I hope you have enjoyed this series on Quebec City, a fabulous North American city that exudes a distinctly European feel and ambiance in every aspect of the cultural landscape.
We’ve delved into its rich history, breathtaking topography, gracious denizens, scrumptious gastronomy, unique districts, excellent outdoor activities and a great deal more. There’s so much to see, do and share.
So now I leave you with a few more nuggets of the many places I visited in town that have left an indelible impression on me, making Quebec City a new addition to my list of favorite places to visit in the world.
A visit to Quebec City would not be complete without a stop at Basilique Notre-Dame (Notre-Dame Basilica), built in 1647 and still standing today as the oldest parish in North America. This magnificent structure encompasses jaw-dropping architectural features, from its ornate columns to the detailed Episcopal throne dais, works of art, arches, stained glass windows, frescos and massive pipe organ.
Another historical church in town is the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. Built in 1850, it is the first Anglican cathedral built outside Britain (it is often referred to as “the Mother Church of the Diocese of Quebec”). The church is significant because it was built during the time Quebec City was controlled by the British-in fact, the wood to build the church was imported from a British forest, which lends to the church’s authenticity and history.
The city’s most famous landmark is Chteau Frontenac (now called Fairmont Le Chteau Frontenac), reportedly the most photographed hotel in the world. Offering the ultimate in European grandeur and luxury, the hotel is named after 16th-century governor Louis de Buade, count of Frontenac, and offers commanding views of the St. Lawrence River. The interior architectural details and history are what has drawn everyone from pauper to prince to experience the royal ambiance here.
For a literally moving view of the city, ride the Funiculaire du Vieux-Quebec (Old Quebec Funicular). Operating since 1879, this historical landmark was first operated by steam power and a counterweight water process, which was replaced by electrical power in the early 1900s. Since that time, the Funicular has experienced fire, reconstruction, renovations and modern technological upgrades. It offers unparalleled views of the St. Lawrence River and nearby Chteau Frontenac and Place-Royale in the heart of Vieux Quebec (Old Quebec). The entrance to the funicular, built in 1683, is historic as well; it is the former home of 16th-century fur trader Louis Jolliet.
Quebec City is home to numerous stunning and historical fountains, including the Fontaine de Tourny, situated in the Parliament Hill area in front of the Parliament Building. A gift to the city by one of its oldest families for its 400th anniversary, the fountain was found in a pawn shop in France and brought here piece by piece, refurbished and embellished into a lofty masterpiece of sculpture-its figures paying homage to the Amerindians, Quebec’s first inhabitants-and water features that are a great source of pride for the city’s denizens.
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 email@example.com.
- Basilique Notre-Dame: (418) 694-0665, www.patrimoine-religieux.com/en/index.php
- Cathedral of the Holy Trinity: (418) 692-2193, www.cathedral.ca
- Fairmont Le Chteau Frontenac: (800) 257-7544,(418) 692-3861, fairmont.com/frontenac
- Funiculaire du Vieux-Quebec: (418) 692-1132, funiculaire-quebec.com
- Htel du Parlement: (866) 337-8837, (418) 643-7239, assnat.qc.ca/fr/index.html
- Joan of Arc Garden: www.ccbn-nbc.gc.ca/_enjeannedarc.php
- La Citadelle and Royal: 22e Regiment Museum, (418) 694-2815, lacitadelle.qc.ca/en.html
- Le Parlementaire Restaurant: (418) 643-6640
- Plains of Abraham: (418) 649-6157, www.theplainsofabraham.ca
- Quebec City Tourism: (877) 783-1608, (418) 641-6290, www.Quebecregion.com
- Tourisme Quebec: (514) 873-7977, www.bonjourQuebec.com