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.
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.
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.
The alternative music scene of Quebec City got a new lease of life with the opening of Pantoum in May 2012. Since then several local as well as international indie bands like Karneef, X-Ray Zebras and Popeleon have performed at the intimate performance studio. However, the event schedule at Pantoum is not just restricted to music as it also hosts dance shows and theater events regularly. Pantoum also doubles up as a recording studio and rehearsal space in the city.
Théâtre Premier Acte is a wonderful performance space, located within the Centre Culturel et Environnement Frédérick Back building in central Quebec. Accommodating an audience of only 80 members at a time, the theater is an intimate space. The aim of Théâtre Premier Acte is to offer upcoming theater groups a platform to showcase their talents. These groups function on a shoe-string budget, thus this modest, but well-equipped space is sufficient for them. The acts performed here are enthralling and you will surely be captivated by the thought and performances of each play.
With a firm focus on classics and independent cinema, Cinema Cartier is a firm favorite among cinema-enthusiasts. From acclaimed regional movies to renowned international cinema, the theater offers a rich program throughout the year. Besides this, the theater is also host to film festivals and other cinema-related events.
Théâtre Periscope is a popular name in the field of theater and is home to some of the best artistic performances in the city. Theater lovers will adore the passel of exotic and charming theatrical shows staged on the dais from time to time. Discover innovative acts even as you treat your senses to a brilliant amalgamation of visuals, conceptual solidity and auditory brilliance. The theater comprises of 4 main entertanment zones: the main theater, the Salle Bleue; which hosts intimate cultural and corporate dos, meetings and conferences, the studio Marc Doré and the exhibition space, Le Foyer. Also, you will find theater companies like Niveau Parking, Blanc, Les Nuages en Pantalon and Gros Becs, situated in the premises of the Periscope, performing often in the theater. Check website for more details on current and upcoming events.
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.