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.
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.
Dating back to the year 1647 and replacing a former chapel, the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec is a listed World Heritage Church and the first of its kind to be elevated to the rank of minor basilica. The church is a fine example of Neo-classical architecture and its interior was designed by Jean Baillairgé. A tour to the cathedral would take you through the main features of the cathedral that includes the stained glass windows, paintings and the tomb of Quebec's first bishop, François de Laval.
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.
Henry-Stuart House is named after its prior owners. This beautiful house symbolises the early British architectural style and appears as a jewel amidst the urban Quebec city. The house has a unique square roof and a beautiful welcoming British style garden. Inside the house, the accessories and styling of the Stuart family is kept intact. Guided tours are arranged from June to September. Tea and lemon cakes are served at the end of the tour.
Parc du Bois-de-Coulonge was once the residence of the Lieutenant Governors of Quebec, but post a fire accident in 1966 the place has been converted into a public garden. This historic garden in Quebec offers tourists a wonderful refuge among colorful flowers and soothing shade under maple, white spruce and oak trees. The garden offers a variety of activities for the visitors ranging from cycling around the park to walking areas, horticultural visits etc.
Built in 1847, the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church is one of the most significant attractions of this part of the city, and in fact, the entire neighborhood is named after this monumental structure. The church was damaged in 1881, when a major fire swept through the city, but was reconstructed in 1884 by Joseph-Ferdinanad Peachy, in grandeur comparable to the original structure, in the Second Empire style of architecture. The church is active to this day and holds services on a regular basis.
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.
Jardin de Saint-Roch is a city park established in the year 1992 by mayor Jean-Paul L'Allier. The park is surrounded by a number of different restaurants, sculptures, companies and is home to a range of species of flowers. The place is also used as a location for hosting festivals and events. The park was created for the sole purpose of beautifying the city and attracting tourists.
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.