Cross the 45th parallel on the Canadian–US border to the north, follow the narrowing St. Lawrence River and enter Québec, the only Canadian province with mostly French speaking population and a territory nearly three times the size of France. Quebec City is its capital.
Sweet time in Quebec CityNalynn Dolan Caine ▼ | Saturday July 6, 2013 6:01PM ET
Quebec is a complex mix of European and North American origins. Largely French in terms of language and culture, Quebec has managed to preserve its Francophone heritage in the midst of a strong Anglophone culture, and its architecture, culture, history and warmth made it a favourite tourist destination all year round.
The Quebec City's Upper Town defended by walls with bastions and the Citadel, and the Lower Town with its harbour and old quarters, are an outstanding example of the 17th century European-like fortified colonial town that found its place in North America. Erected on a beautiful site atop the cliff overlooking the St. Lawrence Seaway, stands the Upper Town.
The funicular and nearly 30 sets of stairs are linking the Upper Town with the Lower Town. The Breakneck Stairs (59 steps) built in 1635, make the city's oldest stairway. Camp Blanc Stairs (398 steps) are the city's longest staircase. Regardless of your choice, a fun ride or stairs, the Upper Town awaits you at the top to bring you back in time when ladies with parasols and gentlemen with top hats strolled it on sunny days exchanging bonjours.
The most photographed landmark in Québec City, Château Frontenac, the grande dame of Quebec City, and horse-drawn carriages create a unique experience of the Upper Town even more authentic.
Adjacent to the Chateau Frontenac at the foot of the impressive star-shaped Citadel, is Terrasse Dufferin, most favourite boardwalk promenade in the past. The walkway extends for a long way down the St. Lawrence River and if you don't mind walking you will have a good time. Today, as you stroll down the terrace enjoying an unspoilable view of the city, mountains and the river, you will see cannons spread along the walkway, one more reminder of the rich city history.
During the summer months, entertainers, singers and artists along the terrace create a relaxed atmosphere.
Stroll the district’s cobblestone streets to explore all sorts of craft, antiques, small boutiques and stores. Then grab a sidewalk table on one of the beautiful charming terraces of the pedestrian St-Jean Street, and watch the world go by. As an alternative, take a sit at L'Astral, the restaurant and bar atop Loews le Concorde Hotel situated 3 blocks from the city walls, and enjoy a spectacular 360 degree view high above the city from its rooftop rotating restaurant.
Finish your meal on a high and sweet note just as Quebecers would, and order a dessert. Quebecers looove desserts, and if you take a look at their shopping bags you would see cheese, sugar, a bottle of wine, sugar, bread, sugar... Quebecers enjoy desserts more than any other Canadian province.
The imposing Parliament Building whose architecture is particularly stunning when lit up at night, dominates Parliament Hill. Here you will also see a gorgeous Fontaine de Tourny. Visit National Museum of Fine Arts of Quebec and Plains of Abraham, a historic area and the ninth largest urban park in the world.
Stroll Petit-Champlain, a wonderful historical district with pedestrian narrow cobblestone streets and tons of unique shops. Enjoy antiques, art galleries, street entertainers, and sidewalk cafes around St-Pierre and St-Paul streets. See what a colourful, vibrant and bohemian Saint-Jean district has to offer. You could also love Saint-Roch district and its famous Benjo, the only toy store of its kind in Quebec province. The ambience of the each neighbourhood is different and worth to be explored. But, Quebec is not a place for shopping and food alone.
Come in January when the ice begin to make its way down the river and the first bits of ice start to form at the base of the Montmorency Falls, a waterfall higher than Niagara, or in February when The Quebec Winter Carnival Festival takes over a fun. No matter what time of year you choose to visit it, one is for sure - it will be sweet. ■