The drive into Quebec city is actually pretty wonderful (if long when coming directly from Southern Ontario). Mountains, creeks and spectacular rock tunnels make for picturesque settings all around. Even outside the mountainous Laurentians, there are enough gentle curves along Highway 40 to keep the driver thankful for a sporting drive, but not enough twists to make your rear passengers green (or worse) with car sickness, with any empathy from behind the wheel.

 

 

Heading down to the patio and nightlife hub of Grand Allée that’s lined with bars and a huge outdoor disco ball, passing under the thick walls that protected what is now “Old Québec” is like entering an instant time machine. The streets suddenly become narrower, the buildings older and a stream of horse-drawn carriages appear. Once the cobblestones start, the historic and tourist epicenter of the vieux city appears: Chateau Frontenac, a majestic Canadian Pacific Railroad hotel built in 1892, and inspired by French Renaissance architectural style.

Within a cannonball’s shot away from the Frontenac are the wide open Plains of Abraham, used in 2008 during Québec City’s massive 400 year anniversary celebrations for separate Celine Dion and Paul McCartney concerts, each watched by a crowd of more than 200,000 people. But on September 13, 1759, it was a sparser but much more deadly crowd of 9,000 combatants from New France and the British army battling over the future of Quebec City, then the largest French stronghold on the continent. The town’s capitulation to the British was signed five days later.

Tours are available through the Chateau Frontenac, now a Fairmont property, and if you want to be in the middle of it all, it’s worth a stay. This is where much of the street action and buskers like to assemble shows in the busy summer months. It lets out onto the popular Dufferin Terrace, a great place to wander with an ice cream for the kids, taking in scenic views of the St. Lawrence River and the old city far below. And you can’t leave Québec City without at least wandering around Vieux Quebec once, full of cafés, shops, chocolatiers and pedestrian-friendly old European charm. 

 

 

Visitors to Old Québec soon see why UNESCO designated it a world heritage treasure! You’ll love Château Frontenac (the world’s most photographed hotel), centuries-old architecture and the historic sites while enjoying horse-drawn carriage rides, street entertainers, singers and artists, particularly at Old Québec’s open-air art gallery, Rue du Trésor.

Fortifications of Québec City

Why go to China when you can walk a great wall right here? Québec is the only fortified city in North America north of Mexico, with close to 4.6 kilometres of walls and imposing gates to explore. Discover beautiful cityscapes and see how Québec’s defenses developed under the French and English regimes. Cannons, loopholes, a star-shaped Citadel, Artillery Park and fortresses are all part of its historic charm.

Musée de la Place-Royale

How about a trip back in time at Place Royale, where Samuel de Champlain founded his first “abitation” in 1608? And do some window shopping in the nearby Petit-Champlain District. As you wander past period buildings along cobblestone streets in the oldest neighbourhood in North America, enjoy the area’s boutiques, art galleries and restaurants, and the museum that presents the 400+ year history of New France.

 

 

This natural phenomenon is a rare treat. At 83 metres high (30 m higher than Niagara Falls) Montmorency Falls can be seen from all the way across the St. Lawrence River in Lévis. But the best views are from Parc de la Chute-Montmorency, where you can feel the full force – and spray – of the falls for yourself. Take a gondola ride or walk the trails to the top of the falls. In winter, the spray freezes at the foot of the falls to form a huge “sugar loaf.”

Plains of Abraham – Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec

The scene of the 1759 battle between generals Wolfe and Montcalm, the Plains of Abraham are the heart and lungs of Québec City. The Plains are perfect for all kinds of activities like walking, cycling, picnicking, cross-country skiing and more, or t simply meet up with friends. It is here that Québec’s national holiday – Saint-Jean Baptiste Day – is celebrated every June 24.

The MNBAQ is located in the heart of the Plains of Abraham. The museum complex consists of three pavilions and in 2015 expanded with a new signature building of unique design facing onto the city’s Grande Allée. The Musée, whose collection includes more than 37,000 works from the 17th century to the present day, is the living memory of Québec art and artists.