Place Royale is a collection of buildings and narrow streets born in 1608 when explorer Samuel de Champlain established a secure fur trading post. It changed hands between the British and French, surviving fires and battles and eventually became Quebec City's version of "downtown." After a complete restoration, Place Royale is now the city's most picturesque place, sporting restaurants and cafes, as well as many tourist attractions. Be sure to visit the Maison Chevalier, the Notre-Dame-des-Victoires Church and the Interpretive Center.
A star-shaped enclosed fortification located atop the promontory of Cap Diamant, the Citadelle of Quebec contains 300 years of military history within its stone-cut Vauban walls. Constructed out of sandstone between 1820 and 1850, this grand British fortress rests on four bastions and three curtain walls and comprises of 24 buildings. The citadel is popularly known as the Gibraltar of America, and is the official residence of the Canadian monarch and the Governor-General of Canada, besides also functioning as an active military structure. Owing to its longstanding military association, the Royal 22e Régiment of the Canadian Forces is stationed here. One of the most significant landmarks of Quebec, the Citadelle of Quebec invites droves of tourists to take a guided tour of the fortress and the museum, witness the awe-inspiring changing of the guard and enjoy sweeping views of the St. Lawrence River from its historic ramparts.
The 20,000 works at Musée National des Beaux-arts du Québec range from the traditional landscape paintings of Cornelius Krieghoff to the controversial abstraction of Paul-Émile Borduas and the avant-garde sculptures of Serge Tousignant. Non-Quebec artist Arthur Lismer's lovely St-Hilarion is one of the Museum's prized possessions. A huge slate of activities awaits art, music and cinema lovers. The museum hosts numerous events and exhibits throughout the year, so call ahead for more information.
Parc de la Chute-Montmorency offers a multitude of activities for the entire family. In the summer, walk across one of two suspension bridges or through miles of parkland trails before enjoying a gourmet meal at the Manoir Montmorency. Winter can be just as relaxing, though daredevils can take an ice climbing course on the frozen waterfall wall of ice and snow. The park is located just east of Quebec City along Avenue Royale. Admission to the park is free but parking is charged.
History, which is everywhere in the city, is most evident in its beautifully preserved fortifications that date from the early 17th Century. As the only remaining walled city in North America, Quebec has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors are free to walk along the nearly five kilometers (3.10 miles) of walls witnessing the Fortifications of Quebec National Historic Site. The interpretation center offers an intriguing look into the military and architectural design features. Guided walking tours offer further insights.
The Port of Quebec is more than 150 years old. This was a place where once ancient European ships docked and so, the post has a fascinating connection to the history of Quebec City. The port organizes mini-cruise excursions for tourists and locals. During the tour, tourists navigate through the waters of St. Lawrence River, giving them a panoramic view of Quebec City. The tour also entertains people on-board through multimedia shows and videos talking about Canadian culture.
One of the oldest areas in the city, Lower Town or Basse-Ville has a history that dates back to the city's formation, and together with the Upper Town, makes up Old Quebec. Flanked by the Saint-Charles river on one side, Lower Town is haven for history enthusiasts, with a rich repository of historic buildings and architectural gems. Besides getting a feel of the city's origins, visitors can also experience the city's culture at the Musee de la Civilisation and Theatre Petit Champlain. The picturesque funicular ride to Cap Diamant is highly recommended.
The battle of 1759 between the British and the French marks a turning point in the history of the North American Continent. The Plains of Abraham, where this momentous battle took place, forms a part of the Battlefields Park, alongside Des Braves Park where the two rivals clashed again in 1760. It is here that the fate of the North American Continent was determined and the foundations for its future were laid. Established in 1908, the Battlefields Park is Canada's first National Historical Park, its verdant fields and lush greenery speckled with memorials, cannons, and plagues that commemorate the battles waged and the lives lost. Renown for its place in Canadian history, the park is also a local favorite for leisure activities like skiing, snowshoeing, picnicking and runnning, and hosts open-air concerts in summer. Of special interest are the Plains of Abraham Museum and the Martello Towers.
After a major revamp, Saint-Roch-the neighborhood of aged industrial setups and buildings, is now a hot destination brimming with shades of vibrancy. Plentiful fine restaurants, boutiques selling elegant clothing and bars now dot the Saint-Roch Church square which once stood neglected. For the kid in you, Benjo store with its trove of exciting toys should be a must-stop. Those visiting this upcoming destination can schedule their stay at boutique hotels or any of the two hotel chains-TRYP Quebec Hotel Pur and Best Western. Besides these attractions, Saint-Roch also has a large garden where events are held.
Parc de la Pointe-aux-Lièvres is located at the area where the Saint Charles River meanders in La Cité-Limoilou neighborhood of Quebec City. When the temperatures fall, and this vast expanse turns into a velvet of whites, Parc de la Pointe-aux-Lièvres beckons to snow-lovers to indulge in wintertime fun. The park offers a 1.5-kilometer (0.9-mile) long trail for ice skating. Snow covered slopes provide great sledging experience. At night, the park is beautifully lit up with melodious music playing from the speakers; the lights and the beats create a tranquil ambience. The river and the park is maintained by the Société de la rivière Saint-Charles; check the website or contact the group for further information.