Quebec City is a delicious slice of old Europe and North America. Quebecers like to say that their capital city is like France without the jet lag.
You’ll love the aimlessly wandering and narrow (and safe) streets, passing boulangeries, old churches, and slate-roof granite house with balconies dripping with flowers.
In the morning we explored Old Quebec and after lunch we biked to a waterfall higher than Niagra Falls. The next day we hiked, climbed, took a zip line over a canyon, danced and soaked in a spa. Here are top experiences you must try in Quebec City and the nearby areas where the food is great, nature is everywhere and you feel like you’re in Europe.
Walk the walls
Quebec is the only fortified city in North American north of Mexico, with close to three miles (4.6 kilometers) of stone walls with imposing gates.
Explore the Old City
One step inside the stone gates, you’ll see why UNESCO designated Old Quebec a world heritage treasure. Walk the cobblestone streets past 300-year old architecture, historic sites and flower-covered restaurants.
My initial visit to Quebec City was several years ago when I was researching the best destinations for girlfriend getaways for my National Geographic book. I stayed at a cozy, small hotel in the heart of the Old Town and and wandered along cobblestone streets past boutiques, art galleries and restaurants.
Open Air Art Gallery
Artists line the narrow street selling their art on Rue du Tresor.
Most Photographed Hotel
Linger on Duffin Terrace, overlooking the wide, winding, St. Lawrence River outside the Chateau Frontenac, the world’s most photographed hotel. I returned here twice to watch the entertainers, acrobats, singers and artists.
Oldest Neighborhood in North America
Don’t miss the Place Royale, where Samuel de Champlain founded his fist home in 1608. Then wander along cobblestone steets in the Petit-Champlain District of the Old Town past historic buildings, fashionable boutiques, art galleries and restaurants.
Meet the Locals
Quebec’s hippest, hippiest neighborhood, Fauberg St.John is the place to nose around after you’ve visited the historic ‘Old Town. A short walk from the tourist-filled walled city, St. John Street (between rue Sainte-Genevieve and rue Deligny) is bustling with a comfortable mix of local artists, students, young professionals and girlfriends shopping together.
Beer, beards and brews
Stop to eat or enjoy a beer at one of the many small pubs and cafes. A wall menu at the popular Ke Peqoit Bar offers 24 kinds of local brews and lively conversation with your neighbors.
The Plains of Abraham
This huge historic urban park was the scene of the 1759 pivotal battle in the Seven Years’ War and in the history of Canada. A British invasion force led by General James Wolfe defeated French troops under the Marquis de Montcalm, leading to the surrender of Québec to the British.
We raced around the city and meandered through the park to join spectators wildly cheering for the elite cyclists at the famous Grand Prix Cyclistes Quebec/Montreal.The ultra athletes from 19 nations, included World Champion Peter Sagan, and three Olympic medalists.
Four hundred men in spandex racing 45 miles per hour careened around a curve and passed just 18″ from my head as I cowered with my camera on the curb.
Eat Like the French
Where do Quebecers go for duck confit or streak frites? Take you pick from over 100 restaurants to enjoy French country ambiance and brilliant food. My favorites from this trip were: Le Cafe du Monde and Le 47e Parallele. and the duck confit and fresh cod at the 47th Parallele.
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