Once an outpost of Catholic conservatism, an isolated island of francophonie languishing in a sea of anglo culture, Québec has finally come into its own and has crafted a rich, spirited culture independent of its European motherland. The people of Québec are vibrant and inviting and the province is strewn with colorful Victorian facades, lush rolling hills and romantic bistros.
Montréal and Québec City are bustling metropolises with a perfect mixture of sophistication and playfulness, and history-soaked preserved quarters tucked away around town. The rustic allurements of old Québec are scattered among the Eastern Townships, and produce from bucolic Charlevoix graces the tables of the region’s stellar restaurants. The Laurentians abound with ski resorts and peaks, while the jagged coasts of the unblemished Gaspé Peninsula and the cliffs soaring high above the Saguenay River are equally as breathtaking.
The crown jewel of French Canada, Québec City is one of North America’s oldest and most magnificent settlements. Its picturesque Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, a living museum of narrow cobblestone streets, 17th- and 18th-century houses and soaring church spires, with the splendid Château Frontenac towering above it all. There’s more than a glimmer of Old Europe in its classic bistros, sidewalk cafes and manicured squares.
You can get a taste of the city in a single day, but linger at least a weekend if you can. The city’s compact size makes it ideal for walking, and it shines brightest when you slow down.
The main focus of your visit should be the Old Town, split between the Old Upper Town (Haute Ville), perched above the St Lawrence River on the Cap Diamant cliffs, and the Old Lower Town (Basse Ville), where Samuel de Champlain established the first French foothold in 1608. The Old Town is packed with museums, mansard-roofed houses and cobblestone streets just begging to be explored.
Outside the walls, through the historic town gates of Porte St-Louis and Porte St-Jean, four additional neighborhoods are easily accessible: St-Jean Baptiste, Colline Parlementaire, Montcalm and St-Roch, each boasting wonderful restaurants, shopping and nightlife. Also noteworthy here are the vast Plains of Abraham, where the British defeated the French in 1759; nowadays enshrined as a national park, this area offers superb recreational opportunities.
Québec City goes to great lengths to entertain visitors. All summer long, musicians, acrobats and actors in period costume take to the streets, while fantastic festivals fill the air with fireworks and song. In the coldest months of January and February, Québec’s Winter Carnival is arguably the biggest and most colorful winter festival around. Fall and spring bring beautiful foliage, dramatically reduced prices and thinner crowds.
Québec is truly the dutiful daughter of its European motherland: a pristine green of pasture and towering forest, sprinkled with bronze church spires and picture perfect sidewalk cafés. But she is also the vivacious rebel of French chic, liberal attitude, sinfully delicious cuisine and beautiful people. Unlike their ancestors across the Atlantic, Quebecers know how to have their cake and eat it too – washed down with a steamy bowl of café au lait at a mere fraction of the cost. Not only are prices refreshingly reasonable, but you’ll find the Québécois as vibrant and inviting as the colorful Victorian facades, lush rolling hills and romantic bistros strewn across this magnificent province. And it’s a Canadian province, so we’re never too far away from nature, proudly paraded in protected parks, majestic mountain ranges and windswept rugged coastlines. And what diversity!
Montréal and Québec City are bustling metropolises with a perfect mixture of sophistication and playfulness and history-soaked preserved quarters tucked away in their back pockets. The rustic allures of old Québec are scattered among the Eastern Townships, and produce from the farmlands surrounding bucolic Charlevoix graces the tables of the region’s stellar restaurants. The Laurentians abound with ski resorts and peaks, while the jagged coasts of the unblemished Gaspé Peninsula and the cliffs soaring high above the Saguenay River are equally as breathtaking. Those with a thirst for the extraordinary find the Far North an enchanting getaway.
Show in Lonely Planet
Show in Lonely Planet