Staying at a Rural French-Canadian Bed and Breakfast House

by ologsinquito

Experience rural French-Canadian life by staying at a family bed and breakfast home.

My husband and I were traveling to a remote part of Quebec, a Canadian province where most residents speak French as their first language. We would stay with a local family we had never met. Although we had no idea what would await us, we were ready for an adventure.

Driving through a frozen land of ice-covered roads and shoulder-high snowdrifts, we wondered what we had gotten ourselves into.

But our fears were somewhat dispelled when we met our hosts, who ran the bed and breakfast. They were an attractive couple in their late 40s or very early 50s. They greeted us with a smile and ushered us inside. As she took our coats and boots, the wife handed us some slippers and beckoned us to follow her.

She didn't speak English and I didn't speak French. My husband speaks just a little French.

As the visit progressed, though, the language barrier was only a minor obstacle.

Flickr photo by xddorox

Settling in at the Bed and Breakfast

The relatively large and elegant bed and breakfast house stood apart from the other homes in this working-class community. There was a large chandelier in the entryway, and a winding staircase leading to the second floor.

The second-floor bathroom had a sunken tub and twin sinks. Every conceivable modern appliance could be found in the first-floor kitchen.

We soon found ourselves seated around a most welcome fireplace in the family room, trying to conduct a conversation in English and broken French. The husband spoke fluent English, but told us his English skills were rusty because he had little chance to practice. All business in this part of Quebec was conducted in French.

With her husband interpreting, the wife told us about her family and showed us pictures of her children. As we chatted for a little while, all of our earlier doubts melted away.

A Postcard of Rural Quebec

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Why This Family Runs a Bed and Breakfast

The couple told us they decided to open their home to overnight guests because two of their three children were grown and no longer living at home. So they had two spare bedrooms. They also hoped to improve their English by hosting English-speaking guests.

We weren't the only ones staying at their home that weekend. Several others had arrived.

The next morning, we awoke to the smell of freshly brewed coffee. The couple had loaded up the kitchen table with bacon, eggs, toast, cold meat, cheese and freshly sliced tomatoes. We were told to eat as much as we wanted, and were very thankful such a hearty morning meal was provided. It is very cold in that part of Quebec. In fact, it is so cold that if you spend any amount of time outdoors, you'll need to wear thick-soled snowmobile boots.

Snowmobiles are a way of life in this part of the world. They are needed for transportation, as well as fun. The long winters can be very bleak, with few opportunities for recreation. Riding a snowmobile can a fun way to unwind.

Village of St. Jean in Quebec

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Venturing Out into Rural Quebec

We left our guest house to see the sights and scenes of rural Quebec. It was really cold and I was grateful to be wearing a pair of thick-soled snowmobile boots. Otherwise, the air temperature would have been too low to stay outside for any length of time.

That weekend there was a local winter festival. Many people came to the fest on their snowmobiles. In fact, we had to be very careful walking through the streets of the town because so many people were riding their Ski-Doos.

The festival commenced with an indoor concert in the gymnasium of the local high school. This appeared to be the only gathering spot of any size within the town.

In the evening, we returned to our bed and breakfast, very happy to indoors. We spent the next few hours chatting with our hosts, comparing the differences between life in the United States versus that in Quebec.

Snowmobiling as the Canadians Do

On our third day in the Quebec countryside, we finally worked up the nerve to board a snowmobile. Traveling through the woods on a high-quality machine, I understood the attraction snowmobiles have for our northern neighbors.

Later that evening, our host told us and the other guests staying at his home his family history. His ancestors had migrated to this part of Canada from the north shore of France, many generations ago. He showed us a thick book that explained how nearly everyone in the town is related to one of the founding families.

We started to feel like old friends as our host brought out family photos and showed us pictures of their recent vacation to the Caribbean.

I began to develop a deep respect for the fact that our host was making a big effort to converse, laugh and joke in a language that wasn't his native tongue. I also began to fall in love with Quebec, a land that, in some parts, is so removed from the U.S. influence, despite the fact it borders four states.

Eat, Sleep, Go Snowmobiling Sweatshirt

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If You'd Like to Stay at a Rural Canadian Bed and Breakfast

In many parts of Quebec, especially the more rural areas, there are no hotels. So if you want overnight accommodations, the only option is to stay with a local family. These homes, if they're registered, are regularly inspected by provincial tourism authorities. The homes will be clean and the families will be friendly. However, many host families will not speak English, as French is the official language in Quebec.

For a list of the homes, contact the local tourism officials in the location you plan to visit.

Updated: 08/01/2016, ologsinquito
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ologsinquito on 11/11/2013

It really was quite an experience, and one I am very grateful for. Thanks for reading.

katiem2 on 11/11/2013

Sounds wonderful, there is so much to explore in the wide open spaces of the beautiful rural french Canadian area, the bed and breakfast option feels amazing.

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