Things To Do In Quebec
Québec stayed in the shadow of its neighbor Montreal for quite a while, however the 2008 festival of its 400th birthday propelled Québec City back into the center stage once more. From that point forward, voyagers have rushed here to experience this UNESCO World Heritage Site's enticing attractions.
As the origin of New France, Québec City keeps on maintaining the society of its country. After passing through the old city you'll find a post-card like impression of a European painting that is dotted with seventeenth and eighteenth century structures, pastry shops, bistros, and boutiques, while cobbled squares are suffocated by an ocean of bistro tables that becomes more lively and amusing at night.
When To Go:
The perfect time to visit the historic city is during the months of June - September and December until February, the season of summer and winter respectively. During the summer and winter months, the city's social calendar is booked solid with festivals. Summertime is the best time to visit due to the warm weather. The spring and fall seasons see lesser visitors because of the lack of special occasions. Springtime (March to May) is when maple syrup abounds while autumn (October –November) dazzles with kaleidoscopic vegetation.
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These are the top things to do in the city of Quebec…
Quebec is one of the most beautiful cities in Canada and part of its charm starts at Old Quebec. It is absolutely striking but must be explored mostly on foot (better to leave your car in one of the many car parks in Basse Ville) although it is recommended to get on Haute Ville by funicular (only $ 2.25 cost per head) to avoid a strenuous hike . Everything else is to be discovered by getting lost in the narrow streets of the center lined with many gift shops and antiques.
Do not miss the Dufferin Terrace and Place Royale (located on the right side upon arrival of the funicular), a visit to the Citadel (time it with the changing of the guard every 10 in the morning) is a must and the walk on the walls to admire the facade of the Regional Parliament.
You can even do a nice walk to the old port and its local market where you can buy local fruits and vegetables (almost everything comes from the Ile d'Orleans). Basse Ville also deserves a stroll though the less spectacular part of Haute Ville. It takes no more than a day to see everything it offers .
You’ll feel like being in a fairy tale land because the city is clean, well preserved and full of history, with shops that stand side by side, and huge parks! You will walk between both ups and downs. At Basse Ville, on the side there is a souvenir shop that has a cable type escalator that takes you upwards to the enchanted castle. Do not miss this experience while in Old Quebec. It is a corner of Europe in Canada. Getting lost in the streets and alleys while admiring the buildings that are typically French is an absolute delight!
Quartier du Petit Champlain
While in Quartier du Petit Champlain, visit the descent via the staircase called "breakneck" (Casse-cou) which can be accessed in front of the Chateau Frontenac. Locally known as the Petit Champlain Street, a lot of activities run through this area from east to west. It is the oldest street in the city of Quebec. Historical side is not to be missed because many former residences of the early colonial period are located there and are very well '' told ''. The Champlain Street is full of small local artisan shops that offer a variety of products made here like; clothing, trinkets, jewelry, kitchen items, and great restaurants. Everything is there to make your visit pleasant and informative. The port, which welcomes cruise ships and the fortifications that surround the quartier are very impressive. Do not miss the walk in this maze of small streets full of interesting shops, houses, and fine dining restaurants.
The Champlain has narrow streets that will make you relive the days of New France. Don’t fail to visit the Chevalier house and see the inside of a wealthy house built during the French regime. The nearby Museum of Civilization also deserves enough time and attention. You will be totally charmed by the old stone houses, decorations, lights, and hospitality of its people. On the street there is an art panel in a wall representing the first residents of the city.
Lower Town (Basse-Ville)
The historic area of the port of Quebec or the Lower Town (Basse – Ville) is definitely worth a visit. Stroll along the cobbled streets and the row of shops. The environment here in general is very characteristic even if it’s a bit touristy and crowded with cruise passengers who want to enjoy the true essence of Canada. It is advisable to come up via the funicular / cable car ride to admire the view from the terrace and from the UNESCO heritage monument. It is another gem from the elegant city of Quebec. It is such a charm to stroll through the streets while enjoying the passage of time with a wonderful sense of happiness.
Lose yourself in the narrow streets of this small town and let yourself be guided by the choreographic intertwining of alleys, stairs and squares, full of bars, restaurants, stores and shops of all kinds, with sign posted streets and you will notice that all roads lead to the boulevard Champlain. You can stroll through the cobble-stoned alleys where the atmosphere smacks of old battles between the French and redcoats for the conquest of Quebec. The entire place stirs up an incredible emotion, while the vision from the hilltop castle is truly fantastic.
Upper Town (Haute-Ville)
You can start the visit from the Lower Town Basse Ville by funicular (for a couple of dollars and to avoid the treacherous trek uphill). It comes directly in Place Royale and the beginning of the Dufferin Terrace. As soon as you look out from the terrace (especially with a bright sun) the show is really unique. You could spend hours walking and admiring the view of the St. Lawrence. At the Upper Town (Haute-Ville) the sights include the Citadel and the walk on the walls, or try to get lost in the streets of the city and admire the view of the Parliament Building. It is dotted with old buildings that tell a glorious past and streets that get filled with people every hour, where most concerts are held and the atmosphere abounds with serenity and joy.
The place looks very European and this is not surprising because the city was founded by the French. There are many shops, restaurants, and cozy places to stay! It is definitely worth spending at least half a day here while in Quebec City. The high city has its climax at the Hotel Frontenac that dominates the landscape with lots of dining options and the best area for shopping at the high end beyond the walled part with their portals. The colonial properties here were retained and kept the historic city air, which remains free of illumination and related visual pollution (huge billboards, ads. etc.). There is plenty to see if you like old architecture and history and it is not necessary to spend more. It is worth doing a guided tour to meet the small and the great stories of the city.
Built in the late nineteenth century until today, the Terrase Dufferin is one of the favorite places of those going outside Old Quebec. It is near the Citadel, the Notre-Dame church, and of course, the Château Frontenac. The view of the St. Lawrence River is very beautiful, and you can also see Lévis and the Île d'Orleans. Another two noteworthy sites of the Terrasse Dufferin attractions are the ruins of ancient fortifications and castles that were there and the winter toboggan. This is a boardwalk with wooden planks next to the Chateau Frintenac, a colonial hotel that remains as one of the landmarks of Quebec City.
It has a wonderful view of the St. Lawrence River, the lower city, and much of the plain. It has benches to just sit, enjoy the view, take a sun, and see the movement of a busy promenade area paired with a nice view of the downtown area. Generally there are street artists making presentations and the weather is very pleasant in the summer, it's worth walking around and taking pictures while the weather is fine. The place is wonderful, a place to admire the scenery and let the time pass underneath. It has a museum that tells the story of the terrace as well as the major buildings around.
The Place Royale is a very elegant square and a nice historic site in Quebec City. Take the time to observe (from the benches near the statue of Louis XIV), please feel free to look up and visit the church and museum (if history interests you). Also look at the roofs and visit the surroundings (the large fresco, another place, alleys, etc.). The shops are also interesting and sometimes you will meet characters in period dress of that time under the French era.
The square and the surrounding houses and streets are just one of the most beautiful places in Quebec and the oldest part of it. This is the heart of Old Quebec, which began with its history and around which grew the city.
Here, next to the very first church of the city was a palace that once served as its center, but now this small-sized area is covered by paving stones and the surrounding old houses - a great place for tourists to see Quebec as how it was a few centuries ago. In the middle of the square is a small monument to the French king Louis 14 with benches nearby. There are a lot of cafes with tables outside where you can eat and enjoy the beautiful views. Near the square is the house, the back side of which is now the center of attraction after the restoration artists painted the entire height and width representing a huge picture that connects the real view of the street and the painted houses. There's also a picture drawn by artists depicting the many famous historical figures who left their mark on the history of the city. This wall is now a favorite spot for photo opportunities by tourists.
Basilique Cathedrale - Notre-Dame-de-Quebec
The Basilica Cathedrale Notre-Dame-de-Quebec is a breathtaking architectural masterpiece. It is dubbed as the cradle of the Catholic Church in America and the First Parish which is celebrating this year (December 28, 2014)its 350th anniversary. For this special occasion, a Holy Door, first in America, was inaugurated and will be crossing this year alone. Thereafter it will be sealed for the next 25 years. The ancient religious structure is dotted with many works of art and wonderful achievements of renowned craftsmen (wood paneling, gilding, statues, paintings, sculptures, etc.). It is the best place to see for a moment of contemplation and wonder while exploring Quebec City.
Many ossuaries are distributed in several places in the Cathedral. It contains the bones of priests, religious, lay and several governors who served the Frontenac. Since 2006, all the priests of the Quebec Seminary rest in the crypt. These are the French settlers in Canada who have decided to continue this custom. Burials in the basement of the cathedral began around 1650. Despite the fact that the cathedral was set on fire several times and bombed by the siege of Quebec in 1759, several bones were found there. Access to the crypt is by a spiral staircase. The Lying, which adorns the ossuary is made of painted wood covered with a patina of gold. The ossuary is cross-shaped with four sections. The section of the priests, the bishops' section, and the memorial chapel dedicated to Canadian Martyrs and the ossuary. After crossing the long corridor filled with ossuaries, you will arrive at the magnificent bronze door which gives access to the area of the priests of the Seminar. The doors are ornamented with various symbols and an inscription in Greek and one in Latin which translates as: * Know yourself, yourself * and * Words fly, writings remain. *
When you cross the doors you can see the old stone foundations dating from the time of Bishop Laval and the wooden coffin covered with lead Bishop Laval, dating from 1708. You will also see there a tomb with real bones and skulls of early ancestors to remind everyone that this place contains graves. Guided tour of the Crypt is $ 5.00 / person from June to Labor Day. The rest of the year, tours are made by reservation only but there are always free guided tours of the Cathedral. Throughout the summer, you can take a guided tour and avail the tour guide services of student Abbé Henri de Bernières. This student had a way or his own style of telling every guest about the cathedral, the city's history and its people. He has versions of a well told story, making this a very interesting and informative visit. He will tell you about the late Bishop Laval, the Iroquois, Huron, the role of Frontenac, King Louis X IV, the influence of the water of life (alcohol) on the inhabitants, the fur trade and the Cathedral; notice the canopy resting on caryatids in the shape of an angel above the altar. It is considered the masterpiece of François Baillargé. Do not miss to watch the magnificent Casavant organ and Bishop François de Laval Chapel. The crypt of it rests on a granite floor. A North American map was engraved there to illustrate the magnitude of the Bishop Laval diocese that stretched from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. François de Laval was beatified by John Paul II. The tour ends in the Sacred Heart Chapel where you can find the famous Holy Door.
The tour of the Morrin Centre is really interesting, it allows every guest to travel back in time and discover this former prison that was subsequently converted into a college for young Anglophones before becoming the cultural center that it is today. The guide here is very friendly and even makes a demonstration of an experiment in the laboratory. The library is not huge but it is very nice and relaxing and at the same time informative.
La Citadelle de Quebec
Built by the British, the La Citadelle de Quebec is a fortress that is home to soldiers that are still stationed here and ready to act. The museum chronicles the feats of arms of the Canadian Army through time.
The historical aspect of the Quebec Citadel takes everyone to a bygone past that it is still essential to know even up to the modern times. You have to walk around by the Plains of Abraham and then visit the museum inside, do not miss it because it is very interesting.
Joan of Arc Park
The Joan of Arc Park is a lovely garden located at the Plains of Abraham. It has huge elms, beautiful perennials and annuals that can be contemplated from spring to fall. The symposium in August and the October Halloween decorations make this place look more inviting. Even in winter, the park is fun to watch. The ice rink is located just opposite. You can practice the fine ice skating from December until mid-March. The park is dedicated to Joan of Arc and funded by an American couple who fell in love with Quebec and commissioned the making of this equestrian bronze statue of Joan of Arc. It is their way of paying tribute to the heroes of 1759-1760. It was conducted in 1937 by renowned sculptor Anna Hyatt.
It is not quite the same, but the imprint of the French influence is very obvious. Quebec City is perhaps the only North American city that has preserved what little it has and for the most part, its history. It is definitely one of the prettiest cities to visit in Canada. The whole city is incredibly prepared to delight your eyes and illuminate the heart. Come and visit Quebec City and discover the reasons why it is called the historic jewel of Canada.
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