French Canada: Walking Around Historical Quebec City

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Quebec City is quaint, intimate and compact. But before we get into the details of what to see and do, consider some quick facts:

  • If you’re the type of traveler who prefers to arrive, check in, drop everything and hit the ground running, then you can do QC is 1-2 days. It’s a very walkable city.
  • It’s one of the oldest cities in North America (over 400 years old).
  • The ramparts surrounding  Old Quebec are the only remaining fortified city walls that exist in the Americas (north of Mexico).
  • The Historic District of Old Quebec is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • The Plains of Abraham is considered to be the birthplace of Canada!
  • Bring comfortable and durable walking shoes – you’ll need them.

The winters here are as you would expect, very cold. But if you can tolerate a bit of a chill, you can enjoy some great adventures. There’s the annual Winter Carnival, the Ice Hotel and plenty of skiing to be done. But I prefer the summer, where you can walk around comfortably and enjoy the boat ride up the St. Lawrence with some great skyline views.

Do – Walk around Vieux Quebec

Walking and entering the Old City through one of its gates is a thrill in and of itself.  The incredible stat about QC is that there are 37 National Historic Sites of Canada in this city and its enclaves!

A funicular and “neck-breaking” steps connects the Upper and Lower Town. Throughout both, you’ll find museums, narrow walkways with boutiques, art galleries and restaurants all encompassed with beautiful Old World architecture.

The Chateau Frontenac dominates the city skyline. A château style hotel, it was built for the Canadian Pacific Railway company with the aim of luring wealthy travellers and bringing in luxury tourism bucks both throughout its trains and subsequently to QC. For some of the better views of the Chateau and of the St. Lawrence River, be sure to take a walk along the Dufferin Terrance, a long boardwalk at the edge of Upper Town beside the Chateau. You can’t miss it.

 

Chateau Frontenac and Old Quebec City
Dufferin Terrace and Chateau Frontenac

 

 

There are 4 principle gates to the fortified city (Porte St. Louis, Porte Kent, Porte St. Jean and Porte Prescott)

 

 

Main walking avenue in the Lower Town of Quebec City
Narrow walkway with Frontenac looming over
One of the main roads leading to Lower Town and River
Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church, Lower Town. Built on the site of Samuel de Champlain’s 1608 Habitation, the first permanent French establishment in North America
Shopping for prints on Artists Row
Quebec City is known for their incredible street performers

 
Do – Take a boat ride up the River

To get a great overview of Quebec City and get a sense of what it must have been like to approach this port hundreds of years ago, hop on a chartered boat and take a tour along the St. Lawrence. There are several excursions to pick, some even offering alcohol onboard.  All are accessible along the waterfront, pick your style and time and you’re off.

See – Plains of Abraham + The Battlefield Park

The Dufferin Terrace leads you to the Citadel of Quebec and the Plains of Abraham. Known to be the birthplaces of Canada, it was here where the British took Quebec from France.  It’s hard to imagine that there was a great battle here more than 250 years ago because today, this space is a large and beautiful park, perfect for a walk, jog, bicycle ride or even a picnic.

 

 

1 of the 3 remaining Martello Towers. Built by the British to prevent the Americans from drawing close enough to lay siege to the walls of Quebec, they became a National Historic Site of Canada in ’90.

 

Tip  – If you’re flying into QC be aware that the best way to get to the Old City is to take a taxi which will run you only around $35.

If you decide to arrive by train, you’re in luck.  The train station is centrally located and is a few minutes walk (uphill) to the old, fortified city.

Bring your stamina.

Have your own travel and cultural experiences in Quebec City? Share the love.

Jim Bamboulis
Jim Bamboulis has held several posts over the past 12 years, including National Sportscaster, Food Host and Writer, Talk Show Host, Olympic Researcher and Travel Film-maker.

Born and raised in Toronto, Jim learned early on that the combination of travel and food meant ultimate living. Combining his insatiable creative spirit and desire to document his travels, Jim took his unshakable travel bug and set off to explore. Add the fact that Jim also grew up in a Greek household and he learned that not only does Mom always make the best meals, but as importantly learned the importance of understanding and appreciating the countless beautiful cultures and the integral role food plays in every corner of the World.

In August 2009, Jim founded Travel Mammal, a site that brings together his travels and experiences (both good and terrifying) with the hope that others are inspired to share their own. We are all storytellers, especially when it comes to travel and food. He urges everyone to be inspired, explore and love the world and the people that share it with us. Or in other words, Live to Travel and travel to live!
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