Super Cruising La Belle Province

By: Brandon Sousa

There’s some exquisite about Quebec City; a European-style city in the heart of French-Canada. The cobblestone walkways. The historic buildings of the Old Town. The air of luxury that surrounds you without having to convert your Canadian dollars into Euros.

In 1608, Samuel de Champlain settled in Quebec City, claiming it for the French as part of the New World. The name, Quebec, comes from the Algonquin word for “Where the River Narrows” referring to the St. Lawrence River.

My friends at Aeroplan decided to start my trip off right as their guest to Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounge at Pearson Airport. You can use your Aeroplan miles to collect a guest voucher and see what the world of first-class travel is all about. With a short flight from Toronto to Quebec City, I was ready to take on the charming capital of La Belle Province.

I arrived, as a guest of Cadillac Canada, along with a group of fellow adventures and journalists to the Auberge Saint-Antoine hotel in the Old Town. This beautiful, luxury, boutique hotel sits right on the waterfront of the St. Lawrence River.

During the construction of Auberge Saint-Antoine, an archaeological dig uncovered a few unique artifacts, some of which date back to the 1600s. The objects discovered shed new light on a part of Québec City’s three centuries of history and have been restored and displayed throughout the hotel including the guestrooms.

Although there is a focus on history at the hotel, there’s no shortage of modern amenities. My room came equipped with a flat-screen TV in the bathroom, which although I thought was unnecessary at first, was a nice bonus while brushing my teeth. I now can relate to every episode of MTV’s Cribs just a little bit better.

Chez Muffy, inside the Auberge Saint-Antoine, is a farm-to-fork dining experience that will take your taste buds on an adventure outside of the city limits and into the backyards of the local growers. After indulging in an incredible lunch of local and fresh fish, my hosts Cadillac Canada, took my new friends and I on an adventure out to the city limits where some of these growers live and operate.

Waiting outside the Auberge Saint-Antoine were seven beautiful Cadillac CT6s ready to take us out to the île d’Orléans, about 20 minutes from the Old Town. The CT6 is a full-sized luxury sedan that marries performance, technology and prestige into one vehicle. It’s the kind of car you want to both drive and be driven around in. Sitting in the backseat, kitty-corner to my chauffer, I reclined the seat and activated the massage settings. Yes, you read that correctly and yes, it’s ok to be jealous.

Our first stop was Chocolaterie de l’île d’Orléans who have been handmaking preservative-free chocolate treats since 1988. In 1990, they ventured into traditional ice cream and sorbet offering more than 24 variety during the summer season. With just one bite, you’ll find out exactly why this is a local favourite. I decided to cleanse my palate with a sorbet, to prepare me for our next stop, Cassis Monna & Filles.

Cassis Monna & Filles is a distillery of fine wines and liquor using black currant. With over 20 years of passion, they have produced more than 50,000 bottles of black liquors and fine wines from their 16 hectares of land. Their wine cellar and tasting room is the perfect spot to appreciate the vibrant flavours of their four classic products.

Our third and finally stop was over the bridge back at the infamous Montmorency Falls. It was named by Samuel de Champlain as Chute Montmorency in honour of Duc de Montmorency, the viceroy of New France and admiral of France and Brittany. These magnificent falls stand at 83 metres high, approximately 30 metres taller than Niagara Falls. The attraction also offers ziplining, via ferrata (which has you walking along the rock face) and a panoramic circuit that takes you over the falls.

With a full afternoon of activities and plenty of Instagrams to spark the jealousy amongst my family and friends, our group ventured over to Laurie Raphaël for cocktails and a tasting menu.

Laurie Raphaël is not a restaurant; it is an gastro-experience.

Established in 1991 by Suzanne Gagnon and Chef & Culinary TV personality Daniel Vézina, it blends creativity, quality and local producers into a menu you’ll unlikely be able to find anywhere else. To date, their son Raphaël Vézina has taken over the kitchen in Quebec City pushing the boundaries of gastro-cooking.

The multi-course meal with pairings only reinforced this trip’s theme of luxury; that life is meant to be enjoyed and appreciated, particularly with the finer things. I capped the meal off with an incredible 20-year old Bas-Armagnac that finished off the night in perfect delight.

With a great night’s sleep, I was ready to start the next day with a test drive of the Cadillac CT6 and their new Super Cruise technology, but Mother Nature decided to shower us with her tears.

I wasn’t going to let the pouring rain dampen the day’s activities, so I tossed on my Helly Hansen Salt Flag Sailing Jacket to protect me from the elements. This is a piece in my travel wardrobe I swear by. Their sailing jackets are windproof, waterproof with Durable Water Repellency treatment and are full seams sealed, which kept me warm and dry on the coast of the St. Lawrence River. You don’t have to use it sailing to appreciate the practical use of their sailing jackets.

Cadillac Canada had planned an incredible road trip route 160kms outside of Quebec City to Kamouraska, giving us journalists an opportunity to test out their Super Cruise technology on the CT6. What is Super Cruise? Well, I’m glad you asked.

Super Cruise is the latest technology in semi-autonomous driving. It’s the automotive industry’s first true hands-free driving technology for the highway, making it perfect for the road tripper traveller, like me! It uses two advanced technology systems to function: a driver attention system and LiDAR Map Data.

Without Super Cruise, you subconsciously perform thousands of minor tasks while on long highway drives, leaving you exhausted after a road trip. But Super Cruise doesn’t just let you fall asleep behind the wheel; it’s semi-autonomous meaning the technology is your driving partner, not your driver. Their Driver Attention System monitors the driver and ensure the vehicle is being operated safely, with three levels of escalation alerts if required. The entire system was designed with safety in mind, built with the same safety redundancies you would find in the aviation industry.

After the two-hour drive while using Super Cruise, I stepped out of the car feeling so relaxed. The technology helped take the stress out of long drives, slowing down when needed and turning the wheel to the curves of the road. Of course, the massage seats did their part to help keep me at my best zen.

With a quick lunch at Bistro L’Amuse-Bouche right on the edge of the St. Lawrence, it was time to drive back to the airport in Quebec City. Of course, only when we’re halfway back to town do the clouds decide open and let the sun shine. Talk about luck.

Quebec City is the perfect destination for those looking for a European weekend escape. A quick flight, or even a long drive (won’t feel so long with Super Cruise) will transport you to a historical time and place leaving you speechless, refreshed and invigorated.