Like New York, New York, the capital of province Quebec is Quebec City. However, the city is very different from New York. Quebec has a charming European feel as you stroll around cobblestone streets inside the fortified city walls. It’s almost as if you’ve hopped on a plane and landed in France. The buildings, language and food all have a heavy French influence and its super fun to explore.
In a nutshell the French influence is nestled in its history. French explorers landed in the area in the 1500’s but were unable to survive the winter. (Canadian winters can be tough!) The city was later founded by another French explorer in 1608, Samuel de Champlain. Champlain set up a trading post alongside the St. Lawrence river and the city has been growing ever since.
You can explore the interesting city in many ways so here is my city guide to the beautiful Quebec City.
Currency: Canadian Dollar Population: 538,200 (2014)
Everyone will speak to you in French first, all signs etc are in French but people are more than happy (or seemed to be!) to switch to English.
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How to get there:
Quebec City has an international airport which makes is accessible from all over the world. The Jean Lesage International airport is about a 25-minute drive away from the city centre. A taxi is going to cost around $35 CAD from the airport to downtown. Alternatively, you can get the number 78 bus for $3.50 CAD (a day pass is $8.50)
How to get around:
This is not a city I would recommend driving around. Like any big city it is going to be busy on the roads. However, combine that with tiny one-way streets and it can be difficult. We had to squeeze our big Dodge van into the tiniest parking space and it was not easy… I ended up having to climb out of the opposite side of the car!
Fortunately, it’s a great walking city. The streets are so pretty that walking is one of the best ways to see the beautiful architecture, you can take in the city walls, river and much more easily by foot so pack some comfy shoes.
If you get tired of walking, you can use the local transit, Reseau de transporte la capitale (RTC). A single fare is $3.50, day pass is $8.50. If you are staying for the weekend you can get an unlimited weekend pass (starting at 5.30 on Friday) for $15.50. For a longer stay in the city you can obtain a five-day pass for $29 (all prices in CAD)
What to do:
Visit Chateau du Frontenac
Hotel Chateau du Frontenac is the ultimate example of chateau-style hotel built by the Canadian railway companies across Canada. It provides a great starting point as it is next to the river, citadel and funicular down to Petit Champlain. For most people a night in the hotel is out of budget but you can admire the architecture by walking around the perimeter.
Top tip: visit at sunset for great views
Explore Old Quebec
Old Quebec is a historic neighbourhood in the city comprised of Upper Town and Lower Town. The whole area is a UNESCO World Heritage site where you feel like you’ve been transported to Belle’s provincial life in France. You can spend hours strolling around the cobble stoned streets.
Ride the Funicular to Petit Champlain
To get to the Petit Champlain district you can either walk the steps or ride the Funicular. I would recommend walking down and riding the funicular back up, Matt and I did it the other way around and were a little out of breath by the time we made it to the top!
It’s well worth visiting as you can explore its unique boutiques and cafes. The neighbourhood is also home to the city’s first port and some of the first houses built in Quebec.
Visit the Parliament Buildings
As you know I’m a fan of visiting legislative buildings (read why you should too here.) The top tip here is to get there early as tours book up quickly and are done on a first com first served basis. Because of this we missed out on touring the building. However, the grounds themselves are nice to walk around and there are some great statues with informative boards to peruse.
Walk the city walls
The Ramparts in Quebec are the only remaining fortified walls in North America north of Mexico. Surrounding most of Old Quebec it is an integral part of the city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in its own right. There are four remaining gates to explore and spans over 4.6 kilometres. Plus it’s a totally free activity.
Where to eat:
Le Chic Shack
A top-notch burger option here! I was amazed at the reasonable price of the meal considering the restaurants location, burgers on average were $12 CAD. Matt and I sat out on the patio with views of the Chateau Frontenac whilst eating juicy patties on a sunny afternoon.
In addition to yummy burgers the Chic Shack also has great drink options. Matt enjoyed beer from local microbrewery, Archibald, while I enjoyed their home-made sodas, made with real fruit purees.
Café Boulangerie Palliard
I cannot resist pastries… particularly French pastries. With four locations across the city there is no excuse not to indulge in a buttery croissant. The bakery combines the talents of French artisans with the ‘American’ experience of it owner, Yves Simmard.
Restaurant Le Comptoir
This place was super sweet and informal. It reminded me of European restaurants in its layout and relaxed vibe. After a long journey we were able to enjoy a great smoked meat sandwich and local beer. The waiter was really kind and let me take a copy of the menu, so I could practice my French.
Day Trip from Quebec City:
If you have the opportunity then head out to Montmorency Falls. The falls are just outside the city and are a sight to be seen. Standing at 83m tall they are 30m higher than Niagara Falls. We visited in spring and there was a large amount of water flowing making it even more interesting to see. However, this did mean the stairs all the way to the bottom were not open. You still got a great view by following the steps about 3/4 of the way down. But you will get wet with spray!
You can either drive and park at the site (around$10 CAD but includes entrance fee) or get the bus from downtown.
Have you ever been to this wonderful city? What was your favourite thing to do ?
Thanks for joining me again for A-Z Travels, if you enjoyed my guide please give it a little like or share. Next week will be R for the Rocky Mountains. Happy Travels 🙂