They say when you travel to Quebec City it is like visiting Paris without going to Europe. Quaint streets are lined with colourful brick buildings, roads are paved with cobblestone, church bells ring in the distance and you can bring a bottle of wine to the park. If you are looking for charm, history, great food and people – then Quebec City is the place for you!
Founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain, Quebec City is a beautiful place to explore over 409 years of Canadian (French) History.
Quebec City is one of the oldest European settlements in North America. It was first settled in 1535 by Jacques Cartier. The city was chosen for its strategic location and served as the military and political outpost. It is one of the oldest fortified cities in all of North America and you can still see the remains of the fortifications today.
The city was later re-settled in 1608 by Champlain. Over the centuries Quebec City has served as the historic grounds for the battles between the French and English – with the former eventually gaining complete control.
We stayed at Hotel Plaza, located on 3031 boul Laurier, Sainte-Foy Quebec. The hotel is quaint and the rooms are clean and well decorated. The hotel is about a 25 minute ride to the centreville of Quebec City. If you have a car then choosing a hotel on the outskirts of the city is a cheaper option.
If you do not have access to a car or prefer being centrally located, then Old Quebec / Centreville has many hotel options. Beware though, the prices will be higher in these areas (and can go up during the high season).
You can use an Uber in Quebec City but many recommend taxis. Once you are in the main centre, the city becomes more walkable.
Visit a Cabane à Sucre (Sugar Shack)
Quebec provides 80% of the worlds maple syrup production, This only serves to prove that the sweet substance runs in Canadian blood.
I went to the Erablière du Cap, a family run canbane à sucre with a close proximity to Quebec City. I made my own buerre d’érable and eat tire d’érable (maple taffy).
This sugar shack offers many different activities including a traditional Quebecois meal, live music, and a buggy ride around the farm. It is a great place to visit with kids. Even if you don’t have kids it is the perfect place to let your inner kid run wild!
Explore Old Quebec
The real charm comes in exploring the quaint cobblestone alleyways and admiring the 17th century architecture. A lot of the buildings in Old Quebec are not the originals. Instead they have been remade due to fires and the derelict state it was left in once the bourgeoisie left to the higher grounds of the city (near the Citadelle).
There are plenty of small bistros, pubs, cafes and restaurants to choose from. Keep in mind because this is a touristy area, prices can be expensive for food. If you are in the mood for poutine you can try Chez Ashtons, a Quebec fast food chain that sells tasty poutine (though some dispute its authenticity).
Old Quebec also has small souvenir shops and boutiques you can browse. They offer postcards, small trinkets and other items to take back home.
Be sure to explore the Lower Town and le Quartier du Petit Champlain as well, which is well within walking distance of Old Quebec
Visit Montmorency falls
Although these falls are not as grand as the the ones in Banff, it is still a pretty sight! You can walk across the suspension bridge for a top down view of the falls and Quebec. If you are up for the effort, I recommend climbing the stairs all the way to the top of the falls (suspension bridge). It’s not easy but totally worth it!
Ste – Anne de Beaupré Shrine
Admire the beautiful mosaics and tile work in this replica of Michelangelo’s Pieta. The craftsmanship of this church is breathtaking. The doors to the church itself are handmade in Quebec by a man who’s legacy is in copper smithing.
L’Eglise Notre-Dame des Victoires
This adorable little church is nestled in the heart of le Quartier du Petit Champlain. It was the first church built in this area when Quebec was first settled. You are more than welcome to take a peak inside, but just be mindful that there are people who do come here to pray!
For Albertans, this chateau sure does look familiar! That is because this hotel isn’t the former palace of a princess but rather part of a chain of Fairmont hotels created to inspire Canadians to explore their country.
The chateau offers a spectacular view of the river as well as of the old city. Often times you will find people who preform live music in the square in front of the hotel. When we were there we had an old man play smooth jazz tunes while it was raining and it honestly felt like I was transported back in time to Old Paris.
Visit the Plains of Abraham and the Museum
This is the site of a pivotal battle between the French and the English Navy during the Seven Year War. The Plains of Abraham is a wide open green space and there is a military museum nearby that offers a great interactive explanation of the battle that took place.
Citadelle du Quebec
The Citadelle is home to the Royal 22e Regiment and is an active military base. However it serves as a historic site as well, where visitors are welcome to walk the grounds and tour the museum. If you go on their website you can browse the various events they have each year.
The most memorable experience in Quebec City happened at this restaurant. It was here that I practiced my French with a charming server and met the kindest couple from Texas! Bistro Sous Le Fort has a cozy patio, and the interior is intimate and beautiful. It is the perfect place to relax, sip some wine and watch the people walk by.
What to eat: Burger de wapiti et camembert. Elk + ground beef, garlic aioli, camembert slice, onions, fresh green lettuce and tomato. Served with arugula salad and fries.
Grab an a coffee from here and go explore the town. If you need to rest your feet, find a seat in the courtyard behind the cafe or on the patio. Iced mochas are made differently in Quebec (or at least the ones I had). Instead of a shot of espresso, the mochas are made with cold brew coffee!
What to eat: Iced mocha and a patisserie
Do not let the outside of this bistro pub fool you. It is actually quite charming on the inside. The interior decor is reminiscent of the pubs you’ll find in the English side and the food is exquisite. Afterwards, indulge in an aperitif and watch the world go by from the windows!
What to eat: French onion soup with 4 types of cheese, shredded lamb steak sandwich, 4 cheeses, garlic aioli on a ciabatta bun served with handmade fries.
Overall Quebec City is a charming part of Canada that should be explored. It is without a doubt a beautiful place to visit. I highly recommend exploring Quebec City during the summer time. Once you are there be sure to make a stop in Montreal.
If you have any recommendations let me know. Have you ever visited Quebec City? If so, how did you like it?
Until next time!