I found the Abat-jour B&B by accident. A friend and I traveled to Québec in May of 2008 and our planned hotel fell through. We were referred to Abat-jour by someone working at a Tourist Center. Our experience that first time with hosts Ahmed and Salouha el-Ghandouri was so wonderful and so positive that I have since come to believe that it was fate that directed us there.
I decided for my 40th birthday that I wanted to return to Québec for a weekend, this time with my wife and four children ages 10 to 14. We stayed again at Abat-jour, this time in their two-room suite which includes a kitchenette.
Ahmed and Salouha are the consummate hosts. Ahmed told me (in English as much as he could, in French where he needed to fill in the blanks) that the two of them began this "new life" after all of their own children had grown and gone. They run such a wonderful establishment, serve such a wonderful breakfast, go so far out of their ways to accommodate their guests in all things, that it is hard to believe they have not been innkeepers their entire lives.
My family arrived mid-afternoon and they were there to enthusiastically greet us-- genuinely pleased to see me again after my first visit there in the spring. They showed us to our room and immediately offered afternoon coffee and tea for my wife and me, and brought hot chocolate for the kids. Served on a silver tray in nice china, the hot drinks came with shortbread cookies, homemade by Salouha. We cooked our dinner in the room that night, a huge cost savings to a family of six out travelling.
My wife's first comment on the room was, "this is so cute!" and after poking around a bit, her next was "this is SO clean!!" The room wasn't huge but was plenty for our needs.
Breakfast at Abat-jour is one of the high points, after the hospitality of its hosts. Nearly everything on the table--including the strawberry jam-- was made from scratch. With coffee, tea and more hot chocolate, we were started with an absolutely amazing fruit smoothie-type drink. Next came Salouha's homemade sesame bagels with jam and butter. Then came homemade crêpes, with five or six different spreads to enjoy them with. The second day breakfast featured homemade yogurt, a delicious omelette with fresh tomatoes and an exotic but savory batch of breakfast rolls, still warm from the oven. A far better spread than we could have found in a restaurant locally-- and included in the cost of the stay?!? Hard to believe.
Friendly conversation around the table with other guests--there are always guests there, it seems-- was another pleasant aspect to the experience. Some were from Montréal, some from the states, some from even further afield, traveling on a mix of business or pleasure. Those I spoke to on both my first and second trips had all stayed at Abat-jour at least twice before.
Saturday night we explored the Old City and got hopelessly lost on our way back. We called Ahmet and he guided us expertly back to the Abat-jour (it turns out that at one point in his life, he was a cabbie in Québec; who better to give directions??). Never have I been so happy to see lights on in the windows... to walk in to a warm greeting from our hosts... to be received by a warm room with all the beds made, turned down and ready to receive my family. For the three days we were in Canada, Abat-jour was home for certain.
Abat-jour is a hidden jewel-- modest in presentation but clean, comfortable, homey and friendly to the greatest degree. It is located literally ten minutes from the Old City-- an easy drive in. It is no more than that from Abat-jour to Montmorency Falls, another must-see.
We are already making plans to return, hopefully this spring. This is a wonderful B&B, which I would recommend to anyone. It is nice to have friends in Québec!
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- Also Known As:
- B&B L'Abat-Jour Quebec/Quebec City