Want to see the city from a unique perspective? Take a romantic ride in one of Quebec City’s horse-drawn carriages. During the winter months, many of the same companies offer sleigh rides. Known as “une calèche” (singular) or “des calèches” (plural), a horse-drawn carriage ride will give you a personalized tour of at a relaxed pace. Prices are set per-carriage rather than per-person, starting around $65.00 (CAN), but the expense is worth it — the knowledgeable driver of your carriage will be able to give you an authentic, classic feel for the city. Carriage rides are offered during high tourist season, from June through September, and most drivers will pick you up directly from your hotel or another point of interest within Old Quebec. Most tours last about 45 minutes. The scenery alone is well worth the price!
Running rain or shine, there are three companies that offer carriage and sleigh rides in and one company that serves the nearby village of Lac Beauport.
Les Calèches du Vieux-Québec offers three different driver-narrated carriage tours as well as taxi services within the Lower and Upper Town. The “Frontenac” tour lasts 45 minutes, costs $80.00 (CAN) per carriage, and includes such famous landmarks as the Citadelle, the Joan of Arc Garden and Château Frontenac. The “Remparts” tour lasts 90 minutes, costs $150.00 (CAN) per carriage, and includes the entire “Frontenac” tour plus Dufferin Terrace, the rue Ste-Geneviève and the Governor’s Garden, among other famous sites. Finally, the “Champlain” tour lasts two hours, costs $220.00 (CAN) and includes the routes of both the “Frontenac” and “Remparts” tours, plus views of the Saint Lawrence River, the convent of the Ursulines, the Musée de la civilisation and many other beautiful attractions. Les Calèches du Vieux-Québec imposes a four-person maximum capacity per carriage, and reservations are required during the winter season (November through April).
Calèches Royales du Vieux-Québec offers 40-minute tours of the city, with the bilingual carriage driver serving as a knowledgeable tour guide for his passengers. Carriages can also be ordered to convey passengers directly from their hotel to any restaurant or tourist attraction. During Winter Carnival, Calèches Royales is the exclusive provider of sleigh rides for the festival.
Les Calèches de la Nouvelle-France’s 40-minute tour of Old Quebec takes passengers through the picturesque streets of the historic district, the green hills of Battlefields Park, and the Joan of Arc Garden. Carriage drivers are bilingual and eager to share the history of their city. Les Calèches de la Nouvelle-France is also happy to customize the carriage route according to passengers’ requests. The price for the 40-minute tour is based on the number of carriages, not the number of passengers, and each carriage costs $80.00 (CAN) (tax included). The company is also the exclusive carrier for many of the city’s leading hotels, and can be requested for taxi service from the hotel to wherever passengers wish to go. Carriages accommodate up to four adult passengers, and feature warm blankets for brisk autumn days and a retractable waterproof awning for rainy afternoons. Though Les Calèches de la Nouvelle-France employs up to 36 carriages and 50 drivers during the high season, which they present as a mark of their attentive and encompassing commitment to service, reservations are recommended.
Located in the town of Lac Beauport, just 15 minutes outside central Quebec City, Pourvoirie du Lac-Beauport is an all-purpose outfitter (that’s what “pourvoirie” means). In addition to 1-hour sleigh rides for one to eight passengers, Pourvoirie du Lac-Beauport offers many other summer and winter activities including horseback riding, fishing, dog sledding, snowshoeing and igloo camping. The sleigh ride, which costs $175.00 (CAN) for 1 hour, is conducted by an expert guide who will take passengers on a groomed trail through the beautiful winter woods of Quebec, all while pointing out the unique features of the natural surroundings