay-friendly, the Bar Le Sacrilege (447 rue St-Jean) has great terrace seating, cafe fare of sandwiches and beverages, magazines and internet access, a mixed and varied crowd, and various theater and music events, open seven days a week until 3am.
The Blu Bar & Grill (854 rue St-Jean) also has a diverse crowd, serving a variety of meals both simple and elaborate until 10pm, then drinks until 3am in their chic lounge.
Fou-Bar (525 rue St-Jean) is a gay-friendly and rollicking venue with live jazz, rock, folk, ska, reggae and vocal acts, plus occasional tango dance nights too.
Two nearby neighborhood pubs provide the opportunity to mingle with locals hereabouts. Bar St-Matthew (889 cote Ste-Genevieve) is gay-friendly, drawing a good cross-section of all kinds; and Taverne 321 (321 rue de la Couronne) has more gay men in the mix.
ForHom (221 rue St-Jean) is a gay men's social club and bar for members only, next to Sauna Bloc 225.
The elegant Sauna Backboys (264 de la Couronne, downtown) offers the works, including sauna, steam, whirlpool, lockers and rooms, plus an upstairs labyrinth. There is parking on the premises, and also a snack bar, video lounge, and a cozy fireplace.
The busy Sauna Bloc 225 (225 rue St-Jean) is another sure bet for steam lovers, with plenty of coming and going in their renovated Victorian-era building. Facilities cover three floors, with a sky-lit four-level atrium.
There's always a friendly reception at
Sauna-Hotel Hippocampe (31 rue McMahon), located in an historic stone house within the walls of
vieux-Quebec (the Old City). Among the finest saunas anywhere, they have a muted-light labyrinth and free sun booth, in addition to all the steam and sauna facilities. For lodgings, visitors choose between simple chambrette or larger hotel-style, double bed rooms, some with private bath. Hotel guests have in-and-out privileges and free internet access.
Coureur Des Bois (15 rue Ste-Ursule) has modern rooms with Wi-Fi within their old stone house inside the Old City walls. A comfortable and friendly atmosphere prevails, and hosts Jean-Marc and Andre
provide fantastic breakfasts. Rue Ste-Jean shops, bars, restaurants and tourists sites are just minutes away, and their terrace and back deck are good weather places to catch the sun or sip cocktails.
Also within the Old City is the Coach House, or La Maison du Cocher (31 Dauphine, #1; 418-261-6610). This stone-walled edifice has huge and pleasant apartments with modern kitchens and outdoor decks with hanging gardens.
727 Chambres et Pension (27 rue D'Aiguillon; 418-648-6766), an old favorite with laid-back owners Louis and Gerald who make a great house even more appealing. Their modern guest breakfast area overlooks the main floor patio deck, and there's a second floor sun deck too.
Rounding out the list is the modest
253 Bed and Breakfast (253 rue de la Reine; 418-647-0590), downtown within easy walking distance of Sauna Backboys. The main floor breakfast room here looks out onto an expansive guest garden.
A little south of Quebec on Route 20, Domaine de l'Arc-en-Ciel (1878, Rang 5 Ouest, Joly; 418-728-5522) has in-season wild camp sites, wooded paths, swimming and naturalist freedom for men only, 18-plus. Hosts Jean-Noï¿½l & Gilles provide disco social events and outdoor dining too.
For a breath of really fresh air, venture to the countryside in the Laurentians, north of Montreal. Deep, dark woods contrast here with a manicured lawn at
Septentrion B&B (901, Chemin St-Adolphe,
Morin Heights; 450-226-2665). Quebec province's only gay five-star rated inn has super deluxe facilities including swimming pool and hot tub, and one guestroom with in-room whirlpool. Waterfalls les Chutes de Ste-Marguerite du Lac Masson are in nearby Ste-Adele.
An easy two-hour drive west of Montreal, the
Inn on Somerset (282 Somerset Street, West Ottawa; 613-236-9309) offers a simple getaways -- or complete gay wedding packages. For romping or resting, this inn's custom beds have a reputation as some of the best in the world! Longtime host, George, takes special pride in them.
Quebec City will make you say "ooh la la!" and perhaps you'll wonder why you hadn't taken a trip to this beautiful city sooner.