Bordered by the St. Lawrence River, Old Québec or Vieux-Québec is the historic heart of the modern day City of Quebec. Divided into two distinct parts, the Upper Town and Lower Town, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a gateway into the history of the province. The Upper Town is set atop the Cap Diamant and is the city's historic administrative and military hub. Its most iconic landmark, the Citadelle with its star shaped design is an arresting edifice while the Chateau Frontenac is a mesmerizing vision of Victorian grandeur. The Upper Town is also one of the sites of the Carnaval de Quebec, considered to be among the largest winter festivals on the globe. The Lower Town, at the base of the mount, is the livelier of the two with a bustling market and vibrant Old Port. Amid hundreds of historic buildings, tourist attractions, pubs and restaurants lie dozens of boutiques, galleries, souvenir shops and other distinctive establishments. The Church of Notre-Dame-des-Victoires is another of Old Québec's many treasures.
This most beautifully preserved area of Vieux-Québec is also one of the city's cherished shopping districts. Quartier Petit Champlain is certainly heavily thronged to and many establishments cater to the visiting hordes. There are, nonetheless, many unique boutiques to be unearthed. Quebec fashion designers are featured heavily on the rue du Petit-Champlain, including Oclan, Point de Mire, Les Vêteries and Zazou. Numerous art and crafts galleries provide everything from souvenirs to high-end housewares; well-known stores include Brin de folie and the Galerie d'Art Bégin and Pauline Pelletier. High-quality jewelry is on offer at the magnificent Pierre Vives and Louis Perrier Jewelers. The district abounds with cafes and restaurants.
Galerie d’art inuit Brousseau et Brousseau, in Quebec's Vieux-Quebec neighborhood, was established by Raymond Brousseau in 1974. This gallery was where Brousseau could showcase his collection of sculptures by local artists, that he has been accumulating since 1956. In 1999, he opened the adjoining space as the The Brousseau Museum of Inuit Art. The Hydro Quebec Room is a permanent zone that showcases the original collection by Raymond Brousseau. Beautifully crafted sculptures by local Inuit artists, mainly revolving around their culture and beliefs, comprise the artworks on display at both these galleries.
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.
This is one of Quebec City's most popular parks and historical attractions. Commemorating the daring 1759 attack in which Quebec fell to the British under the leadership of General Wolfe, Plaines d'Abraham features two striking Martello Towers offering rotating displays and great views over the St Lawrence River. The interpretive center is housed in the Musée du Québec.
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.
Quebec City's modern Grand Théâtre de Quebec stands in stark contrast to the venerable beauty of the Palais Montcalm, which it effectively replaced. Built in the mid-1960s, the home of the Quebec Symphony Orchestra and L'Opéra de Québec does have its own charm, however. The Salle Louis-Fréchette seats spectators in a classic four-tier arrangement, while the Salle Octave-Crémazie is a more intimate option with fewer seats. With a huge annual program befitting a first-class, multi-use facility, any visitor with an interest in the arts is likely to find himself or herself, enjoying at the Grand.
There may be no better view of the city than that from 725 feet (221 meters) above sea level, which is why this observatory is a great place to discover Quebec City. Located on top of the Marie-Guyart Building, the Observatoire de la Capitale has an interesting interpretation center where visitors can learn about the history of Quebec City on urban, industrial, maritime, architectural, political and geographical levels. Guided visits are offered daily.
Constructed in the late 19th Century in an atypical Second Empire style, this preeminent landmark oversees Quebec's parliamentary proceedings in the province's capital city. Every bit as impressive as its counterparts in other provinces, Quebec City's Parliament Building bears a striking resemblance to another North American monument - the Philadelphia City Hall. The building comprises of four distinct wings that forge a square spanning nearly 100 meters (328 feet) on each side. While the building is home to the revered National Assembly Chamber and the National Assembly Library, hours can be spent admiring the remarkable edifice itself, which has more than 25 statues of notable figures built into its facade. The immaculately landscaped grounds of the structure are another marvelous feature, replete with fountains and well-maintained gardens.
The Théâtre Capitole inside the Capitole du Quebec has been in existence since 1992. It was formerly an arts and cultural events center but today it is used as a concert hall. Majestically decorated, the theater has comfortable seating accompanied by an excellent acoustic audio systems. The theater is divided into the Balcony and Orchestra Levels, check the seating map on their website. Some of the biggest names in the business have all performed here. Today the Theatre Capitole attracts thousands of screaming fans who come to see their favorite acts do what they do best.