The fact it’s French-speaking is just the start of what makes Canada’s 400-year-old Quebec City exotic.
With its charming cobblestone streets and squares, French-inspired architecture and food, its historic city walls and gates, it feels more like Europe than North America.
Sitting on a hilltop overlooking the St. Lawrence River, an important waterway connecting the Atlantic to the Great Lakes, Quebec City was recognised for its strategic position both militarily and commercially as far back as the late 1500s.
One of the oldest cities in North America, it’s the only city north of Mexico with its earliest fortification walls still intact. It was for this reason Old Quebec was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985.
You can easily spend a week or more exploring this Canadian gem and it is best explored on foot. As you stroll through the city, its history unfolds like the chapters of a book.
The arty side of Old Quebec
When inside the fortified walls of Old Quebec, be sure to stroll down the open-air art gallery along Rue du Trésor, a laneway next to the Visitor’s Centre in the heart of the city. Local artists and students display their works for sale along the laneway walls making it a great place to find an authentic souvenir.
From the boardwalk alongside the Fairmont Chateau Fontenac, take the funicular railway down the cliff face to Rue Saint-Pierre. This lovely historic district is filled with art and sculpture galleries – an area made all the more charming by its inviting stores, cafes and centuries-old buildings.
Montmorency Falls Park
At 83-metres, Montmorency Falls are one and half times higher than Niagara Falls and lie just 15 minutes drive from the CBD.
You can walk across a cable bridge over the top of the falls to three hiking trails through the forest.
And if you’re game, strap in for a 300-metre zip-line across the face of the falls for the ultimate adrenaline rush.
Petit Champlain District and Place Royale
One of the oldest and most spectacular neighbourhoods in North America, Rue du Petit Champlain is lined with antique stores, art galleries, patisseries, ice-cream stores and plenty of spots to sample genuine Canadian maple syrup.
At Place Royale, marvel at the giant mural in the small square where Samuel de Champlain founded the city in 1608.
Quebec Winter Carnival
The world’s largest winter festival is hosted in Quebec City each year.
Running over 17-days, the festival sports include ice-canoe races, giant snow and ice sculptures and has plenty of market stalls selling winter favourites like warm mulled wine and roasted chestnuts. And in true Canadian style, there’s also dog-sled races around the cobblestone streets.
The next Quebec Winter Carnival is 26 January to 11 February, 2018.
The essence of Quebec City is captured in its iconic buildings. Enter a virtual fairytale when you stay in the most photographed hotel in the world, The Fairmont Château Frontenac.
This spectacular castle with its turrets and distinctive green roof, embodies the spirit of flamboyant Renaissance architecture.
For something different, rejuvenate the body and soul at the Le Monastere des Augustines wellness sanctuary. Steeped in history, this boutique hotel in the heart of Quebec City celebrates the legacy of the Augustine Sisters who resided there as far back as the 1600s.
As you drive over the only bridge to Ile d’Orleans – about 30 minutes from the city centre - you cross a virtual timeline to the 18th century.
This delightful island is home to centuries-old villages, farms, churches and heritage homes. Ile d’Orleans is also a fashionable locale home to funky cafes and restaurants where you’ll find some of the best regional specialties Quebec has to offer.
Published under license from Well Travelled