Quebec City is one of just a handful of places in North America where you’ll find European appeal without having to cross the ocean on an expensive flight. With its fine dining, style and year round romantic feel, small wonder why it’s nicknamed the “Paris of North America.” Imagine a place filled with winding cobblestone roads, quaint coffee shops, museums, restaurants with distinct culinary treats and more history per square foot than you can possibly fathom. I recently took a weekend trip to Quebec City, a few hours away from Montreal, and though it has a seemingly endless amount of attractions, here are 6 huge ones that no one should skip.
Old (Vieux) Quebec:
The Old City is rich in culture, history, hospitality and elegance. Known to many as one of the top romantic destinations in the world, you can explore the Old City on foot, bicycle or horse-drawn carriage. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Vibrant summers, colourful autumns, captivating winters and blooming springs are the best way to summarize this section of Quebec City. It’s also home to Chateau (Castle) Frontenac, the most highly photographed hotel in the world. Go ahead, do it for the ‘Gram, I know I did.
Take a stroll along the top of all 4.6 km (2.9 mi.) of the stone walls that surround Old Quebec. Take in the beautiful views and learn a thing or two about Quebec’s decorated military history. Here’s what you’ll encounter: the Artillery Park, gun ports, cannons and the Citadel to name a few. Walk along the Dufferin Terrace at the top of Cap Diamant (Diamond) and turn your gaze to the St. Lawrence river that seemingly stretches on forever beneath you.
St. Lawrence River/Old Port of Quebec:
The wide and powerful St. Lawrence river is an essential navigational route in Canada. The Port of Quebec is host to tons of boats participating in the maritime shipping trade and cruise ships looking to dock for a few days. Check out the farmer’s market, bike path, parks and free outdoor shows. Nearby, Promenade Samuel De Champlain stretches along side the ferocious St. Lawrence. It’s the perfect place to go for a walk with your special (or not so special) someone.
Montmorency Falls Park:
These falls are astonishing. Standing high at 272 feet, the Montmorency Falls are nearly a hundred feet higher than the Niagara Falls (bet you didn’t know that). Follow the wooden boardwalk to get an elevated view of the falls or go down below and follow the cement walkway to get to the foot of the falls (you may want to pack an umbrella for this part). You can get even better views of the falls via cable car, the suspended bridge (my personal favourite) or the cliffside staircases. Feeling adventurous? Adrenaline junkies have the option of scaling the rock face by way of protected climbing routes. Bring your GoPro if you have one.
Plains of Abraham:
Remember all that history I mentioned a few seconds ago? The Plains of Abraham has it in bunches. This was the location of many clashes between the French and British forces hundreds of years ago. These days the Plains retain the title of Canada’s first national historic park and one of the world’s most distinguished city parks. Huge green spaces make this location ideal for outdoor activities in the warmer months or maybe snow angels and snow fights when winter rolls along.
Quebec has a lengthy political history. Parliament Hill (the Parliament Building), is recognized as the foremost historical site in the province. From an architectural point of view, the Parliament Building is pretty damn sexy too. You can also learn a few things on a guided tour of the National Assembly. Because you never know when you’ll need a random piece of information pertaining to Quebecois politics, maybe you’ll be on Jeopardy (if it’s still on) one day. Just outside of Parliament Hill stands the Tourny Fountain. It’s a 43 spout fountain that lights up in the spring and summer when the sun sets. Pretty lavish if you ask me.
Have you ever been to Quebec City? What are your fondest memories of the Paris of North America? Drop some intelligent commentary below. I’d love to hear from you!
Until next time,