Quebec City – A Little Bit of Paris North of Our Border
Pictured: Plains of Abraham
By Susan Hornik
If you are short on vacation time, and traveling to Paris may be a bit too far, consider a trip to Quebec, one of the loveliest cities in all of Canada. You will quickly get used to hearing French, (the most romantic language in the world!) and enjoy a wide variety of indoor and outdoor activities!
Québec City is the only walled city on the continent north of Mexico, which is why it’s so easy to be thoroughly charmed by the area, from the moment you arrive at your hotel.
“Old Québec is famous for its European charm and well-preserved architectural treasures,” said Quebec City Tourism’s Paule Bergeron. “The entire district, which is best explored on foot, is a living history book, and every garden, building and street corner is its own chapter.”
Bergeron added: “The friendly atmosphere and affable locals add to the European charm. You’ll find horse-drawn carriages, street entertainers, singers, and artists, particularly at Old Québec’s own open-air art gallery, Rue du Trésor. High atop Cape Diamond, stroll along the Dufferin Terrace overlooking the St. Lawrence River and the surrounding area.”
What to Do
Just walk! No matter what time of year, Quebec City is a very walkable city, so put on your sneakers and take a walk! And while you are out and about, try some poutine, a dish of fries, cheese curds and gravy the locals love! At the Musée de la Civilisation, hands-on exhibits and collections teach visitors about Quebec’s centuries-old history. The grand kids will love the costume workshop. For a view of the old port, stroll along the Rue des Remparts, which are nearly 20 feet high.
See Quebec by water! Quebec Maritimes Tours offers a fantastic way to see Québec City aboard Zodiac boats. As you glide along the St. Lawrence River, you will learn about the history and culture of the surrounding areas with their very smart cruise guides!
Plains of Abraham
It’s hard to believe what looks so serene was once the scene of the 1759 battle between Generals Wolfe and Montcalm! One of the world’s largest and most beautiful urban parks, the Plains is a wonderful place to walk, bicycle, (rent your bike from Cyclo Services, 289, rue Saint Paul) or picnic. It was here that hundreds of thousands of fans rocked to Paul McCartney and Céline Dion as part of Québec City’s 400th anniversary celebrations.
Ever wonder what life was like hundreds of years ago? Check out the largest surviving ensemble of 17th and 18th century buildings in North America at the Place Royale. Also here: the oldest church in Quebec, Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, which has lovely paintings, an altar, and a large boat suspended from the ceiling. Nearby, lovely shops to peruse!
Parc National de la Jacques-Cartier
When you want a change of pace, how about heading into the Quebec countryside?! “The Quebec City area offers an outdoor paradise at your doorstep,” noted Bereron. “Less than 20 minutes from historic Quebec City, adventure and scenic attractions await in the great outdoors.”
Which is why a visit to the Parc National de la Jacques Cartier would be fun for any outdoor enthusiast. With hiking, canoeing, (where you rappel down cliffs) kayaking, fishing, and camping all available, it’s no wonder that the area is known locally as Québec City’s “green crescent.”
Another beautiful area for camping enthusiasts, is the Vallée Bras-du-Nord. With loads of trails for hiking and snowshoeing and mountain biking, the Vallée Bras-du-Nord also offers canyoning, Via Ferrata, (a blend of hiking and climbing, where you are supported by a steel cable), horse riding and back-country skiing.
Where to Stay
Fairmont Le Château Frontenac
1, rue des Carrières
With its recently renovated exquisite rooms, restaurants and a fitness center/spa, the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac offers lovely hospitality, impeccable cuisine and beautiful views of the St. Lawrence River. This Canadian landmark hotel has been open since 1893 and has hosted guests like Queen Elizabeth, Charlie Chaplin, Leonardo DiCaprio and Angelina Jolie. The hotel even has a Canine Ambassador who greets guests!
The Hotel de Glace
9530 rue de la Faune
Want something different?! How about the Hotel de Glace, the only ice hotel in North America! Celebrating is fifteenth year, the hotel is made of five hundred tons of ice and 30,000 tons of snow. It’s no wonder why many visitors have his hotel on their bucket list! On site, guests can enjoy Snowshoe Trails and Tube Sliding. “I love giving people the chance to live an unique experience and to fall in love with winter!¨ enthused CEO, Jacques Desbois.
Where to Eat
Le Patriarche Restaurant
17, rue Saint-Stanislas
Québec QC G1R 4G7
Restaurant Toast! and Restaurant SSS
17, rue du Sault-au-Matelot
Québec QC G1K 3Y7
668, Grande Allée Est
Québec QC G1R 2K5
Korrigane Brasserie Artisanale
380, rue Dorchester
Québec QC G1K 6A7
228, rue Saint-Joseph Est
Québec QC G1K 3A9
432, rue du Parvis
418 23 9995
1191, avenue Cartier
418 529 4949