One Last Look at Quebec City--A North American Gem

LYSA ALLMAN-BALDWIN | 1/4/2012, 4:08 p.m.

The Htel du Parlement (Parliament Building) itself was built between 1786 and 1886. It is home to Canada's National Assembly and all of its legislative entities, and visitors can wander on their own, embark upon a guided tour or even attend a parliamentary session. The interior and exterior of the building are testaments to the value of its proceedings. Among the accoutrements are 26 striking bronze statues adorning the building's main facade that represent the many men and women who left an indelible mark on the city's history and cultural and political landscape since Canada's discovery in 1534. Inside you will also find the world famous Le Parlementaire Restaurant, open to the public. Unlike other major cities, you could actually dine across from a world leader!

One of the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen is the Joan of Arc Garden. Situated in one of the most beautiful areas of the city near the Plains of Abraham, the rectangular garden features over 150 species of flowers in a unique landscape design that combines British-style flower beds with French classical style.

It is said that the Plains of Abraham is where Canada was born, as it is the site where the French and British empires fought many battles in their quest to control North America. Part historical icon, part urban amenity, the Plains, part of Battlefields Park, also encompasses Des Braves Park, a spectacular outdoor oasis akin to what Central Park is to New York and Golden Gate Park is to San Francisco.

To gain an in-depth perspective on Quebec City's military history, you can walk, bike or drive through La Citadelle (the Citadel), where the walls literally enclose 300 years of military history, during which the city was alternately occupied by the Canadians, French and British. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, it is the largest British fortress built in North America and is still an active military garrison. In fact, from about mid-June through the first week of September, you can experience the ceremonious and historic changing of the guard here. The Citadel is also the site of the Royal 22e Regiment Museum, which offers a wealth of archives, military collections, exhibits and guided tours.

'Til We Meet Again

Alas, all good things must come to an end, at least temporarily. As I prepared to depart Quebec City from Jean-Lesage International Airport, I whispered, "Au revoir et bon voyage!"

Lysa Allman-Baldwin writes for numerous online and print publications including as a cultural travel writer for www.Examiner.com and as a senior travel writer for SoulOfAmerica.com, an Afrocentric travel website. She can be reached at lallmanbaldwin@kc.rr.com.

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