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    Perched atop Cap Diamant (Cape Diamond) and overlooking the Saint Lawrence River, Quebec City was first settled by the French in 1608 and named for a native Algonquin word meaning 'where the river narrows'. The ambience, lively spirit, high safety rating and comfortable blend of past and present make Quebec's provincial capital worthy of its place among the world's top cultural destinations.

    The cradle of French civilisation in North America and still notably European in spirit, the historic Old Quebec neighbourhood has an unmistakable charm. Small cafes, cosy restaurants, classy boutiques, lively terraces, elegant squares, theatres, museums and street performers all come together in a fascinating weave of old-world allure.

    Millions of visitors are drawn to Quebec City every year, savouring the famed Quebec gourmet scene and the beauty of the historic old district's winding cobbled streets, where 17th and 18th-century stone houses, churches, parks and a number of monuments still stand. The city is included on UNESCO's World Heritage List and is one of the only fortified cities in the Americas.

    Despite having been ceded to the British in 1759, the city's population remains 95 percent French-speaking, lending a definite joie de vivre and French elegance to the atmosphere.

    Parliament Buildings

    Just outside the old city walls stands the imposing 19th-century Parliament Building, inspired by the Louvre in Paris and designed by the architect, Eugène Étienne Taché. Although it is the working home of the 125-strong National Assembly, the buildings are open to visitors for free guided tours, which are offered in English or French, and highlight the historic value of the unique building as well as inform visitors about the organisation and proceedings of the Québec National Assembly. Tours should be booked in advance for groups of 10 or more. There is a restaurant and a gift shop at the Parliament Building.

    Address: 1045 Parlementaires Road (visitor’s entrance: Door 3 on the corner of Grande-Allée and Honoré-Mercier Avenue)
    Website: www.assnat.qc.ca
    Parliament Buildings Parliament Buildings Christophe.Finot
    Place Royale

    The Place Royale is part of the Pointe-à-Callière Museum complex, along with Pointe-à-Callière and 214 Place d'Youville. Used for trading in ancient times by the First Nations, the site of the historical Place Royale became a fortified trading post in 1608 under French colonist Samuel de Champlain. Known as the market square, the site thrived until the end of the 19th century when its importance began to decline. But it was given a new lease on life under a government restoration programme, ensuring the site known as the 'birthplace of French America' turned into one of the city's main attractions.

    Address: Interpretation Centre of Place-Royale, 27 Rue Notre-Dame
    Website: www.mcq.org
    Place Royale Place Royale Tony Webster
    Funicular

    The funicular which travels from the heart of the Old City to Dufferin Terrace provides a panoramic bird's eye view of historic Quebec City. Leaving from Louis Jolliet House, the funicular has been an attraction since the original steam version was built in 1879. Claustrophobic visitors may not enjoy the trip up in the little compartments, but most will relish the views and novel mode of transport. The walk down from the Old City is pleasant and easy, but the hike up can be rather difficult. Many visitors choose to take the funicular up and walk back down.

    Address: 16 Rue du Petit Champlain
    Funicular Funicular Tony Webster
    Fortifications

    Guided walking tours of the three mile (5km) wall surrounding the Old City of Quebec trace the evolution of the city's defence system across three centuries. The walls were built between 1608 and 1871 as part of the fortifications in the area, which was the region's main colonial stronghold. The walls are set with interpretation panels and can be explored independently. Following the walls is a wonderful way to explore the old city and visitors will pass many interesting sights in the historic centre along the way, including the Esplanade Powder Magazine. Quebec is the only surviving fortified city in North America and has been designated a World Heritage City.

    Address: 100 Rue Saint-Louis (tours depart from the Frontenac kiosk, Dufferin Terrace)
    Fortification wall Fortification wall David Ohmer
    Old Port of Montreal

    The Old Port of Montreal along the Saint Lawrence River is actually fairly new, having undergone a big facelift to make it the most popular tourist spot in the city. A major 19th-century trade port, its wharves now mostly consist of tour boats, ferries and amphibious buses handling its roughly five million visitors each year. Ferries cross to the Parc Jean-Drapeau, site of the Expo 67 World's Fair, which lies on the Saint Lawrence and offers facilities for picnicking, swimming, and skating and skiing in winter.

    The Old Port is a thriving arts and entertainment venue where there's always something happening. It also offers a huge open-air skating rink, IMAX cinema, vibrant cafes and a Science and Technology Center. The clock tower offers excellent views, while the original 17th-century city fortifications still stand. Characters in period costume conduct guided tours through the streets and alleys, pointing out points of historic significance.

    Address: 333 Rue de la Commune Ouest
    Vieux Port Vieux Port mricon
    Battlefields Park (Plains of Abraham)

    Once the setting for bloody battles between the British and the French, the Plains of Abraham today serve as Quebec City's primary 'green lung'. A playground and peaceful arboreal retreat, it's a venue for a variety of festivals, fairs and events. The park is to Quebec what Central Park is to New York, covering 108 hectares and containing 6,000 trees, monuments and interpretive centres. In winter, both locals and visitors enjoy a giant skating rink and a few fun ski tracks in the park. Summertime is ideal for jogging, rollerblading or strolling in the fragrant gardens, or picnicking in its leafy shade.

    Address: Discovery Pavilion, 835 Wilfrid-Laurier Avenue
    Battlefields Park Battlefields Park David Ohmer
    Montmorency Falls Park

    Just to the east of Quebec City lies the spectacular Montmorency Falls which plunges 272 feet (83m) â€' one and a half times higher than Niagara Falls. Besides a beautiful setting, the park also boasts historic buildings and a variety of fun activities. A cable car runs up to the historic Manoir Montmorency manor, which was built in 1781, and which contains a restaurant, viewing terrace, interpretation centre, reception rooms and boutiques. A suspension bridge hangs directly across the falls, providing a breathtaking vista, while a second bridge gives access to the east side of the falls where there are numerous viewpoints and trails.

    Address: Avenue Royale, Beauport
    Montmorency Falls Montmorency Falls Dhinakaran Gajavarathan
    L'Île d'Orléans

    The little island in the Saint Lawrence River, just 15 minutes from downtown Quebec City, is a historical treasure trove containing 600 heritage buildings. Algonquin natives called the island Windigo, meaning 'bewitched corner', before French colonists arrived in 1535 and named it for the Duke of Orleans. The island is the ancestral home of more than 300 Quebecois families and still has more than 7,000 inhabitants. A perimeter road called the Royal Way connects all the six villages on the island, extending across the Taschereau Bridge to the mainland. Visitors enjoy cycling or driving around the island to marvel at panoramic views of the river and explore sites such as the oldest church in New France.

    Address: 9 miles (15 km) from Quebec City
    Ile d'Orleans Ile d'Orleans Alberto Otero Garcia
    Lower Town (Basse-Ville)

    Basse-Ville is Quebec City's charming old quarter, full of narrow winding streets, historical stone buildings and a dizzying array of trendy cafes, bars and boutiques. Also called Lower Town, it's the oldest urban district in Canada and exudes a distinctly European atmosphere. Recent gentrification of more dilapidated areas has resulted in postcard-perfect photo opportunities waiting on every corner. Lower Town is also home to many of the city's most celebrated sights and attractions, including the Place Royale, Petit Champlain and the must-see Funicular. The heart and soul of Old Quebec, Lower Town is a beguiling and enchanting neighbourhood, and visitors should anticipate spending a lot of time walking its streets and soaking up its unique atmosphere.

    Address: On the banks of the St Lawrence River
    Lower Town Lower Town Kenn Chaplin

    Phrase Book

    English Pronounciation

    Summer is undoubtedly the most popular time to visit Quebec City. June, July, August, September, and October are the only months of the year when the city is sure to be free of snow, with the annual average snowfall measuring 14 feet (4m).

    It has been known to snow right up to early May. Temperatures drop well below freezing from late November to early April (Autumn/Winter), averaging between 0°F (-18°C) and 17°F (-8°C) in January.

    Summer days (June to August), by contrast, are usually pleasantly warm and sunny, ideal for outdoor activities, with average highs around 77°F (25°C). Summer nights can be cool though. The city usually revels in an 'Indian Summer' for a few weeks in early October, making autumn another popular season for visiting.

    Quebec City Jean Lesage International Airport
    Location: The airport is located seven miles (11km) southwest of Quebec City.
    Time: GMT -5 (GMT -4 from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November).
    Getting to the city: The Réseau du Transport de la Capitale (RTC) offers bus service along Route 78 from the airport to Les Saules bus terminal, operating Monday to Friday. Uber is also available.
    Car Rental: Car rental companies are located on the main floor of the administrative building, and include Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, and National.
    Airport Taxis: Taxis are available at the information desk inside the terminal, or by prior booking. Uber is also available.
    Facilities: Airport facilities include souvenir and duty-free shops, bars and restaurants, coat check and storage lockers, a VIP lounge, an information booth, a children's play area, a nursing room, currency exchange and ATMs.
    Parking The parking area is located directly in front of the terminal. A number of parking spaces near the entrance are reserved for people with reduced mobility.

    Walking is the easiest way to explore the compact Old City of Quebec, where most sightseeing opportunities are. Many visitors also enjoy hiring a bicycle and enjoying the city's system of cycle paths.

    Public buses are run by the Reseau de Transport de la Capitale (RTC), operating throughout the week (there are a limited number of night buses at weekends). Tickets are bought upon boarding with exact change or in advance from newsagents, which is cheaper. Transfers are free within 90 minutes of a single journey. One-day passes can also be bought.

    Taxis can be hired at the airport, ordered by telephone, or hailed in the street in the centre of the city. Various ride-sharing apps are also an option in Quebec City.

    Many interesting sights and tourist attractions are located in the Old Quebec district, including dozens of small shops, boutiques and attractive historical buildings. The more modern Upper Town and Lower Town also have interesting neighbourhoods.

    Quebec City is compact and easily walkable. Visitors who get tired or can't navigate the steep stairs between Upper Town and Lower Town can take a scenic ride in the Funicular, or hire one of many horse-drawn carriages for a quaint mode of sightseeing.

    Attractions include the National Museum of the Arts, the Franco-American Museum and the Capital Observatory, which is in one of the tallest buildings in Quebec. Visitors could also ferry across the St. Lawrence River to Lévis and enjoy memorable views of the Chateau Frontenac and the Old City. Sunset cruises on the Saint Lawrence River are a must.

    Children may relish a trip to the Chocolate Museum or a spin around the Old City's ice rink, while Villages Vacances Valcartier has waterslides and go-karting in the summer. Just a few kilometres from downtown, the unspoilt wilderness areas surrounding Quebec City present plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities and recreation, such as horseback riding, canoeing, hiking and skiing.

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